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FEMA Continues to Monitor Hurricane Irene, Encourages Everyone to Be Prepared

News and Press Release
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Release Date: August 23, 2011 Release Number: HQ-11-133

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the entire federal family, is continuing to closely monitor Hurricane Irene, and is coordinating closely with all of its state and territorial partners in the Caribbean and along the East Coast that have already or could possibly experience impacts from this storm. FEMA also continues to closely monitor the earthquake that states experienced this afternoon, and remains in close contact with our federal, state and local partners. Read more about these efforts.

Additionally, the President was briefed today about the earthquake and status of critical infrastructure. The President was told that there are no initial reports of major infrastructure damage, including at airports and nuclear facilities and that there were currently no requests for assistance.

As part of our ongoing coordination for Hurricane Irene, FEMA's leadership is conducting daily calls with its regional offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and its Caribbean Area Office in Puerto Rico, the governors of the states and territories that already have or could be impacted, and its congressional and intergovernmental stakeholders. FEMA has also been in close contact with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama, who has been briefed daily by his Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, about all federal response and preparation efforts.

Yesterday, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, making federal funding available to supplement commonwealth and local response efforts in the area.

"Our priority, as always, is to make sure that we are supporting local efforts as they work to keep residents and communities safe," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "As we continue to support response efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we are also working with our state and local partners along the East Coast to aggressively prepare for Irene's path over the next few days. All East Coast residents should pay close attention to this storm and take the time now to prepare. Visit or for tips on creating your family emergency plan and putting together an emergency supply kit."

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Irene is expected to strengthen and could impact the East Coast later this week. FEMA encourages residents that have already or could possibly be impacted from the storm to continue to monitor weather conditions and listen to the direction of local and territory officials. For more forecast information from the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center, click here.

Under the guidance of President Obama and Secretary Napolitano, FEMA proactively deployed regional Incident Management Assistance Teams to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to coordinate with territory and local officials to identify needs and possible shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery efforts. These teams have been in close contact and coordination with both the U.S. Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency. As response efforts on the ground continue, FEMA also has liaison officers in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico emergency operations centers.

To help support East Coast states as they prepare for Irene, FEMA has proactively deployed its National Incident Management Team to North Carolina in anticipation of any potential landfall to the East Coast. FEMA has also activated its National Response Coordination Center to 24-hour operations, to ensure federal coordination and resources are available to support the Regional Response Coordination Center and to monitor current storm conditions.

At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories. These commodities are meant to supplement territorial or state resources if needed, but it's critical that individuals and families that are able build their own emergency supply kits, so that in the event of a disaster, state and local resources can be focused on our most vulnerable citizens.

FEMA is coordinating across the federal government to ensure territorial and state officials have the support they need as they respond to or prepare for Irene. These actions include:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Hurricane Center is monitoring Hurricane Irene and flying jet surveillance missions to provide updated forecasts.
The National Guard Bureau has personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico providing support for clearing roads and debris, transporting equipment, communications, urban search and rescue efforts, and public safety and security needs.

U.S. NORTHCOM's has deployed staff to Puerto Rico to help provide support and coordinate response efforts.

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Coast Guard is currently conducting port and air assessments in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help re-open ports as soon as possible.

The American Red Cross is sending volunteers to North Carolina and South Carolina, and moving feeding trucks and communications equipment to East Coast states. Local chapters are also getting ready for sheltering efforts.