Editor's note: This post was updated at 8 p.m. EDT, August 27.
The administration, coordinated through FEMA, is committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear to support the territories that have already been affected by Hurricane Irene and the states that are preparing for Hurricane Irene.
Through our regional offices in Boston, MA, Philadelphia, PA, New York City, NY, Atlanta, GA, and our Caribbean Area Office in Puerto Rico, have been in close contact and coordination with the territories that have been affected, and states that may be impacted.
Over the past several days, President Obama has declared emergency declarations for North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and earlier this week, declared an emergency for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, making available federal resources to support response efforts. Prior to Hurricane Irene's making landfall on the East Coast this morning, FEMA deployed teams and resources along the East Coast from South Carolina to Maine.
In advance of Irene moving through the territories earlier this week, FEMA deployed teams to both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to coordinate directly with local officials on the ground. At the direction of President Obama and DHS Secretary Napolitano, FEMA continues to work with our federal, state, territorial, tribal and local partners, as well as voluntary organizations, the private sector, and others to aggressively prepare for Hurricane Irene.
The following timeline provides an overview of these and other federal activities, to date, to support these territories, states, families and communities:
- President Obama received the latest updates on the storm during a conference call with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and other senior members of his emergency management team. Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate briefed the President on the intensity of the storm, the anticipated track of the storm and the response and recovery assets that have been pre-deployed along the east coast. The President asked the team that he be updated, as necessary, throughout the day and overnight.
- President Obama visited the FEMA National Response Coordination Center to join DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and representatives of response agencies for a briefing from states already affected or anticipated to be in the path of the hurricane.
- President Obama signed a pre-disaster emergency declaration for the State of Maryland due to Hurricane Irene making available federal support to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety in six counties and one city. The emergency declaration covers Baltimore, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester counties and Baltimore City.
- President Obama signed a pre-disaster emergency declaration for the State of New Hampshire due to Hurricane Irene making available federal support to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety for the entire state.
- President Obama signed a pre-disaster emergency declaration for the State of Rhode Island due to Hurricane Irene making available federal support to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety for the entire state.
- President Obama signed a pre-disaster emergency declaration for the State of New Jersey due to Hurricane Irene making available federal support to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety for the entire state.
- President Obama signed a pre-disaster emergency declaration for the State of Connecticut due to Hurricane Irene making available federal support to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety for the entire state.
- States, localities and the Red Cross have opened more than 150 shelters in eight states as local evacuation orders went into effect. The Red Cross is prepared to open more shelters. Last night, the shelter population was estimated at more than 13,000. More information about open Red Cross shelters is available at redcross.org and will continue to be updated as more shelters open. The Red Cross has staged hundreds of personnel, vehicles and other resources from across the nation in all the states along the path of Hurricane Irene on the East Coast. They will assist states and communities with mass care, feeding and other response needs.
- FEMA disability integration specialists are positioned in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Boston to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are fully considered when addressing the needs of the whole community.
- The U.S. Department of Defense has positioned defense coordinating officers at FEMA's national response coordination center in Washington D.C., and in FEMA regional response coordination centers in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Atlanta to support and coordinate any requests for defense assets and personnel.
- Governors have activated 1,200 National Guard personnel in seven states (Fla., Conn., N.C., N.H., P.R., R.I. and Va.) to assist states with response efforts. In those states already being affected by the hurricane, National Guard forces are performing cleanup, communication, and search and rescue missions. The National Guard Bureau's Crisis Management Element has been activated. There are more than 83,000 National Guard personnel available in affected states to assist in hurricane relief efforts.
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to be especially careful during a loss of electrical power, as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire increases at that time. The CPSC and U.S. Fire Administration warn consumers NEVER to use portable generators indoors or in garages, basements or sheds. The exhaust from generators contains high levels of carbon monoxide that can quickly incapacitate and kill.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated the public health radio network which provides CDC, state, territorial, and local health departments with non-infrastructure dependent redundant communications capability - a back up method of communication when all else fails.
- U.S. Postal Service (USPS) advised customers that normal service operations in the path of the storm may be affected in the event of unsafe conditions such as high winds, flooding or impassable roads. Depending on local conditions, some post offices may temporarily close their lobbies as Hurricane Irene makes landfall. If roads become impassable or unsafe for travel, mail delivery services may be curtailed, and mail collection schedules from mail collection boxes could be suspended. The latest information on USPS service updates is available at http://about.usps.com/news/service-alerts/welcome.htm.
- FEMA has proactively positioned a total of 18 Incident Management Assistance Teams along the coast to coordinate with state, tribal and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls affecting potential disaster response and recovery. Six national urban search and rescue teams, comprised of more than 500 personnel, have been placed on alert in the event that search and rescue support is needed. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has deployed a total of five Disaster Medical Assistance Teams to staging areas.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities along the United States' eastern seaboard have completed preparatory actions in advance of Hurricane Irene.
See yesterday's blog post for a recap of earlier federal activities.