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Update on Hurricane Isaac

Here's more information about the ongoing efforts to respond to Hurricane Isaac.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino hold a briefing (August 28, 2012)

(Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino hold a briefing with FEMA Regions in regards to Hurricane Isaac preparations.)

Late last night, as Hurricane Isaac made landfall along the Gulf Coast, FEMA provided another update about the ongoing efforts from federal officials to respond to the storm.

Earlier in the day, FEMA Adminstrator Craig Fugate and National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb briefed President Obama on the expected track for the hurricane and the preparations underway to provide relief efforts.

The President has already signed emergency declarations for the states of Mississippi and Louisiana in order to ensure local leaders get the support they need.

Before Isaac made landfall, FEMA dispatched four Incident Management Assistance Teams to emergency operations centers in Gulf states and positioned two Mobile Emergency Response Support teams and additional resources in locations nearby the areas expected to be affected by the storm.

FEMA also has supply distribution centers in Georgia and Texas and has established additional supply sites Mississippi and Louisiana. Federal officials have also deployed an urban search and rescue team to Louisiana, and additional support teams are ready to deploy as needed and requested.

For those currently in the path of the storm, FEMA has provided some useful safety information:

  • Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous. Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Remember – turn around, don’t drown.
  • The National Weather Service is the official source for weather information and severe weather watches and warnings, so follow your forecast at on your computer or on your phone.

Rain and storm surge may make flooding possible. Here are the definitions of the types of advisories officials may issue:

  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if local officials give notice to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is urging everyone to make food safety a part of their preparation efforts:

  • Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
  • Group food together in the freezer — this helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.

Finally, if the high winds and rain from Isaac cause the power to go out, remember these tips:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed.
  • A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).

Read the USDA blog post for a full list of food safety tips.