As a Category 5 with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, Hurricane Irma now ranks among the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded. (Image courtesy of NOAA)

Critical Infrastructure

FEMA & Feds Prepare for Critical Category 5 Hurricane Irma (Videos)

By AST Administrator

September 08, 2017

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., its Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) in New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta, and FEMA liaisons to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida, are preparing for Hurricane Irma, now a dangerous Category 5 hurricane.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hurricane Irma could cause catastrophic damage as it passes the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and potentially heads toward southern Florida.

(FEMA administrator Brock Long joined CBS This Morning from Washington to discuss Hurricane Irma preparations and reports that FEMA could run out of funds by Friday. Courtesy of CBS This Morning and YouTube)

A state of emergency has been declared by the governors in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida.

Approximately 124 FEMA staff have been deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with an additional 83 staff currently serving in the FEMA call center in Puerto Rico.

FEMA has pre-staged meals and water in preparation for the storm, to be provided as requested by Commonwealth and territory partners.

Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta, Georgia, New York, New York, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, are all activated with interagency partners to monitor Hurricane Irma, and respond as the storm track changes.

FEMA regional and national Incident Management Assistance Teams are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and en route to Florida.

(Florida Governor Rick Scott gave the latest on update on Hurricane Irma preps as the forecast cone shows the hurricane making it’s way to the state. Courtesy of CBS Miami and YouTube)

Additional Federal Efforts Underway

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross began issuing hurricane preparedness messaging through the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands media 72 hours ago, on how to prepare for a disaster like this, and steps people should take to get ready.

The Red Cross is prepared to support or open shelters; potential shelter locations have been identified and can be used in areas which might be affected by the storm.

They have also alerted disaster volunteers about the oncoming storm to be ready for deployment as needed.

The Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing for Hurricane Irma now, closing down offices in the storm’s path and putting out communications in English and Spanish about ways to prepare.

They are working to assess and secure superfund sites ahead of the storm.

The Department of Energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) is closely monitoring the storm and responders have been pre-positioned with FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams in Puerto Rico and St. Croix.

Responders are also deployed to both the FEMA Region II and IV Coordination Centers.

The National Guard Bureau

The National Guard Bureau has deployed Joint Enabling Teams to the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Puerto Rico and Florida teams are currently in development. Additional resources being readied are Civil Support Teams, Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, medical, and security assets.

The National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) in the U.S. Virgin Islands began closing facilities on September 1, and all employees are accounted for. NPS is in the process of pulling all its boats and reports that generators are available. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, the NPS anticipates sending personnel to the U.S. Virgin Islands to pre-stage right before the storm in order to help clear roads. This crew can self-sustain for 7 days.

The DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate

The DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) is preparing to deploy communications representatives and other staff from Regions I and II to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Staff are also pre-positioned to support response to an East Coast event.

The Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has preemptively closed all of its offices in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as of 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, September 5.  An SSA Emergency Response Team, including representatives from New York (Puerto Rico and Caribbean) and Atlanta Regional Offices, will begin meeting today to plan response and recovery efforts in Irma’s aftermath.

The United States Geological Survey

The United States Geological Survey USGS is in the process of planning for and installing flood sensors in potentially affected areas.

Prepare Now

Now is the time for everyone in the U.S. Atlantic territories, and those living along the U.S. gulf and east coasts to prepare for this potentially catastrophic storm.

Hurricane conditions are expected in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Wednesday.

Destructive winds, storm surge, heavy rainfall and flash flooding are possible.

There is a growing chance of seeing impacts from Irma in parts of Florida later this week.

Update your disaster kit

(Here are the most essential items to put in your preparation kit for a hurricane or other disaster, based on lists from FEMA and other agencies. Courtesy of NOLA .com and YouTube)

Know your evacuation routes and prepare options for overnight lodging

Develop an emergency communication plan

Download the FEMA mobile app

FEMA App Provides Emergency Information At Your Fingertips: It’s Scary Simple

(Let the FEMA App help you with up-to-date alerts during emergencies, storms, and other natural disasters. Find out more information on how to prepare for emergencies at Ready.gov. Courtesy of FEMA and YouTube)