USDOT Mobilizes to Help Hurricane-Impacted Communities
Our country begins this week with a collective outpouring of concern and prayers for our fellow Americans who have suffered the wrath, or are still in the path, of Hurricane Florence.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Crisis Management Center has been working around the clock to support the efforts of state and local officials during the hurricane. I want to recognize the first responders in harm’s way as well as our DOT employees working in challenging and often dangerous conditions to help. I have been in contact with the governors in the affected states and have offered the full resources of DOT as they work to restore their transportation systems.
Last week, before the storm approached our shores, cabinet secretaries and agency heads met with FEMA Director Brock Long and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the White House situation room to coordinate our response in the potentially impacted areas. As many know, FEMA is not an operational agency -- it supports state and local governments, which have the lead. Successful disaster response and recovery is one that’s locally executed, state managed, and federally supported. FEMA has pre-positioned the federal government’s assets to support the states in their response and recovery goals. Emergency management and disaster response are most effective this way in helping people in these situations.
The Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has launched an interactive mapping application showing the location of major transportation infrastructure layered over dynamic, near real-time maps. These include NOAA weather and flooding information, traffic speeds on major roads, and traffic incident information. The tool allows infrastructure managers to update information and first responders to gain a general understanding of potential regional or multi-state transportation system impacts.
The Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cleared the way for support activities to mobilize quickly, through emergency declarations for commercial motor vehicles regulated by FMCSA, which public and private partners can find online (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency-declarations). This will help enable response and recovery efforts involving debris removal, electrical utility contractors, fuel haulers and others and expedite the movement of heavy equipment and supplies into impacted areas.
Additionally, U.S. DOT has established a Routing Assistance Hotline to support the movement of Federal, State, and local response personnel, equipment, and goods to support the Hurricane Florence response efforts 24 hours a day.
For two weeks, weather maps showed Hurricane Florence’s relentless march toward the U.S. East Coast. What those maps do not show are the legions of Americans in and out of government who simultaneously mobilize to help those in a hurricane’s path prepare for and recover from it. Characteristic of our country when confronting disasters, the challenges of Hurricane Florence are being met with determination and countless acts of bravery, kindness and generosity. Neighbors are helping neighbors, people are helping strangers and we at USDOT will continue to do everything we can to support response and recovery efforts.
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