About an hour ago, city officials gave local media members a tour of the Dallas Convention Center, in which Dallas expects to hold folks fleeing Hurricane Gustav, which is close to reaching Category 5 status as it approaches the Louisiana coastline. Only, the city keeps insisting in media releases filling the in-box this afternoon that it "expects to receive no more than 1,000 persons, which is the approximate capacity of the Dallas Convention Center shelter location." In the days after Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans, the convention center hosted more than six times that number; Reunion Arena, close to it.
Among the myriad media release shipped from City Hall was one offering advice to locals wanting to assist folks heading north in order to dodge Gustav. Complete instructions are after the jump. Also after the jump, the latest information from the feds, from FEMA to the FBI.--Robert Wilonsky
Update: At 1:33 p.m. Monday, City Hall sent a media release in which it reported that the "Dallas Convention Center shelter location met its capacity limit of 1,000 as of 1 p.m. today. The Samuell Grand Recreation Center shelter location is also full."
The City of Dallas is advising residents who wish to help evacuees relocating to North Texas because of Gustav to help in the following ways:
1. DONATIONS to help purchase FOOD can be made to the North Texas Food Bank through their Web site: www.ntxfoodbank.org
2. DONATIONS to help purchase OTHER ESSENTIALS can be made to the Salvation Army through their Web site: www.salvationarmydfw.org
3. VOLUNTEERS may register for assignments with the Volunteer Center of North Texas through their Web site: www.volunteernorthtexas.org
PLEASE NOTE: Residents should NOT drop donations at the Dallas Convention Center shelter location NOR should they come to the Dallas Convention Center shelter location to offer volunteer assistance. Donations and volunteering should be routed through the agencies suggested above, or by contacting your favorite local charity.
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GUSTAV: FEDERAL AGENCIES SUPPORT STATES, EVACUEES
WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working with a variety of federal agencies and voluntary organizations to support state and local authorities in their early response to Hurricane Gustav. President Bush has issued pre-landfall Emergency Disaster Declarations for Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi which enables federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the potential emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Gustav.
FEMA encourages all residents in the region to make final personal preparations to be able to meet their basic needs for 72-hours after landfall. Residents are reminded to include text messaging in their communication plans in case cellular calls are limited. Information is available at www.Ready.gov on how families and individuals can best prepare before the storm.
FEMA has activated an interagency planning team to work with states on the Atlantic coast to prepare for Tropical Storm Hanna, which could impact Southeastern or Gulf Coast states later in the week.
With communities at risk from the Texas border to the Florida Keys, FEMA and its federal partners are working directly with state and local officials to provide the resources they need to execute their disaster plans. In one example of this teamwork approach: at the request of Louisiana, FEMA coordinated with the Department of Defense to provide aircraft capable of medical evacuations and with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs to provide health care professionals to support these moves.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) • FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center and Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta, Ga., and Denton, Texas, are operating around the clock, coordinating the prepositioning of assets and responding to state requests for assistance. • FEMA has deployed Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) to Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. An Advanced Emergency Response Team (ERT-A) has been deployed to Alabama and a “Warm Cell” team is already active in the Louisiana Emergency Operations Center. • 18 Urban Search and Rescue task forces and incident support teams have been deployed to the region from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. • FEMA’s emergency teams and resources are being deployed and configured for coordinated response. FEMA has pre-staged life-saving and life-sustaining commodities such water, meals, and tarps in various strategic locations to be made available to residents of affected areas, including: o More than 2.4 million liters of water (137 truckloads). o More than 4 million meals (203 truckloads). o 478 emergency generators. o 141 truckloads of tarps. o 267 truckloads of blankets and cots. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) • TSA has deployed 45 Transit Teams and 150 Transit Security Officers to facilitate the evacuation of critical transit need individuals. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) • CBP has deployed 20 Law Enforcement Officers to help protect Search & Rescue efforts and 100 law enforcement personnel to help with evacuation and contra-flow traffic issues. U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) • The Coast Guard reminds the public to keep a close watch on the hurricane as it approaches, pay attention to safety announcements from the local governments, and to listen to any evacuation notices that are given. It is important that mariners and the general public also stay alert for waterway and bridge closures in advance of the storm. • The Coast Guard will begin conducting pre-storm over flights of estimated land fall locations based on NOAA weather models to identify potential issues this weekend. • USCG Cutters DECISIVE and NORTHLAND will be in the area immediately after the storm to provide a Command and Control platform. • The Coast Guard currently has 19 Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters and 10 SAR fixed wing aircraft available at Mobile, New Orleans, Corpus Christi, and Houston. 4 DART teams are on standby. DARTS have boats and personnel capable of conducting rescue in shallow water and urban environments. • The Transportable Multi-Mission Communications Center Trailer should arrive at the pre-staging point at Aviation Training Center Mobile Saturday.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) • USACE has alerted and begun deploying to the Gulf Coast both local and regional teams from across the nation to assist in debris removal, commodities procurement and delivery, temporary emergency power, temporary housing, temporary roofing, infrastructure assessment, and support to urban search and rescue missions.
Department of Defense (DOD) U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) • National Guard units are standing by with people & equipment to assist civil authorities and first responders in TX, LA, MS, AL and FL. • Nearly 400,000 National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, to include 65,000 in the Gulf Coast region, are available to assist with hurricane response and recovery. • The National Guard continues to work with our local, state and federal partners to coordinate response efforts. U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) • NORTHCOM is providing aero-medical evacuations for up to 1,000 patients in Louisiana and provide aero-medical evacuations for up to 500 patients in Texas. • NORTHCOM provides contracted airlift to move 16,000 general population passengers and cargo in support of disaster operations in response to Hurricane Gustav. In addition, the airlift will move response personnel from New Orleans to Dallas-Fort Worth. • NORTHCOM provides support for National Logistic Staging Areas at: Ft. Rucker, Ala.; Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.; and Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) • To facilitate evacuations, DOT deployed team of transportation experts to assist states with evacuation procedures and to provide bus and rail car safety inspections as needed. • DOT is managing planned contra-flow traffic on major highways to allow for expanded evacuation efforts and is tracking fuel availability along evacuation routes. • DOT is providing air traffic control to support air evacuations, with standby mobile air traffic control equipment on standby in Houston to serve as back-ups in case the storm damages equipment. • Ready reserve vessel in Beaumont, TX port is storing local fire and police vehicles during storm to avoid flooding.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) • USDA's Rural Development is ready to help individuals needing payment assistance on their existing USDA Rural Development Single and Multi-family loans who are affected by Hurricane Gustav. They are encouraged to contact the Centralized Servicing Center at (800) 414-1226. • Rural Development also will give rural communities and businesses priority consideration for funding through its Rural Community Facilities programs and the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program to help with programs and rehabilitation needed as a result of Hurricane Gustav.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) • HHS has activated the National Disaster Medical System. • Approximately 1,100 personnel are in place in the Gulf Coast region, with another 400 remain on alert, and HHS has placed nine Federal Medical Stations, each with a 250-bed capacity. Five are in place in Texas and four are on alert in Louisiana. • Caches of medical supplies are in place into the Gulf Coast region and additional caches of medical supplies are ready to deploy.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) • CDC is emphasizing three key messages in their communications to the public across the gulf coast region and through public service announcements on television in the area: o Before the storm, learn about your community’s plans and prepare your family: learn about your community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and emergency shelters; stock your home with supplies and have emergency kits for your car and home; make arrangements with friends or family for transportation if you don’t have a vehicle. o Help elderly and disabled family and neighbors to stay safe during an evacuation: take their prescription medicines with you; turn off gas, electricity, and water and disconnect appliances before you leave; put their livestock and pets in a safe area. o Help elderly and disabled family and neighbors to stay safe during a storm: if you are told to stay at home in a storm, everyone should keep indoors and away from windows and exterior
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) • EPA granted a fuel waiver requested by the state of Louisiana to increase the flexibility of fuel supplies in Louisiana during preparations/evacuations for Hurricane Gustav. The waiver is effective through September 8 and allows the sale of conventional gasoline in 16 parishes that otherwise require low RVP (Reid vapor pressure) fuel during the summer ozone season. • EPA’s potentially-impacted regional water programs are coordinating with their State counterparts in preparation for potential support should Gustav impact the water sector and overwhelm local and State capabilities.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) • VA has evacuated at-risk patients from the most exposed VA hospitals to facilities in Oklahoma City, Okl., Little Rock, Ark., and Dallas, Tex. • VA is providing emergency managers to federal and state operations centers and has 190 medical staff on-hand to staff additional Federal Medical Stations as needed.
U.S. Department of Treasury • The Department of Treasury is working to expedite check and direct deposit payments in the affected areas for certain federal benefits that are scheduled for regular delivery in the first week of the month.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) • The Critical Incident Response Group from Quantico is forward deploying a small team to Louisiana. Field Offices in Houston, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida have their crisis response plans in an early stage of activation. Division Crisis Managers are available for deployment if needed. The field offices will remain staffed with critical personnel. • Two Command Post vehicles are situated in Dallas and two additional vehicles are deploying from the DNC in Denver to the Southeast. • Regional SWAT Teams have been placed on standby status. FBI assets, including investigators, analysts, evidence response teams, hazardous material teams and others are available.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) • ATF has issued two open letters to all federal firearms licensees and federal explosives licensees and permittees with recommendations to store and secure inventories. o The open letters provided recommendations if one needs to evacuate their premises and/or store records and inventory at alternate location. o The open letters provide recommendations on actions to take if one’s premises or inventory is destroyed or partially damaged.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) • HUD staff are helping to manage the evacuation of public housing units in Louisiana and will work on additional evacuations as necessary.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) • SBA has staff in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi to coordinate activities with federal and state partners. • Reservists have been activated to staff SBA’s Disaster Customer Service Center (25 customer service reps), the Field Inspection Team (111 on stand-by), and the Processing and Disbursement center (59 loan offices; 10 attorneys). • SBA’s field offices are using marketing materials to get the word out about preparedness to residents and business owners in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
The American Red Cross (ARC) • The American Red Cross is already allocating national resources to the effort and moving key items into place, including: 119,000 comfort kits; 196 Emergency Response Vehicles; 99 Shelter Support Trailers containing 112,000 cots and 226,000 blankets; 21 Kitchen Support Trailers and 5,500 Medical Cots. • ARC is providing preparedness and emotional support information, as well as tips on using the Safe & Well initiative through www.RedCross.org, to the general public.
Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) • EMAC is coordinating requests from other, non-impacted states for support from Louisiana and Texas. Pennsylvania, Delaware and Ohio are among the states providing support for medical evacuations.