August 25th, 2011

FEMA: Pay Attention, Get Ready

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate tells CNN’s Candy Crowley how East Coasters should prepare for Hurricane Irene.  A full transcript of the interview is after the jump.
Highlights from Full Interview
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED

CANDY CROWLEY, GUEST HOST, CNN’S “JOHN KING USA”: OK, let me get really personal here.  When you say get ready, I have a son in New York City, what does he do to get ready?

CRAIG FUGATE, FEMA DIRECTOR:  First thing first, go to the New York City Office of Emergency Management webpage or look in the information that does he live in an evacuation zone.  Mayor Bloomberg and his team were talking about this this morning, the folks in the evacuation zones need to be ready to evacuate and know where the bus pickup points will be and how to get to the safe locations.

If you are not in the evacuation zone, be prepare if the power goes out, if we lose water pressure or water goes out, and that may be not just for hours, it could be for days.

You may lose communications.  You may have difficulty getting cell service.  You want to make sure you have battery-powered radio, lot of batteries for your flashlights and the ability to charge the cell phone if you don’t have power, whether it’s a hand crank or some other way to keep it charged.

These are the steps you take to get ready.  You can go to ready.gov or to the local emergency management websites to get information, but you need to find out now are you in an evacuation zone, and if you are, where to go if the evacuation is required.  If you’re not, what to do if you lose power, lose water, maybe not be able to get out and get supplies for several days, what you need to have on hand to get through those first couple of days after the storm hits.

CROWLEY:  And the communications problem, we had it experiencing the earthquake the other day when it was just difficult to get a cell out of Washington, D.C., to do any phone calling, whereas the texting seemed to work fairly well; Twitter was great.

What can be done to alleviate that sort of thing?  Or should people just not rely that those cell phones are going to work in the instance of a storm this big hitting so many people.

FUGATE:  I think you just need to be prepared, not only could we have congestion on the systems, but with a lot of power outages we could have reduced capacity and that’s one of the things that, you know, use alternatives.  And again, as we saw people using social media and texting, they were able to sometimes get through those bottlenecks.

But also remember that it may be difficult to call a lot of people, so do you have an out-of-the-area contact that you can kind of use as your rally point or use something like a Facebook posting, that if you can do that to let people know you’re OK versus trying to call everybody and talk to them individually.

Really want to reserve particularly the phone lines and cell service for the emergency calls, 911 calls, and try to reduce that congestion.  But that means ahead of time having a plan of how you’re letting people know you’re OK if the cells are out or if they’re congested or if you have limited communications such things as, you know, text messaging or updating a social webpage to let people know that.

…..

CROWLEY:  OK.  And just quickly now give me the name — give me the website address people can go to see what they need to do to get ready for this or any other storm, actually.

FUGATE:  For this or any other disaster, ready.gov, get your plan today on you mobile phones.  You can go to m.FEMA.gov and get it on the go.

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