With hurricane season entering the main part of the season and the path of storms heading into the Eastern Atlantic once again, the question gets asked, is FEMA prepared to step in and help places like Puerto Rico if they are hit again?
Although FEMA is currently without a permanent leader since the resignation of Director, Brock Long, the agency is said to be up and ready to go.
“FEMA is taking all possible preparatory actions in anticipation of impacts, including the forward deployment of personnel,” according to an agency spokesperson. News reports show places such as southern Florida and Puerto Rico have stockpiles of bottled water and other supplies ready for distribution in case of need due to a hurricane.
Just this past week, President Trump signed an emergency aid declaration for Puerto Rico and on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, tweeted, “FEMA and all others are ready… and will do a great job.”
FEMA Helps to Prepare
The hurricane season of 2019 actually began in June, but usually the most severe hurricanes escalate in August through October as a rule. FEMA and urges all people in the hurricane areas to have an emergency preparedness kit of their own, even if they need to rely on government agencies for help in the long run.
In order to build a kit, the advice is to have 10 days of supplies. This includes one gallon of water per person per day. And then of course needed food, medicine, and other supplies per person each day for 10 days. And, special concern for infants and children of course if there are kids in the household. People also need to consider the elderly and people with disabilities in their families and how to figure out supplies needed in case of shelter in place or having to evacuate.
FEMA also advises to have:
A Family plan.
- Have a way to get in touch with family and friends.
- Choose an out-of-town friend or relative as a point of contact.
- Decide on a meeting place if you cannot return home.
- Keep important numbers with you at all times.
- Have a grab and go bag with passports/IDs, cash and copies of insurance cards etc., so you are prepared if you need any of those items.
Assess sheltering needs.
- Identify where you will shelter in case you are ordered to leave your home and share the location with your family.
Contact your local emergency agencies about evacuation procedures if relying on public transportation.
- Make sure your primary residence is in good condition if you plan on staying home. Use plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up windows and doors.
- Make sure someone is available to care for your pets if you cannot.
- Get food, water and a collar with an identification tag.
- Keep pets inside the house or take them to a pre-identified safe location.
- In mass care shelters, pets will be taken to a reserved space. Certified service pets are allowed to stay with their owners for emotional support.
Be financially prepared.
- Access to ATMs may be limited after disasters so have extra cash.
- Anticipate out-of-pocket expenses for lodging, food, gas and more.
- Renters and homeowners should make sure insurance adequately covers them.
- Switch your Social Security or other regular benefits to electronic payments that are deposited directly into your account.
- Local media will keep you informed.
- Up to date weather information available on the National Weather Service’s website at weather.gov/sju for island information.
- Make sure your battery-powered radio is working and you have extra batteries.
- Download the FEMA app to receive weather alerts.
Find other ways to get ready this hurricane season by visiting: Fema’s Official Website
Are Hurricanes Predictable?
The ability to predict where and when a hurricane will hit is a science, but the science is not perfect, as a hurricane is not always going to follow an exact pattern. Tropical Storm Dorian was predicted to hit Puerto Rico but actually missed the island for the brunt of the storm and is not supposed to hit eastern Florida as a type 3 Hurricane at landfall.
If Dorian maintains its current path, it is expected to become a hurricane by Friday afternoon with winds of up to 115 MPH and could even strengthen to the highest end of a Category 3 hurricane with winds as high as 125 MPH. These predictions are the same models that FEMA uses to prepare and to help residents prepare.
Right now, the Eastern coast of Florida is on alert with the National Hurricane Center is saying that landfall on the United States will most likely happen on Monday morning in Florida somewhere between Cape Canaveral and West Palm Beach.
FEMA READY for 30-year storm
While the Bahamas and Puerto Rico have been spared the latest hurricane of the 2019 season, it appears Florida has not. With Dorian picking up velocity and the peak season for hurricanes not hitting until September 10, this latest hurricane may be the strongest to hit Central Florida in 30 years. Florida’s governor has declared a national state of emergency.
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FEMA has already released official Florida flood maps of possible places where flash flooding may take place in case of heavy rainfall by county. It appears that FEMA is on the ground in Florida and ready for the hurricane emergency.
Central Florida has already had massive rain this spring and summer and the area is saturated. More rain is feared to produce flash flooding in those areas with several inches of rain and hurricane force winds.
People in eastern Orange county are preparing their homes by filling sandbags and other usual hurricane preparations often seen along the coast, but Central Florida residents are not taking chances. Most people are stocking up on bottled water and food as well. Stores are already saying supplies are beginning to run low.
FEMA officials recommend preparation as key to surviving any type of emergency. Hurricanes are one type of emergency which FEMA offers assistance. But in the case of any disaster, preparation can reduce anxiety. In the case of a hurricane such as the one predicted to hit Central Florida, being prepared will actually help the recovery process as well.
The official statement of FEMA is:
“Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families, and individuals should know what to do in the event of a fire, hurricane and where to seek shelter during a tornado. They should be ready to evacuate their homes and take refuge in public shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs. “People also can reduce the impact of disasters (flood proofing, elevating a home or moving a home out of harm’s way, and securing items that could shake loose in an earthquake) and sometimes avoid the danger completely.”
Budget cuts to FEMA
The Department of Homeland Security is moving $271 million from other agencies such as FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard to increase the number of beds for detained immigrants and to support its policy forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while cases are waiting for their turn in court.
The news was reported as hurricane season is ramping up and Tropical Storm Dorian is heading toward Puerto Rico. However, FEMA officials insist this is quite normal and does not affect their working budget.
It is not uncommon for unassigned funds to be transferred between agencies under the same department as the fiscal year ends. Last year around the same time, about $200 million was transferred, including $10 million from FEMA.
“We are prepared for this hurricane season,” said a FEMA official, “and we have preparations in place for the islands as well as on the East Coast.” Regardless of the disaster, FEMA seems to be ready to go. As previously stated, the peak season for hurricane season is over around September 10th.
Every citizen in this country is part of a national emergency management system that is all about protection–protecting people and property from all types of hazards. Think of the national emergency management system as a pyramid with you, the citizen, forming the base of the structure. At this level, you have a responsibility to protect yourself and your family by knowing what to do before, during, and after an event. FEMA is on the ground and ready with all the citizens of the state of Florida and anywhere else that a natural disaster that may occur.