Life Safety Tops FEMA Priorities, Supplies Pour In

Washington, D.C. – Michael D. Brown, Department of Homeland Security’s Principal Federal Officer for Hurricane Katrina response and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, announced that federal resources and support are continuing for states impacted by Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the United States.

“The priority at this time is to meet the immediate life saving and life sustaining needs of victims in the impacted areas,” said Brown. “FEMA, along with other federal partners and state governments, is coordinating a massive mobilization of resources for urban search and rescue efforts, housing, food and medical care.”

Federal response activities include:

  • As of early August 31, more than 54,000 people were in 317 shelters. FEMA is working with a multi-state housing task force to address expected continued sheltering and eventual housing needs. More than 82,000 meals have been served in the impacted areas.
  • More than 1,700 trucks have been mobilized through federal, state and contract sources to supply ice, water and supplies. These supplies and equipment are being moved into the hardest hit areas as quickly as possible, especially water, ice, meals, medical supplies, and generators. It may, however, take several days for supplies and equipment to reach all victims because of damaged and closed roads and bridges.
  • Eighteen of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue task forces and two Incident Support Teams are working in Louisiana and Mississippi Eight swift water teams from California are also deployed making a total of 1,200 people conducting search and rescue missions. All 28 of FEMA’s teams are activated for response, with the balance staged, enroute or mobilized.
  • Fifty-one teams from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) have been deployed, including five Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) that are supporting New Orleans medical facilities and hospitals not fully operational. These teams have truckloads of medical equipment and supplies with them and are trained to handle trauma, pediatrics, surgery and mental health problems.

    Additional teams are staged in Anniston, Ala.; Camp Shelby, Miss.; and Baton Rogue, La., and will move out as conditions permit.
  • NDMS has identified 2,600 hospital beds in a 12-state area around the affected area and is working with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to move patients to these facilities.
  • USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is providing food at shelters and mass feeding sites and issuing emergency food stamps, infant formula and food packages to households in need.
  • FEMA is coordinating logistics with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Louisiana National Guard in support of the ground evacuation of refugees sheltered at the Superdome in New Orleans to the Houston Astrodome in Harris County, Texas.
  • A team of 66 transportation experts is supporting state and local officials in the damage assessment of highways, railroads, airports, transit systems, ports and pipelines. The Department of Transportation is supporting detour planning and critical transportation system repairs.

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