ATLANTA, Ga. -- Officials from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) have rapid needs and damage assessment teams on the ground in the three states declared federal disaster areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis. These teams gather critical information for state and federal emergency managers on the extent of damage and help guide the distribution of disaster resources currently staged in the area.
The states of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi received the disaster declarations yesterday shortly after the major storm made landfall near Pensacola, Fla. Forty-five counties in Alabama, 38 in Mississippi and 13 along the panhandle of Florida are now eligible for federal assistance. Currently, two counties in Alabama -- Baldwin and Mobile, and two in Florida -- Escambia and Santa Rosa, are declared for individual assistance. Residents who have suffered storm damage in these counties are encouraged to call the FEMA teleregistration line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or for speech or hearing impaired 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
Rapid needs assessment flights began this morning over both Florida and Alabama. In addition, 15 preliminary damage assessment teams are fanning out throughout residential areas in Alabama. Florida assessments are being handled though the long-term recovery office established in Orlando to handle recovery efforts from last season's historic hurricane season.
FEMA's immediate mission over the next 24 hours is lifesaving and ensuring that pre-staged disaster supplies and resources get into the states' hands as quickly as needed. RRCC staff has been working around the clock since last Thursday pre-staging truckloads of supplies, such as ice, water, food, and plastic sheeting to move as soon as the states determine they are needed.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages the federal response and recovery efforts following an incident of national significance. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, workers with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.