Federal Government Moving Resources to Support Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) top priority is continuing to provide life-saving resources to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

FEMA and its federal partners continue 24-hour operations, working aggressively to restore power and operability of ports and other transportation access points to bring additional commodities and personnel into disaster-affected areas.  Several airports and ports have successfully been opened on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to bring in commodities, personnel, and life-saving and life-safety resources.

The federal support for Hurricane Maria includes air and sea logistical support by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard, in coordination with the private sector.  Fuel, equipment, and commodities to support the response effort will continue to flow through airports and ports, as power is restored and facilities are opened.  Two U.S. Coast Guard cutters continue conducting port assessment in St. John and St. Thomas.

The Department of Transportation successfully opened five airports in Puerto Rico, and two airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands, for military and relief flights to bring in commodities, and lifesaving and life sustaining resources.  Federal partners established a fuel distribution site in San Juan for federal and local entities to support first responder and critical facility needs.

As of 8 a.m. EDT this morning, on Puerto Rico, the port of San Juan re-opened for daylight operations, and other ports are undergoing assessments.  On St. Thomas, the ports of Crown Bay, East Gregerie Channel, and West Gregerie Channel are open with restrictions, while other ports are being assessed.  On St. Croix, the ports of Krause Lagoon and Limetree Bay are open with restrictions, while other ports are being assessed.

As of 5 a.m. EDT this morning,  flights and sea vessels loaded with commodities are arriving or awaiting airport/port opening and clearance for delivery:

  • Six commercial barges already transported and delivered meals, water, generators, cots, and other commodities to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
  • Three flights per day to St. Croix, each carrying approximately 33,000 meals.
  • The logistics support ship SS Wright arrived carrying more than 1.1 million meals, and nearly one million liters of freshwater.
  • Two shipping barges with 1.2 million liters of water, 31 generators, and more than 6,000 cots have arrived in St. Thomas.
  • Two additional shipping barges loaded with food, water, and emergency relief supplies are en route to the Caribbean Sea from Florida.
  • Millions of additional meals are being flown to Puerto Rico from staging areas in Kentucky and Florida.
  • DLA is transporting a shipment of 124,000 gallons of diesel fuel to Puerto Rico with arrival in the coming days. 

Over the past three days, the federal government has undertaken an unprecedented response effort to continue moving resources and supplies into Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information about federal actions to support response efforts in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, go to www.fema.gov/hurricane-maria.

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FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Safe Zones for Rohingya Refugees in Burma Could Be Dangerous

When Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, spoke at the United Nations General Assembly this week, she focused on the humanitarian challenges of hosting 400,000 Rohingya Muslims from northern Rakhine State in Burma. They have arrived destitute, victims of a state-led campaign of ethnic cleansing that began after Rohingya militants attacked some 30 police outposts on August 25.

Rohingya refugees carry their child as they walk through water after crossing the border by boat through the Naf River in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 7, 2017.

© 2017 Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

The situation of the Rohingya refugees is dire: they live in squalid conditions, crammed into a staggering sprawl of rudimentary shelters of sticks and tarps. Many lack food, medical services, and toilets. The rainy season makes everything worse.

The Bangladesh government is seeking answers on dealing with the influx. In her speech, Sheikh Hasina offered to create “safe zones” inside Burma where Rohingya refugees could return. Few details of this proposal have emerged, other than that the UN would supervise these areas.

It’s not clear whether those governments intending to assist the refugees would support this, but first a word of caution. “Safe zones” rarely if ever live up to their name, even with UN peacekeepers on patrol. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the safe area of Srebrenica, protected by UN peacekeepers, was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces who promptly executed some 7,000 men and boys, and raped women and girls. In Sri Lanka, government-declared safe zones became kill zones: the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam refused to let civilians leave and the military shelled the areas, killing countless civilians.

And even if such zones aren’t attacked, without effective humanitarian aid supplies and freedom of movement for those inside, conditions within “safe zones” could be as bad, if not worse, than in refugee camps across the border.

Human Rights Watch has previously laid out its numerous concerns for governments and organizations when considering creating “safe zones.” Given the Burmese military’s brutal and unrelenting campaign against the Rohingya, no one should be under any illusion that it will allow a “safe zone” to actually be safe.

Burma: Landmines Deadly for Fleeing Rohingya

A Rohingya woman travels to a hospital near Kutupalong, Bangladesh, after a landmine blew off her right leg while she was crossing the border from Burma, September 4, 2017.

© 2017 Bernat Armangue/AP Photo

(New York) – Burmese security forces have laid landmines during attacks on villages and along the Bangladesh border, posing a grave risk to Rohingya Muslims fleeing atrocities, Human Rights Watch said today. The Burmese government should immediately stop using antipersonnel landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

The dangers faced by thousands of Rohingya fleeing atrocities in Burma are deadly enough without adding landmines to the mix,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “The Burmese military needs to stop using these banned weapons, which kill and maim without distinction.”

According to witness accounts, independent reporting, and photo and video recordings, Burmese soldiers have in recent weeks laid antipersonnel landmines at key crossing points on Burma’s border with Bangladesh. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Burmese military personnel also planted mines on roads inside northern Rakhine State prior to their attacks on predominantly Rohingya villages. The Burmese government has accused the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) of using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against infrastructure and security forces.

Placing landmines in the path of fleeing refugees and on roads where families are likely to travel is heartless beyond words.

Meenakshi Ganguly

South Asia Director

Two Rohingya refugees from inner areas of Rakhine State, one from Buthidaung and another from Rathedaung township, told Human Rights Watch they saw the Burmese military laying antipersonnel mines on roads as the military entered and attacked villagers. “Mohammad,” 39, said he saw a neighbor’s son step on one of the mines laid by the military. The mine blew his right leg off.

On September 4, 2017, a landmine detonated on a path used by many refugees near the hamlets of Taung Pyo Let Yar, about 200 meters from the Bangladesh border. Human Rights Watch witnessed smoke arising from the hamlets, suggesting burning by the military that caused villagers to flee. The next day, three Rohingya men were wounded in three separate landmine explosions near the same border point.

Two Rohingya refugees told Human Rights Watch that men in apparent Burmese military uniforms were seen in the northern part of Taung Pyo Let Yar performing some activity on the ground prior to the September 4 explosions. One described watching a Burmese military patrol on the road near the border on the morning of September 4. From a vantage point in so-called no-man’s land, he observed several soldiers from the patrol stop at least twice, kneel down on the ground, dig into the ground with a knife, and place a dark item into the earth.

Since late August, Burmese security forces, following a coordinated attack by ARSA militants, have carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing involving mass arson, killing, and other abuses against the Rohingya population, causing the flight of more than 420,000 people to neighboring Bangladesh.

Human Rights Watch has called on members of the United Nations Security Council to hold a public meeting and adopt a resolution that condemns the Burmese military’s ethnic cleansing campaign and threatens to impose further measures, including targeted sanctions on military leaders and an arms embargo.

In April 2017, news media reported that the Burmese and Bangladeshi governments agreed to remove landmines and IEDs from the border area. On September 6, the Bangladesh government protested the recent use of landmines on the border by Burmese security forces. In her September 21 address to the UN General Assembly in New York, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accused Burma of laying landmines along the border to prevent Rohingya from fleeing the violence. According to Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) officials, at least five people have been killed and 12 injured from landmine blasts.

The Landmine Monitor reported that Burmese security forces have consistently used antipersonnel mines in numerous locations along the Bangladesh-Burma border since 1999, but this use had been abating in recent years. In September 2016, Deputy Minister of Defense Maj. Gen. Myint Nwe informed parliament that the army continues to use landmines in fighting with ethnic minority armed groups.

The use of antipersonnel landmines is banned by the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Bangladesh is a party to the treaty and destroyed its landmine stocks in accordance with its treaty obligations. Although Burma is not a party to the treaty, these weapons are unlawful because they cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants, and will kill and maim civilians long after they are placed. The Burmese government has not substantively responded to the allegations, but Zaw Htay, spokesman for de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, suggested that Rohingya militants might be responsible. Rakhine State Security and Border Affairs Minister Col. Phone Tint denied allegations that government forces were laying landmines, and blamed ARSA: “There’s no landmine planted by the military in the area. The terrorists planted the landmines. The military will never do that.”

In a February 2011 statement on the landmine ban, Aung San Suu Kyi told the International Campaign to Ban Landmines:

I believe everyone is aware that landmines should not be used in Myanmar, considering the serious effects that they have not only on troops in combat, but also on non-combatant civilians who are tending to their daily survival and livelihood – mothers, fathers, and their children. In order to prevent this the Tat Ma Daw [Burmese armed forces], as well as soldiers in combat – meaning all parties engaged in armed conflict – must make their decision to cease the way of mines.

“Placing landmines in the path of fleeing refugees and on roads where families are likely to travel is heartless beyond words,” Ganguly said. “The Burmese government should immediately end its ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population, including by immediately clearing landmines in northern Rakhine State.”

Human Rights Watch is a co-founder and chair of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to bring about the Mine Ban Treaty and its contributions to a new international diplomacy based on humanitarian imperatives.

Rohingya Crisis

Human Rights Watch reporting from the ground on the Burmese military’s ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Recent Cases of Landmine Use in Rakhine State

Sabikam Nahor, approximately 45, lost both of her legs below the knees after stepping on an antipersonnel landmine laid inside Burma near the Bangladesh border. She told Human Rights Watch that the incident occurred on the afternoon of September 4, 2017, after the Burmese military attacked her village, in the northern part of Taung Pyo Let Yar. Nahor said that she was in an outdoor latrine when she heard the shooting and ran toward the Bangladesh border nearby. She said that she had used the same path on many occasions before when she would go to markets across the border. Nahor said she was running when there was a sudden explosion as she stepped on the ground. She fell and, from the ground, saw one of her legs detached from her body. Several Rohingya picked her up and took her across the border, and from there she was transported to a hospital.

Subir Ahmed, 55, said that on August 28, his son, Azizul Huq, 15, stepped on a landmine and was killed within 60 meters of the Bangladesh border. Subir said that his son and his brother were separated from the family on August 25, after at least 30 Burmese soldiers arrived in their home of Taung Pyo Let Yar and opened fire on villagers who had just finished morning prayers. While waiting for his son at the border at Thiang Khali in Bangladesh, Subir heard a loud blast and then saw Azizul Huq lying on the ground near his brother. Subir rushed to where his son was lying on the ground and picked him up, leaving the remains of the boy’s shattered legs behind. Subir Ahmed noted that at least once a year, he had traveled on the same path to transport fish to markets in Bangladesh.

Mohammad said that the son of his neighbor, Noor Islam, was a victim of antipersonnel mines on August 29 at about midday in Buthidaung township. He said they were not aware that mines were in the area. “I saw his right leg was gone,” Mohammad said. “I saw the mines explode with my own eyes on the road.” Mohammad said he had traveled on the same road the day before the fighting broke out, and that at that time it was safe.

Military Placing of Landmines

The refugee who witnessed soldiers digging in the northern part of Taung Pyo Let Yar which borders Bangladesh said that he continued to monitor the activities of the military patrol, and went to several sites where he observed similar activities. He said that from September 4 to 10 he removed several antipersonnel mines from the ground, and used rocks to detonate another three mines.

A landmine is seen near the Bangladesh-Burma border, September 10, 2017. 

© 2017 Private

Senior Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) officers said that they observed similar activities by Burmese soldiers over several days before September 4. They alleged that Burmese officials acted contrary to border agreements and protocols by failing to notify their Bangladeshi counterparts in advance of entering the border area.

Refugees also described seeing landmines on other paths in no-man’s land. Human Rights Watch obtained images of emplaced PMN-1 type antipersonnel blast mines along the fence on the Burma side of the border. From the images alone, Human Rights Watch was not able to determine the origins of these PMN-1 type mines, particularly whether they were copies of the Soviet design produced by China (Type 58) or by Burma (MM-2).

In addition to mine-laying on the border, Human Rights Watch received credible accounts from two Rohingya who described the use of antipersonnel landmines on roads in Buthidaung township after August 25, just before the military started attacking villages, hindering flight from the villages.

“Rohim,” 52, described soldiers arriving by foot and in trucks to Chut Pyin, Rathedaung, in the early morning of August 25. He said that the soldiers were working in teams and placed landmines on the road outside his large, mud-walled house. “When they are coming, some are in four-man teams, some in 10-man teams, and some were sitting, digging, and putting mines in the roads,” said Rohim. He said they only laid mines in the roads, which prevented villagers from using the roads as they fled heavy gunfire and other attacks by the military.

Mohammad said that in addition to attacking his village with gunfire and other explosive weapons on the night of August 26, the military emplaced antipersonnel mines on the road in Taung Bazar, Buthidaung. He said that mines were placed near the hospital. 

Equality Californias 2017 Legislative Wrap-Up: Two Resolutions Pass, Seven Bills to Governors Desk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2017

CONTACT: Jason Howe, Equality California

Sacramento— The California Legislature has sent seven Equality California-sponsored bills to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. In addition, lawmakers approved two resolutions sponsored by Equality California. If the bills are signed into law, it will bring to 127 the number of pieces of legislation advanced by Equality California to advance the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people.

“California has the world’s strongest civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, but until the work is done, EQCA will continue to fight for LGBTQ Californians” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “This year, each of our sponsored bills helped address an area where LGBTQ people still suffer discrimination and marginalization. Our bills this session protect vulnerable LGBTQ seniors, people living with HIV and AIDS, transgender and gender nonconforming Californians and aim to correct the wrongs associated with laws that criminalized same-sex behavior in the past. We ask Governor Brown to sign these pieces of legislation so important to LGBTQ Californians.”

The Equality California-sponsored bills passed by the California Legislature this session are as follows:

SB 239: Modernizing Discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws (Wiener)

SB 239 would modernize California laws criminalizing and stigmatizing people living with HIV to reflect current understanding of HIV prevention and treatment. It would eliminate HIV-specific criminal laws that impose harsh and draconian penalties, including for activities that pose no risk of transmitting HIV. SB 239 would make HIV subject to the laws that apply to other serious communicable diseases, removing discrimination and stigma for people living with HIV and furthering public health.

SB 179: Gender Recognition Act of 2017 (Atkins)

The Gender Recognition Act of 2017 would enable transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to obtain state-issued identity documents that accurately reflect their gender identity, making California the first state to not require people to officially identify as “male” or “female.” The bill creates a third, nonbinary gender marker on California birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, identity cards and gender-change court orders, in addition to streamlining the processes for a person to change their gender marker and name on these identifying documents.

SB 219: Seniors Long Term Care Bill of Rights (Wiener)

SB 219 would strengthen protections for LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities against discrimination, such as refusing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronoun, denying admission to a long-term care facility, transferring a resident within a facility or to another facility based on anti-LGBTQ attitudes of other residents, or evicting or involuntarily discharging a resident from a facility on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status.

SB 384: Tiered System for California Sex Offender Registry (Wiener)

SB 384 would replace California’s existing universal lifetime registration requirement for sex offenses with a tiered system based on the seriousness of the crime, the risk of reoffending and criminal history. This bill addresses the unfair targeting and entrapment, primarily of gay men, on charges that required registration when their actual actions hurt no one, including for simply engaging in same-sex contact when that action was criminalized in the past. These members of the LGBTQ community were required to register as sex offenders for life even though their convictions are now decades old and the law and its enforcement have changed, and the basis for many of these arrests was due to anti-LGBTQ discrimination and police entrapment. This bill would remove these people from the registry along with others in similar circumstances and put a new, efficient, risk-based system in place.

SB 310: Name and Dignity Act (Atkins)

SB 310 would help ensure that transgender people will be legally recognized for who they are while incarcerated and increase the likelihood of their successful reentry into society upon release from custody. SB 310 would establish the right of transgender people incarcerated in state prisons or county jails to petition the court directly to change their legal name or gender marker. The bill would require corrections officials to use the new name of a person who obtains a name change, and to list the prior name only as an alias.

AB 677: Reducing LGBT Disparities in Education and Employment (Chiu)

AB 677 would direct ten agencies focusing on education and employment to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity whenever additional demographic data is collected. The bill would expand the number of state agencies collecting such data, which are vital to ensuring that state programs are adequately reaching LGBTQ people in need.

AB 1556: Fair Employment and Housing Act Clarification (Stone)

This bill will clarify the Fair Employment and Housing Act, removing gendered terms such as “female,” “she,” and “her” from statutory provisions for pregnancy-related employment protections and replaces them with gender- neutral terms such as “person” or “employee.” These changes ensure that transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people are reflected in these protections and know that they can rely on them to meet their health needs if they become pregnant or have related medical conditions during the course of their employment.

In addition to the bills now awaiting the Governor’s signature, the Legislature has passed two Equality California-sponsored resolutions:

AJR 16: Violence in Chechnya (Low)

AJR 16 urges the President and the Congress of the United States to condemn the government-sanctioned persecution, torture, and murder of gay men in the Chechen Republic, to join in solidarity with all LGBTQ Russians in their fight for their lives, dignity, and respect and to take action to encourage the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to grant asylum and refugee status for individuals fleeing persecution, including individuals fleeing persecution due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

AJR 22: Transgender Service Members (Low)

This measure states the Legislature’s opposition to the President’s ban on transgender Americans from military service, and calls upon the Governor of California to direct the Armed Forces of the state to take no action that discriminates against transgender service members on the basis of their gender identity or expression, unless superseded by federal law.

The Governor has until October 15 to sign or veto legislation passed by the Legislature.

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Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org

Reports: Powerful Hurricane Maria bruises Turks and Caicos; Dam failure in Puerto Rico forces thousands to flee to safety

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, AccuWeather staff writer
September 22, 2017, 9:07:39 PM EDT

Widespread damage and power outages have been reported in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic following Hurricane Maria’s destructive impacts.

Maria became the second Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season but was downgraded to a Category 4 hurricane shortly before making landfall in Puerto Rico around 6:15 a.m. AST Wednesday.

Maria is the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since the San Ciprian hurricane in 1932.

The Turks and Caicos experienced the worst of the storm on Friday, but conditions across the islands are expected to improve into Saturday as Maria tracks to the north.

Dominica took a direct hit from Maria on Monday night shortly after it strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane. This is the first recorded Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Dominica. Tropical Storm Erika devastated the island just two years ago, killing at least 31 people.

Satellite imagery shows Hurricane Maria Friday night as it moves past the Turks and Caicos. (Image/NOAA)

RELATED:
Will the US East Coast escape a direct hit from Hurricane Maria?
Maria to threaten lives, property in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos
AccuWeather Hurricane Center

For previous reports on Maria, click here.


Evacuations are ongoing along the Guajataca River in Puerto Rico following a dam failure.

“People need to get as far as possible from the River area,” The National Weather Service in San Juan .

Flash Flood Warning for eastern Isabela & western Quebradillas until 2AM. Residents along Guajataca River seek higher ground now! pic.twitter.com/jrdtn15dmf

— NWS San Juan (@NWSSanJuan)

All of Puerto Rico remains without power and it may take months before power is restored to everyone. The Energy Department is already working to restore power to everyone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands one step at a time.


As of 6:30 p.m. AST Friday, a flash flood emergency was still in effect in the Isabella municipality of Puerto Rico due to an imminent dam failure.

Officials estimate that 50,000 to 70,000 people may need to be evacuated in the area downstream of the Guajataca Dam, according to the Associated Press. It is unclear how much time residents have to evacuate before the dam completely fails.

Over a foot of rain fell in areas around the dam as Hurricane Maria battered the island. The Puerto Rican government concluded on Friday that the 90-year-old dam was actually beginning to fail.


Hurricane Maria has damaged parts of Puerto Rico’s iconic Arecibo Observatory, the home to the world’s second-largest radio telescope.

The antenna that is suspended above the telescope’s 1,000-foot dish was lost during the hurricane with falling debris puncturing the dish in several places, the Universities Space Research Association said on Friday.

Damage is still being assessed at the observatory and it is unclear when normal observations will be able to be resumed.

The Arecibo Observatory sustained serious damage during Hurricane Maria. The pointy object protruding downward from the suspended platform is a 96-foot (29-meter) antenna that broke off during the hurricane, puncturing the telescope dish below. Credit: Pedrik/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0


At 2:15 p.m. AST Friday, the National Weather Service in San Juan issued a flash flood emergency due to a dam failure in northwestern Puerto Rico.

Dam operators reported the Guajataca Dam is failing causing flash flooding downstream on the Rio Guajataca. Busses are currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can,” the NWS said on Twitter.

This is an extremely dangerous situation. People downstream of the Guajataca Dam need to evacuate immediately.

215PM FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY for A Dam Failure in Isabela Municipality y Quebradillas Municipality in Puerto Rico… pic.twitter.com/L3utOjxspR

— NWS San Juan (@NWSSanJuan)


Ocean waters receded along Long Shore Beach in the Turks and Caicos early Friday morning as Maria approached the islands. This is similar to what happened when Irma was tracking up the coast of Florida earlier this month.

View of the absent sea, looking at Shore Club, Long Bay (don’t worry, it will be back). #TurksAndCaicos pic.twitter.com/Omsa5D4ICF

— Lynne Watts (@lynnewatts)

The footage below from Destination Turks and Caicos shows rough surf along Sapodilla Bay Beach.


The National Hurricane Center reports as of 11 a.m. EDT that Maria is still producing 125-mph winds as it passes northeast of the Turks and Caicos. Maria is now located about 55 miles north of Grand Turk Island and remains a Category 3 storm.

According to , a radio station in Puerto Rico, the municipality of Arecibo is reporting serious damage due to landslides. Homes have been destroyed while two hospitals suffered severe damage.

maintains 125 mph winds over Turks & Caicos. Check out this view of the #hurricane‚s eye, see more images @ https://t.co/kSWVaobyVC pic.twitter.com/pCF1flA0to

— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites)


Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is urging following the destructive impacts of Maria.

According to a report from the The New Day newspaper, the Puerto Rican government has confirmed six fatalities from Maria.

Aid from Fema is expected to be delivered from military planes today as flood warnings continue for the entire island.

9/22/17: Flash Flood warning for NE Puerto Rico, Flood Warning for the remainder of the island. Small Craft Advisory for all waters today pic.twitter.com/6f50rtQQiO

— NWS San Juan (@NWSSanJuan)

FEMA confirma que hoy llegan a San Juan aviones militares con suministros y ayuda de emergencia.

— José A. Delgado (@JoseADelgadoEND)

El gobierno de Puerto Rico ha confirmado seis muertes a causa del huracán María.

— José A. Delgado (@JoseADelgadoEND)


According to its 8 a.m. AST Friday update, the National Hurricane Center said hurricane conditions are occurring on the Turks and Caicos. Maria is currently about 30 miles north-northeast of Grand Turk Islands.

The Category 3 storm is packing winds up to 125 mph, and hurricane-force winds are extending up to 70 mph from its center.

A completely ruined house is seen in El Negro community a day after the impact of Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico, Thursday, September 21, 2017.


According to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 a.m. update for Friday, Maria’s eye is approaching the Turks and Caicos as torrential rain and dangerous waves begin to wane along the northern coast of Hispaniola. The storm is now about 35 miles from Grand Turk Island with sustained winds of 125 mph.

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico with torrential rain and powerful winds on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo/FB/Municipio de Canóvanas)


Following Maria’s devastating destruction in Puerto Rico, most of the airports were ordered to close until at least Friday. The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the island’s largest airport, is the only one confirmed to open on Friday.

There are also preliminary reports of in a landslide.


Hurricane Maria continues to barrel through the northern Caribbean. As of 1:45 a.m. AST Friday, the eyewall is approaching the Turks and Caicos, heading northwest at a speed of 7 mph. Torrential rain and high waves are threatening the northern coast of Hispaniola as the storm moves away from the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Maria is currently 45 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island. Sustained winds are measured at 125 mph as the storm remains a Category 3 hurricane.

San Juan struggles to initiate recovery efforts as communication, power & water are still scarce across the island. @CNN pic.twitter.com/ZPmPx5w41V

— Jaide Garcia (@Jaide_Garcia)

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EPA Irma Recovery Update for September 22, 2017

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EPA Irma Recovery Update for September 22, 2017

WASHINGTON (September 22, 2017) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to coordinate closely with local, state, tribal, and federal partners in response to Hurricane Irma. EPA has temporarily paused all response operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Maria.

Today EPA’s Mobile Command Post is in Miami and assessment and response teams are coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the Florida Keys. EPA continues to coordinate with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on drinking water and wastewater issues.

EPA Region 4 Emergency Rapid Response Services (ERRS) contractors remove propane tanks as part of the agency’s Hurricane Irma response in Everglades City, Florida.  Teams of contractors under the direction of EPA are providing assistance to Collier County, Florida by managing large, orphan containers at the county collection center. – Photo credit: EPA

As of September 22, 2017, the following information is available:

REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTERS

Region 2:

  • EPA response personnel that had been responding to Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been re-positioned due to Hurricane Maria. EPA is making preparations to send teams to re-assess the situation after Hurricane Maria and respond to both Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Region 4:

  • Yesterday, all assessment teams demobilized except for the Everglades recovery group. The group remained behind to assist Collier County with the management of large orphan containers at their county collection center. They will demobilize after completing their mission.

  • The Region has approximately 31 personnel involved in emergency response efforts as of September 22, 2017, and has demobilized the Incident Command in St. Petersburg, Florida.

  • USACE has requested additional EPA support to contact Florida water utilities. Water Team members in the EPA Region 4 office began contacting wastewater facilities classified as status “unknown” on September 18, 2017. FDEP is contacting public water systems with an “unknown” status. The Region 4 Facility Assessment Support Team (FAST) completed 934 call-down assessments as of September 22, 2017. EPA supported this activity by setting up a call center for facilities to check-in. Together, EPA and FDEP reduced the number of “unknown” public water and wastewater facilities from 810 and 1192, to 49 and 462 respectively since last Friday. The agencies anticipate making contact with the remaining facilities before the end of the week.

  • Today, USACE and representatives from the Region 4 Water Protection Division (WPD) traveled to Everglades City to assess water and wastewater facilities. The USACE/EPA Water Team performed an assessment of the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Everglades City on September 21. The water team will remain in the Naples area through today evaluating the need for further water sector assistance. FDEP is developing plans for assessing the status of 3,561 non-community, public water systems, and will submit the plan to the USACE/R4 FAST on September 25.

  • The state of Florida identified 214 targets to date for field assessment for hazardous material and/or oil related issues. All 214 assessments have been completed. The list is composed of a combination of Facility Response Plan (FRP) and Risk Management Plan (RMP) facilities.

  • The Region 4 Air, Pesticides, and Toxics Management Division (APTMD) has made contact with 272 of 274 RMP facilities located in Florida.

  • The SESD Mobile Laboratory remains prepared to conduct the following analyses for drinking water: total coliform, E. coli, fecal coliform, and enterococcus.

  • The Region 4 Superfund Division deployed six Rapid Assessment Teams to conduct rapid assessments of all National Priority List (NPL) sites. All 93 NPL sites in Florida have been assessed; all 22 sites in Georgia have been assessed; all 17 sites in Alabama have been assessed; and all 36 sites in South Carolina have been assessed.

  • The Region 4 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Division identified nine EPA-lead corrective action sites that were prioritized for assessment by NPL field teams. All sites have been assessed with no major impacts identified.

  • EPA is currently working with FDEP, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and USACE to develop and implement debris management strategies and operations. Currently, EPA is working on debris and orphan container assessments in FEMA Branch IV in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties and in FEMA Branch III in Pasco and Pinellas counties at the state of Florida’s request.

Region 4 Federally Recognized Tribes:

  • Region 4 continues to coordinate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to offer assistance a needed to tribes in the impacted areas.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS AND FUEL WAIVERS

  • NPDES Permits – Last week, EPA issued a letter to FDEP to ensure that all facilities impacted by Irma are familiar with the provisions included in their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that allow for temporary noncompliance during emergency circumstances. This action helps ensure ports and other facilities get back into operation as quickly as possible while minimizing environmental impacts.

  • No Action Assurance (NAA) – EPA policy allows the agency to issue NAAs in cases where it is necessary to avoid extreme risks to public health and safety and where no other mechanism can adequately address the matters. The agency has issued the following NAAs related to Hurricane Irma:
    • On September 22, 2017, EPA extended enforcement discretion for petroleum distribution facilities, gasoline storage facilities and bulk fuel terminals in Florida that have been impacted or damaged by Hurricane Irma.
  • On September 21, 2017, EPA waived the highway diesel fuel red dye requirements to allow the use of 15 parts per million sulfur non-road diesel fuel for on-highway vehicles in Florida, effective immediately and through October 6, 2017. Diesel fuel distributed under this waiver may not be introduced into terminal storage tanks from which diesel is dispensed into trucks for distribution to retail outlets after October 6, 2017.
  • On September 15, EPA granted an NAA for the import of 255 power generators by the Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., to be donated for use in communities impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida, to assist in recovery efforts.

  • On September 13, 2017, EPA announced that it will not pursue enforcement for Clean Air Act violations related to the use of dyed diesel reserves in vehicles and equipment that are being used by Duke Energy to respond to Florida power outages as a result of Irma. Due to conditions related to the storm, Duke is not able to obtain adequate supplies of required ultra low sulfur diesel fuel needed to operate its fleet of response vehicles. This NAA was issued in response to a request from Florida Governor Rick Scott, is in effect immediately, and terminates when all diesel reserves have been used or by the end of the day on September 22, 2017, whichever comes first.

  • On September 11, 2017, EPA issued an NAA to assist all Florida power plant facilities to maintain the supply of electricity to customers and facilities. This action will help meet the needs of FDEP and will assist Florida utility generators to maintain the supply of electricity to customers and critical facilities in the state, while facilitating timely restoration of lost electrical service caused by Irma.

  • On Sunday, September 10, 2017, Florida requested and EPA issued an NAA for Tampa Electric Company’s Big Bend Station, Polk Power Station, and Bayside Power Station for compliance with air permit conditions to ensure adequate supply of electric power.

  • On Friday, September 8, 2017, EPA issued an NAA to allow emergency and backup electric generating units in Monroe County, Florida, the county that encompasses the Florida Keys, to operate without meeting all pollution controls in order to facilitate the supply of needed electricity during and after Irma.
  • Earlier this month, EPA extended a low-volatility conventional gasoline waiver through September 26, 2017, in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

REGION 4 SUPERFUND SITES, OIL SITES AND OTHER FACILITIES

  • EPA Region 4 has completed field-assessments of National Priority List (NPL) sites within the state of Florida and has contacted all Facility Response Plan (FRP) facilities through a combination of call-down and field assessments. The Region has reached out to all 274 Risk Management Plan (RMP) facilities within Florida and is working with FDEP to contact the two remaining facilities that have, to date, been unresponsive.

  • EPA’s six NPL Assessment Teams have completed assessments at all NPL sites in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. The following issues have been identified:

    • Fairfax Wood Treating (Jacksonville, FL) – Due to heavy rain, some runoff concerns were identified at an on-site retention point and a washout underneath some site fencing. Security fencing around the site was damaged by fallen trees and minimal erosion was observed The site’s project manager is working with a contractor and fence repair is scheduled for September 26, 2017. Samples collected by EPA did not indicate any significant issues at the site from Hurricane Irma. A surface water sample collected after the hurricane showed concentrations lower than or similar to the surface water concentrations for multiple metals measured during the Remedial Investigation. A remedy to clean up the site has been selected and once the remediation is complete, the surface water from the site will be below the EPA cleanup values.

    • Post and Lumber Preserving Co, Inc. (Quincy, FL) – During a site assessment a tear in the geo-membrane cap was identified. The site’s EPA project manager is working with a contractor to assess the full extent of the damage and determine whether a patch might be sufficient.

    • Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall (Brunswick, GA) – The site has minor damage and the responsible party is working with a contractor to address the issues.

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NIH commits $7 million to Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research and partners to study chiropractic

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5 hours ago   ()
Posted by: Sheri Ryan

Contact: Lori Leipold, public relations manager, Palmer College of Chiropractic; (563) 884-5726; lori.leipold@palmer.eduwww.palmer.edu

 

NIH commits $7 million to Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research and partners to study chiropractic care for Veterans with chronic low-back pain

 

(Davenport, IOWA) — Scientists at the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR), along with partner organizations, received a $1.46 million award from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award (UG3-AT009761) funds a two-year research planning project to address the short-term pain and functional outcomes associated with different numbers of chiropractic visits, and the long-term effectiveness of chiropractic care delivered at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinics.

If the NIH determines initial project goals are met after the two-year planning phase and pending available funds, the project and funding will extend over an additional four years totaling approximately $7 million, making this the largest award ever granted by the NIH to a chiropractic institution.

There is a pressing need to address the devastating impact of chronic low-back pain in U.S. Veterans,” said Principal Investigator Christine Goertz, D.C., Ph.D., Palmer College of Chiropractic’s vice chancellor for research and health policy. “I’m extremely excited about the outstanding multidisciplinary team Palmer has brought together to look at dosing of chiropractic services, both during an episode of low-back pain and in preventing future episodes. We believe the results of this study have the potential to directly impact chiropractic health policy within the VHA and beyond.”

This award is part of a multi-disciplinary initiative sponsored by the NIH, Department of Defense and the Veterans Health Administration. It includes 11 pragmatic clinical studies, as well as a coordinating center that will support these projects. Partner organizations with the PCCR on this project are the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, Iowa City VA Health Care Systems, Minneapolis VA Health Care System, the University of Iowa, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and Yale University.

The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, headquartered on Palmer College of Chiropractic’s main campus in Davenport, Iowa, is the most highly funded chiropractic research center in the U.S. Within the past 10 years, the PCCR has been awarded grants from the NIH, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and the Department of Defense, in addition to private-foundation grants.

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FEMA stands up ISB at JB San Antonio to support Hurricane Maria relief efforts

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) —

The Federal Emergency Management Agency stood up an Incident Support Base at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Kelly Field, Texas to aid Hurricane Maria relief efforts with support from the 502nd Air Base Wing, Sept. 21, 2017.

The ISB, the third such support hub hosted by JB San Antonio and the 502nd ABW over the last month, will help posture relief supplies through a cargo deployment function for transport to areas devastated by the storm, primarily in the Caribbean.

Initially, we are bringing supplies that are already at the JB (San Antonio) -Seguin (Texas) ISB here to Kelly,” said Capt. Nate Johnson, 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron material management flight commander at JB San Antonio-Lackland. “Once the cargo arrives here, we are receiving it and then palletizing it so it’s ready for air transport.”

Johnson explained the ISB was ready to accept up to 27 truckloads of cargo, using a 24-hour operations and 12-hour shifts with approximately 50 people.

In addition to the 502nd LRS, Airmen from the 12th Flying Training Squadron at JB San Antonio-Randolph, Texas and from the 26th Aerial Port Squadron at JB San Antonio-Lackland Kelly Field are also augmenting to assist with cargo operations.

“Having the assistance of Airmen from all over JB (San Antonio) is extremely critical to what we are trying to accomplish here,” Johnson said. “(502 LRS) has been going non-stop since Hurricane Harvey hit, so having the support of our mission partners is vital right now.”

The augmentees are also helping day-to-day operations flow normally instead of being completely side-tracked due to the Maria operation, Johnson said.

Jumping in to assist FEMA and aid those in need in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria is JB San Antonio doing its part, said Army Col. Lee Flemming, 502nd ABW and JB San Antonio vice-commander.

“To everyone in the affected areas, my thoughts and prayers are with you,” Flemming said. “JB (San Antonio) stands ready to support in anyway and will provide every resource we can.”

“We are absolutely proud of all of our JB (San Antonio) personnel out here making a difference in the lives of those hard hit by the storm,” Flemming said. “This is why we serve.”

FEMA Continues Hurricane Maria Response and Relief Operations

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) top priority is to provide life-saving resources to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while aggressively working to restore power and operability of ports to bring additional commodities and personnel into disaster-affected areas. Several airports have successfully been opened on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to bring in commodities, personnel, and life-saving and life-safety resources.

The logistics support ship SS Wright is currently in the Caribbean Sea carrying more than 1.3 million meals and nearly one million liters of freshwater for delivery to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two shipping barges with 1.2 million liters of water, 31 generators, and 6,060 cots have arrived in St. Thomas, and are awaiting power restoration at the port facility for offload. Two additional shipping barges loaded with food, water, and emergency relief supplies are en route to the Caribbean Sea from Florida, and more than 4.4 million meals are being flown to Puerto Rico from staging areas in Kentucky and Florida. Commodities – including meals, water, cots, and blankets—are currently at a FEMA Distribution Center and Warehouse in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Sailors assigned to the amphibious ships USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill embarked with Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted damage assessment flights, beach assessments, and evacuated patients from a St. Croix hospital Friday. These sailors and Marines also embedded key ground surgical teams on the island of St. Thomas.

During the FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) operations beginning September 21, the task forces rescued 65 individuals and searched over 45 structures. Four US&R task forces are stationed in the Caribbean with another eight teams awaiting aircraft flights. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is conducting search and rescue operations in St. Croix and in the surrounding waters, and have rescued 15 individuals.  

Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies is providing 12 generators to Puerto Rico Center for Independent Living and The University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities. These will be used to set up power stations for people with disabilities to power their wheelchairs and other assistive technologies. For more information, visit their webpage.

On September 20, President Trump issued major disaster declarations for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Maria.

Those in designated areas of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands who are able to register for assistance may do so online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.  If able, online registration is the quickest way to register for federal assistance.  Survivors who do not have access to the internet may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly.

Federal Efforts Underway as of September 22, 2017   

  • The American Red Cross Emergency App features an “I’m Safe” button that allows users to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and family know they are out of harm’s way. The app can be downloaded for free in app stores by searching for “American Red Cross” or by texting ‘GETEMERGENCY’ to 90999.
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) 
      
    • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has more than 120 responders in the islands responding to the impacts of Hurricane Maria. Ongoing FEMA-assigned missions in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico include temporary power, temporary roofing, debris removal/technical assistance, infrastructure assessment, and commodities management.
  • The U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) is responding to Hurricane Maria with more than 1,600 service members conducting security and support operations. Additional National Guard personnel are preparing to respond, and we will help as long as we are needed.
    • In Puerto Rico, while damage assessments continue the National Guard established two Joint Incident Site Communications Capabilities to help restore communication for military and communities to utilize around the island. As damage assessments are completed, the National Guard remains ready to fulfill the needs of the Governor.
    • In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the National Guard provided special-tactics personnel who were able to clear airfields and establish tower operations in St. Thomas and St. Croix for military aircraft.  Search and rescue operations, security and law enforcement support, as well as route clearance and life-sustainment commodity distribution continue.
       
  • U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) is conducting incident awareness and assessment missions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is continuing to work with its partners in response and power restoration efforts for Hurricane Maria. DOE is working closely with the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), the American Public Power Association, the Department of Defense, and FEMA to facilitate mutual aid for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. DOE emergency responders are deployed to St. Thomas and St. Croix in support of FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams, and responders are scheduled to arrive in Puerto Rico Friday. Damage assessments and some power restoration efforts have begun in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. An eight-member advance team from WAPA which deployed to Puerto Rico ahead of Maria is assisting with damage assessments in Puerto Rico, and will join the local Virgin Islands utility in the work of damage assessment and power restoration as soon as possible. DOE is posting Situation Reports here, and WAPA is posting updates here.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has more than 200 HHS medical professionals and public health experts poised to travel to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide medical care and public health support. The HHS Disaster Distress Helpline assisted more than 5,000 callers in coping with the impacts of these storms. The helpline remains available 24 hours a day, 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
       
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Law Enforcement sent 50 personnel to Puerto Rico. DOI officers provided medical assistance, and assisted local hotels with shelter and evacuation plans.
  • National Park Service (NPS) incident management team is in San Juan to provide immediate assistance and communications.
  • Twenty U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel scheduled for response and recovery operations in the Caribbean will work in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.
  • U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) offices in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will remain closed until further notice. As of September 22, 2017, SSA requested that the United States Postal Service (USPS) hold all checks destined for Hurricane Maria affected areas for 45 days before returning them to the Department of the Treasury (DOTreas) for cancelling.
  • U.S. Postal Service (USPS) facilities on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are closed—there are no retail services, package or mail pick up at any USPS location. As soon as it is safe to do so, USPS will begin to re-open postal facilities on the islands. Depending on the scope and level of damage, this could necessitate the use of temporary quarters on the islands and mainland plant processing and staging of Caribbean District mail, with a focus on transportation and distribution of essential items such as medications, Treasury checks, Social Security benefits, etc. Customers can find the latest service statuses at USPS Service Alerts.

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FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

CNO Visits NAS Key West Post Hurricane Irma

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Story Number: NNS170922-21Release Date: 9/22/2017 2:28:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cody Babin

KEY WEST, Fla. (NNS) — Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano visited Naval Air Station Key West for a tour and all hands call at Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West’s Boca Chica Field Sept. 21.

The visit was to commend first responders for their quick and orderly relief efforts in the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma’s passing.

„I wanted to give everyone here a big Bravo Zulu for all of your efforts,” said Richardson. „I was recently in Jacksonville talking to Navy Region Southeast and they said if it had not been for the first responders the progress made thus far could not have happened.

Hurricane Irma impacted the Florida Keys Sept. 10, at 9 a.m. as a Category 4 storm devastating some areas. NAS Key West essential personnel, including NAS Key West Commanding Officer Capt. Bobby Baker, stayed behind to provide communications with Navy Region Southeast as well as to help assess and provide relief for damages after the hurricane.

„This is a big part of who we are in the Navy, we are not only warfighters but we are also humanitarians,” Richardson added.

NAS Key West annexes will open to all authorized personnel and dependents Friday, Sept. 22, at 8 a.m. NAS Key West personnel are directed to return to work at a time coordinated with supervisors. Tenant commands must coordinate their own returns.

An Emergency Family Assistance Center will be at the Sigsbee Fleet and Family Support Center to provide housing, insurance, counseling and financial support to all military and civilian personnel.

„The key part of the Navy is our families,” said Richardson. „I can’t wait for them to get back tomorrow so that it can fell more like home again for you all.”

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, , or .

For more news from Naval Air Station Key West, visit www.navy.mil/local/naskw/.

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