Following catastrophic impacts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hurricane Irma continues to progress towards the Bahamas. In the aftermath, various elements coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are prepositioned in the Caribbean to provide support as needed to survivors of the disaster.
FEMA teams deployed to the Caribbean in advance of the storm include urban search and rescue teams, incident management assistance teams, as well as commodities – meals and water on Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John – pre-staged and available for use by Commonwealth and territory officials as soon as the weather cleared.
The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available (in English and Spanish) and open to the public. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876. Messages exist in both Spanish and English. To speak with someone at the American Red Cross concerning a missing friend or relative, please contact 1-800 Red Cross (1-800-733-2767).
Hurricane Irma is still an incredibly dangerous storm, and its destructive winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall are now predicted to begin impacting the U.S. mainland as early as Saturday.
As of this morning, FEMA had nearly 11 million liters of water and nearly 7.5 million meals, as well as cots, blankets, generators, durable medical equipment, infant care kits, plastic sheeting and tarps for roofs, staged at the Incident Support Base at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Additionally, FEMA has staged more than 500,000 meals and more than 1 million liters of water in Selma, Alabama.
Now is the time for all those in potentially affected areas to listen to the directions of state, local, territorial, and tribal officials. If told to evacuate, evacuate.
Storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly. Don’t be caught unaware. Take advantage of advance warning to get yourself and your family safe before it becomes too dangerous to do so.
If told to evacuate:
- Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
- Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
- Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
- Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
- Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
- Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.
- Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
- Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
Download the FEMA mobile app (available in English and Spanish) for a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, directions to open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov for additional severe weather and hurricane preparedness information and resources.