Hurricane Matthew is a dangerous storm.
We have not seen a hurricane this strong in almost a decade. It has already devastated Haiti, and has been building strength on its way to the U.S. As it makes landfall in Florida tonight and tracks up the eastern coastline over the coming days, Americans living in its path can expect to see life-threatening hurricane conditions, storm surges, tropical force winds, heavy rains, and all the devastation that that may bring.
Today, President Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida. Evacuations for coastal counties in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are in effect. If you live in these areas, please listen to the directions of your state, tribal, and local officials. If instructed to evacuate, don’t wait. You can always repair and rebuild — and we’ll be here to help you do that. The most important thing you can do is keep you and your family safe.
You can download the FEMA mobile app for shelter information, disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips, in English and in Spanish.
As a native Floridian, I am intimately aware of the devastation hurricanes can wreak. As the head of FEMA, it is my job to make sure that we do everything we can to prepare our communities for the oncoming storm and ensure that our emergency response efforts are ready to go as soon as we’re needed.
That’s why we’ve deployed teams to emergency operation centers in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia to support preparation activities and ensure that no needs are unmet. We are staffing bases in Albany, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina to collect and provide commodities and resources close to affected areas.
As of this morning, there were more than 414,000 liters of water, more than 513,700 meals, more than 8,000 blankets, and more than 20,600 cots in these locations. And more resources are on their way to Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
We’re also coordinating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to monitor and inspect the integrity of dams in the area. We’re working with the U.S. Coast Guard to assess and advise on the status of ports. The Department of Health and Human Services has sent emergency medical specialists to Georgia to assist if needed.
Hurricane Matthew has potential for life-threatening rain, wind, and storm surges along our coast. This serves as a reminder for residents in areas at risk and around the nation to refresh their emergency kits and review family plans.
If you do not have an emergency kit or family plan, or if you want to learn about steps you can take now to prepare your family for severe weather, visit ready.gov.
And as you’ve undoubtedly seen, this hurricane has already taken a devastating toll on Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and countries in the Caribbean. We know that many people who didn’t have a lot to begin with have lost almost everything. More than 100 people have lost their lives, and so many more are in need of substantial help.
If you want do what you can to help, please visit the Center for International Disaster Information, www.cidi.org, to find out how you can provide support to people when they need it most.
Here at FEMA, we are hoping for the best but are preparing for the worst.
As we monitor the situation over the next couple of days, you can check back here for the latest information on response efforts.