Reading President Biden’s conversations with FEMA and the National Hurricane Center

This afternoon, President Biden convened conversations with the National Hurricane Center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to discuss the administration’s ongoing preparations for Hurricane Ida, which is expected to make landfall on the coast of Canada. Gulf as a dangerous major hurricane tomorrow on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s Landing.

National Hurricane Center Director Kenneth Graham briefed the President on Ida’s predicted path and said the Gulf Coast is already starting to feel the effects of the storm. They explained how very strong and destructive Ida would likely be, with dangerous and potentially fatal storm surges and heavy rainfall impacting coastal and inland areas. The President thanked the Hurricane Hunters, who flew the specially equipped hurricane aircraft to allow accurate forecasts, as well as the entire team at the National Hurricane Center.

The president then called FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell via video conference. Administrator Criswell was at the National Response Coordination Center, the multi-agency center that coordinates disaster response and prioritizes the allocation of federal government resources. The President began by thanking the 200 federal staff on the shift who have worked long nights and weekends to help with the COVID-19 response, Tropical Storm Henri, the tragic Tennessee floods, and other extreme weather events, and now Hurricane Ida. They discussed ongoing evacuation efforts from parishes on the way to the storm, as well as the voluntary evacuation of New Orleans. Administrator Criswell told the President that 13 urban search and rescue teams are in place to meet the needs of people who cannot get out. The president asked about nursing home preparations, and Administrator Criswell said more than 100 land ambulances and 20 air ambulances have been deployed to support nursing home evacuations on the way to the storm . They discussed precautions taken in mega-shelters the American Red Cross is opening to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including masking, rapid testing and social distancing.

They also spoke about the impact of predicted hurricane-force winds and concerns about widespread power outages, and Administrator Criswell described how the US Army Corps of Engineers has prepositioned electrical restoration experts and hundreds of generators. . The president acknowledged the important help the utility industry is prepared to provide to help restore power as quickly as possible, although it may take time given the severity of the storm. The president urged people to be fully prepared now, including visiting Ready.gov, stocking up on household supplies, and following the advice of local authorities. The President concluded the call by reiterating his thanks to the FEMA team for their extraordinary efforts and recognizing the importance of pre-positioning resources, including the deployment by FEMA of 500 response personnel. additional emergency, one million meals, 1.6 million liters of water, and generators; and the forward and proactive positioning of Coast Guard vessels for deep water search and rescue efforts.

Yesterday, President Biden spoke with the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to clarify that the states have the full support of the federal government to provide assistance as needed and to aid local efforts of emergency response. The President approved a declaration of disaster emergency for the state of Louisiana, authorizing emergency preparedness and protective measures, including direct federal assistance such as power generation, means of air transportation, assistance with wildlife management and water management for the 64 parishes in Louisiana.

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