News Alert: Unified Response and Recovery to Hurricane Irma Continues
Posted: 9/15/2017 12:29:17 PM
Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Private Sector Division/

National Business Emergency Operations Center


Private Sector Advisory


Unified Response and Recovery to Hurricane Irma Continues


More than 60,000 personnel from more than 250 investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives, are conducting the essential work of power restoration.


September 15, 2017



In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, life, personal safety, and access to safe shelter remains a priority of local officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the entire federal family.


Survivors should expect and prepare for significant, ongoing impacts, and disruptions to daily activities. There is a lot of work being done, but we know the recovery will be challenging, and the help of the whole community is required.


Residents and business owners in designated areas who sustained damage due to Hurricane Irma, and are able to do so, should apply for assistance by registering online at 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.


Don’t wait to clean up storm damage. Document damage with photos or videos. Follow guidance from your local officials when separating debris for collection.


Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are on the ground in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida to help affected communities during the critical days and weeks ahead. DSATs are addressing immediate and emerging needs of survivors including: on-site registration, on-the-spot needs assessments for vulnerable populations, requests for disability related accommodations, and referrals to partners offering additional survivor services.

Affected states, territories and tribes, in coordination with local governments, have set up points of distribution in disaster areas. These points of distribution are centralized locations established by state, territorial, or tribal officials where supplies are delivered. Individuals should contact their local emergency management office for more information.

In the coming days, Disaster Recovery Centers will open in affected communities where survivors can apply for assistance and meet face-to-face with recovery specialists.

To donate or volunteer, contact the voluntary or charitable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters (NVOAD) at


In Florida, go to or call 1-800-FL-Help-1.  For those who wish to help, money donations offer voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover. 


Assistance for Individuals


For those in designated areas, applying online is the best way to register for assistance. If you do not have access to the internet, you may register by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.


To date, FEMA received more than 313,500 registrations with over $60.4 million already approved for survivors’ recovery through the Individual and Housing Assistance Program.  As it becomes safe for people to return to their homes, we expect registration numbers to increase. Registration numbers are as follows:

  • USVI: 2,011
  • Puerto Rico: 735
  • Florida: 310,849 

FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) may provide financial assistance and direct services for losses caused by the disaster that are not covered by insurance or another source.


Insurance is the first line of defense against damage to your home or business after a disaster.  Contact your insurance agent immediately to learn about your insurance policies and their coverage. If survivors also have National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance and suffered damage during the recent floods, they can contact their agent or call 1-800-621-3362 – select option 2 – to learn more about their policy.


Multiple forms of assistance and short-term housing options are available to support survivors in building a bridge to recovery:  

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 indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. 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, please contact 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) remains open 24/7 for free help coping with the stress of the storm.


The U.S. Department of Education is working closely with FEMA to share information about grants available to educational facilities following a presidentially declared major disaster.


Power and Fuel


More than 60,000 personnel from more than 250 investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives, are conducting the essential work of power restoration.  

  • The Department of Energy (DOE) is coordinating with its partners to facilitate communications, provide situational awareness and expedite restoration efforts.
  • Electric utility crews in Florida have restored power to more than 70% of customers.

DOE continues efforts to make fuel available to customers throughout the affected region by working with inter-agency and state partners on fuel waivers and a Jones Act waiver.


DOE authorized the release of 5.3 million barrels of crude oil, and has delivered 3 million barrels to areas in need of additional fuel. With many shipping ports re-opened, fuel shipments are arriving daily. DOE continues to work closely with gasoline truckers & shippers to ensure timely delivery of product to retail stations.


Safety and Preparedness

If your power is out, safely use a generator or candles.

  • Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner's manual and follow the instructions. 
  • Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open.
  • 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.

Avoid plugging emergency generators into electric outlets or hooking them directly to your home's electrical system – they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.

Exercise caution when using chainsaws to clear debris. Wear proper safety gear when operating a chainsaw, including leather gloves, a hardhat, hearing protection and safety goggles. Never work alone and carry a whistle for emergencies.

Your phone is an important tool to ensure your family’s safety. Make sure to charge your phone and other electronic devices, as you may lose power for extended periods. A car charger is a handy backup to have so you don’t lose your ability to connect with family, friends and neighbors.

With many in affected areas still without power, consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities.

Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have power.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages such as water or juice.  Alcohol and caffeine will impede your body’s ability to absorb water and increase the likelihood of dehydration.

Fraud and Misinformation


Although many Americans are working hard to help their neighbors now, during chaotic times, some will always try to take advantage of the most vulnerable.


Visit to get the most accurate information from trusted sources.


Federal and state workers do not ask for, or accept, money. FEMA staff will never charge applicants for disaster assistance, home inspections, or help filling out applications. Stay alert for false promises to speed up the insurance, disaster assistance, or building permit process.

Hurricane survivors are also encouraged to notify local authorities to cases of lawlessness or violence, especially in hurricane shelters. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. For other cases:

  • In Florida, report suspicious/criminal activity to 1-855-352-7233.
  • In Puerto Rico, report suspicious/criminal activity to the Puerto Rico Police by calling 787-343-2020, or by calling your local FBI office at 787-754-6000.
  • In the U.S. Virgin Islands, report suspicious/criminal activity to:
    • St. Thomas - 519-631-1224
    • St. John - 340-693-8880
    • St. Croix - 340-778-4950DeclarationsMajor Disaster Declaration
    • President Donald J. Trump issued major disaster declarations for affected individuals and state, commonwealth, tribal, territorial, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in:

On September 14, 2017, the September 10, 2017 major disaster declaration for the State of Florida (DR-4337) was amended to include Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Nassau, Suwannee, and Union counties bringing the total to 46 counties

Emergency Declarations

President Trump issued emergency declarations for emergency protective measures for:

President Trump issued emergency declarations for emergency protective measures and debris removal for:

FEMA and Federal Family Actions


  • More than 38,000 federal personnel are working in support of preparedness and response to Hurricane Irma, including more than 3,200 FEMA staff. Additional staff continue to deploy.

Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

  • As of September 14, more than 3,600 liters of water were transferred to Puerto Rico at the request of the Commonwealth. In addition, more than 578,500 meals, 382,000 liters of water, 13,600 sheeting covers, 150 rolls of blue tarps, 13 infant/ toddler kits, and 30 generators were transferred to St. Thomas and St. John.
  •  FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams continue to conduct search and rescue operations and welfare checks in St. John.
  •  Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel are deployed to support communication needs, and the FEMA National Radio System is operable in St. John and St. Thomas to help provide essential emergency communication. Additional FEMA and interagency communications support continues to arrive to the islands.
  •  Any tourists requiring transport off St. Thomas and St. John should contact the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism at (340) 772-0357 or visit for additional information.
  • The U.S. Department of State is coordinating evacuation assistance with the Department of Defense for Americans on St. Martin. They continue to advise U.S. citizens to shelter in place at a secure location until they have specific and confirmed departure plans.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has three medical teams providing care at a hospital emergency department on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and are helping evacuate dialysis patients.
  •  The recent hurricane has left many homeowners with damaged roofs. In order to mitigate additional damage that could result from rain, homeowners can have plastic sheeting installed over the damaged area by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Currently the USACE, FEMA, and local officials in the disaster-designated areas are conducting assessments for this program. Additional information will be available in the coming days on how to access this type of assistance, but the first step is registering with FEMA for federal assistance.
  • U.S. Northern Command installed a mobile communications tower and is now providing air traffic control radar capability at the Cyril E. King International Airport located on St. Thomas, which is crucial for emergency operations. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill operations have focused on aeromedical evacuations, commodity distribution in St. Thomas and St. John, and enabling U.S. Marine engineering teams to continue route clearance operations.


  •  As of September 14, 2017, FEMA transferred the following commodities to Florida and Georgia at the states’ requests.
    • Florida: More than 6.6 million meals, more than 4.6 million liters of water
    • Georgia: More than 603,000 meals and 912,000 liters of water
  • FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams continue to conduct search and rescue operations and welfare checks in Florida.  Teams have searched more than 8,000 structures across the state.
  • FEMA liaisons remain in Florida, Georgia, the Seminole Tribe, and South Carolina.
  •  The FEMA Tribal Liaison Officer and team are working with both the Seminole Tribe and the Miccosukee Tribe to support operations and coordinate logistical needs.
  • Two Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT) are engaged in the Florida Keys supporting local medical facilities, and other teams are supporting shelter operations throughout the state of Florida. DMATs are a rapid-response element to supplement local medical care, and deploy to disasters to provide medical care. Two Rapid Deployment Forces are also in Florida. Seven DMAT teams are currently staged in Orlando, Florida. 





Information for businesses and other non-governmental organizations is available at

Download the FEMA App to locate and get directions to open shelters across the state, and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. Follow FEMA online at,, and Also, follow Administrator Brock Long's activities at 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.





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