May 24th, 2007 04:54 EST
Federal Agencies and FEMA Team Up For Hurricane Response
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator R. David Paulison, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff joined with leaders from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Air Force Reserve and the U.S. Coast Guard stressing a strong commitment to federal agency teamwork as the overall plan for 2007 Hurricane season preparedness.
A press conference at Reagan National Airport, May 22, 2007, with several hurricane hunter and rescue aircraft as the backdrop set the stage for officials of the National Weather Service to announce their prediction of" 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to ten becoming major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher." The NOAA Climate Prediction Center projected a 75 percent chance that the Atlantic season will be above normal this year.
In previewing the agency`s preparedness for the approaching hurricane season Secretary Chertoff emphasized three points." First, that all storm responses are state and local issues initially." Second, the federal government is prepared to respond with a set of tools never before assembled." He noted that those tools included new communication equipment, more ready supplies in place, and even the ability to more rapidly register and track potentially displaced storm victims. Chertoff`s third point was that individual preparedness was necessary"" prior to any storm." Preparedness is of primary importance in survival and recovery from any storm or hurricane." "It is an individual responsibility," Chertoff said.
Chertoff also cited the enhanced ability of federal, tribal, state and local emergency response agencies to work to together." Over the past year there has been a significant effort by DHS and FEMA to strengthen communication, relations and to clarify roles at all levels of emergency management.
In his purview Administrator Paulison continued to stress that FEMA is ready for the hurricane season." But he cautioned that the unpredictability of natural disasters such as hurricanes make each a unique situational response." He spoke of his personal concern that citizens are being too complacent." He cited instances where last year individuals had taken no precautions and were overwhelmed when a hurricane changed path and rapidly engulfed their community.
Paulison encouraged citizens of storm prone areas to prepare a disaster kit. Residents should have on-hand a supply of such things as non-perishable food and water to sustain their family up to 72 hours or longer. The kits should also include first-aid supplies, prescription medicines and other important personal items. Residents should have an evacuation plan, and be prepared to deal with pets in case evacuation is necessary.
Remember, hurricane season starts June 1st and it`s important that residents living in hurricane prone areas not be caught off guard. It only takes one hurricane in a community to make for a bad year so prepare now for personal safety and survival. For more information on how families can prepare for this coming season, please visit our "Get Ready 07""website.