FEMA and Federal Partners Continue to Support Hurricane Ian Response

WASHINGTON — President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. this morning approved Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ request for a major disaster declaration. The statement authorizes FEMA to provide individual assistance to survivors in nine counties – Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. It also provides 100% federal funding for debris removal and life-saving emergency measures for 30 days in those counties. FEMA continues to monitor Ian’s path as a second landfall could occur off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will brief President Biden today on federal response efforts at FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center. Criswell will travel to Florida on Friday to personally see response efforts and ensure recovery resources are available for survivors. The federal government coordinated and pre-positioned supplies, and more than 1,300 responders before Ian landed to ensure resources could get to where they need to be as quickly as possible. Federal responders work alongside nearly 5,000 members of the Florida National Guard and other state emergency and response managers.

The federal government deployed a search and rescue coordination group made up of urban search and rescue teams from FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, Customs and Protective Services and from the State of Florida to help coordinate rescue efforts with local authorities.

The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Ian to a tropical storm, but extreme dangers remain, including potentially deadly storm surge through Friday along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Additionally, widespread flooding with record major river flooding will continue through the end of the week in northern Florida and southeastern Georgia and South Carolina.

Individuals should remain alert to Ian’s ongoing risks. Remote inland areas will continue to experience hazardous weather conditions. Be careful and listen to local emergency management officials.

Safety Considerations for Residents

  • Stay off the roads. Rescuers can help people in flooded areas or clean up debris. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way. If you have evacuated, do not return home until local authorities tell you the area is safe.
  • Prepare for power outages. Residents of Georgia and South Carolina should plan now for potential power outages. Plan for batteries and other alternate power sources to meet your needs in the event of a power outage. Use a generator safely. Keep it outside and away from doors, windows or vents.
  • Avoid downed power or utility lines. They can be energized with lethal voltage. Stay away and report them immediately to your electric or utility company.
  • Stay away from flood waters. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or fallen power lines or contain hazards such as human and livestock waste, disease-causing contaminants, sharp debris, or wild or stray animals. Do not walk, swim or drive in flood waters.

State, federal response actions

  • More than 32,000 Mutual Assistance Team members will begin assessing the damage and making repairs today. Additional crews are on standby in areas preparing for Ian’s landing in Georgia and South Carolina.
  • Nearly 200 shelters are open in Florida, serving more than 10,000 people. The Florida Department of Emergency Management has deployed several hundred shelter support staff to assist counties that have opened their special hurricane shelters.
  • FEMA teams have already delivered 1.1 million meals and 1.5 million liters of water to areas of Florida. Further water and food supplies will be delivered pending security conditions following the impact of the storm. FEMA secures an additional 6 million liters of water and 5.5 million meals.
  • The US Coast Guard uses helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft for immediate search and rescue response. The Department of Defense has more than 1,200 ocean-going vehicles and 25 craft supporting search and rescue operations.
  • FEMA has activated a medical assistance contract for ambulances and paratransit seats. The 300 resources requested by the National Disaster Medical System have arrived in Florida, including 400 ambulances, 15 bariatric paratransit ambulances and four rotary aircraft to evacuate medically vulnerable people from nursing homes and other medical facilities as needed.
  • More than 2,000 federal employees are supporting the response across the Southeast. FEMA has over 3,200 reservists available to deploy in support. Additionally, more than 7,500 members of the Surge Capacity Force are signed up for deployment if needed. The agency is in the process of establishing a staff mobilization center to expedite forward movements when needed.
  • Incident management teams are located at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, with additional teams in Miami and Atlanta. Mobile emergency response support teams are also in Tallahassee and Orlando, as well as Montgomery, Alabama and Thomasville, Georgia, to support any state coordination needs.
  • Four mobile communications operations vehicles are staged at Maxwell Air Force Base with an additional unit in Orlando. Two mobile emergency operations vehicles and a mobile emergency response team are in Florida.
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency and deployed a 38-person disaster medical assistance team to Miami, and two other teams to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. HHS also deployed health and medical work teams and four pharmacists to Atlanta.
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Routine non-criminal immigration enforcement operations will not be conducted at evacuation sites or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks. Additionally, officers will be vigilant against any efforts by criminals to exploit the disruption caused by the storm.

Resources for evacuees and survivors

  • Florida survivors who live in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties can apply for federal assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or using the FEMA App. Survivors using a relay service, such as a video relay service, captioned telephone service, or others, can give the FEMA operator the number for that service.
  • Volunteer agencies are preparing to carry out feeding operations, including the American Red Cross, Florida Baptist, Salvation Army, Feeding Florida, Farm Share, Midwest Food Bank, Operation BBQ Relief, Mercy Chefs and World Central Kitchen. FEMA and its partners have the capacity to serve tens of thousands of meals per day.
  • Medically dependent Florida residents who need electricity to run medical equipment, transportation services to evacuate due to a medical condition, or who need help obtaining medication during a disaster can register for help at FloridaDisaster.org/SNR.
  • Visit Hurricane Ian | FEMA.gov for information and resources available to Florida residents affected by the storm. The page will be available in Creole, Simplified Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese.

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