Hurricane Michael becomes one of strongest storms to ever make landfall in continental US

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Hurricane Michael makes landfall on the Florida panhandle.

Following Hurricane Michael’s landfall, first responders are beginning search and rescue efforts in Florida as the storm continues to move through the southeast.

“Right now what we need is neighbor helping neighbor,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “We deploy resources and responders, but we know often times it is neighbors who are the first people to help those in need.”

As Michael continues to move through parts of South Carolina and North Carolina today, the storm could drop several inches of rain before moving back out to sea.

Residents in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina should:

--Follow instructions from local officials. If you evacuated and are planning to return home, wait until local officials say it is safe to return.

--Text, don’t call. During an emergency, phones lines may be overwhelmed. To let your loved ones know you are safe, send a text instead.

--Check in with neighbors. If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors. You may be the help they need right now.

--Let first responders do their jobs. Stay off the roads, beaches, and waterways. Use VHF Channel 16 or call 911 for emergency needs.

Overnight, President Trump granted an emergency declaration request for Georgia counties following Tuesday’s emergency declaration for Florida.

With more than 3,000 personnel responding to Hurricane Michael, FEMA is working with other federal, state and local officials as response efforts continue throughout the day.

Commodities are staged in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina with additional supplies being readied should there be a request. Additionally, utility crews from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Louisiana and Pennsylvania have mobilized to begin restoring power as soon it is safe to do so.

Other federal, private sector and voluntary organizations actions for response activities as of 6 a.m. today include:


--FEMA deployed two Incident Management Assistance Teams to the Florida Emergency Operations Center and one IMAT to the Alabama Emergency Operations Center to support readiness and response activities and ensure there are no unmet needs. Additional IMAT teams remain in North Carolina and South Carolina to assist with necessary response efforts there.

--FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) units equipped with secure and non-secure voice, video and information services are deployed in Alabama, Florida and Georgia to support emergency response communications needs. Additional FEMA mobile communications vehicles are deploying to support potentially affected areas 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.

--FEMA has staged meals, water, cots, blankets and other resources at Incident Support Bases, distribution centers, and sites in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, to support the needs of states as they exhaust their supplies until stores can reopen. The quantity of supplies on hand will fluctuate as supplies are continuously moving.

American Red Cross

--Nearly 8,000 people stayed in 67 Red Cross shelters open in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

--As people are now in shelters, survivors can use the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well site to check in and find missing individuals.

--More than 500 trained disaster workers are on the way or staged to join volunteers already in place in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

--The Red Cross is ramping up to offer meals and other services to Hurricane Michael survivors.

U.S. Department of Defense

--Previously staged U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) assets: 32 rotary wing aircraft, 7 fixed wing aircraft, 32 swift water vessels, up to 240 high-water-vehicles and rescue personnel are ready for assignment.

National Guard Bureau

--Florida Gov. Rick Scott activated 2,500 Florida National Guard troops to assist with immediate life-saving activities.

--Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal ordered 1,500 Georgia National Guard troops to standby to assist in Hurricane Michael response efforts.

U. S. Coast Guard

--Nine fixed wing and 24 rotary wing aircraft were pre-positioned outside of the storm track. Four shallow water rescue teams are staged in Alabama four shallow water rescue teams are in Georgia with 10 additional teams on standby; 10 boats are either pre-positioned or on standby.

--Fixed and rotary wing assets are pre-staged outside of the storm track; eight shallow water rescue teams are staged in Alabama with 10 additional teams on standby; 10 boats are either pre-positioned or on standby.

--Sixteen Coast Guard cutters are positioned to assist with search and rescue efforts.

--Coast Guard Damage Assessment Teams and Reconstruction Teams deploying to assess and repair damaged facilities.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

--U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's District Emergency Operations Centers have been activated in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. More than 80 personnel are supporting response efforts.

--A Temporary Power Planning and Response Team and members from the 249th Engineer Battalion were deployed to provide temporary emergency power in Florida. Additional teams have been placed on alert.

--A Deployable Tactical Operations System Vehicle is in Florida to assist with communication capabilities and connectivity.

U.S. Department of Energy

--The Department of Energy (DOE) has activated its Energy Response Organization; responders deployed to the Regional Response Coordination Center, and to Florida and Georgia State Emergency Operations Centers. Additional DOE responders are on standby to deploy as needed.

--DOE is holding daily calls with the energy industry to ensure unity of effort.

--Temporary power (generators, fuel, and propane) are pre-positioned in Alabama.

--DOE is closely monitoring the availability of fuel across the Southeast. Overall, supplies of gasoline in the region are at or above the five-year range.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

--U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Azar declared a public health emergency in Florida. The declaration gives the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.

--HHS has teams of medical personnel from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) in Mobile, Ala. and Jacksonville, Fla., along with an Incident Management Team. More than 125 HHS personnel are deployed.

--An additional 100 personnel from the NDMS and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps are on alert and ready to deploy, if needed.

--The HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has made the Disaster Distress Helpline available to assist residents in the impacted area in coping with the stress caused by Hurricane Michael. To connect with a trained crisis counselor, call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (for Spanish, press 2 or text Hablanos to 66746)

--Five Ambulance strike teams are mobilizing to support as needed.

Corporation for National Community Service

--All AmeriCorps disaster response teams (that are not actively supporting Hurricane Florence) are on standby and ready to deploy.

U.S. Department of Transportation

--The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Crisis Management Center is fully staffed and activated until further notice.

--USDOT has established a Routing Assistance Hotline to support the movement of federal, state and local personnel, equipment and goods during the response to Hurricane Michael.

--USDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics created an interactive web mapping application to provide real-time situational awareness of the storm path and its impact on user-selected transportation infrastructure.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Protection and Programs Directorate

--DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) stood up its Crisis Action Team (CAT). The CAT provides NPPD with the flexibility to rapidly expand operational focus and support affected cyber and critical infrastructure partners at the state, local, tribal and territorial government levels.

--The NPPD’s National Risk Management Center is monitoring critical infrastructure that may have been impacted by Hurricane Michael or may still be in the storm’s path.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

--EPA has deployed an on-site coordinator to the Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, FL.

--EPA is reviewing the status of Superfund sites and is in contact with site operators.

--EPA has identified priority oil and chemical facilities and sites that might require assessment after landfall.

U.S. Department of Interior

--Department of Interior has 225 teams on the ground ready to assist as soon as the storm passes over the impact zone.

--The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement are overseeing safety on oil rigs in the Gulf area; as assessments on more than 600 oil rig platforms occur.

U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection

--U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s highest priority remains the preservation of life and safety. There will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to Michael, except in the event of a serious public safety threat.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

--USDA’s Operations Center is functioning around the clock as USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices stand ready and eager to assist survivors.

--USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website that provides information about disaster assistance programs offered by the USDA.

U.S. Department of Labor

--The U.S. Department of Labor will make National Dislocated Worker Grant (DWG) funding available to help Florida assess its workforce needs.

--DWGs temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker training and employment programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance after large, unexpected events that cause significant job losses.

--Funding is available to impacted counties to supplement state and local response and recovery efforts.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

--NOAA’s National Ocean Service is issuing Storm Quicklooks for Michael, providing near real-time information about water levels and wind conditions during the storm.

--NOAA scientists are monitoring potential impacts to the red tide event in Florida and will assess the impact following the storm.

Whole Community Response Efforts

--The Salvation Army has 48 mobile kitchens dedicated to support Hurricane Michael response and recovery efforts. 18 mobile feeding units (canteens) are on standby; 9 additional mobile units to arrive October 12;

--Operation Barbeque Relief is staging field kitchens in Tampa and Tallahassee with a total meal capacity of 30,000 meals per day for these two field kitchens.

--Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has 12 additional kitchens in nearby states that can help feed survivors, if required.

--Volunteers from community and faith-based organizations are offering services, including temporary sheltering across the impacted region.

Contributed by FEMA