(Newsroom America) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says even as Superstorm Sandy begins to clear impacted areas, there will be many challenges to staying safe while making repairs and cleaning up debris after a storm.
Emergency workers are now assisting people in flooded areas and FEMA strongly urged the public to listen to and follow the instructions of local officials.
Dangerous weather conditions continue to exist in many parts of the Mid-Atlantic, according to the National Weather Service.
FEMA is currently coordinating the federal government's assistance to support states in response and recovery of Hurricane Sandy.
President Obama has declared major disasters for New York and New Jersey, making disaster assistance available to those in the heaviest hit areas affected by the storm.
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties in New York and New Jersey can begin applying for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
President Obama has also authorized an emergency declaration for New Hampshire, Virginia and West Virginia. Previously, the President authorized emergency declarations for Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
The President's action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to provide assistance for required emergency measures, directly to state, tribal and local governments, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety.
Currently, more than 1,900 FEMA personnel are working to support disaster response and recovery operations, including search and rescue, situational awareness, communications and logistical support.
In addition, 28 teams comprised of 294 FEMA Corps members are onsite to support Sandy.
Nine federal urban search and rescue task forces have been staged along the East Coast and are deploying into affected areas as needed, and requested by impacted states.
An additional six federal urban search and rescue task forces have been placed on alert for potential activation if required. 14 Incident Management Assistance Teams and 12 liaison officers are positioned in affected states along the East Coast to support preparedness activities and ensure there are no unmet needs.
Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel and teams have been deployed to support the states with secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to state response operations as well as with any potential requests for assistance.
Also, ten FEMA disability integration advisors are also deployed to advise emergency management on alert and warning, evacuation, and sheltering needs.
At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories, including Atlanta, Ga. and Frederick, Md., if needed and requested.
FEMA distribution centers have an overall inventory of more than 5 million liters of water, 3 million meals, 900,000 blankets and 100,000 cots. FEMA and the Department of Defense established Incident Support Bases in Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to pre-position supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to potentially impacted areas, should they be needed and requested by states.
As of yesterday, FEMA moved roughly 245,000 liters of water, more than 174,000 meals and thousands of blankets and cots to Westover Air Reserve Base; and more than 400,000 liters of water and more than 390,000 meals and thousands of cots to Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey, and more commodities are en route, as weather conditions permit.
States, localities and the American Red Cross continue to operate emergency shelters along the East Coast. To find a shelter, individuals can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or check local media outlets.
They should also register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.
In addition, the following federal activities are also being coordinated:
U.S. Northern Command Regional Defense Coordinating Officers (DCO), and portions of the Defense Coordinating Element (DCE), deployed in advance of the storm, and remain on the ground to validate, plan and coordinate potential Department of Defense (DoD) support of FEMA's response operations and to facilitate DOD support of life-saving and response operations.
The National Guard currently has more than 7,400 National Guard forces on duty supporting the governors of New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maryland. These forces are providing assistance to local first responders and FEMA with critical tasks such and assistance at evacuation shelters, route clearance, search and rescue and delivery of essential equipment and supplies.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) mobilized Temporary Emergency Power resources to provide support to areas affected by Sandy. These resources consist of teams with technical expertise to assess critical facility generator requirements and private sector contract support to install and operate generators. Other planning response teams remain on alert for debris management, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, water planning and un-watering. Additional Temporary Power Teams have also been placed on alert status.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and FEMA activated ambulance contracts to support state requirements to evacuate patients as needed and requested. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has personnel deployed in support of state response efforts, including two 50-person Disaster Medical Assistance Teams providing triage and basic care in shelters in New Jersey. Additional medical teams are on alert. HHS also has personnel supporting 350 ambulances in New York that were activated through FEMA’s ambulance contracts. An additional Disaster Medical Assistance Team remains pre-staged in the mid-Atlantic, prepared to deploy quickly along the East Coast if needed.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is working closely with FEMA, and in support of state and local officials who are responsible for working with utilities as they prepare for storms, deployed emergency response personnel to FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, and additional personnel are on standby to assist. DOE is working with states and local partners as the electric industry engages in power restoration efforts. Daily Situation Reports that detail the storm's impacts and the restoration activities being taken by the energy sector are available at www.doe.gov.
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) remains in close communication with the East Coast state VOAD's to coordinate on a regional, multi-state level. Currently 15 states have activated their VOAD networks for readiness actions; the National VOAD is sharing their activities and needs with all VOAD members and partners.
FEMA activated its National Business Emergency Operations Center. More than 330 representatives from retail, transportation, food and groceries, building management, and other industries receive daily briefings on key federal response efforts. These briefings assist in federal and private sector planning efforts, and provide a forum to discuss response efforts and challenges that may arise for maintaining business operations and provides the opportunity to collaborate on innovative solutions.
In preparation for the storm, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) placed inspectors in all nuclear power plants that could potentially experience impacts from the storm. Inspectors independently verify that plant operators are making the proper preparations and taking actions to ensure plant safety before, during and after the storm. Out of an abundance of caution, three reactors were shutdown during the storm while another plant, Oyster Creek in New Jersey, is being closely monitored due to high water levels in its water intake structure. The NRC will continue to coordinate with other federal and state agencies prior to the restart of the affected plants.
The NOAA Hydrometerological Prediction Center is now tracking the remnants of Sandy and providing regular forecast updates. NOAA National Weather Service weather forecast offices in the affected areas are working closely with local emergency management officials. NOAA navigation response crews are staged and ready to commence waterway surveys in the affected areas.
The U.S. Coast Guard has teams along the East Coast to conduct search and rescue missions, respond to and mitigate threats to public health and the environment, and continues to assess and advise status of ports along the East Coast.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is coordinating with FEMA and affected states to identify housing providers who may have available housing units, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners. HUD is also speeding federal disaster assistance to New York and New Jersey to provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes in the most heavily impacted areas. The President’s major disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey allow HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to some families in the designated counties.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture regional Food and Nutrition Service leadership is working with state commissioners and program administrators in the affected area to meet food needs for emergency shelters and feeding sites and to assist with Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requests.
According to the National Weather Service, dangerous weather conditions continue to exist in many parts of the Mid-Atlantic. Individuals should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local and tribal officials. State, Tribal and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials.
States, localities and the Red Cross have emergency shelters open in many affected communities. The FEMA smartphone app provides safety tips and displays open shelter information at www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. To find a shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).