March 23, 2020
AFGE applauds Congress’ swift passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
If you are able to spare a few dollars, please donate to FEEA, and help our union brothers and sisters recover from this natural disaster.
More than 32,000 federal employees from more than 17 federal agencies across the country have been mobilized to help with Hurricane Harvey rescue and response efforts.
Hurricane Harvey, the most severe storm in U.S. history, has dumped more than 50 inches of rain on Houston, killing at least 30 people and displacing 30,000.
Federal employees, including AFGE members, are on the ground saving lives. Here’s a highlight of what they are doing:
FEMA is the lead agency coordinating the entire federal response to the hurricane. More than 3,200 FEMA employees are involved in rescuing and evacuating survivors in the affected areas. FEMA teams have rescued more than 2,500 people and distributed more than 5.1 million liters of water, 4.6 million meals, and thousands of cots and blankets.
“Last count we were over 5,000 total employees, from response to recovery, tracking storms in the National Readiness Command Center (NRCC), to prestaging commodities, from logistics and warehousing to urban search and rescue, to contracting, to budget,” said Steve Reaves, president of AFGE Local 4060 which represents FEMA employees across the country.
Residents and business owners in the affected area can apply for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
According to FEMA Administrator Brock Long, more than 450,000 hurricane survivors are expected to file claims under the flood insurance program.
The Coast Guard has deployed nearly 2,000 employees and has rescued more than 4,200 people and 1,000 pets. It has 27 Coast Guard helicopters, 3 fixed-wing aircraft, and 28 shallow water response boats conducting search and rescue.
More than 700 VA employees have been living at the Houston VA Medical Center to care for 400 patients during the hurricane. The Houston VA hospital takes care of homeless veterans as well as those with medical needs.
“We have had nearly 700 staff staying onsite, sleeping on the floors and, if they’re lucky, tiny cots, in the auditoriums and offices, to make sure we have the clinical and operational manpower to keep the hospital running,” said Dr. SreyRam Kuy, the hospital’s associate chief of staff, in a blog post . “Some of these staff have no idea if their homes are affected. Others already have watched on the news footage of their flooded neighborhoods. Many have children and elderly parents at home that they worry about while caring for our critically ill veterans.”
While the Houston VA hospital is open, all VA outpatient clinics in the area except the Lufkin location are closed. Veterans with medical needs are encouraged to go to the hospital if they can make it safely. The hospital is contacting patients to reschedule appointments. For any medical issues or questions, veterans may call the Telecare Call Center at 1-800-639-5137 or use MyHealtheVet Secure Messaging. The VA is asking veterans to check the Houston VA website and Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.
The Environmental Protection Agency has activated its response centers in Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Atlanta. Its highly skilled response personnel from Region 3, 4, and 5 are on the ground to help with response activities. But even before the storm made landfall, EPA Region 6 in Dallas has taken action to ensure that polluted superfund sites are secured. It’s assisting state and federal agencies with water system assessments and working to make sure waste water facilities are running and drinking water is safe.
AFGE Local 1003 representing EPA employees in the area reported that EPA is also sending more than 100 employees to work with the state on the eventual cleanup efforts.
The Army Corps of Engineers has deployed teams to provide technical assistance to FEMA Response Nodes and a Prime Power Planning and Response Team, which includes temporary power restoration assets to the immediate vicinity. It is closely coordinating with the Coast Guard on the plan to clear and open the federal navigation channels once weather permits. The agency is conducting flood-fighting activities such as stockpiling and issuing flood-fighting materials such as sandbags and materials/fabrics that keep soil in place to local government entities.
HHS has more than 500 personnel on the ground in Texas and Louisiana with 1,300 more on stand by. The agency has provided a 250-bed federal medical station at the George Brown Convention Center where thousands of people have taken shelter. HHS employees are helping evacuate hospital patients to health care facilities outside the affected areas. The agency also has two 250-bed medical stations in Baton Rouge ready to be deployed in Louisiana if needed.
NOAA and its National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center tracked Hurricane Harvey and provided forecasts and analyses to help state and federal agencies response to the storm. It’s one o the first agencies to be involved in the emergency operations.
NORTHCOM, based on Peterson Air Force Base, has deployed search and rescue units, aircraft, and vehicles to the affected area. The teams have rescued hundreds of survivors using Navy and Air Force helicopters. The Defense Logistics Agency is providing 450,00 gallons of diesel and 50,000 gallons of motor gas. Before the storm came, DoD helped establish Incident Support Bases near Seguin, Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, and Camp Beauregard, Louisiana where supplies such as water, meals, blankets, and generators are stored, ready to be distributed.
All 12,000 Texas military National Guard Bureau members have been activated. NGB evacuated 725 people and rescued more than 3,800 people and 300 animals.
BSEE is monitoring Gulf of Mexico oil and gas activities. It will continue to work with offshore operators and state and federal agencies until the storm is no longer a threat to oil and gas activities.
The Department of Energy is closely monitoring energy infrastructure and coordinating with local, state, and federal agencies as well as industry partners. DOE employees in the field will also assist with expedited waivers and special permits that help industry restoration efforts. Energy companies have also sent in additional crews and supplies in preparation for the hurricane and restoration work and are coordinating daily with DOE.
More than 700 members of the AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team are either deployed or are on stand by to help with shelter operations, debris removal, and volunteer and donations management. The agency is coordinating with local partners to support emergency operations.
The Department of Agriculture works with FEMA to provide food, emergency housing, community, and assistance to farmers, ranchers, individuals, and small businesses affected by severe storms and flooding. It also provides information on food safety during a weather emergency and power outages. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is providing emergency assistance for animals – livestock and pets. It is helping producers and positioning staff in key areas in Texas and Louisiana where flooding may cause further damage.
The Department of Interior has nearly 100 employees on FEMA mission assignments and hundreds more involved in response and recovery at national parks, wildlife refuges, and other sites. The National Park Service and other Interior agencies are mobilizing three dozen boats and search and rescue teams.
The Department of Transportation is working with interstate operators and the state to help restore the state’s transportation systems such as flood-damaged roads and bridges.
The agency has installed 20 storm-tide sensors on bridges, piers and other structures that are likely to survive the storm. The information will help assess storm damage and improve computer models used to forecast future floods.
DHS, FEMA’s parent agency, has deployed 341 employees to supplement FEMA’s efforts as its surge capacity force.
AFGE members are on the ground helping survivors of Hurricane Harvey. AFGE partnered with the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) to manage disaster relief efforts and assist government employees as they recover. The fund is made up of donations by AFGE affiliates which are earmarked exclusively for AFGE members in need of disaster assistance.
If you are able to spare a few dollars, please donate to FEEA, and help our union brothers and sisters recover from this natural disasters.
Members affected by Harvey can apply for aid today at https://feea.org/our-programs/disaster-relief/ .
If you need immediate help, first, call 911. If you can't get through to 911 on first try, keep calling. Second, call your local County Emergency Operation Center:
Brazoria Co.: 78-864-1064
Montgomery Co. 936-523-3900
Galveston Co. 281-309-5002
If you're unable to connect with the above numbers, call the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Houston Command Center numbers: 281-464-4851 | 4852 | 4853 | 4854 | 4855
If you'd like to volunteer, sign up at www.nvoad.org.
AFGE will continue to keep an eye on the hurricane as it progresses. Please give what you are able, and please stay safe.
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