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Fw: BREAKING NEWS - UPDATE of US Response to Hurricane Katrina

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    ... From : john@chiefengineer.org UPDATE: UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE KATRINA Air Transport Association and Department of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2005
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      From : john@...

      UPDATE: UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE KATRINA

      Air Transport Association and Department of Transportation launch ���Operation Air Care���
      11 top priority hospitals in the New Orleans area fully evacuated
      Amtrak makes its first successful run out of New Orleans to evacuate citizens
      American Red Cross launches ���Family Links Registry��� Web site

      Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff traveled with President Bush on Friday to tour the Gulf Coast states devastated by Hurricane Katrina. President Bush and Secretary Chertoff saw firsthand the destruction throughout the region, and reaffirmed the commitment of federal government to save lives and help rebuild the affected communities. While much work remains, important progress is being made.

      More than 30,000 response, rescue, recovery and law enforcement personnel are working around the clock to bring critical aid and support to the areas.

      The United States Coast Guard saved more than 9,500 lives in the wake of Katrina, nearly double the total number of lives saved by the Coast Guard in all of 2003.

      The scope of this disaster is unlike any natural disaster in our nation���s history. High flood waters caused major damage to critical transportation infrastructure. Crews have worked to repair bridges and re-open roads in order to expedite the flow of supplies and evacuation efforts.

      More than 22,000 people have been evacuated from Louisiana. Additional personnel and resources have helped speed this process. For example, the Air Transport Association and the Department of Transportation launched today ���Operation Air Care��� to provide emergency airlift to stranded New Orleans residents. The federal government and participating airlines are executing this unprecedented civilian relocation program.

      All patients and staff from the 11 top priority hospitals in the New Orleans area have been fully evacuated. Three other hospitals in the area are fully functioning with fuel and power and have no need to evacuate.

      The Department of Transportation announced that Amtrak began evacuating residents from New Orleans to Dallas and other nearby states. Amtrak made its first successful run out of New Orleans earlier this morning and will return twice more today to evacuate more citizens to Dallas and other nearby states. Amtrak will have two trains in place by Monday, allowing for a total of four trips that day, and trains will continue operating for as long as necessary.

      The American Red Cross launched a ���Family Links Registry��� Web site to assist family members who are seeking information about their loved ones affected by Hurricane Katrina. Individuals can register and find a missing relative or view the existing list of registrants by visiting www.redcross.org.

      Key Statistics as of 10 a.m. Saturday for the Gulf Region Response:

      Lives Saved
      11,500
      Citizens Evacuated
      25,000
      Water distributed by FEMA
      6.7 million liters
      MREs distributed by FEMA
      1.9 million
      U.S. Coast Guard
      4,000
      National Guard
      22,000
      FEMA Responders
      5,000









      Department of Homeland Security

      Principal Federal Official (PFO). Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to act as the Principal Federal Official. Designated by Secretary Chertoff, the PFO leads the deployment and coordination of all federal response resources and forces in the Gulf Coast region. This role, established under the NRP, streamlines leadership and gives state and local leaders one point for delivery of critical Federal aid and support.

      Jones Act Waiver. Secretary Chertoff signed a waiver of the Jones Act allowing foreign flagged vessels to transport cargo from one U.S. Port to another U.S. Port.

      National Communications System (NCS). National Communications System coordinated the arrival of mobile communications vans, and arranged the delivery of satellite phones, as well as wireless phones programmed for Wireless Priority Service to state and local government leaders and emergency responders. The NCS coordinated equipment delivery from other telecommunications companies and firms.

      Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

      FEMA will deploy every resource available to treat wounds, aid the suffering and protect and preserve lives. And, will not rest until every need is met.

      FEMA continues to push out critical commodities to the impacted areas, including meals ready to eat, water, ice, medical supplies and generators.

      FEMA has more than 200 shelters; temporarily housing more than 50,000 people.

      15,000 evacuations have been made from the New Orleans Superdome to the Astrodome in Houston and are continuing today to San Antonio.

      Seven National Disaster Medical Service Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) and three strike teams are supporting New Orleans medical facilities and hospitals not fully operational and setting up MASH-style tents.

      Five DMATs and three strike teams are working in medical facilities and hospitals in Gulfport, Biloxi and other areas of Mississippi.

      FEMA continues to work with nearly 500 U.S. Corps of Engineers civilians and soldiers who are working on the New Orleans levee breach and coordinating the transport of ice and water.

      U.S. Coast Guard

      Coast Guard assets and personnel from all over the country have been deployed to the area. Many were in place before the storm hit, and more are on their way. Fifty-two aircraft from ten air stations are on scene, including aircraft from as far away as Kodiak, Alaska

      The Coast Guard's primary focus along the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana coast will remain search and rescue as long as necessary. The Coast Guard has set up a Web site where people, who are still in need of rescue or know of someone in need, can submit information at http://homeport.uscg.mil People should also contact their state emergency operation centers are (225) 925-7707 or 7709 or 3511 or 7412.

      Ports and waterways are beginning to open, although with restrictions.
      Coast Guard air operations rescued 1,245 people and conducted 385 sorties yesterday. The Coast Guard has rescued over 9,500 people so far and will be focusing its operations on the evacuation of people from the New Orleans Convention Center today.

      The Lower Mississippi River has been opened to deep draft vessels with a 35-foot draft or less for one way daylight traffic only.

      Only the Port of Gulfport, Miss., remains closed to all traffic. Pascagoula, Miss., is open to vessels with 12-foot draft or less. Mobile is open to barge traffic only. Pensacola, Fla., and Destin and Panama City, Fla., are open to vessels with a 31-foot draft or less.

      Coast Guard personnel and assets from all over the country continue to deploy to the area. Twenty-nine Coast Guard cutters, 52 aircraft, and many response and incident management teams are in the Gulf area. The Coast Guard has recalled 550 reservists to active duty and has the authorization to recall up to 800 reservists.

      Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

      CBP is currently providing air and marine support to FEMA and several state agencies in an effort to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

      In addition to the aircraft, more than 200 CBP agents and officers are deployed to the affected area to provide security and law enforcement support.

      CBP field offices in Tampa and Miami staged relief teams of 30 support personnel, complete with equipment and supplies, to assist with the aftermath.
      Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

      Nearly 120 ICE Federal Protective Service (FPS) officers are deployed to provide physical security in connection with the disaster and the recovery efforts. ICE FPS officers have been directly involved in providing security support for the Superdome evacuation, in crowd control and in other sensitive law enforcement missions in the area.

      Three ICE Special Response Teams have been deployed from Miami, San Antonio, and Chicago and are en route to Gulfport, Mississippi to provide security support to the affected areas. These teams come from ICE Office of Investigations and ICE Detention and Removal Operations.

      ICE has deployed three Mobile Command Centers with communications equipment and uplink capabilities to locations in Louisiana and Alabama to assist in the exchange of information in areas without communications.

      ICE anticipates deploying hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel to the affected areas in the next few days.

      National Guard

      Almost 22,000 National Guard members are in place providing security, assisting with food and water distribution, and conducting search and rescue missions in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Over the next few days, that number will rise to nearly 30,000 as we continue to deploy personnel and critical equipment to the hardest hit areas

      6,500 National Guard troops poured into the greater New Orleans area to help restore order and continue relief operations.

      Guardsmen are trained professionals and bring great expertise and sensitivity to their mission in support of local law enforcement.

      National Guard helicopters have evacuated hundreds of sick and injured persons out of the devastated greater New Orleans area.

      Department of Defense (DOD)

      The DOD is ordering the USS Harry S. Truman and dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island to areas off the U.S. Gulf Coast in support of relief operations.

      The USS Grapple is en route with 31 divers aboard to assist with maritime and underwater survey and salvage operations.

      NORTHCOM established Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina to act as the military���s on-scene command in support of FEMA. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of the First Army in Fort Gillem, Ga., is the JTF-Commander. JTF Katrina will be based out of Camp Shelby, Miss.

      Joint Forces Command is providing Department of Defense leased property at the former England AFB in Louisiana as an intermediate staging base to support hurricane response in the state of Louisiana. This will serve as a staging point for National Guard personnel arriving from other states to support the Louisiana relief efforts.

      Department of Education

      DOE is working with states and school districts across the country as they welcome displaced children into their schools as quickly as possible. The department is in ongoing contact with state and local education officials to determine student- and school-related needs and coordinate and deploy resources as applicable.

      The department is convening a nationwide conference call with state directors of homeless student programs and a meeting of national education leaders to coordinate and deploy resources.

      The department will be flexible on a case-by-case basis with provisions of the ���No Child Left Behind Act��� for affected states.


      Department of the Interior

      Approximately 400 employees from Interior agencies have been mobilized and dispatched to the Gulf area as part of the interagency response.

      The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is assisting the six federally recognized tribes in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi affected by the hurricane. BIA���s Eastern Regional Office and Choctaw Agency are coordinating recovery efforts with the Mississippi Choctaw tribal government, whose facilities were severely damaged. The efforts include getting fresh water to the tribe, clearing debris from roadways, finding ways to bring in supplies of ice, fuel and food and assigning law enforcement personnel to protect lives and property.

      Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

      Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced today that he is instructing all FHA-approved lenders to provide foreclosure relief to FHA-insured families who are affected by Hurricane Katrina. The relief includes a special 90-day moratorium on all foreclosures of FHA-insured properties in the Presidentially declared disaster areas. Jackson is also encouraging lenders to undertake actions such as mortgage modification, refinancing, and waiver of late charges.

      Department of Justice (DOJ)

      The USMS Justice and Prisoner Alien Transportation System (JPATS) launched two Boeing 737 aircraft to evacuate displaced persons to Houston upon request from FEMA, and will continuously shuttle between Houston and New Orleans during daylight hours.

      �� DOJ has begun work on a task force to deter, investigate, and prosecute disaster-related crimes such as insurance fraud, and charity fraud, and to ensure that fuel and other prices remain at competitive levels.

      �� DOJ agencies and personnel are securing federal law enforcement facilities and are working on-site and from relocation sites in Shreveport and Baton Rouge to continue enforcing Federal laws.

      �� DOJ components are drawing upon longstanding close relations with state and local law enforcement to assist them to the maximum extent possible. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) are responding to requests from state and local agencies for communications, air support, HAZMAT, medical, and other assistance. DEA is coordinating with Texas and Arkansas Pharmacy Boards to provide assistance with emergency prescription refill procedures due to requests that have started to come from Louisiana residents.

      �� USMS personnel have been deployed to assist with the transport and security of stockpile supplies. The Bureau of Justice Assistance will also be making millions of dollars of grant money immediately available to state and local law enforcement entities in the affected areas.

      Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

      EPA began collecting and analyzing flood water samples today in Louisiana for biological and chemical contaminants. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has also requested EPA provide 50 personnel to perform environmental assessments of construction sites for temporary housing efforts.

      To alleviate possible fuel shortages across the United States and to help meet emergency demand in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, EPA will temporarily allow refiners, importers, distributors, carriers and retail outlets to supply gasoline and diesel fuels that do not meet standards for emissions. This waiver is effective immediately and will continue through Sept. 15, 2005.

      EPA teams are currently assessing, evaluating, and supporting drinking water and wastewater facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi.

      EPA personnel are overseeing and offering technical assistance in the disposal of hazardous waste and other debris left behind by the storm. Teams are working closely with the Coast Guard to conduct assessments of potential oil spills and chemical releases caused by the hurricane.

      EPA has mobilized 12 environmental emergency response teams to the affected areas in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. These teams are providing assistance with overall ���search and recovery��� efforts and are conducting initial assessments of the environmental impacts of Hurricane Katrina, including potential impacts from chemical facilities, oil refineries and water treatment plants.

      EPA sent 39 of its watercraft to assist in the current rescue efforts.

      Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

      HHS is working with DOD to set up 10 Federal Medical Shelters, each with a 250 bed capacity. The Federal Medical Shelters will be located at Fort Polk, La. (4 Federal Medical Shelters); Elgin Air Force Base, Fla. (2 Federal Medical Shelters); Meridian Naval Air Station, Miss. (2 Federal Medical Shelters); and Jackson National Air Guard Facility, Miss. (2 Federal Medical Shelters). Five hundred US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers arrived Saturday morning to staff the medical shelters. Each shelter will require three large semi-trucks of equipment and supplies. HHS, DOD, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) will staff the shelters with the necessary healthcare and support personnel. Each shelter requires a staff of 150.

      HHS' National Institutes of Health is setting up a telemedicine consultation and triage facility on the NIH campus that will serve as a medical specialty service to all 40 Federal Medical Shelters on the ground. This will focus on the sickest of the sick and link to expertise and care at NIH and 125 medical centers throughout the country.

      Since last weekend HHS has shipped and is distributing nearly 100 tons of vital medications and supplies, including 100,000 doses of antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, amoxicillin; 30,000 doses of tetanus vaccine; and maintenance medications for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and other conditions.

      The federal medical shelter on the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge has filled more than 1,000 prescriptions with medicines from the Strategic National Stockpile yesterday.

      Department of Energy

      �� The president yesterday temporarily waived restrictions on foreign flagged vessels to ship fuels between U.S. ports. Gasoline shipments from Houston to East Coast ports are anticipated.

      The Department of Energy has entered into three separate agreements to loan oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

      �� The first agreement, between the Department of Energy and ExxonMobil Corp. is for a loan of three million barrels of ���sweet��� crude and three million barrels of ���sour��� crude oil, and is larger than the 5.4 million barrels loaned during Hurricane Ivan.

      �� The second, an agreement between the Department of Energy and Placid Refining is for one million barrels of sweet crude oil.

      �� The third is for 1.5 million barrels of sweet crude to Valero.

      �� The crude oil will be loaned from the SPR under short-term contractual agreements and returned to the reserve once supply conditions return to normal. The Department of Energy is working to finalize other loan agreements to loan oil.

      Department of Transportation (DOT)

      The following airlift operations have occurred from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport:
      42 civil relief missions
      34 military relief missions
      3,400 passengers on civil flights
      1,900 passengers on military flights

      U.S. Commerce Department

      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) office of Coast Survey is working in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and local port management to assess the damages in New Orleans and Mobile, two of the nation���s major commercial ports.

      U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture is sending experienced emergency response personnel to assist in incident response coordination. To date, the Forest Service has assigned 13 management and logistical teams and 35 crews of 20 people each to the affected areas and host communities. These resources are intended to assist in setting up logistics staging areas, the distribution of food products, and debris removal.

      �� USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is providing food at shelters and mass feeding sites, issuing emergency food stamps and infant formula, and distributing food packages directly to needy households. 80,000 pounds of USDA-donated commodities which consist of mixed meats, cheese, peanut butter, and pudding, arrived in Baton Rouge, La. today. Additionally, four trucks of baby food products were ordered for immediate shipment. One truck of infant formula will arrive in Baton Rouge today. The other three trucks of baby food products are on the way.

      �� FNS will provide waivers to food stamp recipients to enable them to use funds to purchase hot meals and will be expediting deliver of September benefits. Two truckloads of commodities have been dispatched to New Orleans with more to follow as requested.

      �� USDA Rural Development will provide a six-month moratorium on payments for 50,000 low-income residents in the affected areas. USDA will also be taking an inventory of vacant USDA housing to help accommodate displaced residents.


      Department of Labor

      The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a National Emergency Grant of up to $50 million to establish approximately 10,000 temporary jobs for eligible dislocated workers to help in the recovery and clean-up efforts underway in Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Approximately $16.6 million in grant funds will be released immediately.

      �� OSHA Region VI deployed its eight member Emergency Response Team to Baton Rouge to assess the situation and provide technical assistance to recovery workers and utility employers engaged in power restoration.

      �� OSHA has identified all Lowes and Home Depot stores in Louisiana and will be distributing safety and health fact sheets and materials to these locations.

      Department of State

      �� The Department of State advises concerned family members of foreign nationals residing or traveling in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to try to reach their family members by phone, email, or other available means.

      �� If family member cannot be reached, the State Department recommends they contact their embassy in Washington, D.C. for assistance. Reports from the region indicate that some phone lines are working but experiencing heavy call volume, so family members are encouraged to keep trying if lines are busy.

      Treasury Department

      The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that "dyed diesel fuel" is now permitted for road use. Dyed diesel fuel ordinarily is not subject to federal excise taxes because it is intended for off-road use in farm equipment or in certain government vehicles such as school buses. The fuel is dyed to distinguish it from diesel fuel intended for road use. The relief will remain in effect through September 15, 2005.

      The IRS announced special relief for taxpayers in the Presidential Disaster Areas struck by the hurricane. These taxpayers generally will have until October 31 to file tax returns and submit tax payments. The IRS will stop interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply. This relief includes the September 15 due date for estimated taxes and for calendar-year corporate returns with automatic extensions.



      General Services Administration (GSA)

      GSA is filling requests for 20 million MREs, two 1,000 person camps with feeding, sleeping, laundry, sanitation, showers and toilets; refrigerators large enough to store 4000 doses of medication; modular office trailers to support fire, police, and rescue; fuel; recreational vehicles to sleep command staff; storage trucks, forklifts and pallets to support FEMA staging areas; refrigerated trucks; office furniture and supplies such as chairs, tables; climate control trailers; radios and satellite phones; rental vehicles; and portable toilets and showers.

      American Red Cross

      Shelters ���More than 250 American Red Cross shelters are open in nine states: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Georgia, with more on standby.

      Evacuees ��� More than 100,000 evacuees are being sheltered, not including the operation to transition evacuees from the Superdome in New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston.

      Emergency Vehicles ��� More than 100,000 Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) and more than 1,000 support vehicles are now in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, to conduct food distribution.

      Relief Workers ��� More than 3,300 Red Cross staff and volunteers across the country and from every part of the organization have deployed to the affected area are working around the clock to serve the public need.

      Feeding ��� The Red Cross served more than 500,000 meals working closely with several partners, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Adventists and Second Harvest to provide emergency food to survivors and responders. In coordination with the Southern Baptists, preparations are underway to serve nearly 500,000 hot meals each day.

      Houston Astrodome Shelter ��� The Red Cross is supporting government officials in the relocation of more than 23,000 hurricane survivors from the Superdome in New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston. The organization is mobilizing to provide blankets, cots and food for the evacuees.

      Health & Preventative Care ��� The Red Cross is working with government and health services partners to develop health strategies and preventative measures to help the public and relief workers cope with the serious public health emergency.

      The Red Cross relies on donations of the American people to do its work. Citizens can help by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669) or by making an online contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund at www.redcross.org.

      Because of logistical issues, the Red Cross cannot accept donations of food or clothing.
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