DHS

Subscribe to DHS feed
Updated: 44 min 6 sec ago

Federal Response Teams Assisting in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

6 hours 56 min ago
Release Date: September 25, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – In the wake of Hurricane Maria, life, personal safety, and access to safe shelters for disaster survivors remain a priority of local responders, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the entire federal family.

To aid in life sustaining missions, six FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) task forces are deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and are working in tandem with numerous federal partners to rescue and render aid to distressed survivors in the region.  Additional FEMA US&R task forces are arriving today to expand operations, as areas become accessible. FEMA US&R task forces currently conducting operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands include Virginia Task Forces 1 and 2, Florida Task Forces 1 and 2, and California Task Forces 6 and 7. Components of New York Task Force 1 and Massachusetts Task Force 1 are on the ground providing logistics support.

Federal partners assisting with Search and Rescue (SAR) missions include the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and the U.S. Department of the Interior / National Park Service.

Collectively, these federal agencies have rescued 180 individuals and searched more than 45 structures in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

FEMA Urban Search and Rescue task force members meet with local officials on St. Croix to coordinate search and rescue operations.

The U.S. Coast Guard is operating nine cutters in the vicinity of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, bringing helicopter SAR support, while teams from CBP are operating two P-3 maritime patrol aircraft to assist in communications, a wide-area search, and distress signal monitoring capabilities. An additional five flight deck-equipped cutters, five patrol boats, four rotary wing, and one fixed wing aircraft are moving to the vicinity of U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to further support search and rescue efforts.

While US&R teams continue targeted sweeps of the affected areas, teams from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management are providing security and force protection to rescuers.

Department of Defense support includes helicopter SAR flights, damage assessment flights, beach assessments, and patient evacuation flights flown from the amphibious ships USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill and Marines embarked from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

FEMA US&R teams are organized under the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System, which partners federal, state and local partner emergency response teams to create 28 US&R task forces. These 28 task forces are located throughout the continental United States and can be activated to provide assistance in survivor rescue, damage assessment, and SAR in a water environment. The task forces deployed consist of multi-faceted, and cross-trained personnel who service in major functional areas to include: search, rescue, medical, hazardous materials, logistics, and planning. A task force also includes technical specialists, such as physicians, structural engineers, and canine search teams.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the DoD conducted medical evacuations for more than 100 patients from the islands to the continental United States.

The National Guard Bureau (NGB) has more than 2,300 Guard members on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands taking part in security and support operations. The Air National Guard is focused on transporting food, water, and communications capabilities as well as rapidly increasing airlift into affected areas.

FEMA, working in coordination with federal partners, provided more than 1.5-million meals, 1.1-million liters of water, nearly 300 infant and toddler kits, and nearly 12,000 emergency roofing kits to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico for distribution to the public since Hurricane Maria’s landfall.

###

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, emergency response, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Maria, natural disasters

Federal Government Continues Hurricane Maria Response and Relief Operations

7 hours 28 min ago
Release Date: September 25, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) continues to coordinate federal support for U.S. Virgin Islands’ and Puerto Rico’s response efforts.  Federal partners are aggressively working to meet and overcome challenges to opening ports and restoring power to bring additional life-saving commodities and personnel into disaster-affected areas.

FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) task forces rescued 165 individuals and searched over 45 structures. Of those, approximately 100 people were rescued from a collapsing bridge in Puerto Rico today.  Four US&R task forces are stationed in the Caribbean with another eight teams en route. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is conducting search and rescue operations in St. Croix, and in the surrounding waters, and so far rescued 15 individuals. 
 

FEMA Urban Search & Rescue teams VA-TF1 & CA-TF6, USFS & BLM Force Protection found a cut-off neighborhood in Puerto Rico via air. Accessed and able to provide medical care. (Sept. 23, 2017)

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) successfully opened five airports in Puerto Rico, and two airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands, for military and relief flights to bring in commodities, and lifesaving and life-sustaining resources.  Federal partners established a fuel distribution site in San Juan for federal and local entities, to support first responder and critical facility needs.

Flights and sea vessels loaded with commodities are arriving or awaiting airport/port clearance for delivery:

  • Six commercial barges transported and delivered meals, water, generators, cots, and other commodities to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • An air bridge is established, flying three flights per day to St. Croix, each carrying approximately 33,000 meals.
  • The logistics support ship SS Wright arrived carrying more than 1.1 million meals, and nearly one million liters of freshwater.
  • Two shipping barges with 1.2 million liters of water, 31 generators, and more than 6,000 cots arrived in St. Thomas.
  • Two additional shipping barges loaded with food, water, and emergency relief supplies are en route to the Caribbean Sea from Florida.
  • Millions of additional meals are being flown to Puerto Rico from staging areas in Kentucky and Florida.
  • The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is transporting a shipment of 124,000 gallons of diesel fuel to Puerto Rico, with arrival in the coming days.

Federal Efforts Underway as of September 23, 2017   

  • The American Red Cross (ARC) continues to work with government officials and partners in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes nearly 180 Red Cross volunteers and staff. They are also working with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to bring relief to people on the islands.
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
    • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) survey crews continue hydrographic surveys of San Juan Harbor to assess channel conditions for lifting port restrictions. Members of the 249th Prime Power Battalion are in Puerto Rico supporting power restoration activities. Additional generators and installation team members are en route to assist with support for emergency temporary power. The first Right of Entry center opened in St. Thomas on September 22, and the first Blue Roof in St. Thomas was completed today.
    • The U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) is responding to Hurricane Maria with more than 1,600 service members conducting security and support operations. Additional National Guard personnel are preparing to respond.
      • In Puerto Rico, while damage assessments continue, the National Guard established two Joint Incident Site Communications Capabilities to help restore communication for the military and local communities to utilize around the island. As damage assessments are completed, the National Guard remains ready to fulfill the needs of the governor.
      • In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the National Guard provided special-tactics personnel who were able to clear airfields and establish tower operations in St. Thomas and St. Croix for military aircraft.  Search and rescue operations, security and law enforcement support, as well as route clearance and life-sustainment commodity distribution continue.
    • U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) remains partnered with FEMA and the governments of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, and engaged in disaster relief and assistance to the areas affected. As assessments of the area continue, and as more air and sea ports are developed, providing medical support to the affected areas continues to be a priority. The Department of Defense is supporting this need with fixed wing aeromedical evacuation from St. Croix and the return of the Army Area Support Medical Company to St. Thomas. Additionally, air traffic control capabilities in St. Thomas will increase significantly with the return of the Federal Aviation Administration tower and Instrument Landing System. The USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group continues beach assessments for ship-to-shore movements, which will allow for key response capabilities to enable route clearance operations and distribution.
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working closely with the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), the American Public Power Association, the Department of Defense, and FEMA to facilitate mutual aid for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Initial damage assessments and power restoration efforts continue on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. DOE is working closely with FEMA and the Defense Logistics Agency to facilitate fuel for generators and response efforts on St Thomas, to alleviate any potential fuel shortages. They are coordinating with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), FEMA and industry to transport additional crews to the island to support damage assessments. DOE is posting Situation Reports here, and WAPA is posting updates here.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency issued a No Action Assurance (NAA) for mobile power generators for hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico on September 22, 2017. This NAA is in the public interest and is issued at the request of the Governor of Puerto Rico.
    • EPA has important resources available online in English and Spanish about floodwaters, hazardous debris, household hazardous waste, and other hurricane impacts. For information and updates, visit: www.epa.gov/hurricane-maria.
  • The Federal Communications Commission is monitoring the status of communications networks in the areas affected by Hurricane Maria and created a dedicated webpage for daily communications status reports, information, and resources related to the Hurricane.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) is assembling a team of skilled employees to deploy to the area as soon as possible to augment their Caribbean-based employees for damage assessments of GSA properties and management of federal agency leases. USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov continue to support federal agency messaging on their home pages and are compiling federal agency updates and messaging on their Hurricane Maria pages found at https://www.usa.gov/hurricane-mariahttps://gobierno.usa.gov/huracan-maria.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working with commonwealth and territory officials, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to assess medical and public health needs that federal government medical and public health teams can meet. Additional HHS medical teams continue to provide care for dialysis patients who were evacuated from St. Thomas to Miami.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working closely with pharmaceutical and device companies with manufacturing sites in Puerto Rico to prevent shortages of medically necessary drugs and devices.
  • U.S. Coast Guard damage assessment teams, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were able to open the Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico, for daylight operations. All other ports in Puerto Rico remain closed while those teams work to ensure the ports are safe for commencing operations. A Coast Guard mobile communications convoy is en route to Puerto Rico to help improve communications across the storm-impacted area. Coast Guard personnel continue to deliver critical FEMA relief supplies to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) currently has 96 personnel supporting the response under FEMA mission assignments, helping recovery efforts, providing search and rescue teams, storm and flood monitoring information, law enforcement and other assistance. Additional personnel are being deployed, and more than 2,000 others in the department volunteered for surge deployment to all affected areas.
  • Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies is providing 12 generators to the Puerto Rico Center for Independent Living and The University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities. These will be used to set up power stations for people with disabilities to power their wheelchairs and other assistive technologies. For more information, visit their webpage.
  • U.S. Postal Service (USPS) facilities on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are closed—there are no retail services, package or mail pick up at any USPS location. Customers can find the latest service statuses at USPS Service Alerts.
     

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley delivers food and water from FEMA to Vieques, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2017. The crew offloaded 750 liters of bottled water and 1,440 meals. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley)

###

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, emergency response, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Maria, natural disasters

Statement by Acting Secretary Elaine Duke on the President's Proclamation on Enhanced Global Security Measures

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 20:19
Release Date: September 24, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON - “Today’s announcement by the President will protect Americans and allow DHS to better keep terrorists and criminals from entering our country. The restrictions announced are tough and tailored, and they send a message to foreign governments that they must work with us to enhance security.”

For more information on the enhanced global security measures, view the frequently asked questions and fact sheet.

# # #

Topics:  Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, immigration enforcement, terrorism prevention

The President’s Proclamation on Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 19:52
Release Date: September 24, 2017Background
  • Every year, the United States grants lawful permanent resident status to approximately 1.1 million individuals from all across the world.
  • In FY 2016, the United States issued approximately 10.4 million nonimmigrant visas to individuals from all across the world.
  • In FY 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers processed more than 390 million travelers at air, land, and sea ports of entry, including more than 119 million travelers at airports of entry.
  • Over the last five years, international travel has grown 15 percent overall and 26 percent at airports. International travel at U.S. airports of entry increased 6 percent from FY2015. Over the next five years, international travel is projected to increase at an annual rate of 4 percent.
National Security Baseline
  • The Administration’s top priority is ensuring the safety and security of the American people.
  • The Administration remains focused on raising the baseline for national security standards.
  • Section 2 of Executive Order 13780 requires the Administration to determine what minimum information is needed from each foreign country to adjudicate an application by a national of that country for an immigration benefit and determine that the individual is not a security or public safety threat.
  • The previous screening/vetting status quo for border and immigration security must be improved for individuals from certain countries, if the United States is to adequately counter terrorism and transnational crime threats against its people. 
  • The new requirements reflect best practices derived from proven and effective security partnerships, such as the Visa Waiver Program, and from internationally-recognized law enforcement and national security initiatives, such as the adoption of ePassports to prevent fraud and counterfeiting. 
  • These include electronic passports, the sharing of criminal data, reporting lost/stolen passports, and providing data on known and suspected terrorists.
  • Sharing of this information is particularly critical for those areas of the world where risk is higher, such as those countries with significant terrorist populations that may seek to conduct attacks in the U.S. and who repeatedly fail to take back their nationals subject to a final order of removal thereby taxing our immigration system. 
Robust Review and Engagement Process
  • Section 2 of Executive Order 13780 consisted of multiple steps: 
    • We conducted a worldwide review of information-sharing practices.
    • We analyzed the information collected in that review to establish a new information-sharing standard that protects U.S. national security.
    • We communicated the new standard globally.  Where practicable, we worked with those countries we determined were not meeting it to enhance their information-sharing or formulate a plan to do so.
    • Following that robust engagement period, we made recommendations based on the results of that engagement to further national security. 
  • First, Section 2(b) of Executive Order 13780 directed the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence, to “conduct a worldwide review to identify whether, and if so what, additional information will be needed from each foreign country to adjudicate an application by a national of that country for a visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudication) in order to determine that the individual is not a security or public-safety threat.”
  • After analyzing the information collected in that review, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, submitted a report that established baseline requirements for 1) information sharing about identity management; 2) information sharing about national security and public safety; and 3) national security and public-safety risk factors.  The information sharing requirements reflect a combination of long-standing U.S. government goals and standards established by international bodies, such as the United Nations (UN), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and INTERPOL.  
  • As directed under Section 2(d), the Secretary of State then requested that all foreign governments initially assessed as not supplying adequate information to begin to do so, or provide an adequate plan to do so, within 50 days of notification.
  • After the 50-day period, Section 2(e) of the Executive Order instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, to submit to the President a list of countries that have not provided the information requested, have not provided an adequate plan to do so, and do not adequately share through other means.  Following an assessment of those countries, and in consultation with interagency stakeholders, the DHS Secretary made her final recommendation to the President on foreign nationals who should be subject to travel restrictions or other lawful actions, due to deficiencies in identity management or information sharing, and/or other risk factors in place in those countries. 
  • The Department of State engaged with foreign governments in order to meet these new standards for information sharing. We have been working, where necessary, with willing foreign governments to design a plan to provide the information requested.
  • The Administration will keep the public informed, if and when there is information to share, about changes affecting travelers to the United States who may be affected by these changes.
Country-Specific Travel Restrictions
  • The United States maintained, modified, or eased restriction on 5 of 6 countries currently designated by Executive Order 13780.  Those countries are Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.
  • The United States lifted restrictions on 1 of 6 countries currently designated by Executive Order 13780: Sudan.
  • The United States added restrictions and/or additional vetting on 3 additional countries found to not meet baseline requirements, but that were not included in Executive Order 13780.  These countries are: Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.
  • The country specific restrictions are as follows:
    • Chad – Although it is an important partner, especially in the fight against terrorists, the government in Chad does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, and several terrorist groups are active within Chad or in the surrounding region, including elements of Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa, and al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb.  Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Chad, as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is suspended.
    • Iran – The government in Iran regularly fails to cooperate with the United States Government in identifying security risks; is the source of significant terrorist threats; is state sponsor of terrorism; and fails to receive its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States.  Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Iran as immigrants and as nonimmigrants is suspended, except that entry by nationals of Iran under valid student (F and M) and exchange visitor (J) visas is not suspended, although such individuals will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
    • Libya – Although it is an important partner, especially in the area of counterterrorism, the government in Libya faces significant challenges in sharing several types of information, including public-safety and terrorism-related information; has significant inadequacies in its identity-management protocols; has been assessed to be not fully cooperative with respect to receiving its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States; and has a substantial terrorist presence within its territory.  Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Libya, as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is suspended.
    • North Korea – The government in North Korea does not cooperate with the United States Government in any respect and fails to satisfy all information-sharing requirements.  Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of North Korea as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.
    • Somalia – Although it satisfies minimum U.S. information-sharing requirements, the government in Somalia still has significant identity-management deficiencies; is recognized as a terrorist safe haven; remains a destination for individuals attempting to join terrorist groups that threaten the national security of the United States; and struggles to govern its territory and to limit terrorists’ freedom of movement, access to resources, and capacity to operate.  Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Somalia as immigrants is suspended, and nonimmigrants traveling to the United States will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
    • Syria – The government in Syria regularly fails to cooperate with the U.S. Government in identifying security risks; is the source of significant terrorist threats; has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism; has significant inadequacies in identity-management protocols; and fails to share public-safety and terrorism information.  Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Syria as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.
    • Venezuela – The government in Venezuela is uncooperative in verifying whether its citizens pose national security or public-safety threats; fails to share public-safety and terrorism-related information adequately; and has been assessed to be not fully cooperative with respect to receiving its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States.  Accordingly, the entry into the United States of certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas is suspended. 
    • Yemen – Although it is an important partner, especially in the fight against terrorism, the government in Yemen faces significant identity-management challenges, which are amplified by the notable terrorist presence within its territory; fails to satisfy critical identity-management requirements; and does not share public-safety and terrorism-related information adequately.  Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Yemen as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is suspended.
  • The Secretary of Homeland Security also assesses Iraq as inadequate according to the baseline criteria, but has determined that entry restrictions and limitations under a Presidential proclamation are not warranted because of the close cooperative relationship between the United States and the democratically elected government of Iraq, the strong United States diplomatic presence in Iraq, the significant presence of United States forces in Iraq, and Iraq’s commitment to combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 
    • The Secretary recommends, however, that nationals of Iraq who seek to enter the United States be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the United States.
New Baseline for Information Sharing to Support Visa and Immigration Vetting Determinations

I.  Identity Management: Establishing identity is a critical factor in effective immigration vetting.  Under this standard, countries must improve passport integrity by:

1.  Issuing secure passports:  International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)-compliant biometric passports (known as ePassports).
2.  Reporting lost and stolen passport information to Interpol in a timely, routine, and consistent basis.
3.  Sharing additional information upon request by the U.S. Government to validate an applicant’s identity.
 

II. National Security and Public Safety Information: Effective admissibility decisions cannot be made without knowledge of a traveler’s potential criminal or terrorist history.  Countries must:

1.  Identify serious criminals:  Provide data regarding whether nationals applying for a U.S. visa, admissions, or immigration benefit are serious criminals.
2.  Provide data on known or suspected terrorists:  Proactively share biographic and biometric information about known and suspected terrorists (KST), including foreign fighters.
3.  Provide national identity documentation:  Share exemplars of their passports and identity cards.
4.  Partnership with travel industry:  Ensure that the airlines and vessel operators are not impeded from providing the USG with information about people traveling to the United States. 
 

III. National Security and Public-Safety Risk Assessment: The criteria assessed in this category include:

1.  Whether the country is a known or potential terrorist safe haven.
2.  Whether the country is a participant in the Visa Waiver Program and whether it meets all of its requirements.
3.  Whether the country regularly fails to receive its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States.

FAQs Q. What was the basis for the requirements?

A. The Section 2(b) report submitted by the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, established baseline requirements for 1) identity management practices and 2) information sharing on national security and public safety threats.  The requirements reflect a combination of long-standing U.S. Government goals, as well as standards established by international bodies such as the United Nations (UN), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and INTERPOL.  They incorporate best practices derived from proven and effective security partnerships, such as the Visa Waiver Program, and from internationally-recognized identity management practices, law enforcement practices, and national security initiatives, such as the adoption of ePassports to prevent fraud and counterfeiting.
 

Q. What was the methodology for evaluating foreign governments against information sharing requirements?

A. The U.S. Government review involved an evaluation of foreign government’s information sharing practices against the requirements established in the Section 2(b) report.  The evaluation was based on an analysis of current practices, as well as additional input gathered during the 50-day engagement period with foreign governments and USG personnel on the ground in these countries.
 

Q. Why do the restrictions differ by country?

A. Restrictions were tailored, as appropriate, given the unique conditions in and deficiencies of each country, as well as other country-specific considerations.
 

Q. Which countries are designated? Why?

A. Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia.  While Somalia generally satisfies the minimum information-sharing requirements, its performance with respect to the baseline’s other categories demonstrates that it presents special circumstances that warrant specific restrictions and security enhancements to protect the American people.  Please see the Presidential proclamation for further details.
 

Q. Who does the new Proclamation apply to?

A. Restrictions were tailored, as appropriate given the unique conditions in and deficiencies of each country.  In general, the proclamation applies to nationals from the covered countries applying for a U.S. visa, effective immediately for nationals of countries subject to entry restrictions under Executive Order 13780 who lack a bona fide connection to a person or entity in the United States, and 21 days after issuance for all other individuals covered in the proclamation.  Prospective visa applicants from the countries covered by the proclamation should review their intended visa category closely as, in some cases, the President limited travel restrictions to certain visa types.

Further, the suspension of entry pursuant to section 2 of the proclamation does not apply to:

 (i)    any lawful permanent resident of the United States;(ii)   any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this proclamation;
(iii)  any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document;
(iv)   any dual national of a country designated under section 2 of this proclamation when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
(v)    any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa; or
(vi)   any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States; or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
 

Q. Will visas be revoked?

A. No. The proclamation is expressly limited to individuals who do not have a valid visa on the effective date of the proclamation.
 

Q. How can countries be removed from the travel suspension?

A. Under Executive Order 13780, the Secretary of Homeland Security may recommend to the President the removal of a country from the proclamation or an adjustment of the travel restrictions imposed on its nationals at any time.  As noted in the President’s proclamation, restrictions should remain in place until such time as the Secretary of Homeland Security is satisfied, after consulting with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, that the information necessary from that country to ensure the proper vetting and screening of its nationals has been made available and that doing so is in the security and welfare interests of the United States.  We intend to work closely with countries to ensure they meet the requirements.
 

Q. Does the President have this authority?

A. Yes. The President has constitutional and statutory authority, including pursuant to Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which states:

(f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.

Q. When do the restrictions and limitations take effect?

A. The restrictions and limitations took effect at 3:30 p.m. eastern daylight time on September 24, 2017, for foreign nationals who were subject to the suspension of entry under section 2 of E.O. 13780, and who lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity of the United States. The restrictions and limitations take effect at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on October 18, 2017, for all other foreign nationals subject to the suspension of entry under section 2 of E.O. 13780, and for nationals of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.

 

 

Topics:  Immigration Enforcement, International Keywords:  dhs, immigration, immigration enforcement, visas

President Donald J. Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:44
Release Date: September 22, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to supplement the Commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Maria from September 17, 2017, and continuing.

The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamón, Caguas , Canóvanas, Carolina, Cataño, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guayama, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Humacao, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Juncos, Las Piedras, Loíza, Luquillo, Manati, Maunabo, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Ponce, Rio Grande, Salinas, San Juan, San Lorenzo, Santa Isabel, Toa Baja, Toa Alta, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, and Yabucoa municipalities. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is also available to the Commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in all 78 municipalities in the Commonwealth.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures throughout the Commonwealth. 

Alejandro De La Campa has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. De La Campa said additional designations may be made at a later date if warranted by the results of damage assessments.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov/es or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.twitter.com/femaspox, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at www.twitter.com/fema_brock.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, FEMA, Hurricane, natural disasters

Hurricane Maria Response and Relief Operations Underway

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:35
Release Date: September 22, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) top priority is to provide life-saving resources to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while aggressively working to gain greater access to disaster affected areas.

Federal coordinating officers and other FEMA personnel are on the ground, coordinating with the governors of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and their respective emergency management agencies.

FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) operations began today with initial damage assessments and intelligence reports. Four US&R task forces are stationed in the Caribbean with another eight teams awaiting airfield openings. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is conducting search and rescue operations in St. Croix and in the surrounding waters.

U.S. Coast Guard aircrews deploy for search and rescue missions around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

FEMA US&R New York Task Force 1 deploys to support rescue and recovery efforts in the Caribbean following Hurricane Maria

U.S. Coast Guard personnel and assets bunker down Sept. 20 in Puerto Rico in order to respond and provide relief for Hurricane Maria.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintained air traffic control services in San Juan at the Combined Terminal Radar Approach and En Route Center (which provide air traffic services for high altitude flights over that region of the Atlantic) throughout Hurricane Maria’s landfall. This was the result of the extraordinary actions of a small group of FAA controllers and technicians who kept systems and generators operating. Also, a mobile air traffic control tower and instrument landing system is being returned to St. Thomas airport and will be operational today.

FEMA-loaded vessels with more than 1.3 million meals, 2 million liters of water, 30 generators and 6,000 cots are en route to St. Thomas, awaiting port opening and clearance. FEMA also pre-positioned commodities at its Distribution Center and Warehouse in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Commodities including meals, water, cots, and blankets are readyfor distribution to the Commonwealth as requested.

Yesterday President Trump issued major disaster declarations for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Maria. These declarations make federal funding available to affected individuals in designated areas. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.  Federal funding is available to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures. 

Those in designated areas of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands who are able to register for assistance may do so online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. If able, online registration is the quickest way to register for federal assistance.  Survivors who do not have access to the internet may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly.

Federal Efforts Underway as of September 21, 2017  

  • The American Red Cross Emergency App features an “I’m Safe” button that allows users to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and family know they are out of harm’s way. The app can be downloaded for free in app stores by searching for “American Red Cross” or by texting ‘GETEMERGENCY’ to 90999.
     
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
      
    • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is preparing to respond to the impacts of Hurricane Maria and resume its ongoing FEMA-assigned missions in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as soon as it is safe to do so. USACE had more than 120 responders in the islands for the storm's passage, and all personnel have been accounted for. In response to Hurricane Irma, which affected the same region, USACE received mission assignments to provide Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with temporary power, temporary roofing, debris removal/technical assistance, infrastructure assessment, and a commodities management expert.
       
    • The U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) is conducting security operations, route clearance, traffic control, and food and water distribution. They expect the airfield on St. Croix to be open today. Members of the Puerto Rico National Guard sheltered in place during the hurricane, and they were poised to respond following the storm.
       
    • U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) is conducting incident awareness and assessment missions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with six U.S. Navy helicopters and three U.S. Marine Corps V-22 Osprey aircraft launched from the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Readiness Gro. Additionally, a Navy surveillance aircraft launched from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, and is conducting an assessment of the damage in Puerto Rico.

Navy and Marine forward ground elements responded today to assist with response and recovery operations. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is inserting a Forward Coordination Element and Air Control Element into St. Croix to help open the airfield and coordinate with the Defense Coordinating Officer and National Guard at the Joint Force Headquarters there. The MEU will also insert an Air Control Element in the airport at St. Thomas in order to help open the airfield. DoD elements are focused on airfield assessments and opening runways to facilitate commodity distribution.

  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working with its partners in response and power restoration efforts for Hurricane Maria. DOE emergency responders are deployed to St. Thomas and St. Croix in support of FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams and a responder will deploy to Puerto Rico as soon as conditions permit. DOE is also working closely with its Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), the American Public Power Association, the Department of Defense, and FEMA to facilitate mutual aid for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. An eight-member advance team from WAPA deployed to Puerto Rico ahead of Maria, sheltered while it passed, and will join the local Virgin Islands utility in the work of damage assessment and power restoration as soon as it is safe to do so. Additional utility crews will head to Puerto Rico as soon as it is safe to do so, where they'll work with the government of Puerto Rico on response, restoration, and rebuilding efforts. DOE is posting Situation Reports here, and the Western Area Power Administration is posting updates here.
     
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) facilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico remain closed except to law enforcement and essential personnel due to Hurricane Maria. Initial damage assessments are underway, and GSA-owned facilities will reopen when they are determined to be safe and operational. As GSA facilities reopen, they will be removed from the list of closed facilities at gsa.gov/facilitystatus.
      
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has more than 200 HHS medical professionals and public health experts poised to travel to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide medical care and public health support. The HHS Disaster Distress Helpline assisted more than 5,000 callers in coping with the impacts of these storms. The helpline remains available 24 hours a day, 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
      
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to collaborate with the DoD and FEMA to provide information via radio and print materials to the impacted residents of U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
       
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Law Enforcement sent 50 personnel to Puerto Rico with an additional 40 en route. DOI officers provided medical assistance, and assisted local hotels with shelter and evacuation plans.
     
  • The US Geological Survey has field crews in Puerto Rico who have deployed and are monitoring storm-tide sensors; more information can be found on the USGS Maria Flood Event Viewer.
     
  • National Park Service (NPS) incident management team is in San Juan to provide immediate assistance and communications.
     
  • Twenty U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel scheduled for response and recovery operations in the Caribbean will work in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.
     
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) temporarily paused all response operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Maria. EPA is prepared to begin response operations again following the storm and as soon as staff can re-deploy. EPA response personnel who remained in the FEMA bunker on St. Croix are resuming assessment activities today.
     
  • U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) offices will remain closed until September 25, 2017. There were approximately 2,000 benefit payments dated September 20 (Cycle 3) for delivery to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. There were also about 160 checks dated September 14–19 resulting from daily payment files prior to Hurricane Maria. SSA is working with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to determine where these checks are in the mail stream.
     

U.S. Postal Service (USPS) facilities on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are closed—there are no retail services, package or mail pick up at any USPS location. As soon as it is safe to do so, USPS will begin to re-open postal facilities on the islands. Depending on the scope and level of damage, this could necessitate the use of temporary quarters on the islands and mainland plant processing and staging of Caribbean District mail, with a focus on transportation and distribution of essential items such as medications, Treasury checks, Social Security benefits, etc. Customers can find the latest service statuses at USPS Service Alerts.

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster recovery plan, disaster relief, federal response, FEMA, Hurricane, natural disasters, uscg

FEMA and its Partners Provide Reunification Guidance for Hurricane Maria Survivors and their Loved Ones

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:25
Release Date: September 22, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – As the United States responds to Hurricane Maria’s damage to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is connecting community partners with disaster survivors and their loved ones, to reunite families separated as a result of the storm.

Working in close collaboration with the American Red Cross, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and other partners, FEMA helps to facilitate the reunification of children who are separated from their parents or legal guardians as a result of disaster.

Following events like Hurricane Maria, we understand that communications networks are not always operational.  As communications are restored, there are numerous options for survivors, friends, and family members to search for loved ones. 

Survivors with internet access are encouraged to connect with friends and loved ones via social media platforms. Additional resources below are suggested for those both outside and inside the impacted areas.

American Red Cross  

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 search for loved ones, or for individuals to indicate that they are safe. The site is always available, open to the public, and available in English and Spanish.  There are a number of ways to use this service:

  • 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 who has a serious, pre-existing health or mental health condition, please contact 1-800 Red Cross (1-800-733-2767).

The American Red Cross Emergency App features an “I’m Safe” button that allows users to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and family know they are out of harm’s way. The app can be downloaded for free in app stores by searching for “American Red Cross” or by texting ‘GETEMERGENCY’ to 90999.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Anyone who finds a child who may be separated from parents or caregivers, please contact the local police and enter basic information and/or a photo into the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's Unaccompanied Minors Registry. If you find an unaccompanied child, please indicate whether the child has a disability or has access and functional needs in the appropriate field in the Unaccompanied Minors Registry. If you do not have access to the internet, please call 1-866-908-9570.

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, federal response, FEMA, Hurricane, natural disasters

President Donald J. Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for the U.S. Virgin Islands

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:13
Release Date: September 22, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands to supplement territory recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Maria from September 16, 2017, and continuing.

The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals on the island of St. Croix. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is available to the territory and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in all the islands in the territory.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures throughout the territory.  

William L. Vogel has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Vogel said additional designations may be made at a later date if warranted by the results of damage assessments.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.twitter.com/femaspox, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at www.twitter.com/fema_brock.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, FEMA, Hurricane, natural disasters

DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke Supports Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts during Visit to Texas with Governor Abbott, Speaker Ryan

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:40
Release Date: September 21, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Last night, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke traveled to Houston, Texas to discuss and observe ongoing recovery and relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The Acting Secretary met with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Houston to discuss coordination of federal hurricane relief efforts.  She was joined in the meeting by representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Afterwards, Acting Secretary Duke and Mayor Turner met with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Rep. Rodney Freylinghuysen (R-NJ), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. John Carter (R-TX), Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

This morning, Acting Secretary Duke traveled to Rockport, Texas with Governor Abbott to speak with community leaders and hurricane survivors. Country music legend George Strait, Rockport Mayor Charles J. Wax, Land Commissioner Bush, and Chancellor Sharp also attended the community event.

Thousands of federal workers are supporting preparedness, response, and recovery, including more than 3,200 FEMA staff, and more than 13,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen from 22 states, in conducting rescue, evacuation, security and support operations. 

The federal government continues to support Hurricane Harvey response and recovery efforts underway in Texas and Louisiana along with those impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The Department of Homeland Security’s top priority is to protect the American people from harm – this includes from natural disasters. Registering online, at www.DisasterAssistance.gov,  is the quickest way for those affected to register for federal aid.

Acting Secretary Duke discusses federal hurricane relief efforts with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (DHS Official Photo/Barry Bahler)

Acting Secretary Duke discusses coordination of federal hurricane relief efforts with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. (DHS Official Photo/Barry Bahler)

Acting Secretary Duke addresses Hurricane Harvey survivors with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Rockport Mayor Charles J. Wax, country music legend George Strait and local officials. (DHS Official Photo/Barry Bahler)

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  Acting Secretary Duke, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, disaster relief, emergency response, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, natural disasters

DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke Observes Hurricane Irma Response and Recovery Efforts with Florida Governor Scott

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 18:26
Release Date: September 20, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke traveled to Marathon and Miami, Florida to observe Hurricane Irma response and recovery efforts.

In Marathon, the Acting Secretary, along with Governor Scott and Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern, toured a Red Cross shelter at Marathon High School. They met with first responders, Red Cross employees and volunteers, and distributed food, water and ice to survivors of Hurricane Irma.

Acting Secretary Duke and Gov. Scott then traveled to the Monroe County Marathon Government Center where they discussed hurricane recovery challenges with Monroe County mayors and county executives. The Acting Secretary toured the Emergency Operations Center and spoke with FEMA employees, including surge capacity force members.

Acting Secretary Duke took an aerial tour of the Lower Keys in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter to assess the damages and saw firsthand the damage Hurricane Irma caused to homes and vital infrastructure in the Lower Keys. Shannon Weiner, Acting Incident Commander, Monroe County Emergency Management led the aerial tour.

Acting Secretary Duke then traveled to Miami where she met with Carlos Gimenez, the Mayor of Miami-Dade County. They discussed ongoing response and recovery efforts due to the devastation from Hurricane Irma.

Thousands of federal workers are supporting preparedness, response, and recovery, including more than 3,200 FEMA staff, and more than 13,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen from 22 states, in conducting rescue, evacuation, security and support operations.

The federal government continues to support Hurricane Harvey response and recovery efforts underway in Texas and Louisiana along with those impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The Department of Homeland Security’s top priority is to protect the American people from harm – this includes from natural disasters. Registering online, at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, is the quickest way for those affected to register for federal aid.

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, along with Governor Rick Scott and Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern, tour a Red Cross shelter at Marathon High School. (DHS Official Photo/ Barry Bahler)

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Irma, natural disasters

Finalize Preparations for Hurricane Maria, Follow Directions of Local Officials

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 12:12
Release Date: September 20, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – As Hurricane Maria makes landfall today and tomorrow in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, residents should continue to heed the instructions of territorial, commonwealth, and local officials.

Residents should be ready to take shelter, finish charging cell phones, and have emergency supplies readily available.

FEMA is ready to respond to the potential impact of Hurricane Maria. FEMA staff in headquarters and regional offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and the Puerto Rico Caribbean Area Office, in addition to critical staff on the ground in the U.S. Virgin Islands, will continue to closely monitor the track of the hurricane, and can ensure the pre-positioned assets and commodities are secured to weather the impacts from this storm.

FEMA recommends all residents and visitors in the path of Hurricane Maria review these tips:

  • Ensure your emergency kit is ready, and test your family communications plan.
  • Plan to stay in a shelter, and not in a home damaged by the previous storm. Let friends, family or coworkers know where you are taking shelter.
  • Stay vigilant and continue to monitor local radio or TV stations for local emergency management officials’ guidance, and for updated weather and emergency information.
  • The FEMA App (available in English and Spanish) provides National Weather Service alerts and directions to open shelters. Check this app every half hour to save your cell phone battery.
  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every half hour to keep up with the latest weather updates.
  • Only use social media to check in with family, friends and/or co-workers. Do not use social media to record/photograph the storm to conserve your phone’s battery.
  • Close storm shutters, and stay away from the windows, as flying glass from the windows could injure you.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and only open when necessary. If you lose power, this will ensure the food lasts longer.
  • Remember, never run a generator inside and keep it away from windows, doors, and vents.
  • If using candles, please use caution. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire.
  • Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to follow directions of local officials and to share safety messaging with employees in order to reduce risk.
  • Remember, your life and family safety is key. Do not risk your life to attempt to save household possessions.

Watches and Warnings

Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family.

For a tropical storm:

  • Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
  • Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.

For a hurricane:

  • Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
  • Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

For coastal flooding:

  • Coastal Flood Watch is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is possible.
  • Coastal Flood Warning is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.
  • Coastal Flood Advisory is issued when minor or nuisance coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.

For more safety procedures and tips on what to do during and after a hurricane, visit ready.gov/hurricanes or listo.gov/es/huracanes.

# # #

Topics:  Disasters Keywords:  disaster recovery plan, federal response, Hurricane, natural disasters

FEMA Encourages Residents and Visitors in Hurricanes' Paths to Prepare Now

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 16:56
Release Date: September 18, 2017

Release Number: HQ-17-122

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON - As Hurricane Maria advances toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Jose approaches the northeastern United States, residents and visitors in potentially affected areas should review their preparations. Always remember, listen to the instructions of state, tribal, territorial, commonwealth, and local officials.  

As we continue response and recovery operations following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, FEMA is preparing for response to the potential impacts of Hurricanes Jose and Maria. FEMA staff in headquarters and regional offices in New York, Boston, and the Caribbean Area Office, are closely monitoring the tracks of Hurricanes Maria and Jose, while pre-positioning assets and commodities to prepare for potential impacts from these storms. The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are under a Hurricane Watch and may receive impacts from Hurricane Maria by Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Jose is expected to produce life-threatening surf and rip currents and possible heavy rainfall along portions of the East Coast. Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings are being issued from Fenwick Island, Delaware north to Plymouth, Massachusetts, excluding New York City.

Now is the time to prepare for these hurricanes; FEMA recommends all residents and visitors in the paths of Hurricanes Jose and Maria to review these tips:

  • Check to make sure your emergency kit is stocked and test your family communications plan.
  • Know your evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go, and how you would get there if instructed to evacuate. If directed to evacuate by local officials, evacuate.

Stay vigilant and continue to monitor local radio or TV stations, and local emergency management officials, for updated weather and emergency information.

  • The FEMA App (available in English and Spanish) provides National Weather Service alerts (for up to 5 areas), emergency kit checklists, directions to open shelters, safety preparation tips and more.
  • Make plans to secure your property:
    • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
    • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
    • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything else that is not tied down.
    • Determine how and where to secure boats and other marine craft.
  • You can safely install a generator for emergencies. Remember, never run a generator inside and keep it away from windows, doors, and vents.
  • If using candles, please use caution. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire.
  • Your phone is an important tool to ensure your family’s safety. Make sure to charge your phone and other electronic devices.
  • Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to follow local public safety authority direction and to share safety messaging with employees in order to reduce risk.
  • If you have a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance policy, you may be eligible for reimbursement for actions taken to protect your property. Call your insurance agent to find out more.
     

Watches and Warnings

  • Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued.

For a tropical storm:

  • A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
  • A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.

For a hurricane:

  • A Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
  • A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

For coastal flooding:

  • A Coastal Flood Watch is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is possible.
  • A Coastal Flood Warning is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.
  • A Coastal Flood Advisory is issued when minor or nuisance coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.
     

For more safety procedures and tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, visit ready.gov/hurricanes or listo.gov/es/huracanes.

# # #

Topics:  Disasters Keywords:  FEMA, Hurricane, natural disasters, ready.gov

Florida Keys: Plan Ahead Before Returning Home to Be Safe

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:09
Release Date: September 18, 2017

Release Number: R4 NR-4337-FL NR 012

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. As the reentry process for the Lower Keys begins, FEMA stresses the importance of following guidance from your local officials. Currently only residents, business owners, disaster workers, and supply vehicles with appropriate identification, or re-entry stickers, will be permitted to enter.

For those returning to homes or businesses on the Keys, Monroe County offers important public safety information on their website www.keysrecovery.org/.

  • Have identification with their current address ready to get through any checkpoints.
  • Be alert to emergency rescue crews, power crews, or other personnel who may block roads.
  • Expect to see numerous law enforcement officials throughout the area.
  • Be wary of displaced local wildlife such as snakes, insects, or alligators.

Prepare Before You Go

For those eligible to return, local officials stress the need to be prepared. The area still is without electricity, and there are challenging conditions for life safety, communications, and sewer access. Those who return should bring plenty of supplies. Consider all your potential needs for food, water, medication, mosquito repellent, and other important items.

Structural Safety

From the outside of your home, examine the building. If you see obvious damage, the building is off

the foundation, or you have doubts about its structural safety, do not enter. If the outside looks safe, enter the building slowly and carefully.

Register for Federal Assistance

In some cases, you may not be able to stay in your home because of the amount of damage. If so, consider staying with friends or family while you repair your home. Transitional sheltering may be available to you once you register for federal assistance with FEMA.

Apply for FEMA assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by telephone at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711 or VRS) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). Due to high demand, lines may be busy. Try calling in the morning or evening when call volume may be low, and be patient.

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, FEMA, Hurricane, Hurricane Irma, natural disasters

Hurricane Debris Pick-Up a Priority for Florida Recovery

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 11:04
Release Date: September 18, 2017

Release Number: R4 DR-4337-FL NR 009

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.As Floridians begin the cleanup process after Hurricane Irma, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges everyone to know the best way to remove debris from their property.

Don’t wait to clean up storm damage. Document damage with photos or videos.

Take care when cleaning up. Dangling power lines, flooding and other hazards remain. If trees and other debris have fallen on your private property, be sure to check with your insurance agent to determine if tree damage is covered by your policy. As you clean up, be sure to keep in mind the following information:

  • Due to the magnitude of recent disaster events, residents can move debris from their private property to public rights-of-way for pick up and removal by local governments for a limited time. Debris removal from private property is generally the responsibility of the property owner, just as before the hurricane.
  • Follow guidance from your local officials when placing debris for collection. Separate debris into six categories when disposing along the curb:
    • Electronics, such as televisions, computers or phones;
    • Large appliances, such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves or dishwashers.  Be sure to seal or secure the doors so that they are not accessible;
    • Hazardous waste, such as oil, batteries, pesticides, paint or cleaning supplies. If you suspect that materials contain lead-based paint, keep them moist or contain materials in plastic bags so that the paint does not become airborne;
    • Vegetative debris, such as tree branches, leaves or plants;
    • Construction debris, such as drywall, lumber, carpet or furniture; and
    • Household garbage, discarded food, paper or packaging.
  • Place debris away from trees, poles or structures including fire hydrants and meters.
  • Remove all water-damaged materials from your home and place curbside for pickup.
  • Debris should not block the roadway.

Hurricane Irma left behind fallen trees, limbs and trash from damaged buildings on private and public property. Workers have begun picking up the tons of debris dumped on streets, highways, curbsides and from private yards. Federal and state aid will help pay for removing debris from public property.

For more Hurricane Irma recovery information, visit www.fema.gov/hurricane-irma.

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, FEMA, Hurricane Irma, natural disasters

FEMA Provides Update on Federal Support to Hurricane Irma Response

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:55
Release Date: September 18, 2017

Release Number: HQ-17-121

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues coordinating the efforts of the federal family, working alongside state, Commonwealth, tribal, territorial, and local emergency responders to help address the immediate needs of survivors following Hurricane Irma.

Tens of thousands of federal workers are supporting preparedness, response, and recovery to Hurricane Irma, including more than 3,200 FEMA staff, and more than 13,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen from 22 states, in rescue, evacuation, security and support operations.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Jacksonville Beach make repairs to a light damaged by Hurricane Irma, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Brunswick, Georgia. The ANT Jacksonville Beach crew is responsible for over 950 aids to navigation throughout northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Aids to Navigation Team Jacksonville Beach)

The Department of Energy is coordinating with its partners to facilitate communications, provide situational awareness, and expedite restoration efforts. More than 60,000 personnel are activated from more than 250 investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives from all corners of the United States and Canada, to support power restoration. Private sector partners estimate that power should be returned to 95 percent of customers by September 17. Restoration to severely damaged areas will take additional time.

For those in designated areas in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov is the quickest way to register for federal assistance, including FEMA assistance.  If survivors do not have access to the internet, they may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). If survivors use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), they should call 800-621-3362 directly.

FEMA disaster assistance teams go door to door in Florida after Irma

FEMA received more than 413,000 registrations to date and has already approved $92.8 million for Hurricane Irma survivors. As it becomes safe for people to return to their homes, FEMA expects registration numbers to increase.

Federal Efforts Underway as of September 16, 2017   

  • The American Red Cross (ARC) is operationally focused on safety, shelter, food, which includes shelf-stable meals, and positioning personnel and supplies. More than 8,100 people were provided refuge from Hurricane Irma in more than 100 government and Red Cross evacuation centers across four states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  To date, the ARC served more than 380,000 meals and snacks. More than 3,000 Red Cross workers are responding to Irma now, with almost 350 more volunteers on the way.
     
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) currently have more than 350 personnel engaged and have received 35 FEMA Mission Assignments (MA). For Florida, USACE’s mission assignments include providing temporary power, temporary roofing, debris removal, and infrastructure assessment. For Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, USACE’s mission assignments include providing temporary power, temporary roofing, debris removal/technical assistance, infrastructure assessment, and a commodities management subject-matter expert.
     
  • The U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) is sending additional personnel to support law enforcement and security operations; they’re scheduled to arrive in the affected areas in the next four days. National Guard soldiers and airmen continue staffing critical points of distribution to deliver essential resources including food and water, and continue clearing debris to open roads in affected areas. The National Guard continues search and rescue efforts in the Keys, while route clearance, shelter operations, law enforcement support, communication restoration and essential resource distribution remain a priority as well.  The National Guard is augmenting civilian law enforcement in securing areas affected by Hurricane Irma and in helping citizens rebuild their communities.
     
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to work with its partners to ensure that fuel remains available in the areas impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The fuel situation is stable, and DOE is working with its interagency and private sector partners to ensure that it remains available throughout the region. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve delivered 3.1 million barrels of crude, out of the 5.3 million authorized. A blog post about these efforts can be found here, and DOE continues to provide situational updates here.
     
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is sending a large, mobile air traffic control tower to Key West to help increase the safety and number of operations at the damaged airport. The mobile tower is currently at Bradley Airport, Connecticut and will be en route soon to Key West, and operational mid-week.
     
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) response coordinators are working with federal and U.S. Virgin Islands territory agencies to identify long-term solutions for health care in the U.S. Virgin Islands; the territory’s entire medical care system and public health system were hard hit by the storm. National Disaster Medical System and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps teams have seen more than 3,700 patients, including dialysis patients evacuated from the Caribbean islands to Puerto Rico, as well as at the St. Thomas hospital, Florida shelters, and two hospitals in the Florida Keys. The HHS continues to provide the Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990), which remains open 24/7 for free help coping with the stress of the storm.
     
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to provide personnel to support the efforts in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and share information about carbon monoxide and generator safety: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co-materials.html. The agency is currently translating guidance material into more than ten languages for survivors.
     
  • The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is working with the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Key West, Florida, to open the shipping channel from the sea buoy to the Mole Pier, to facilitate the safe movement of relief supply deliveries.  However, the port of Key West remains closed at this time. Since Sept. 12, sixteen (16) tank ships have been cleared to deliver their supplies of fuel to ports in Florida. Eight additional tank ships are expected to arrive in the coming days. Coast Guard National Strike Force crews are working with local, state and federal teams on 64 pollution cleanup responses across the storm-impacted areas.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a message from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to those impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. To view this release, click here or see the video. The NCDF Disaster Fraud Hotline is (866) 720-5721. The Bureau of Prisons is providing updates at www.bop.gov.
     
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to coordinate closely with local, state, tribal and federal partners, especially the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in response to Hurricane Irma. EPA deployed six National Priority List (NPL) Assessment Teams to Florida this week and over one third, and counting, of the NPL sites in Florida have been assessed. EPA is also exercising enforcement discretion for diesel fuel use by utility work vehicles and equipment.  Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a request that will go into effect immediately, and terminates when all diesel reserves have been used or by the end of the day on September 22, 2017, whichever comes first.
     
  • The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is working with the United States Postal Service and the Department of Treasury regarding check payments to be delivered. Cycle 3 benefit payments will be delivered on September 20. They estimate approximately 5,700 checks will be issued in the areas affected by Irma. The SSA will continue to monitor the status of all check payments in affected areas.
     
  • The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) continues to restore all mail processing operations in the state of Florida, including the areas hardest hit. In the Florida Keys, delivery and retail operations have resumed today in Key Largo and Tavernier. All facilities in Puerto Rico are open except for one post office.

VATF1 and NYTF1 personnel w/ @forestservice force protection officers re-raised US flag above the old firehouse at Fort Christian. [U.S. Virgin Islands]

Sailors work with heavy equipment to remove debris from Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, Sept. 15, 2017. Clean up efforts are in full swing across the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma caused extensive damage across the state. (U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin R. Williams)

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Irma, natural disasters

What to Expect When You Register for FEMA Disaster Assistance

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:41
Release Date: September 18, 2017

Release Number: R4 DR-4337-FL NR 008

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.If you live in one of the disaster-designated Florida counties and experienced property damage or loss directly caused by Hurricane Irma, register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance – even if you have insurance. This can be an important step to begin the process of recovery.

You may register for assistance the following ways:

  • At www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • If you don’t have Internet access, you can call 800-621-3362.
  • People who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 800-462-7585.
  • For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.
  • These toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (EST) seven days a week until further notice.

FEMA assistance for individuals may include grants for rent, temporary housing and home repairs to their primary residences, as well as funding for other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical, dental or funeral costs. If you have insurance, FEMA may still be able to assist with disaster-related expenses that were underinsured or not covered by your policy.

After you apply, a FEMA inspector will contact you to schedule an inspection. The inspection generally takes 30-40 minutes or less and consists of a general verification of your disaster-related losses and a review of ownership or residence records. There is no fee for the inspection.

When a FEMA housing inspector comes to visit your home, be sure they show you proper identification. All FEMA inspectors have prominent photo identification badges. If you suspect someone is posing as a FEMA housing inspector, call our toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or call local law enforcement officials.

Once the inspection process is complete, your situation will be reviewed by FEMA. You will receive a letter by email or physical mail, depending on your preference, which outlines the decision about your claim. For more information about the inspection process, and documentation you will need to provide the inspector, visit the FEMA Individual Assistance Inspection Process page.

Know that you may receive a visit from more than one inspector throughout the recovery process. In addition to FEMA housing inspectors, representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration, state and local officials and inspectors for private insurance coverage also visit neighborhoods in affected areas.

For more recovery information visit FEMA’s Hurricane Irma web page at www.fema.gov/hurricane-irma.

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, FEMA, Hurricane, Hurricane Irma, natural disasters

Hurricane Irma Response and Relief Operations Continue with Full Federal Capability

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 17:11
Release Date: September 15, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues coordinating the efforts of the federal family, working alongside state and local emergency responders to help address the immediate needs of survivors, following Hurricane Irma.

Thursday, President Donald J. Trump visited Florida to meet with Governor Rick Scott and disaster survivors throughout the state. He was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, FEMA Administrator Brock Long, as well as federal, state, and local elected officials.

Tens of thousands of federal workers are supporting preparedness, response, and recovery to Hurricane Irma, including more than 3,100 FEMA staff with additional staff continuing to deploy.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, FEMA Administrator Brock Long, and other senior officials update the media on federal response efforts following Hurricane Irma. (Sept. 15, 2017, Jetta Disco)

Search and rescue efforts continue in the Caribbean and the U.S. mainland. FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) task forces stationed in the Caribbean have conducted 1,141 rescues, and, in Florida, FEMA US&R saved 1,006 lives. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has rescued 326 people and saved 53 pets. The U.S. Coast Guard has also answered more than 1,750 emergency phone calls at their headquarters facility.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is coordinating with its partners to facilitate communications, provide situational awareness, and expedite restoration efforts. More than 60,000 personnel are activated from more than 250 investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives from all corners of the United States and Canada, who are dedicated to the essential work of power restoration. Patience is still required, but progress is being made, and private sector partners report that about 70 percent of power is restored across affected areas.As of September 15, 2017, FEMA transferred approximately 7.2 million meals, 5.5 million liters of water, and 41 generators to states in the Southeast, at the states’ requests. In addition, nearly 578,000 meals, 115,000 liters of water, 13,600 sheeting covers, 150 rolls of blue tarps, and 36 generators were transferred to St. Thomas and St. John. FEMA also transferred more than 36,000 meals and 3,600 liters of water to Puerto Rico.

Members of HHS’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team California-6 establish an operational area to support damaged medical facilities in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The San Francisco based medical team members are intermittent federal employees organized under the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to provide emergency medical care and to augment local medical capabilities during times of disaster. (Sept. 15, 2017, Paul McKellips)

Currently, FEMA has the following commodities positioned in staging areas across the impacted areas to be transferred to states and tribes upon their request:

  • Alabama: more than 7.2 million meals, more than 16.7 million liters of water;
  • Florida: more than 835,000 meals, more than 583,000 liters of water, 121 generators;
  • Georgia: more than 721,000 meals, 30 generators;
  • North Carolina: more than 366,000 meals, 2.2 million liters of water, 55 generators;
  • South Carolina: more than 1.5 meals, 1.3 million liters of water.

Survivors should not return home until local officials have deemed the area safe for return. Avoid downed power or utility lines; they may be live with deadly voltage. Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.

For those in designated areas in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov is the quickest way to register for federal assistance, including FEMA assistance. If you do not have access to the internet, you may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly.

FEMA received more than 249,000 registrations to date and has already approved $48.8 million for Hurricane Irma survivors. As it becomes safe for people to return to their homes, FEMA expects registration numbers to increase.

Federal Efforts Underway as of September 15, 2017
  • The American Red Cross (ARC) is operationally focused on safety, shelter, food, which includes shelf-stable meals, and positioning personnel and supplies. More than 10,300 people were provided refuge from Hurricane Irma in more than 120 government and Red Cross evacuation centers across four states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To date, the ARC served more than 354,000 meals and snacks. Approximately 2,900 Red Cross workers are responding to Irma now, with almost 380 more volunteers on the way.
  • Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) deployed 23 AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams, including FEMA Corps, to Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico to support the American Red Cross, FEMA, and Save the Children. They have also placed Senior Corps members with Save the Children to create child-friendly spaces in shelters and AmeriCorps members in impacted areas that have been temporarily reassigned for Hurricane Irma support. CNCS is directing people to NationalService.gov/Irma to find updates about volunteering and urging people to sign up to volunteer in the state of Florida.
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
    • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) currently have more than 350 personnel engaged and have received 39 FEMA Mission Assignments (MA). On September 14, Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, talked about the USACE’s missions in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Temporary Power, comprised of 249th Engineer Battalion and planning response team members, is performing assessments on 17 nursing/assisted living facilities in Georgia. A generator arrived in St. Thomas to support the U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) power plant, and additional generators and equipment are en route to the rest of the islands.
    • The U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) is continuing their efforts to send and maintain life and property sustaining resources, while working with civil partners in the affected areas. In Florida, search and rescue operations are still underway, to also include route clearance, shelter operations, law enforcement support, communication restoration and essential resource distribution. The Tennessee National Guard deployed soldiers and helicopters from the 1-230th Aviation Regimen to the U.S. Virgin Islands to move supplies and personnel to the affected areas and conduct search and rescue. Tennessee also deployed the 119th Command and Control Squadron to help improve communications in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
    • U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) is working with FEMA to support authorities in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, providing life-saving and life-sustaining relief to those in affected areas. The U.S. Army Area Support Medical Company (ASMC) is scheduled to begin operations on St. Thomas yesterday, providing triage, a variety of medical treatments, and pre-evacuation care, including a six-person U.S. Air Force Ground Surgical Team. A mobile communications tower will also be providing air traffic control radar capability at the Cyril E. King International Airport located on St. Thomas, which is crucial for emergency operations.
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to work with its partners to ensure that fuel remains available the states impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. It worked with its interagency and state partners on fuel waivers, and with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a Jones Act wavier, which was extended through September 22. DOE also authorized release of 5.3 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, of which more than 3 million barrels have been delivered as of September 14. A blog post about these efforts can be found here, and DOE continues to provide situational updates here.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is monitoring the status of communications networks in the areas affected by Hurricane Irma, and created a dedicated webpage for daily communications status reports, information, and resources related to the hurricane, including tips for communicating during an emergency.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) is releasing federal building re-openings by state via social media and can be found at the following links: @USGSA, Facebook, Blog. For more information on general building statuses, visit gsa.gov/facilitystatus.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continue to provide medical support in shelters and for emergency department decompression in areas affected by Hurricane Irma. Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) temporarily suspended certain Medicare enrollment screening requirements for health care providers that are assisting with Hurricane Irma recovery efforts in the affected areas.
    • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sharing information about Carbon Monoxide and generator safety: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co-materials.html. They have deployed an Environmental Health Team to St. Thomas to support operations for two weeks.
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke extended the limited Jones Act Waiver initially signed on September 8 at the recommendation of the Departments of Defense and Energy.
    • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to update the operational status of their offices impacted by Hurricane Irma - in English and Spanish – via web posting on www.uscis.gov and amplified on social media and www.usa.gov. In addition, the Special Situations page continues to be available detailing how natural catastrophes may affect petitions, applications, and immigration status.
    • Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) reissued Tips for Effective Communication with the Whole Community, which includes civil rights guidance on communicating with persons with disabilities and other access and functional needs. CRCL and other federal disaster resources specifically for persons with disabilities are available on their Disaster Preparedness and Disability Access webpages.
    • The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) continues to work with federal and state partners on search and rescue response and port reconstitution in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation teams are focused on restoring maritime aids to navigation damaged in the storm to facilitate safe delivery of critical relief supplies to impacted areas. Tank ships carrying gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel were cleared by Coast Guard Captains of the Port for arrival to ports of Miami and Port Everglades with additional tank ships expected to arrive in Tampa, Saint Petersburg, and other Florida ports over the coming days. Coast Guard teams are also conducting water rescues, saving more than 441 lives to date.
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) currently has a total of 194 personnel supporting FEMA missions related to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma including 43 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) personnel who continue to contribute USGS water monitoring, coastal change, mapping, and modeling expertise; and 142 Interior staff providing law enforcement support for search and rescue and other FEMA functions. The Bureau of Indian Affairs sent 25 officers to help the Seminole Tribe at their request.
    • The National Park Service (NPS) is now operating in South Florida, coordinating the bureau’s response to parks impacted by Hurricane Irma. Immediate objectives are to support employee emergency needs, conduct damage assessments, and remove debris in the affected areas. The team relocated its response operation to South Florida, putting its response and recovery efforts in closer proximity to the affected parks. So far, 107 National Park Service employees from outside the impacted areas are working in the parks or en route, with additional resources being ordered in the coming days. Information from damage and critical assessments can be found here, to include photos. The public is reminded that parks are closed to all use, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, due to safety concerns during cleanup operations. Parks will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) law enforcement components are participating in quick response teams in Florida and Texas. The Department announced local disaster task forces to combat potential disaster fraud following Hurricane Irma. Also, the National Center for Disaster Fraud continues to provide messages to help the public avoid and to report Hurricane relief fraud schemes. The NCDF Disaster Fraud Hotline is (866) 720-5721. The Bureau of Prisons is providing updates at www.bop.gov.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor initially committed up to $40 million in Disaster Dislocated Worker Grant funding to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist in disaster response efforts after Hurricane Irma. These grants were first announced on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The amount of total funding announced Thursday may increase as the needs and impacts on state and local partners are assessed following the hurricane.
  • The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) continues to attempt to contact employees in the affected areas to determine their safety and location. They expect many of our Florida offices to re-open Thursday; however, many of their South Florida offices remain closed. Their Puerto Rico and St. Thomas field offices remain closed and will be closed for an indefinite period.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the availability, in Spanish and English, of the addition of more counties to the Florida Hurricane Irma disaster declaration. They encourage hurricane survivors to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury (DOTreas) activated the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) communications protocols and will continue monitoring key financial sector infrastructure in the Hurricane Irma impact zone. Treasury also assists with preparation and priority restoration of financial institution operations, and continues working as necessary to mitigate any impact on the financial system. The Department provided personnel and facilities to assist with FEMA’s response efforts and provided tax payers with guidance for storm preparation and recovery, and any available tax relief. In addition, a “Treasury Quick Response Team” of special agents is deployed in Miami assisting with recovery operations. Finally, Treasury closed facilities in the Virgin Islands, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.
  • The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), as of September 13, restored all mail processing operations in the southern area distracts. Less than 30 offices in the Florida and Georgia area remain suspended, due to accessibility issues. The USPS continues to re-establish operations in more than five offices affected in the Upper Keys. All facilities in Puerto Rico are open except for one post office.
  • U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) continue to push information out through all available means on their medical facilities operating status, here. Fifteen out of nearly 60 clinics remain closed and all VA hospitals are open. A limited number of VA mobile medical units will begin deployment to the most impacted areas Thursday, and throughout the rest of the week.

ST. JOHN, U.S. Virgin Islands (Sept. 13, 2017) Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 202 perform route clearance on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Irma sustained 185-mph winds for 37 hours, the longest any cyclone on the globe has maintained that intensity. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affixed by Hurricane Irma to minimize suffering and as one component of the overall whole-of-government response efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Liam Kennedy/Released)

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Irma, natural disasters

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program Enhances the Flood Claims Process and Extends Grace Period for Policy Renewals

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 14:01
Release Date: September 15, 2017

Release Number: HQ-17-118

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON — To support the ongoing disaster recovery, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is enhancing the flood insurance claims process, and extending the grace period for paying policy renewal premiums for insured survivors affected by Hurricane Irma.

Due to the wide-spread catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Irma, FEMA implemented temporary changes to rush recovery money into the hands of NFIP policyholders, for repair and replacement of flood-damaged properties. FEMA also wants to ensure continuous flood insurance coverage for current NFIP policyholders affected by this storm, even if the renewed policy premium cannot be paid at this time. FEMA is directing all NFIP private insurance partners to:

  • Provide advance payments on flood claims, even before visits by an adjuster;
  • Increase the advance payment allowable for policyholders who provide photographs or video depicting flood  damage and expenses, or a contractor’s itemized estimate;
  • Waive use of the initial Proof of Loss (POL) form; and
  • Extend the grace period for payment of NFIP flood insurance policy renewal premiums to 120 days. This waiver applies to all NFIP policies, whether issued by the NFIP Servicing Agent or a Write Your Own Company, written for properties in areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and counties in Florida that have received a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance (IA) under the Stafford Act.

Advance Payments

The NFIP is making it easier for policyholders to receive an advance payment for their flood claim to help them begin the process of recovery as quickly as possible. After filing a flood insurance claim, the policyholder can discuss advance payment with the insurer:

  • When a policyholder contacts his/her insurer and verifies his/her identity, he/she can receive an advance payment for up to $5,000 on a flood claim without an adjuster visit or additional documentation.  When the advance payment is issued, a letter is sent to the policyholder which explains that by accepting this payment the policyholder is certifying the damage.
  • Up to $20,000 may be advanced to a policyholder who provides photos and/or videos depicting damage, and receipts validating out-of-pocket expenses related to flood loss or a contractor’s itemized estimate. Policyholders with significant damage who have a contractor’s itemized estimate may be eligible for a larger advance payment and should discuss this with the adjuster.

Advance payments are deducted from a policyholder’s final claim settlement amount. Advance payments may only be used according to the terms of the policy. For example, if a policyholder has a building/structure flood insurance policy, the advance payment must be used to repair or rebuild the structure. Or if a policyholder has contents coverage, the advance payment must be used to repair or replace contents that were within the structure. Advance payments may not be used for temporary housing and living expenses.

If a policyholder’s property is mortgaged, the lender will also be named on the advance payment issued for a building/structure flood insurance policy. In this case, the policyholder and lender will both be required to sign the advance payment check. 

Proof of Loss Waiver

To expedite processing of NFIP claims for Hurricane Irma, the NFIP is waiving the requirement for a policyholder to submit an initial Proof of Loss (POL) document. Here’s how the expedited process will work:

  • After a policyholder files a claim, a time is set up for the adjuster to inspect the flood damaged property. The adjuster will document the damage and submit a report to the policyholder’s insurance company.
  • If additional damage is discovered or a policyholder does not agree with the payment amount, a policyholder can seek additional payment if the policy’s coverage limits have not been met. A POL will be required to seek a supplemental payment on the claim. If payment is issued based upon the adjuster’s initial report and an additional proof of loss is not submitted by the policyholder, the insurer will close the file.

If a policyholder decides to request an additional payment, which must be done by completing a POL, the policyholder will have one year from the date of filing the initial claim to submit the request to the insurance company. FEMA has informed all of its NFIP insurance partners about this process and how it will work.  NFIP policyholders are encouraged to work closely with an adjuster on this expedited process.

Grace Period Extension for Policy Renewals

To ensure that policyholders affected by Hurricane Irma can focus on recovery and continue to have flood insurance coverage, FEMA is extending the current 30-day grace period of continual flood insurance coverage to 120 days, for policies in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, that were set for renewal during the immediate response to Hurricane Irma.

Policies with an expiration date of August 7, 2017, through October 6, 2017, are eligible for the grace period extension.  Payment for those policies must be received within 120 days of the policy expiration.

The NFIP cannot pay a claim for a flood loss that occurs after a policy expiration date unless the policyholder’s insurance company receives the payment in full for renewal on or before the last day of the grace period. 

The grace period extension applies to NFIP policies covering properties in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida counties designated under the Presidential Disaster Declaration. NFIP policyholders are encouraged to contact their insurance company and report a flood claim as soon as possible.  For any policy with a renewal date on or after October 7, 2017, the normal 30-day grace period will apply.

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster recovery plan, disaster relief, FEMA, flood, Hurricane Irma, National Flood Insurance Program

DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke Welcomes New U.S. Citizens during Constitution Week

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 11:18
Release Date: September 15, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Duke Delivered the Keynote Address at a Naturalization Ceremony at the National Archives  

WASHINGTON – Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke addressed a group of new United States citizens at a naturalization ceremony in Washington, DC. The ceremony, held at the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives, was part of special programming celebrating Constitution Week. Acting Secretary Duke was also joined by Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director James McCament.

During the ceremony, 30 men and women from 22 countries, all of whom went through the legal U.S. immigration process, took an oath to uphold the Constitution. The group was also the first to be shown a video from President Donald J. Trump welcoming the new citizens to the United States.

Excerpts from Acting Secretary Duke’s prepared remarks are below.

“It is a privilege for me to join you and your families today, on your first day as citizens of the United States of America.

“It is especially an honor to stand here, in the Rotunda, among the Charters of Freedom, and reflect on the promise of this great nation.

“Throughout our history, people have come to the United States in pursuit of freedom and opportunity.  Whether they wanted to be free to practice their religion, free to choose their leaders, or free to speak their mind, this country is a place where freedom is a right for all of our citizens, whether natural-born or naturalized. 

“In choosing to become citizens of the United States, you’ve demonstrated that you value our country.  You value the rule of law.  You value the time and effort it takes to do things the right way.

“I know your journey to this moment has involved a lot of hard work.  I congratulate you, and I congratulate your families, and I wish you all the happiness in the world in celebrating this accomplishment.

“But as citizens, we still have work to do in pursuit of a more perfect union. So participate in your local community.  Vote in every election.  Voice your ideas.  Make your mark in the land of opportunity.

“I wish you all the best in living and achieving your American dream.  Welcome home, my fellow citizens.”

You can read her full remarks here.

# # #

Topics:  Immigration and Citizenship Services Keywords:  Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, naturalization ceremonies, naturalized citizens

DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke visits Florida with President Trump to Assess Hurricane Irma Response and Recovery Efforts

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 10:08
Release Date: September 15, 2017

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke traveled to Fort Myers and Naples, Florida with President Donald J. Trump to meet with federal, state and local officials carrying out Hurricane Irma response and recovery efforts.

In Fort Myers, the President and the Acting Secretary, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long, and Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry received a briefing on relief efforts. Florida Governor Rick Scott, Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, President & CEO of Florida Power & Light Company Eric Silagy as well as state, county, and local emergency management officials participated in the discussions. The Acting Secretary then traveled to Naples, Florida where she met with individuals impacted by Hurricane Irma.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders, federal employees, and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to evacuate local communities and aid with recovery. Today, we saw the damage from Hurricane Irma firsthand, and connected with state and local officials to discuss the additional resources they need to continue recovery efforts,” said Acting Secretary Duke. “We also met with survivors, and heard their stories. Let me tell you this - Floridians are tough. The road to recovery will take time, but I am confident the administration’s efforts, along with our state and local partners, will help rebuild local communities quickly and put Florida back on track.”

The Department of Homeland Security’s top priority is to protect the American people from harm – this includes from natural disasters. Registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov is the quickest way for those affected to register for federal aid. The federal government continues to support Hurricane Harvey response and recovery efforts underway in Texas and Louisiana along with those impacted by Hurricane Irma.

Today, more than 40,000 federal personnel, including more than 2,650 FEMA staff, are working in support of preparedness and response to Hurricane Irma. Many federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Interior, and Homeland Security have deployed thousands of personnel to provide logistical support for commodities, employ search and rescue assets, as well as conduct damage assessments to develop and advance recovery efforts.

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke joins FEMA Administrator Brock Long to survey damage following Hurricane Irma. (DHS Official Photo/Jetta Disco)

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke meets with members of  the U.S. Coast Guard responding to Hurricane Irma. (DHS Official Photo/PA2 Patrick Kelly)

# # #

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery Keywords:  Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, disaster recovery plan, disaster relief, federal response, FEMA, Hurricane Irma, natural disasters

Pages