Tuesday, August 31, 2010

As Hurricane Earl Approaches, FEMA Urges East Coast Residents to be Prepared

Families Should Visit Ready.gov to Learn Steps to Prepare for Hurricanes and Severe Weather

As Hurricane Earl moves toward Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and then up toward the East Coast of the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging all Americans in East Coast states to take steps now to prepare their families and businesses for hurricanes and severe weather. While there are currently no hurricane warnings or watches in effect for the U.S. mainland, current projections from the National Hurricane Center show the storm could affect states up and down the East Coast and storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly. With this in mind, FEMA is coordinating through its regional offices to aggressively prepare should severe weather affect the East Coast and encouraging all Americans to visit www.ready.gov for helpful tips on preparing for hurricanes, flash flooding, and other disasters.

"Hurricane Earl should serve as a reminder to all of us of the importance of being prepared for hurricanes and other emergencies," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "At FEMA, we're taking steps to aggressively prepare should a hurricane make landfall along the East Coast, but FEMA is only one part of the team. Even if this storm doesn't make landfall, everyone should visit Ready.gov now and learn how to make your family safer and better prepared."

Steps individuals and families should take to prepare for an emergency include developing a family communications plan, putting together a kit with 72 hours of food and water, and staying informed of risks in their area.

It's also important to remember that hurricanes frequently bring with them heavy rains and the threat of flash flooding, which can occur hundreds of miles inland from the coast. People along the coast should also be aware of dangerous rip tides and surf. Floods are the costliest natural disaster in the United States, and so valuables and important documents should be copied and kept in a safe place.

Hurricane Earl has been categorized by the National Hurricane Center as a Category 4 hurricane. A hurricane warning has been issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a watch has been issued for Puerto Rico. FEMA is coordinating across the federal government and working with commonwealth and territorial officials in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to support their preparedness and response efforts on the ground. Learn more about those efforts.

FEMA personnel are also monitoring the storm and reaching out to Governors and local officials up and down the East Coast to ensure they are prepared should they be affected by severe weather in the coming days. FEMA has life-saving and life-sustaining commodities and supplies strategically located across the country to support states in their response, including in the areas of possible impact. These supplies, including water, meals, tarps, blankets, generators and other essential items, can be replenished through the national logistics supply chain.

Since this weekend, FEMA has been in constant contact with the White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide regular updates on the storm's developments. Today Administrator Fugate briefed DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano about FEMA's ongoing preparations for and response to severe weather in the Atlantic Ocean, including Hurricane Earl.

The National Weather Service remains the source of official severe weather watches and warnings, including flash flooding which can take only a few minutes to develop in the case of heavy rains.

FEMA encourages all individuals in the region to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for severe weather updates, and to follow the directions provided by their local officials especially concerning any potential evacuations.

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