More than a dozen agencies involved in feds’ Irma response

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More than a dozen agencies involved in feds’ Irma response

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September 10, 2017 Cordele: A Georgia National Guard soldier runs past his fuel truck as his unit scrambles to get to a staging area off I-75 North with Hurricane Irma approaching on Sunday, September 10, 2017, in Cordele. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Representatives from more than a dozen federal agencies have been dispatched to Georgia and across the Southeast to help with recovery efforts as Tropical Storm Irma continues to batter the region.

Nearly 22,000 federal officials from across the government, from the National Guard to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, are now involved with preparedness and response efforts across the region as of Sunday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is tasked with coordinating the government’s efforts. They’re working alongside state and local officials, who are leading the recovery effort.

A look at the damage across the state of Georgia in the aftermath of tropical storm Irma.

Federal participation in Georgia was greenlit on Friday when President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration for the state as the then-Category 4 hurricane barrelled across the Caribbean.

Here are some of the agencies that are active in Georgia:

  • FEMA — The agency is providing debris removal and emergency protective measures “to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the designated areas.” It has also assembled four urban search and rescue task forces and one team for handling hazardous equipment in Georgia.
  • U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) — The command is positioning ships and roughly 4,500 staff members across the Southeast to begin search and rescue operations as weather conditions permit. The agency has designated Georgia’s Robins and Moody Air Force bases for support efforts.
  • Defense Logistics Agency — The agency is sending roughly 50,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline and 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel to Robins Air Force Base in Middle Georgia to support FEMA.
  • Department of Health and Human Services — Health Secretary Tom Price, who calls Roswell home, declared a public health emergency in Georgia and neighboring states over the weekend in order to grant the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “more flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.” Hundreds of agency employees, including from the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have also been dispatched across the region or put on alert to support state and local authorities as medical needs emerge.
  • Department of Interior — A law enforcement team of 25 was slated to report to Moody Air Force base near Valdosta on Sunday. The agency is tasked with helping with damage assessments, debris removal, and search and rescue efforts.
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission — The agency’s Atlanta office has been tapped to track nuclear power plants in Florida.
  • Environmental Protection Agency — The EPA is slated to begin deploying teams out of its regional office in Atlanta to aid with recovery efforts.

It’s possible more federal resources could be on the way for Georgia after damage assessments are finalized. The White House on Sunday OK’d additional assistance for hard-hit counties in south and central Florida, including providing temporary housing and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.

Congress may need to step in to approve more federal money in the weeks and months ahead, given the financial demands on FEMA as a result of Hurricane Harvey last month and now Irma.

Lawmakers approved more than $15 billion last week for FEMA and other federal agencies to help with initial Harvey recovery efforts. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has estimated his state alone will need more than $100 billion from the federal government for Harvey recovery efforts, and Irma is expected to only add to the federal government’s tab. It could take weeks or months for the true extent of the storm’s damage to be tabulated.

“My committee is ready and willing to address any additional funding needs that may arise as a result of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, or any other major disaster,” U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said last week.

There are other federal efforts focused in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which took a harder hit over the weekend. More information can be found on FEMA’s website.

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