William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 3 Sep 2005 17:21:21 -0400


Press Releases

Update: United States Government Response to the Aftermath of Hurricane 

For Immediate Release

Office of the Press Secretary

Contact: 202-282-8010

September 3, 2005

Air Transport Association and Department of Transportation launch "Operation 
Air Care"
11 top priority hospitals in the New Orleans area fully evacuated
Amtrak makes its first successful run out of New Orleans to evacuate 
American Red Cross launches "Family Links Registry" Web site
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff traveled with President Bush on 
Friday to tour the Gulf Coast states devastated by Hurricane Katrina. 
President Bush and Secretary Chertoff saw firsthand the destruction 
throughout the region, and reaffirmed the commitment of federal government 
to save lives and help rebuild the affected communities. While much work 
remains, important progress is being made.
More than 30,000 response, rescue, recovery and law enforcement personnel 
are working around the clock to bring critical aid and support to the areas.
The United States Coast Guard saved more than 9,500 lives in the wake of 
Katrina, nearly double the total number of lives saved by the Coast Guard in 
all of 2003.
The scope of this disaster is unlike any natural disaster in our nation's 
history. High flood waters caused major damage to critical transportation 
infrastructure. Crews have worked to repair bridges and re-open roads in 
order to expedite the flow of supplies and evacuation efforts.
More than 22,000 people have been evacuated from Louisiana. Additional 
personnel and resources have helped speed this process. For example, the Air 
Transport Association and the Department of Transportation launched today 
"Operation Air Care" to provide emergency airlift to stranded New Orleans 
residents. The federal government and participating airlines are executing 
this unprecedented civilian relocation program.
All patients and staff from the 11 top priority hospitals in the New Orleans 
area have been fully evacuated. Three other hospitals in the area are fully 
functioning with fuel and power and have no need to evacuate.
The Department of Transportation announced that Amtrak began evacuating 
residents from New Orleans to Dallas and other nearby states. Amtrak made 
its first successful run out of New Orleans earlier this morning and will 
return twice more today to evacuate more citizens to Dallas and other nearby 
states. Amtrak will have two trains in place by Monday, allowing for a total 
of four trips that day, and trains will continue operating for as long as 
The American Red Cross launched a "Family Links Registry" Web site to assist 
family members who are seeking information about their loved ones affected 
by Hurricane Katrina. Individuals can register and find a missing relative 
or view the existing list of registrants by visiting www.redcross.org.
Key Statistics as of 10 a.m. for the Gulf Region Response:
Lives Saved - 11,500
Citizens Evacuated - 25,000
Water distributed by FEMA - 6.7 million liters
MREs distributed by FEMA - 1.9 million
U.S. Coast Guard - 4,000
National Guard - 22,000
FEMA Responders - 5,000
Department of Homeland Security
Principal Federal Official (PFO). Michael Brown, head of the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to act as the Principal Federal 
Official. Designated by Secretary Chertoff, the PFO leads the deployment and 
coordination of all federal response resources and forces in the Gulf Coast 
region. This role, established under the NRP, streamlines leadership and 
gives state and local leaders one point for delivery of critical Federal aid 
and support.
Jones Act Waiver. Secretary Chertoff signed a waiver of the Jones Act 
allowing foreign flagged vessels to transport cargo from one U.S. Port to 
another U.S. Port.
National Communications System (NCS). National Communications System 
coordinated the arrival of mobile communications vans, and arranged the 
delivery of satellite phones, as well as wireless phones programmed for 
Wireless Priority Service to state and local government leaders and 
emergency responders. The NCS coordinated equipment delivery from other 
telecommunications companies and firms.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) FEMA will deploy every resource 
available to treat wounds, aid the suffering and protect and preserve lives. 
And, will not rest until every need is met.
FEMA continues to push out critical commodities to the impacted areas, 
including meals ready to eat, water, ice, medical supplies and generators.
FEMA has more than 200 shelters; temporarily housing more than 50,000 
15,000 evacuations have been made from the New Orleans Superdome to the 
Astrodome in Houston and are continuing today to San Antonio.
Seven National Disaster Medical Service Disaster Medical Assistance Teams 
(DMATs) and three strike teams are supporting New Orleans medical facilities 
and hospitals not fully operational and setting up MASH-style tents.
Five DMATs and three strike teams are working in medical facilities and 
hospitals in Gulfport, Biloxi and other areas of Mississippi.
FEMA continues to work with nearly 500 U.S. Corps of Engineers civilians and 
soldiers who are working on the New Orleans levee breach and coordinating 
the transport of ice and water.
U.S. Coast Guard Coast Guard assets and personnel from all over the country 
have been deployed to the area. Many were in place before the storm hit, and 
more are on their way. Fifty-two aircraft from  ten air stations are on 
scene, including aircraft from as far away as Kodiak, Alaska
The Coast Guard's primary focus along the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana 
coast will remain search and rescue as long as necessary. The Coast Guard 
has set up a Web site where people, who are still in need of rescue or know 
of someone in need, can submit information at http://homeport.uscg.mil. 
People should also contact their state emergency operation centers are (225) 
925-7707 or 7709 or 3511 or 7412.
Ports and waterways are beginning to open, although with restrictions.
Coast Guard air operations rescued 1,245 people and conducted 385 sorties 
yesterday. The Coast Guard has rescued over 9,500 people so far and will be 
focusing its operations on the evacuation of people from the New Orleans 
Convention Center today.
The Lower Mississippi River has been opened to deep draft vessels with a 
35-foot draft or less for one way daylight traffic only.
Only the Port of Gulfport, Miss., remains closed to all traffic. Pascagoula, 
Miss., is open to vessels with 12-foot draft or less. Mobile is open to 
barge traffic only. Pensacola, Fla., and Destin and Panama City, Fla., are 
open to vessels with a 31-foot draft or less.
Coast Guard personnel and assets from all over the country continue to 
deploy to the area. Twenty-nine Coast Guard cutters, 52 aircraft, and many 
response and incident management teams are in the Gulf area. The Coast Guard 
has recalled 550 reservists to active duty and has the authorization to 
recall up to 800 reservists.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) CBP is currently providing air and 
marine support to FEMA and several state agencies in an effort to aid the 
victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to the aircraft, more than 200 CBP agents and officers are 
deployed to the affected area to provide security and law enforcement 
CBP field offices in Tampa and Miami staged relief teams of 30 support 
personnel, complete with equipment and supplies, to assist with the 
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement  (ICE) Nearly 120 ICE Federal 
Protective Service (FPS) officers are deployed to provide physical security 
in connection with the disaster and the recovery efforts. ICE FPS officers 
have been directly involved in providing security support for the Superdome 
evacuation, in crowd control and in other sensitive law enforcement missions 
in the area.
Three ICE Special Response Teams have been deployed from Miami, San Antonio, 
and Chicago and are en route to Gulfport, Mississippi to provide security 
support to the affected areas. These teams come from ICE Office of 
Investigations and ICE Detention and Removal Operations.
ICE has deployed three Mobile Command Centers with communications equipment 
and uplink capabilities to locations in Louisiana and Alabama to assist in 
the exchange of information in areas without communications.
ICE anticipates deploying hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel 
to the affected areas in the next few days.
National Guard Almost 22,000 National Guard members are in place providing 
security, assisting with food and water distribution, and conducting search 
and rescue missions in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Over 
the next few days, that number will rise to nearly 30,000 as we continue to 
deploy personnel and critical equipment to the hardest hit areas
6,500 National Guard troops poured into the greater New Orleans area to help 
restore order and continue relief operations.
Guardsmen are trained professionals and bring great expertise and 
sensitivity to their mission in support of local law enforcement.
National Guard helicopters have evacuated hundreds of sick and injured 
persons out of the devastated greater New Orleans area.
Department of Defense (DOD) The DOD is ordering the USS Harry S. Truman and 
dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island to areas off the U.S. Gulf Coast in 
support of relief operations.
The USS Grapple is en route with 31 divers aboard to assist with maritime 
and underwater survey and salvage operations.
NORTHCOM established Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina to act as the military's 
on-scene command in support of FEMA. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of 
the First Army in Fort Gillem, Ga., is the JTF-Commander. JTF Katrina will 
be based out of Camp Shelby, Miss.
Joint Forces Command is providing Department of Defense leased property at 
the former England AFB in Louisiana as an intermediate staging base to 
support hurricane response in the state of Louisiana. This will serve as a 
staging point for National Guard personnel arriving from other states to 
support the Louisiana relief efforts.
Department of Education DOE is working with states and school districts 
across the country as they welcome displaced children into their schools as 
quickly as possible. The department is in ongoing contact with state and 
local education officials to determine student- and school-related needs and 
coordinate and deploy resources as applicable.
The department is convening a nationwide conference call with state 
directors of homeless student programs and a meeting of national education 
leaders to coordinate and deploy resources.
The department will be flexible on a case-by-case basis with provisions of 
the "No Child Left Behind Act" for affected states.
Department of the Interior Approximately 400 employees from Interior 
agencies have been mobilized and dispatched to the Gulf area as part of the 
interagency response.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is assisting the six federally recognized 
tribes in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi affected by the hurricane. BIA's 
Eastern Regional Office and Choctaw Agency are coordinating recovery efforts 
with the Mississippi Choctaw tribal government, whose facilities were 
severely damaged. The efforts include getting fresh water to the tribe, 
clearing debris from roadways, finding ways to bring in supplies of ice, 
fuel and food and assigning law enforcement personnel to protect lives and 
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing and Urban 
Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced today that he is 
instructing all FHA-approved lenders to provide foreclosure relief to 
FHA-insured families who are affected by Hurricane Katrina. The relief 
includes a special 90-day moratorium on all foreclosures of FHA-insured 
properties in the Presidentially declared disaster areas. Jackson is also 
encouraging lenders to undertake actions such as mortgage modification, 
refinancing, and waiver of late charges.
Department of Justice (DOJ) The USMS Justice and Prisoner Alien 
Transportation System (JPATS) launched two Boeing 737 aircraft to evacuate 
displaced persons to Houston upon request from FEMA, and will continuously 
shuttle between Houston and New Orleans during daylight hours.
DOJ has begun work on a task force to deter, investigate, and prosecute 
disaster-related crimes such as insurance fraud, and charity fraud, and to 
ensure that fuel and other prices remain at competitive levels.
DOJ agencies and personnel are securing federal law enforcement facilities 
and are working on-site and from relocation sites in Shreveport and Baton 
Rouge to continue enforcing Federal laws.
DOJ components are drawing upon longstanding close relations with state and 
local law enforcement to assist them to the maximum extent possible. The 
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, 
Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 
the United States Marshals Service (USMS), and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) 
are responding to requests from state and local agencies for communications, 
air support, HAZMAT, medical, and other assistance. DEA is coordinating with 
Texas and Arkansas Pharmacy Boards to provide assistance with emergency 
prescription refill procedures due to requests that have started to come 
from Louisiana residents.
USMS personnel have been deployed to assist with the transport and security 
of stockpile supplies. The Bureau of Justice Assistance will also be making 
millions of dollars of grant money immediately available to state and local 
law enforcement entities in the affected areas.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EPA began collecting and analyzing 
flood water samples today in Louisiana for biological and chemical 
contaminants. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has also requested EPA 
provide 50 personnel to perform environmental assessments of construction 
sites for temporary housing efforts.
To alleviate possible fuel shortages across the United States and to help 
meet emergency demand in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, EPA 
will temporarily allow refiners, importers, distributors, carriers and 
retail outlets to supply gasoline and diesel fuels that do not meet 
standards for emissions. This waiver is effective immediately and will 
continue through Sept. 15, 2005.
EPA teams are currently assessing, evaluating, and supporting drinking water 
and wastewater facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi.
EPA personnel are overseeing and offering technical assistance in the 
disposal of hazardous waste and other debris left behind by the storm. Teams 
are working closely with the Coast Guard to conduct assessments of potential 
oil spills and chemical releases caused by the hurricane
EPA has mobilized 12 environmental emergency response teams to the affected 
areas in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. These teams are providing 
assistance with overall "search and recovery" efforts and are conducting 
initial assessments of the environmental impacts of Hurricane Katrina, 
including potential impacts from chemical facilities, oil refineries and 
water treatment plants.
EPA sent 39 of its watercraft to assist in the current rescue efforts.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) HHS is working with DOD to set 
up 10 Federal Medical Shelters, each with a 250 bed capacity. The Federal 
Medical Shelters will be located at Fort Polk, La. (4 Federal Medical 
Shelters); Elgin Air Force Base, Fla. (2 Federal Medical Shelters); Meridian 
Naval Air Station, Miss. (2 Federal Medical Shelters); and Jackson National 
Air Guard Facility, Miss. (2 Federal Medical Shelters). Five hundred US 
Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers arrived Saturday morning 
to staff the medical shelters. Each shelter will require three large 
semi-trucks of equipment and supplies. HHS, DOD, the Department of Veterans' 
Affairs, and the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) will staff the 
shelters with the necessary healthcare and support personnel. Each shelter 
requires a staff of 150.
HHS' National Institutes of Health is setting up a telemedicine consultation 
and triage facility on the NIH campus that will serve as a medical specialty 
service to all 40 Federal Medical Shelters on the ground. This will focus on 
the sickest of the sick and link to expertise and care at NIH and 125 
medical centers throughout the country.
Since last weekend HHS has shipped and is distributing nearly 100 tons of 
vital medications and supplies, including 100,000 doses of antibiotics such 
as Ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, amoxicillin; 30,000 doses of tetanus vaccine; 
and maintenance medications for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart 
disease, anxiety and other conditions.
The federal medical shelter on the Louisiana State University campus in 
Baton Rouge has filled more than 1,000 prescriptions with medicines from the 
Strategic National Stockpile yesterday.
Department of Energy The president yesterday temporarily waived restrictions 
on foreign flagged vessels to ship fuels between U.S. ports. Gasoline 
shipments from Houston to East Coast ports are anticipated.
The Department of Energy has entered into three separate agreements to loan 
oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The first agreement, between the Department of Energy and ExxonMobil Corp. 
is for a loan of three million barrels of "sweet" crude and three million 
barrels of "sour" crude oil, and is larger than the 5.4 million barrels 
loaned during Hurricane Ivan.
The second, an agreement between the Department of Energy and Placid 
Refining is for one million barrels of sweet crude oil.
The third is for 1.5 million barrels of sweet crude to Valero.
The crude oil will be loaned from the SPR under short-term contractual 
agreements and returned to the reserve once supply conditions return to 
normal. The Department of Energy is working to finalize other loan 
agreements to loan oil.
Department of Transportation (DOT) The following airlift operations have 
occurred from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport:
42 civil relief missions
34 military relief missions
3,400 passengers on civil flights
1,900 passengers on military flights
U.S. Commerce Department The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
(NOAA) office of Coast Survey is working in partnership with the U.S. Coast 
Guard, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and local port management to assess 
the damages in New Orleans and Mobile, two of the nation's major commercial 
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) The U.S. Department of Agriculture is 
sending experienced emergency response personnel to assist in incident 
response coordination. To date, the Forest Service has assigned 13 
management and logistical teams and 35 crews of 20 people each to the 
affected areas and host communities. These resources are intended to assist 
in setting up logistics staging areas, the distribution of food products, 
and debris removal.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is providing food at shelters and 
mass feeding sites, issuing emergency food stamps and infant formula, and 
distributing food packages directly to needy households. 80,000 pounds of 
USDA-donated commodities which consist of mixed meats, cheese, peanut 
butter, and pudding, arrived in Baton Rouge, La. today. Additionally, four 
trucks of baby food products were ordered for immediate shipment. One truck 
of infant formula will arrive in Baton Rouge today. The other three trucks 
of baby food products are on the way.
FNS will provide waivers to food stamp recipients to enable them to use 
funds to purchase hot meals and will be expediting deliver of September 
benefits. Two truckloads of commodities have been dispatched to New Orleans 
with more to follow as requested.
USDA Rural Development will provide a six-month moratorium on payments for 
50,000 low-income residents in the affected areas. USDA will also be taking 
an inventory of vacant USDA housing to help accommodate displaced residents.
Department of Labor The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a National 
Emergency Grant of up to $50 million to establish approximately 10,000 
temporary jobs for eligible dislocated workers to help in the recovery and 
clean-up efforts underway in Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. 
Approximately $16.6 million in grant funds will be released immediately.
OSHA Region VI deployed its eight member Emergency Response Team to Baton 
Rouge to assess the situation and provide technical assistance to recovery 
workers and utility employers engaged in power restoration.
OSHA has identified all Lowes and Home Depot stores in Louisiana and will be 
distributing safety and health fact sheets and materials to these locations.
Department of State The Department of State advises concerned family members 
of foreign nationals residing or traveling in areas affected by Hurricane 
Katrina to try to reach their family members by phone, email, or other 
available means.
If family member cannot be reached, the State Department recommends they 
contact their embassy in Washington, D.C. for assistance. Reports from the 
region indicate that some phone lines are working but experiencing heavy 
call volume, so family members are encouraged to keep trying if lines are 
Treasury Department The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that "dyed 
diesel fuel" is now permitted for road use. Dyed diesel fuel ordinarily is 
not subject to federal excise taxes because it is intended for off-road use 
in farm equipment or in certain government vehicles such as school buses. 
The fuel is dyed to distinguish it from diesel fuel intended for road use. 
The relief will remain in effect through September 15, 2005.
The IRS announced special relief for taxpayers in the Presidential Disaster 
Areas struck by the hurricane. These taxpayers generally will have until 
October 31 to file tax returns and submit tax payments. The IRS will stop 
interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise 
apply. This relief includes the September 15 due date for estimated taxes 
and for calendar-year corporate returns with automatic extensions.
General Services Administration (GSA) GSA is filling requests for 20 million 
MREs, two 1,000 person camps with feeding, sleeping, laundry, sanitation, 
showers and toilets; refrigerators large enough to store 4000 doses of 
medication; modular office trailers to support fire, police, and rescue; 
fuel; recreational vehicles to sleep command staff; storage trucks, 
forklifts and pallets to support FEMA staging areas; refrigerated trucks; 
office furniture and supplies such as chairs, tables; climate control 
trailers; radios and satellite phones; rental vehicles; and portable toilets 
and showers.
American Red Cross Shelters -More than 250 American Red Cross shelters are 
open in nine states:  Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, 
Arkansas, Florida and Georgia, with more on standby.
Evacuees - More than 100,000 evacuees are being sheltered, not including the 
operation to transition evacuees from the Superdome in New Orleans to the 
Astrodome in Houston.
Emergency Vehicles - More than 100,000 Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles 
(ERVs) and more than 1,000 support vehicles are now in Louisiana, 
Mississippi and Alabama, to conduct food distribution.
Relief Workers - More than 3,300 Red Cross staff and volunteers across the 
country and from every part of the organization have deployed to the 
affected area are working around the clock to serve the public need.
Feeding - The Red Cross served more than 500,000 meals working closely with 
several partners, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Adventists 
and Second Harvest to provide emergency food to survivors and responders. In 
coordination with the Southern Baptists, preparations are underway to serve 
nearly 500,000 hot meals each day.
Houston Astrodome Shelter - The Red Cross is supporting government officials 
in the relocation of more than 23,000 hurricane survivors from the Superdome 
in New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston. The organization is mobilizing 
to provide blankets, cots and food for the evacuees.
Health & Preventative Care - The Red Cross is working with government and 
health services partners to develop health strategies and preventative 
measures to help the public and relief workers cope with the serious public 
health emergency.
The Red Cross relies on donations of the American people to do its work. 
Citizens can help by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669) or by making an 
online contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund at www.redcross.org.
Because of logistical issues, the Red Cross cannot accept donations of food 
or clothing.
Related Information   http://www.dhs.gov/katrina