Hurricane Sandy Response: Updates

By Tom Shoop

October 30, 2012

Tuesday, Oct. 30:

6:31 p.m.: It's worth noting what President Obama had to say today at an appearance at the Washington headquarters of the American Red Cross, to reinforce his previous message about cutting through bureaucracy in response efforts: "And so my instructions to the federal agency has been, do not figure out why we can't do something; I want you to figure out how we do something.  I want you to cut through red tape.  I want you to cut through bureaucracy.  There’s no excuse for inaction at this point.  I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they need -- where they're needed as quickly as possible.”

4:36 p.m.: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York in lower Manhattan holds, among other things, a substantial amount of gold. So it's reassuring to read this Wall Street Journal report that it is safe, secure and not under water. 

3:52 p.m.: Washington-area agencies will be open tomorrow, OPM says, with unscheduled leave or telework for those who can't make it to the office. 

1:59 p.m.: FEMA reminds Americans: If you want to aid in relief efforts, the best way is to send cash, via a trusted charitable organization. 

1:12 P.M.: Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume let loose with this tweet this morning: "The big federal government some say is needed to deal with big problems like Sandy went home early in DC yesterday & is mostly closed today." When challenged by those who noted that FEMA was on the job, he replied that the agency doesn't count, because "FEMA is small. Most of massive Fed gov't not needed in disaster relief."

12:17 p.m.: From the official White House update on President Obama's meeting with federal officials about response efforts this morning: "The president told his team that their top priority is to make sure all available resources are being provided to state and local responders as quickly as possible and directed them to identify and resolve any potential bottlenecks or shortfalls should they arise. The president made clear that beyond the immediate lifesaving and life sustaining activities, which remain the primary focus, he wanted his team to continue to focus on what they can do to support state, local, and private sector efforts to restore power and asked the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to continue to work in support of FEMA towards this goal.  The president made clear that he expects his team to remain focused as the immediate impacts of Hurricane Sandy continue and lean forward in their response. "

11:39 a.m.: Former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland of swing state Ohio on MSNBC: “These terrible times remind us of the value of our public employees and how we should honor them as the heroes they are.”

11:08 a.m.: Our friends at National Journal are reporting that Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is praising President Obama for the response to Sandy. New Jersey has been one of the states hit hardest by the storm.

10:00 a.m.: Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority's Metrorail and Metrobus service, the transit system used by thousands of feds, will resume service Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., according to a release. Trains and buses will run on a Sunday schedule for the remainder of Tuesday and will resume normal service Wednesday.

8:52 a.m.: More on the federal response, from the latest FEMA update:

8:21 a.m. ET: The New York Times takes a position on response efforts: "A Big Storm Requires Big Government."

Monday, Oct. 29

7:21 p.m.: From FEMA's latest update on the Sandy response: "Currently, more than 1,500 FEMA personnel are positioned along the East Coast working to support disaster preparedness and response operations, including search and rescue, situational awareness, communications and logistical support.  In addition, 28 teams comprised of 294 FEMA Corps members are pre-staged to support Sandy. Three federal urban search and rescue task forces are positioned in the Mid-Atlantic and ready to deploy as needed and requested.  An additional four federal search and rescue task forces in the Mid-west have been placed on alert and are ready for deployment, as requested and needed.  14 Incident Management Assistance Teams and 12 liaison officers are positioned in potentially affected states along the East Coast to support preparedness activities and ensure there are no unmet needs.  Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel and teams have been deployed to support the states with secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to state response operations as well as with any potential requests for assistance. FEMA disability integration advisors are also deployed to advise emergency management on alert and warning, evacuation, and sheltering needs."

7:13 p.m.: Sandy is no longer a hurricane. Unfortunately, it's still deadly, though. 

5:02 p.m.: NASA video of Sandy from the International Space Station:

4:55 p.m.: Metrorail and Metrobus service are suspended for tomorrow morning, too. They'll make an announcement after assessing the damage tomorrow about whether it will open at all on Tuesday.

3:55: OPM has announced the federal government in Washington is closed tomorrow, too.

3:53 p.m.: Here's your government at work during Hurricane Sandy: Amazing video of a Coast Guard rescue of 14 people stranded in the sinking of the HMS Bounty about 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., on Monday:

3:40 p.m.: Social media is playing a big role in both government communication and the coping of those involved in thee midst of the storm. As Nextgov's Joseph Marks explains, almost everyone is relying on government social media -- even Google's maps are based on government data -- to get through this storm.

3:38 pm.: These Sandy photos are incredibly cool -- and fake.

3:25 p.m.: Amtrak has canceled service through Tuesday on its Northeast Corridor line.

3:04 p.m.: Homeland Security Department's Janet Napolitano visited today with emergency response workers at FEMA's Washington headquarters and a photo was posted on Twitter.

2:49 p.m.: The Office of Personnel Management hasn’t made a decision yet on whether to reopen the government on Tuesday, but it could be a moot point if Washington’s public transit system decides to stay shuttered for a second whole day. The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority is reporting via Twitter (@wmata) that it will provide an update on service tomorrow during the 6 o’clock hour this evening. Thousands of feds rely on the Metro to commute to work in the Washington area.

2:47 p.m.: Pepco, the power company providing electricity to most of the Washington agencies, is holding a media advisory at headquarters today at 3:00 p.m. According to a source, they are not allowing reporters to call in and are not webcasting it. No word on if it will be broadcast or if any reporters will get information from it.

2:42 p.m.: For feds traveling up and down the Northeast corridor by train, Amtrak has canceled service Monday. According to Amtrack, "All Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Keystone and Shuttle services are canceled for trains originating on that date."

2:30 p.m.: Much was made about the Supreme Court, despite the storm, hearing arguments today. One day is enough, apparently. It will not be open for business tomorrow, however, reports the Wall Street Journal.,

2:15 p.m.: The Coast Guard says it has rescued the 14 people from life rafts in the Atlantic southeast of Hatteras N.C. on Monday Two still remain missing. The service has provided video of the mission

12:45 p.m.: President Obama provides an update on the situation. He praises the "extraordinarily close cooperation between state, federal and local governments." He says "there are no unmet needs" at this point. The president says the federal government, working with state and local officials, has "prepositioned all the resources we need. ... I'm confident that we're ready, but the public needs to prepare for the fact that this will take us a long time to clean up."

12:37 p.m.: Will the Labor Department's jobs report, due out Friday, be delayed because of the effects of Sandy? It's not clear yet, the Wall Street Journal reports. As we've already seen, these numbers can have a big impact on the presidential race. 

12:33 p.m.: Here's a job that definitely is not eligible for telework: guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And yes, the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the First Army Division East is on the job.

11:57 a.m.: Thinking about how to get the most out of your cell phone charge if the power goes out? Our friends at Quartz have some advice for you

11:27 a.m.: Interested in seeing how Sandy was born? Watch a NASA animation based on satellite data here

11:19 a.m.: When storms hit the Gulf Coast, managers and employees at East Coast agencies often get nervous about whether operations at the National Finance Center, located in New Orleans, will be disrupted. Now the situation is reversed, with federal offices on the eastern seaboard closed. The folks at NFC tell our Kellie Lunney that the weather's fine down there, thank you very much, and operations are proceeding normally.

11:08 a.m.: Of course there's a shirtless guy with a horse head on running through the streets of D.C.:

10:52 a.m.: Federal News Radio has an updated list of specific agency closures and status reports from up and down the East Coast.

9:32 a.m.:  Executive branch agencies of the federal government in Washington are closed Monday, but one part of government is going strong: The Supreme Court, which is hearing oral arguments in two cases, the Washington Post reports.

9:27 a.m. ET: Need help? Want know where to donate to help others affected by the storm? The Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund is on the job. 


By Tom Shoop

October 30, 2012

http://www.govexec.com/federal-news/fedblog/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-updates/59083/