Washington, DC- August 24, 2012
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners, through the FEMA Regional Headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., continue to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac and remain in close coordination with local officials and emergency management partners in southeastern and Gulf Coast states. Yesterday, the storm passed to the south of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, however, a flash flood watch remains in effect for parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. FEMA urges residents in affected areas to continue to monitor conditions and follow the direction of local officials. Be aware that water can rise rapidly and flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.
While the exact track of the storm is uncertain, NOAA's National Weather Service forecasts tropical conditions associated with Isaac, including high winds, heavy rain and rough surf, could begin to affect parts of coastal Florida starting as early as this evening into early next week. Residents in potentially impacted areas, including the Florida Keys and the southern Florida peninsula, should monitor the progress of Isaac and be sure to follow direction of local officials.
FEMA has activated an enhanced National Watch in Washington, D.C., and, today, is activating its Regional Response Coordination Center that supports southeastern states, to proactively support any potential needs or requests from coastal states. In anticipation of the storm, FEMA has deployed a liaison to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and is preparing to deploy liaisons to Alabama and Mississippi as necessary. Other teams have been identified and will be mobilized as needed and requested.
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, to support states if needed and requested. FEMA has distribution centers in Atlanta, Ga. and Denton, Texas, and in coordination with U.S. Northern Command, has prepositioned supplies closer to potentially affected areas if needed.
"Residents in coastal areas of southeastern states, including the Florida Keys, should be paying close attention to this storm and listening to their local officials for key updates and information," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "FEMA will continue to coordinate closely with our partners at the federal level, in southern coastal states and on tribal lands, throughout the weekend, as the storm continues to approach coastal areas. Coastal residents are encouraged to take this weekend to discuss your family plans, know your evacuation routes and check your emergency supplies. Visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov for more information."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends coastal residents include food safety as part of your preparedness plan. Power outages and flooding that often result from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, and planning ahead can minimize the risk of foodborne illness. USDA food safety tips include having a cooler on hand to keep refrigerator food cold in case of power outage, and to group food together in the freezer; this helps the food stay cold longer.
FEMA urges residents in southeastern states to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news, monitor for severe weather updates and warnings, and follow instructions of local officials. State and local officials make determinations and announcement about evacuations, and if local officials give the order to evacuate, leave immediately. Everyone should familiarize themselves with the terms that are used to identify a severe weather hazard. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.
History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly, so FEMA encourages coastal residents to monitor weather conditions, follow the direction of local officials, and visit Ready.gov to learn about a few simple steps they can take now to be prepared.
As is always the case, local officials make decisions on issuing evacuation orders, so FEMA advises residents to remember to listen to the direction of their local officials, and to learn where evacuation routes and sheltering locations are located, in case evacuation orders are given.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.