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USA: Coordinated Federal Response to Hurricane Irma Continues in Caribbean

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Release date: 
September 9, 2017
 

 The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners are actively coordinating the federal response to Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico, while preparing for the storm to make landfall in the U.S. mainland this week. 

FEMA had Incident Management Assistance teams positioned in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico before the storm started, coordinating closely with territorial and commonwealth officials to prioritize support to the islands.  FEMA also pre-staged commodities in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in advance of the storm, and is delivering more supplies as areas become more accessible. 

President Donald J. Trump issued a major disaster declaration for the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Irma, making federal funding available to affected individuals on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas.  Federal funding is also available to territorial and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities for all areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

On September 5, President Trump issued federal emergency declarations in advance of Hurricane Irma’s landfall for the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Additional federal support to response efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico:

  • U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) is providing urban search and rescue capabilities to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to assist with lifesaving and life-sustaining efforts following Hurricane Irma. The USS Wasp, located near the U.S. Virgin Islands, is conducting medical evacuations for critical care patients from St. Thomas to St. Croix, and performing damage assessments in support of the local government.  The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has approximately 700 Marines embarked aboard the USS Kearsarge in the Caribbean responding to Hurricane Irma. 
     
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has medical teams providing care at an overwhelmed hospital emergency department on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. HHS and the U.S. Department of Defense began evacuating dialysis patients from USVI today, and HHS medical teams are accompanying Urban Search and Rescue teams in locating dialysis patients whom authorities were unable to reach in order to evacuate the patients. More than 370 HHS personnel are engaged, including three teams from the National Disaster Medical System and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, providing support in Puerto Rico and the USVI. Additional teams are on alert. To aid Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in receiving care unimpeded, HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., signed public health emergencies declarations for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is coordinating with local agencies to deploy outreach services to affected veterans. VA is also prepared to deploy staff and mobile medical assets to support veteran patient care and to citizens as part of the National Disaster Medical System. Go to www.va.gov for additional updates and resources.
     
  • The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) continues to work with federal, state and local partners to provide assistance and support to storm-impacted territories and states. Damage assessment overflights and port reconstitution efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are underway. The port of San Juan is open and other ports in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix are open with restrictions. Remaining ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands are still closed.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Education is actively coordinating with affected stakeholders in the Caribbean and with those who yet remain in the path of Hurricane Irma. The Department continues to prepare and distribute administrative and regulatory flexibility documents to alleviate the regulatory burden on stakeholders when they start the rebuilding process.
     
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deployed staff to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including community involvement coordinators.
     
  • General Services Administration (GSA), through USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov, continue to support federal agency messaging efforts on their home pages and are compiling federal agency updates and messaging on their new Hurricane Irma pages found at https://www.usa.gov/hurricane-irma and https://gobierno.usa.gov/huracan-irma.
     
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the availability of low interest disaster loans to U.S. Virgin Islands residents and businesses.
     
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) received FEMA Mission Assignments for temporary power, and deployed Power Planning and Response Teams to assist with assessments and generator installations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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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.

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