Residents Urged to Continue Following Guidance from Local Officials
WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to closely coordinate with impacted and potentially impacted states in the path of a severe winter storm, through its National Response Coordination Center in Washington D.C. and its regional offices in Atlanta, Boston, New York City and Philadelphia.
Today, President Obama declared an emergency for all counties in the State of South Carolina, at the request of Governor Nikki Haley, authorizing FEMA to support the state in its efforts to respond to the storm. The declaration comes in addition to the President’s Emergency Declaration for 91 counties in the State of Georgia yesterday, at the request of Governor Nathan Deal.
FEMA has deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to the Georgia Emergency Operations Center in Atlanta, along with liaisons to the state emergency operations centers in Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia to facilitate close coordination with the states. FEMA has activated its Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta and Philadelphia, and continues to be in close contact with state, tribal and local partners in impacted and potentially impacted areas and stands ready to support its partners, if requested and needed.
FEMA has also established an Incident Support Base in Augusta, Georgia where additional federal teams are on the ground. Commodities including generators, meals, water, blankets, and cots are being moved to that location. At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories, including Atlanta, Ga. and Frederick, Md., if needed and requested.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration is helping facilitate the expedited movement of utility trucks and personnel in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina which includes bypassing weigh stations as long as they are under the legal weight requirements.
According to the National Weather Service, dangerous ice and snow and is expected to intensify this evening as the storm moves up the Eastern Seaboard, affecting locations across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. More than one inch of ice accumulation is possible from central Georgia into South Carolina through Thursday morning. Residents along the path of the storm can find their local forecast at www.weather.gov.
When natural disasters like severe weather strike, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and private organizations who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet immediate human needs.
FEMA encourages residents and visitors in the track of the storms to follow the instructions of state, local and tribal officials, and monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by local officials. Residents can find trusted sources for weather and preparedness information via Twitter on FEMA’s Social Hub here: http://www.fema.gov/social-hub
Wireless Emergency Alerts are currently being sent directly to many cell phones on participating wireless carrier networks. These alerts are sent by public safety officials such as the National Weather Service about imminent threats like severe weather. They look like a text message and show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. More information on Wireless Emergency Alerts is available at http://www.ready.gov/alerts. Individuals can check with their cellular carrier to determine if their phone or wireless device is WEA-enabled.
Carbon monoxide or CO is a colorless and odorless gas that is emitted from fuel burning appliances, like generators, or machines that are not working or venting properly. Breathing in high levels of Carbon Monoxide can be fatal and kills more than 150 Americans annually. FEMA recommends the following steps to protect your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide:
- Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning
- Install CO alarms in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of your home
- Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows and vents
- Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris, and
- Remove vehicles from the garage immediately after starting.
For more information and winter preparedness tips, please visit: www.usfa.fema.gov to find out more on carbon monoxide and fire safety.
Preparing for Severe Winter Weather
Get to know the terms that are used to identify winter storm hazards and discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued.
- A Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
- A Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
- A Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
- An Ice Storm Warning is when freezing rain produces a significant and possibly damaging accumulation of ice.
- Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
- Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
Avoid traveling by car, but if you must, make sure you have an emergency supply kit in the trunk of your car. FEMA encourages families to maintain an emergency supply kit both at home and in the car to help prepare for winter power outages and icy or impassable roads.
An emergency supply kit should include a three-day supply of food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra flashlights and batteries. Thoroughly check and update your family's emergency supply kit and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:
- Rock salt to melt ice on walkways;
- Sand to improve traction;
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment; and
- Adequate clothing and blankets to help keep you warm.
Ensure your family preparedness plan and contacts are up to date. Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government, and ensure your home and car are prepared for the winter weather.
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.