Federal agencies respond to Isaac

Obama spoke to the nation about preparedness for Tropical Storm Isaac in the Diplomatic Room of the White House Tuesday. Obama spoke to the nation about preparedness for Tropical Storm Isaac in the Diplomatic Room of the White House Tuesday. Carolyn Kaster/AP

This story has been updated with details. 

President Obama told Gulf Coast residents to heed the advice of local officials -- including any calls to evacuate -- in a statement from the White House on Tuesday, spearheading the large-scale efforts under way throughout the federal government in preparation for Hurricane Isaac.

“Now is not the time to tempt fate,” Obama said just hours before the storm was expected to hit land.

The president has approved a disaster declaration for Mississippi and Louisiana, allowing the federal government to provide additional funds and resources to the state.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate has warned residents of New Orleans to evacuate as soon as possible. FEMA has deployed four incident management assistance teams across the Gulf Coast states and also has positioned two mobile emergency response support teams near the threatened areas. In addition, the agency has prepared emergency food supplies to be shipped from an Atlanta distribution center to the storm areas.  

The National Weather Service has issued hurricane warnings to residents in the region. NWS also cautioned of a severe storm surge and tornados in Tampa, Fla., where the 2012 Republican National Convention is being held.

Obama was briefed Monday by Fugate and National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb, according to a statement the White House issued. Obama also spoke with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke with Landrieu and met with Fugate on Sunday.

Fugate warned reporters during a conference call Tuesday that even a tropical-strength storm could cause 12 to 18 inches of flooding in the areas being hit. Isaac was later upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane.

The Defense Department has made 33,500 National Guard personnel and nearly 100 aircrafts available for the governors of the four Gulf Coast states. Louisiana and Mississippi officials already have called thousands of Guardsmen to active duty to prepare for evacuations, commodity distributions, search and rescues, debris cleanup and other logistics.

Defense also said several military bases in the storm’s path are preparing facilities, equipment and personnel. Aircraft evacuations have been completed at all relevant bases, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Transportation in the region is set to be backed up as well, as Amtrak announced Monday it will cancel service in New Orleans because of Isaac. Flights to and from New Orleans were being canceled, but the Federal Aviation Administration had not confirmed any airport closures.

The Army Corps of Engineers closed several highway tie-ins on Monday and was working closely with Louisiana authorities to ensure the safety of local residents. According to a press release from the Corps, emergency command posts were activated and liaisons have been dispatched within all 13 parishes of New Orleans.

Since Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath claimed the lives of nearly 2,000 people in 2005, the Corps has invested $15 billion in hurricane defenses in New Orleans, building a flood protection network around the region.

A spokesman for the Coast Guard said its assets are “currently standing by” but will remain inactive during the hurricane. They will be “poised to be deployed” after Isaac passes.  

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the annual hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Isaac already forced the cancellation of the first day of the Republican National Convention. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention, has decided to remain in New Orleans to help guide his state’s emergency efforts.

Jindal criticized the federal response to the disaster in a letter to Obama on Monday, saying the government should increase its funds for disaster relief and protection.

“Given the extraordinary developments of this storm and its approaching impact on the State of Louisiana, I ask that you exercise your discretion to approve the State’s pending request for all emergency protective measures,” Jindal wrote.

Rep. Raul Labrador R-ID told a reporter from ThinkProgress that any additional money for disaster relief should come from cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.  Last year, federal disaster spending on Hurricane Irene and the wildfires forced FEMA to seek additional money from the government. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.