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Homeland Security

American Forces Press Service

Federal Agencies Prepare for Hurricane Sandy

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2012 – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has initiated widespread preparations, including joining forces with the Defense Department and other federal agencies, to brace for Hurricane Sandy, said William Craig Fugate, FEMA’s administrator.

Fugate told reporters FEMA has been in touch with various DOD elements including the National Guard Bureau and U.S. Northern Command.

“In coordination, we’ve asked that DOD begin sending what we call our defense coordinating officers that are stationed in our FEMA regions, getting them ready to go and bringing on some additional defense coordinating officers to support the multiple states that may be impacted,” he said.

“We’re talking to DOD about potential use of some of their facilities as staging bases for our operations,” Fugate said. “But we’ve also been talking to the Department of Energy … as well as the Department of Transportation.”

Earlier today, the White House said President Barack Obama convened a call with Fugate, National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb, and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan to receive an update on Hurricane Sandy and ongoing federal actions to prepare for the storm. Obama directed Fugate to ensure that all available federal resources are being brought to bear to support state and local responders in potentially affected areas along the eastern seaboard as they prepare for the severe weather.

Fugate told reporters FEMA will continue to work through preparations as “we get better resolution on what potential impacts the states may face and as well as any direct requests for federal assistance states may have to prepare for and ultimately respond to the impacts of [Hurricane] Sandy.”

Fugate emphasized hurricane season doesn’t end until November 30, so Sandy “is not outside of the parameters of a normal season.”

“But it is going to be a challenging storm in that it is going to continue to grow in size, if not impacts, across much of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S.,” he said. “We are in contact with our state partners as they begin their preparations and will continue to increase that level of preparedness as we go through the weekend.”

Fugate said now is a good time to remind citizens to prepare for the storm.

“This storm is still some ways off in many parts of the country -- you have the weekend to get ready,” he said. “But that window will close as the storm gets closer and the conditions continue to deteriorate.”

James Franklin, branch chief of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, described Sandy as a Category I storm with 75 miles-per-hour sustained winds. Currently, the hurricane is located off the eastern Florida coast, moving north.

“We are not expecting any dramatic changes in strength of the peak winds between now and its ultimate U.S. landfall,” Franklin said. “At some point, prior to landfall, Sandy will likely lose its tropical characteristics.

In terms of impacts, he said, there is potential for wind damage, widespread power outages, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, waves and storm surge possibly in large areas.

Additionally, Dr. Louis W. Uccellini, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction in Camp Springs, Md., said there remains very little doubt the storm will hit land.

“We’re at the 90 percent level of certainty that the storm will make landfall on the East Coast,” he said. “The circulation of this storm, as it approaches the coast, could cover about the eastern third of the United States … with strong winds from the eastern Carolinas up to New England.”

Navy Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command based in Norfolk, Va., has ordered all U.S. Navy ships in the Hampton Roads, Va., area to navigate out of the path of the storm.

“Based on the current track of the storm, we made the decision to begin to sortie the fleet,” Gortney said. “The current timeline allows them enough time to transit safely out of the path of the storm.

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