Hurricane Ian Strengthens Back Into A Category 1 Hurricane Heading For The Carolinas, Florida Left Reeling In Its Wake

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 AS OF 9:30 AM EST

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Ian has again intensified into a Category (Cat) 1 hurricane after moving into the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of Florida. As of 8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Hurricane Ian has a maximum sustained wind speed of 85 miles per hour (mph). The storm is currently located 105 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, and 185 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving north at 9 mph. A hurricane warning is in effect for Savannah River, South Carolina, to Cape Fear, North Carolina and a hurricane watch is in effect for east of Cape Fear to Surf City, North Carolina. Hurricane-force winds currently extend up to 70 miles from the center of Hurricane Ian. Major river flooding is predicted to continue across Central Florida through next week, and storm surge warnings are in effect for parts of Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Governor DeSantis said Hurricane Ian caused “historic” damage in Florida, “We’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude,” he continued.

Hurricane Ian- GeoColor: NOAA

As of Thursday evening, September 29, emergency response teams have conducted more than 700 rescues in Florida, with the majority of efforts concentrated in the Fort Myers and Sanibel Island areas. The Florida Hospital Association (FHA) announced that more than 1,200 patients are being evacuated from a large health system in Fort Myers on September 29 due to the facility’s lack of water supply. State officials say these evacuations and rescues include efforts via air, sea, and high water vehicles, as some roads and bridges remain impassable. In Southwest Florida, at least five sections of the Sanibel Causeway collapsed as a result of the storm, leaving the island’s population of 6,400 without access to the mainland. Officials have confirmed at least 17 fatalities so far due to Hurricane Ian.

Twitter: NWS Tampa Bay

In a briefing released on September 29, Governor DeSantis reported that eight United States Army Reserve (USAR) staffed with 800 team members had been activated to perform search and rescue initiatives across impacted areas. DeSantis also announced that 42,000 linemen are actively responding to the more than two million power outage reports throughout Florida. 

In addition, President Biden approved South Carolina’s emergency declaration on Thursday, September 29, activating the state’s emergency operations plan and enabling preparations for Hurricane Ian’s landfall. As the NHC predicts “life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions” in the state by Friday afternoon, September 30, officials have agreed to dispatch federal assistance to supplement local emergency response efforts across impacted areas.

Twitter: Readygov

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidance to individuals preparing for, experiencing, or being affected by hurricanes. Hurricane Ian brings the potential for life-threatening storm surges to many coastal and urban communities. Individuals should heed the warnings of local authorities, including evacuating in advance if advised and if possible, and prepare for hurricanes and severe weather conditions. It is imperative that individuals seek higher ground and avoid walking or driving in flood waters. Additionally, FEMA encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for flash flooding. FEMA suggests several precautionary steps people can take to protect their homes and personal properties from damage by high winds and floods, including reviewing flood insurance coverage.

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.

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Hurricane Ian Makes Landfall as a Strong Category 4 Hurricane, Has Been Downgraded to a Tropical Storm but Still Poses Extreme Risk

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER, 2029, AS OF 9:00 AM EDT

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Ian is now a Tropical Storm with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (mph). As of 8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Tropical Storm Ian was nearing Cape Canaveral as it moved northeast at 8 mph. Tropical Storm force winds currently are reaching outward up to 415 miles from the center of the storm. Hurricane Ian made landfall around 3:00 p.m. near Cayo Costa as a Category 4 Hurricane, with winds as high as 150 mph, tying for the fifth strongest hurricane to hit the United States (US) in recorded history.

Hurricane Ian- GeoColor: NOAA

As of 9:00 a.m. EDT, more than two million Florida customers were without power, and communications remain unreliable due to downed cell phone towers. Hurricane Ian broke records for rainfall in Orlando, as well as for storm surges in Naples and Fort Myers, leaving communities flooded and with extensive damage. According to Governor Ron DeSantis, the storm surge peaked at approximately 12 feet in some coastal areas of the state. Water inundated homes on Florida’s West Coast homes while winds downed power lines and trees, tearing roofs and siding off homes. The hurricane’s strong winds prevented first responders from carrying out rescue operations on Wednesday, so the full breadth of damage and casualties is still unknown. Additionally, an unknown number of people are still stranded in flooded areas after choosing not to evacuate, according to Governor DeSantis.

NHC: Key Messages

On Thursday, September 29, President Biden approved a major disaster for Florida, ordering federal funding be made available to the counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, announced that Thomas J. McCool will be the Federal Coordinating Officer for recovery operations across impacted areas. 

With Tropical Storm Ian now making its way across the state, areas of northeastern Florida will face risks of severe flash flooding and storm-force winds Thursday morning. According to the NHC, Ian is projected to exit Florida’s northeastern Atlantic coast late Thursday night, September 29, where it will further weaken before heading north and potentially reaching “near hurricane strength” again when making its third landfall into South Carolina Friday afternoon. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, along with a hurricane watch extending from Florida’s northeast coast to the coast of Charleston County, South Carolina.

On Tuesday, September 27, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a State of Emergency for all counties across the state in preparation for Ian’s impact. In addition, Governor Henry McMaster issued a State of Emergency declaration for South Carolina on Wednesday, September 28, activating the state’s emergency operations plan and enabling preparation efforts across the state.

Twitter: FL Division of Emergency Management

FEMA encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for flash flooding. It’s imperative to remember that flash floods can develop with little to no warning, quickly changing the surrounding area. FEMA suggests individuals seek higher ground, avoid walking or driving in flood waters, and heed the warnings of local authorities. Additionally, the NWS offers advice and guidance for those about to experience, currently impacted by, or previously affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. Individuals at risk are encouraged to secure their homes, remain up-to-date with information from their local NWS office and local government/emergency management office, and follow guidance issued by local officials.

During a power outage, FEMA encourages individuals to keep refrigeration sources closed, disconnect appliances to avoid damage from electrical surges, and keep up to date on heating, cooling, and other sheltering locations offered in the community. Power outages introduce many risks to a community’s safety and well-being, including disrupting access to communications, transportation, and other essential services.

Additionally, in the midst of and in the aftermath of a disaster, access to drinking water may be limited or cut off. Under these circumstances, it is important to reduce activity levels and stay cool as best as possible in order to limit water intake while consuming the amount of water your body needs; to avoid drinking contaminated water for as long as possible, and to limit the consumption of carbonated and caffeinated beverages which may lead to increased dehydration. Upon the guidance of local emergency officials, it may be necessary to treat water to ensure it is safe to use for drinking, food preparation, or other household needs. 

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.

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Hurricane Ian Becomes a Strong Category 4 Storm, Expected to Make Landfall Early this Afternoon

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2020 AS OF 9:00 AM EST

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Ian, a now Category (Cat) 4 hurricane, is rapidly intensifying, with the center’s location projected about 55 miles from the coast of Florida. Ian is moving north-northeast at approximately 10 miles per hour (mph), with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, as of 8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Ian is expected to strengthen throughout the day and is projected to make landfall as a major Cat 4 hurricane, with Hurricane-force winds currently reaching outward up to 40 miles and tropical storm force winds reaching 175 miles from the center of the storm. The eye of Hurricane Ian is currently 40 miles wide.

Hurricane Ian- GeoColor: NOAA

The NHC warns that Ian will bring catastrophic flash flooding and surge-related flooding to areas around the West Coast of Florida, with storm surge forecasted to be between one and 16 feet. Heavy rainfall is also projected to impact areas across Florida with the potential to bring up to 24 inches of rain in parts of Central Florida. Additionally, Central Florida is at risk for “widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flash, urban, and river flooding.

Twitter: NHC Storm Surge

As Hurricane Ian draws closer to making landfall on Florida at its highest strength thus far, state officials estimate that more than 2.5 million people have been issued evacuation orders, including mandatory orders across 10 counties. As of Wednesday morning,September 28, nearly 90,000 Florida residents have reported power outages throughout the state. Storm-force winds have already begun to impact parts of Southern Florida, with at least two confirmed tornadoes reported in Broward County, where North Perry Airport saw extensive damage to its planes and hangars. Due to the projected path of the storm, all of the state’s major theme parks and centrally located schools and stores have announced closures

Earlier this morning, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a briefing warning Floridians  of the storm’s potential “major impacts in terms of wind, rain, and flooding” once it makes landfall on Florida’s west coast. The NWS currently has storm surge warnings in effect for six areas along Florida’s west coast. In continuation of its preparation efforts, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) is mobilizing and coordinating resources, including the supply and deployment of 85 truckloads of water and 75 loads of ready to eat meals (MREs). At the direction of state officials, an Incident Management Team (IMT) from Ohio is also en route to provide additional response and recovery support after the storm.

In addition, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency declaration for the State on Tuesday, September 27, in anticipation of the storm, as Hurricane Ian is expected to begin impacting the state on Friday. The order will go into effect Thursday afternoon, September 29.

Twitter: FL Division of Emergency Management

Individuals at risk are encouraged to secure their homes, remain up-to-date with information from their local NWS office and local government/ emergency management office, and follow guidance issued by local officials. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidance to individuals preparing for, experiencing, or being affected by hurricanes. Hurricane Ian brings the potential for life-threatening storm surges to many coastal communities. Individuals should heed the warnings of local authorities and prepare for hurricane and severe weather conditions. It’s important to remember that flash floods can develop with little to no warning. It is imperative that individuals seek higher ground and avoid walking or driving in flood waters. Additionally, FEMA encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for flash flooding. The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.

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Hurricane Ian Develops Into a Category 3 Hurricane as Florida Prepares for Landfall in the Coming Days

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2022 AS OF 9:00 AM EST

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Ian, a Category (Cat) 3 hurricane, is moving over Western Cuba toward the north at approximately 12 miles per hour (mph), with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, as of 5:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Ian is expected to strengthen throughout the day as it moves over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and is expected to approach the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane with Hurricane-force winds reaching outward up to 35 miles and tropical storm force winds reaching 115 miles from the center of the storm.

Hurricane Ian- GeoColor: NOAA

The NHC has reported significant wind and storm surge impacts occurring in Western Cuba. If peak storm surge occurs at the same time as high tide, normally dry areas near the Florida coast may be flooded by rising waters. Multiple hurricane, tropical storm, and Storm Surge Warnings and Watches are in effect for many parts of Florida.

Twitter: NHC Storm Surge

On Monday, September 26, Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference from the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC), announcing that 7,000 National Guardsmen and five urban search and rescue teams have been activated in preparation for the storm’s impact. In his statement, DeSantis announced that mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Hillsborough County for all residents in Zone A, the coastal regions along Tampa and Hillsborough bays. The order, effective as of Monday afternoon, calls for the evacuation of as many as 300,000 people living in Hillsborough County alone. As of Tuesday, September 27, mandatory evacuation orders have also been issued for Zone A residents in Charlotte, Levy, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. Further inland in central Florida, Counties are planning to call for evacuation orders for people living near flood-prone areas. Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie called for residents to “know their zones” and check with the FDEM evacuation zone map as directed to stay up-to-date. 

As preparations intensify, the Tampa International and St. Pete-Clearwater International (PIE) airports plan to suspend operations Tuesday afternoon, September 27, in compliance with mandatory evacuation orders. Airlines will be waiving change fees and fare differences for those flying to or out of several Florida destinations within projected impact zones. 

In preparation for Hurricane Ian’s arrival, FDEM has also readied more than 27,000 power restoration personnel and prepared 360 trailers with over two million meals and one million gallons of water to distribute to storm-impacted areas. The Division has also coordinated with utility providers to stage 25,000 linemen in anticipation of power outages across the state.

FEMA Flood Safety: Source

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidance to individuals preparing for, experiencing, or affected by hurricanes. Hurricane Ian brings potential for life-threatening storm surge to many coastal and urban communities. Individuals should heed the warnings of local authorities and prepare for hurricane and severe weather conditions. FEMA also encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for flash flooding. Flash floods can develop with little to no warning, quickly changing the surrounding area. FEMA suggests individuals seek higher ground, avoid walking or driving in flood waters, and heed the warnings of local authorities. Additionally, FEMA encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for tornadoes. Tornadoes can appear suddenly, destroy buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris. FEMA suggests individuals under Tornado Warnings seek shelter right away. 

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.

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Florida Prepares for Hurricane Ian as Puerto Rico and Canada recover from Hurricane Fiona

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2022 AS OF 11:00 AM EDT

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Ian, a Category (Cat) 1 hurricane, is moving northwest towards the Cayman Islands at approximately 14 miles per hour (mph), with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, as of 5:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Ian’s path is forecasted to potentially shift north-northwest sometime on Monday, with Hurricane-force winds reaching outward up to 15 miles from the center and tropical storm winds extending outwards up to 90 miles.

Hurricane Ian is projected to bring possible swells to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands today, and expected to affect the Florida’s Keys and the west coast of Florida Tuesday and Wednesday. Ian is also projected to bring heavy rains to the Cayman Islands, Western Cuba, Florida Keys, and parts of Florida. The NHC cautions that flash and urban flooding is possible in some areas of Florida.

Hurricane Ian – GeoColor: NOAA

The State of Florida has been preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Ian since last week; on Friday, September 23, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order to declare a state of emergency across 24 counties in the Florida peninsula. President Joe Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved Florida’s Emergency Declaration, allowing for Category B Public Assistance providing direct federal assistance and emergency protective measures support to the state.. Moreover, FEMA is supporting Florida and surrounding states by moving supplies and personnel to strategic distribution centers to ensure that they are prepared to activate as needed throughout the most severe storm days. Among those resources are over 4,000 reservists and an additional 7,500 Surge Capacity Force members that FEMA has activated to support ongoing needs related to Hurricane Ian. 

On Sunday September 25, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) and Governor DeSantis held a press conference calling for residents to make preparations and stock up on supplies ahead of the storm, including fuel for vehicles, non-perishable food items, reserves of fresh water, batteries, and prescription drugs and medicine. Governor DeSantis warned that residents should “anticipate power outages and fuel disruptions with a hurricane of this magnitude,” and should look to news sources and FDEM to check for evacuation warnings. He also expanded the September 23 Executive Order to include all 67 counties in Florida, given the uncertainty of the path of the storm, to ensure that all counties can utilize federal resources. FDEM Director, Kevin Guthrie, highlighted that the State is preparing for the likelihood of dangerous storm surge by contacting emergency operations center (EOC) leaders in each of the 67 counties and state agencies to ensure a coordinated response to additional water to coastal areas. Director Guthrie called for residents to “know their zones,” and check with the FDEM evacuation zone map as directed to stay up-to-date.

“Know Your Zone” Evacuation Tracker: FDEM

The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), which oversees all public K-12 schools, the Florida College System, and State Universities, announced closures on Sunday ahead of Hurricane Ian’s arrival. Among those listed are the University of South Florida, which has canceled classes through Thursday, September 29, and public schools in Hillsborough, Lake, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties. Floridians are encouraged to continue checking for closures and evacuation orders using Florida 511 and Florida Storms, a Florida Public Radio Emergency Network in addition to local official’s offices and FDEM.

POST-TROPICAL STORM FIONA

After moving through the Caribbean as a Cat 1 hurricane, now post-tropical storm (cyclone) Fiona continued its path through the Atlantic towards Canada. After strengthening to a Cat 4 hurricane, it was downgraded to a post-tropical storm before making landfall on the Canadian coast early Saturday morning. Despite being downgraded to a post-tropical storm, hurricane strength winds, rain, and storm surges still impacted parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Quebec. A state of emergency was declared for the town of Port aux Basques in Newfoundland, and part of the community was under an emergency evacuation order. Evacuations were made increasingly difficult as flooding made some roads impassable, and initial estimates of eight to twelve houses were completely washed away to sea. Nearly all of Prince Edward Island and parts of Nova Scotia lost power. The ongoing inclement weather made restoring power slow; however, power is gradually being restored leaving about 200,000 customers without power throughout the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as of Monday morning. Canadian Armed Forces troops have been sent to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador to assist with response and recovery efforts. According to the Canadian Hurricane Center, the recorded pressure of post-tropical storm Fiona when it made landfall in Canada was 931.6 millibar (mb), which is generally a value that can be seen in a smaller, but intense Cat 4 hurricane. Such a reading would make it the lowest-pressured land falling storm on record for Canada. 

Additionally, the impacts of Fiona are still being felt in Puerto Rico. According to Poweroutage.us nearly 750,000 residences and businesses are still experiencing power outages across the island.

Twitter: FEMA

FEMA encourages individuals to prepare before a tropical storm or hurricane. After determining the risks of severe weather in your community, it is critical to:

  • Collaborate with family members and household partners to ensure everyone knows how to reliably receive emergency alerts;
  • Know where to seek shelter inside and outside of the home (dependent on the guidance);
  • Know how to find the safest evacuation routes;
  • Know how everyone will maintain communication during the crisis; and
  • Create an emergency kit that is fully stocked for at least three days.

Individuals at risk are encouraged to secure their home, remain up-to-date with information from their local NWS office and local government/ emergency management office, and follow guidance issued by local officials. Emergency plans should be personalized based upon the unique composition of families and their households, considering the needs of young children, older adults, and pets, dietary and medical requirements, and individuals living with disabilities. FEMA suggests several precautionary steps people can take to protect their homes and personal properties from damage by high winds and floods, including reviewing flood insurance coverage.

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Hurricane Fiona becomes a Category Four Hurricane, leaving over a million without power and hundreds of thousands without water

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2022 AS OF 1:00 PM EST

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Fiona, a Category (Cat) 4 major hurricane is moving north towards Bermuda at approximately 8 miles per hour (mph), with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, as of 8:00 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time (AST). Currently the storm is moving away from the Turks and Caicos Islands with hurricane force winds reaching outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical storm winds extending outward up to 160 miles.

Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern and central Bahamas are experiencing swells generated by Fiona and they will continue to spread westward across the Atlantic toward the east coast of the United States (US) during the next day or two. These swells may cause life threatening surf and rip current conditions.

NHC Coastal Watches/Warnings and Forecast Cone for Storm Center: NOAA

The NHC is predicting some additional strengthening tonight with fluctuations in intensity starting on Thursday, September 22. Tropical storm winds are expected, and hurricane conditions are possible, in Bermuda starting late Thursday or early Friday. Fiona is expected to affect portions of Atlantic Canada as a powerful hurricane-force cyclone late Friday night and into Saturday, September 24. The storm may produce significant impacts from high winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall. 

IMPACTS

Fiona passed over Turks and Caicos as a Cat 3 hurricane on the morning of September 20, first hitting Grand Turk before battering its smaller islands a few hours later. The hurricane caused heavy rains, flooding, and power outages, just as it did in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. According to Turks and Caicos Deputy Governor Anya Williams, there were power outages on five of the islands, but no deaths reported as of the morning of September 21. As Hurricane Fiona moved away from Turks and Caicos, it strengthened into a Cat 4 hurricane.

According to the NHC, parts of Puerto Rico saw more than 30 inches of rain, causing flooded rivers, flash floods, landslides, and roads to be cut off. As of 9:30 a.m. ET on September 21, almost 75 percent of customers in Puerto Rico were still without power according to PowerOutage.us. The hurricane cut off most residents from clean water, leading President Joe Biden to declare an emergency and call on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate relief for the island. As of September 21, there have been four fatalities reported in Puerto Rico as a direct result of Hurricane Fiona.

Fiona hit the Dominican Republic on the night of September 19 as a Cat 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. The island faced more than 20 inches of rain which forced the evacuation of 12,500 people from their homes and left 709,000 without power. Currently there have been three reported fatalities in the Dominican Republic.

Be Prepared for a Landslide: Ready.gov

FEMA provides resources for individuals, families, and businesses to prepare for, stay safe during, and recover from major disaster events like hurricanes. Storm surges that cause major flooding are especially dangerous and life-threatening impacts of hurricanes and so it is crucial to know how to stay safe during a flood. FEMA urges individuals under a flood warning to seek safe shelter immediately, which may include evacuating, moving to a higher ground or floor level, or staying where you are based upon the guidance provided by the Emergency Alert System (EAS), NOAA Weather Radio or local emergency alert notifications. FEMA also reminds individuals experiencing flooding to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” – six inches of moving water is all it takes to knock a person down and vehicles can be swept away by just one foot of water. Major flooding also increases the likelihood of landslides and debris flow which may pose severe risks to human life, land, and property. FEMA urges individuals to stay alert to instructions from their local emergency management agency and to evacuate the area and move uphill as quickly as possible if in the path of a landslide. It is important to understand the warning signs, risks, and safety guidance associated with both fast- and slow-moving landslides.

Twitter: Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

During a power outage, FEMA encourages individuals to keep refrigeration sources closed, disconnect appliances to avoid damage from electrical surges, and to keep up to date on heating, cooling, and other sheltering locations offered in the community. Power outages introduce many risks to the safety and wellbeing of a community including disrupting access to communications, transportation, and other essential services. 

Additionally, in the midst of and in the aftermath of a disaster, access to drinking water may be limited or cut off. Under these circumstances it is important to reduce activity levels and stay cool as best as possible in order to limit water intake while consuming the amount of water your body needs; to avoid drinking contaminated water for as long as possible; and to limit the consumption of carbonated and caffeinated beverages which may lead to increased dehydration. Based upon the guidance of local emergency officials it may be necessary to treat water to ensure it is safe to use for drinking, food preparation, or other household needs. 

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.

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Hurricane Fiona Makes Landfall in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Bringing Heavy Rainfall and Extreme Flooding

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2022 AS OF 11:30 AM EST

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Fiona, a Category (Cat) 1 hurricane, has made landfall in the Dominican Republic and is moving northwest at 8 miles per hour (mph), with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, as of 8:00 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time (AST). Currently the storm is located over Samana, Dominican Republic and hurricane force winds reach outward up to 30 miles from the center of the storm

The NHC has noted Fiona is projected to strengthen over the next two days and possibly become a major hurricane by Wednesday of this week. On Sunday, September 18, Hurricane Fiona brought heavy rain, flash and urban flooding, and high winds to Puerto Rico where it made landfall near Punta Tocon on the southwestern coast at 3:20 p.m. AST. Consequently, the storm knocked out Puerto Rico’s power grid. According to Poweroutage.us, over 1.3 million customers do not have power. On Sunday morning, President Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, giving Federal assistance to the ongoing response efforts of the Commonwealth.

Hurricane Fiona – GeoColor: NOAA

The NHC predicts hurricane conditions to continue to spread across portions of the Dominican Republic throughout the day today and into tonight. Eastern areas of the Dominican Republic may experience similar conditions as Puerto Rico, mainly flooding as well as potential mudslides and landslides, with the potential for upwards of 15 inches of rain. According to the NHC, Hurricane Fiona is expected to strengthen after moving away from the Dominican Republic. Hurricane conditions are expected in the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday with the southeastern Bahamas expecting tropical storm conditions later today or early tomorrow, Tuesday, September 20. 

Impacts

While Hurricane Fiona remained only a Cat 1 hurricane as it passed over Puerto Rico, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which categorizes hurricanes, only accounts for sustained wind speed and does not consider other impacts like rainfall. In a bulletin published at 2:00 p.m. AST on Sunday, NOAA’s NHC predicted 12 to 16 inches of rain with a maximum of 25 inches, particularly across eastern and southern parts of the island. Due to this rainfall, the NHC also predicted “life-threatening and catastrophic flash and urban flooding, along with mudslides and landslides.”. Hundreds of people have been evacuated across the island; however, all flights out of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan were canceled as of Sunday morning. A temporary bridge located in a central mountain town called Utuado installed after Hurricane Maria – which impacted Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 almost exactly 5 years ago – was completely washed away yesterday as it was overwhelmed by rushing river waters. 

The entire island of Puerto Rico has been without power since Sunday afternoon after several transmission line outages led to an island-wide power outage. Luma, the private consortium managing the electrical transmission and distribution system in Puerto Rico, confirmed on its website that due to the scope of the outage and the continuing hazardous weather conditions, full restoration may take several days. As of early Monday morning, some power has been restored to San Juan’s medical complex, the island’s primary hospital system. While the center of Hurricane Fiona has moved past Puerto Rico, and is now centered around the eastern part of the Dominican Republic, the outer bands of the storm continue to affect Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with heavy rains.

NOAA Guidance Flood Safety: Source

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for flash flooding. It’s imperative to remember that flash floods can develop with little to no warning, quickly changing the surrounding area. FEMA suggests individuals seek higher ground, avoid walking or driving in flood waters, and heed the warnings of local authorities. Additionally, the National Weather Service (NWS) offers advice and guidance for those about to experience, currently impacted by, or previously affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. Individuals at risk are encouraged to secure their home, remain up-to-date with information from their local NWS office and local government/emergency management office, and follow guidance issued by local officials.

During a Landslide: Source

Ready.gov provides information on how to prepare for, recognize warning signs, react to, and recover from mud and landslides and debris flows. It is important to understand the warning signs of both fast and slow moving landslides. 

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.

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COVID-19, Monkeypox, and Beyond: is Your Hospital Really Prepared?

As summer approaches, many hospitals anticipated that this could be a time to collectively catch their breath and ease the stress and anxiety put on heroic healthcare workers. They could recharge, reenergize, restore, and rebuild a more resilient pandemic-ready organization for projected fall and winter COVID-19 surges. Instead, unanticipated new Omicron variants have continued to emerge and we now find our nation’s healthcare systems handling over 100,000 new COVID-19 cases, 3,260 COVID-related hospital admissions, and 280 COVID-related deaths daily. On top of needing to respond to the latest COVID-19 case surge, there is an increasing number of Monkeypox cases globally – a disease rarely seen outside of the continent of Africa. All of this as hospitals face financial and operational challenges, including loss of patient volume, negative operating margins, and skyrocketing expenses. 

As we face the reality that COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, supply chain, inflation, and cost pressures will continue to linger and new diseases that threaten the well-being of our population will continue to emerge, hospitals must ask themselves the question, are we really prepared?

To help answer this question, hospitals should evaluate and optimize the following:

Obtain Federal Funding for COVID-19 Recovery and Future Public Health Preparedness

With the Health & Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund no longer able to provide assistance, due to a lack of sufficient funds, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Public Assistance (PA) program is the best way hospitals can continue to receive reimbursement for all COVID-related expenses incurred over the last several years; however, hospitals must act quickly to potentially receive 100 percent federal reimbursement. On July 1, 2022, FEMA PA transitions to a 90 percent cost recovery for ongoing COVID-related expenses. In addition to FEMA PA, hospitals should seek out FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funding (HMGP). The Biden Administration has made $3.46 billion available in HMGP funding to states, territories and tribes that had major disaster declarations for COVID-19. Hospitals are eligible to apply to working with their state for a portion of this funding. Finally, hospitals should optimize their funding from HHS’ Assistant Secretary of Preparedness & Response (ASPR) by working with partner facilities to optimize the dollars for regional public health preparedness initiatives such as surge capacity, community public health messaging, disease surveillance and sharing of resources and assets during emergencies.

Conduct After-Action Reviews, Hardwire Organizational Resiliency, and Preparedness Activities

Heroic efforts were undertaken over the last several years to respond to COVID-19. We must memorialize these efforts including how surge capacity was created; staff vacancies were filled; supplies procured; and lives were saved into annexes of hospital emergency operations plans.

Hospitals should conduct a comprehensive after-action report (AAR) and develop an actionable improvement plan that identifies opportunities for improvement, concrete actionable solutions and highlights strengths that can be hardwired, shared across a healthcare system or even the country with other hospitals.

In addition, we need to recognize that infection control measures such as donning and doffing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for routine patient contact and not just confirmed infectious cases is likely to stay for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, we must work to shift the mindsets of our caregivers so that responding to a surge of patients becomes more routine and sustainable and does not result in caregiver burnout. This means rethinking staffing, training and support considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging infectious diseases.

Push the Envelope on Risk Assessments

Scenarios that once seemed unimaginable such as; a hurricane hitting New York City, a global pandemic killing over 6.2 million people, or winter storms causing regional electrical grid failures, used to be viewed as “black swan” once in a hundred year events. These events now more common occurrences. This means risk assessments should be conducted, pushing the imagination and envelope on emergency incident scenarios, and evaluating the risk on all people, processes and systems in your organization. The risk assessments should then be used to drive Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) improvements, Business Continuity Plan development, employee training and drill and exercise development. Risk should be assessed from multiple lenses but especially from the patient and employee perspective.

Serve as a Pillar and Public Health Voice of Reason for your Community

Hospitals are looked to as ‘beacons in the night’. They are expected to always be ready and have the answers when it comes to helping save lives and what people should do to take care of themselves in time of need. We are suffering from the greatest lack of trust in public health and public health messaging as result of the country’s political divide. Therefore, it is up to hospitals at the local level, who are trusted community pillars, to proactively identify emerging threats and communicate effectively with their communities. Hospitals should share public health guidance with their communities and incorporate members into after action report development, risk assessments and preparedness plan enhancement.

Hagerty Can Help

Collectively evaluating and optimizing these four critical areas will make sure your hospital is really prepared for whatever may come next. Hagerty Consulting helps healthcare organizations conduct and storyboard actionable after-action reports; risk and emergency operations plan gap assessments and public health outreach campaigns that position communities for future public health emergencies and organizations for the new Joint Commission Emergency Preparedness standards and Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Emergency Preparedness Rule.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our team has been helping more than 100 hospitals, healthcare systems, and public health departments obtain the funding they are entitled to, including FEMA PA, in support of their response and recovery.


Jeff Bokseris Hagerty Consulting’s Vice President of Healthcare Programs with strategic expertise in all aspects of healthcare operations, finance, organizational resiliency, institutional preparedness, and recovery. Jeff has over 20 years of experience as a senior leader at NewYork-Presbyterian and Yale New Haven Health and served as Incident Commander guiding 40,000+ employees through numerous internal and external emergency response and recovery operations.

Above-Normal Atlantic Hurricane Season Anticipated in 2022, Creating Challenges for Emergency Management Leaders and Civilians Alike

WEDNESDAY MAY 25, 2022 AS OF 2:00 PM EST

On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their 2022 Atlantic hurricane season outlook. Forecasting an above average season, the May estimate calls for 14 to 21 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes. This is higher than the regular season average of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Although the historical peak of hurricane season is still a few months away, recent years have shown more early storm formations, something forecasters and emergency managers will be on the lookout for in the coming weeks.

ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON OUTLOOK

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecast the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season will feature above-average hurricane activity for the seventh consecutive year. The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and lasts until November 30, with NOAA predicting a 65 percent risk of an above-average season, with only a 25percent chance for a near-normal, and a 10 percent option for a below-normal season. There are 14 to 21 named storms anticipated for the season, with winds reaching 39 miles per hour (mph) or higher. Six to 10 of these storms could likely become hurricanes, with three to six predicted to become major hurricanes as either Category 3, Category 4, or Category 5. These storms can reach wind speeds of 111 mph or higher, and NOAA provided the storm range with a confidence rate of 70 percent. The above-average activity is attributed to climate factors such as La Niña, which consists of warmer sea surface temperatures across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. 

The Associated Press quoted NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. who noted that the 2022 season “is going to be similar to last year and given that you need only one bad storm to dramatically affect your life, if you fail to plan around this outlook, you’re planning to fail.”.

NOAA: 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

PACIFIC HURRICANE SEASON OUTLOOK

NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center and NOAA’s CPC additionally provided a 2022 hurricane season outlook for the Central Pacific Ocean, indicating a 60 percent chance for below-normal tropical cyclone activity throughout the season. The forecast additionally noted a 30 percent chance for near-normal activity, with a 10 percent chance for an above-normal season. NOAA anticipates between two to four tropical cyclones will affect the Central Pacific hurricane region, which includes tropical depressions, named storms, and hurricanes. NOAA Lead Seasonal Hurricane Forecaster Matthew Rosencrans noted the ongoing effects of La Niña are likely to create powerful vertical wind shear, “making it more difficult for hurricanes to develop or move into the Central Pacific Ocean.”

President Joe Biden cautioned “another tough hurricane season” was coming in a federal briefing on May 18, according to The Associated Press, warning that the storms were growing “more extreme every season.” National Hurricane Center (NHC) Director Kenneth Graham was also quoted, noting that the United States (US) has had more Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes make landfall from the period of 2017 to 2021 than the entirety of 1963 to 2016.

Recently, forecasters and emergency managers met in Orlando, Florida for the 2022 National Hurricane Conference and in West Palm Beach, Florida for the 2022 Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference. Emergency management practitioners, vendors, and volunteers met for trainings and workshops to discuss best practices and innovative approaches to moving our profession forward. Participation at the two conferences this year demonstrated that both seasoned emergency managers, and those who have found new positions in our field throughout the pandemic, are preparing seriously for another active season this year. 

While COVID-19 concerns may be less significant than they have been over the past two hurricane seasons, emergency managers will have several traditional challenges to face this year, as well as some that are unique to 2022. 

With a high probability of another active hurricane season, here are three important things Hagerty’s Director of Response Programs, Lee Mayfield, encourages emergency managers and decision-makers to keep in mind as they prepare for the next six months.

THREE THINGS EMERGENCY MANAGERS MUST KNOW THIS HURRICANE SEASON

Supply chain issues, rising costs, and gas price implications this hurricane season. Over the past few months, we’ve experienced an increase in daily living costs almost across the board. Gas prices are now averaging $4.60 per gallon nationwide, nightly hotel stays have increased significantly, and costs for everyday items, such as groceries, are on the rise. With gas prices now higher, will residents evacuate if told to do so? Will the increased cost of a week in a hotel persuade a family to stay home or seek out public hurricane shelters in larger numbers than in previous years? Will higher grocery store prices keep individuals from having the necessary supplies on hand or having extra cash saved up for a storm event?

We must also remember that hurricanes have more of an impact on our vulnerable communities and a storm this year would put added economic stress on many who are already struggling. This could translate into more individuals needing support both before and after a storm and will likely also require additional support from non-governmental organization (NGO) partners.

Housing costs. Post-disaster housing has historically been one of the most challenging aspects of hurricane recovery. Setting a hurricane landfall and associated housing issues aside, many hurricane-prone states are in the middle of a housing affordability crisis. With low to moderate income households almost priced out of the market, buying, or renting a home or apartment is already difficult. The current housing situation would almost certainly require additional solutions after a landfall, and emergency managers should be working with their partners now to solve for this.

Evacuating (or not evacuating) your community remains one of the most important decisions you will make – be prepared for it. Local and state leaders now have more tools available to them than ever before, and should constantly be learning, training, and coordinating with the meteorologists who provide crucial information in the days prior to landfall. At the two conferences mentioned above, Ken Graham, Director of the NHC, highlighted the potential for reduced decision-making timelines and the risk of rapidly intensifying hurricanes this season. Of the 4 category 5 hurricanes to strike the US, all were tropical storms three days prior to landfall. Time is often not on our side when it comes to protective action decision-making, and clearly understanding the tools available from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the NHC will build confidence around the art and science behind these important decisions – your local NWS office is also an important year-round resource to assist.

CONCLUSION

As emergency managers face their first hurricane season where COVID-19 is not as pronounced a concern as in years past, there are certainly new challenges to address that will require thoughtful consideration and creativity. Veteran and new emergency managers alike will once again be required to use their expertise, networks, and partnerships to overcome these challenges.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages individuals to prepare before a tropical storm or hurricane. After determining the risks of severe weather in your community, it is critical to:

  • Collaborate with your family and household to ensure everyone knows how to reliably receive emergency alerts;
  • Know where to seek shelter inside and outside of the home (dependent on the guidance);
  • Know how to find the safest evacuation routes;
  • Know how everyone will maintain communication during the crisis; and
  • Create an emergency kit that is fully stocked. 

Emergency plans should be personalized based upon the unique composition of your family and household – considering the needs of young children, older adults, and pets; dietary and medical requirements; and individuals living with disabilities. Additional preparedness opportunities could include completing FEMA’s Family Emergency Communication Plan or using this resource as a guide to document important contact information that can be shared with your family and household for safekeeping. Once your plan is set, periodically review and rehearse the plan so that everyone involved can become familiar with their responsibilities and equipped with the confidence to make quick decisions during a real emergency. FEMA suggests several precautionary steps you can take to protect your home and personal property from damage by high winds and floods, including reviewing your flood insurance coverage.

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HURRICANE SEASON 2022

Supply Chain Resilience: an Urgent Priority

The cascading impact of disruptions to international supply chains has emerged as a key threat to the nation’s resilience, undercutting the maintenance and repair schedules of critical infrastructure sites and limiting access to affordable healthy foods and consumer goods.

Though the public at large generally understands the problem as one of delay and inconvenience, producers and supply chain experts are acknowledging that these problems are worsening and could soon lead to outages, breakdowns, and increased resource insecurity.

In efforts to address this, state and local leaders should gain awareness of the evolving supply chain situation and develop mitigation plans. This solution is not easy; however, emergency management has a key role to play in the ongoing communication among stakeholders to increase visibility and the development of cross-sector strategy aimed at supporting the private sector and prioritizing corrective measures.

In Rochester, Minnesota, power utility operators recently reported that the lead time on securing a fiber-optic cable has gone from four months to more than a year. Earlier this year, the United States (US) Department of Commerce (DOC) released a report warning that the semiconductor supply chain was in a “fragile” state with manufacturing fabrication plants operating at more than 90 percent capacity given the high-demand for computer chips for a number of products – from your cell phone to your car, to critical medical devices. To solve these issues, private sector leadership is also critical – the supply chain is almost entirely composed of private sector relationships that are invisible to other sectors. 

Inflation of materials for critical infrastructure has forced several states to reassess road and bridge repairs for 2022. For example, the Michigan Department of Transportation regularly plans for a four percent inflation in its budgets, but is now charting a six to seven percent increase above the original budget. Additionally, a number of pressures on food markets – from geo-political crises to the COVID-19 pandemic – have also continued to increase prices and lower access. 

Understanding the 21st Century Supply Chain

A supply chain is the network of production and enterprise that unify to create a product and deliver it for sale to the end user. The chain can include a truck driver who transports a product across state lines. Increasingly, it has included online distribution agents who may rely on multiple delivery agents like Amazon.

Based on our experience, once disorganization sets in – the compounded impact of missed delivery and production dates – products can sit in a warehouse due to a delivery backlog, and because no single actor is working to mitigate the impact of the disruption, prioritization is market-driven and can take time, causing gaps in service. In efforts to confront this challenge, the US House of Representatives passed The America Competes Act, providing over $100 billion to strengthen domestic supply chains. 

However, at this time, it is unclear how comprehensive federal action will be and it will likely take time to have a meaningful impact on immediate circumstances.

Supply Chain Resilience at Regional and Local Levels

Even though addressing supply chain issues takes time, there are things regional and local leaders can do to help strengthen their supply chain mitigation efforts. Here are three ways local and regional leaders can build solutions and prepare to make the best use of any new incoming resources.

1. Leverage regional/multi-jurisdiction organizations to develop supply chain resilience work teams or work groups that include both private sector leaders and non-governmental organizations. 

Regional planning, governance, and coordinating institutions were designed to confront complex, cross sector challenges and have established many of the key relationships necessary to gain situational awareness. Developing a cross-sector supply chain work group to better understand your region’s unique challenges is a strong first step.

The Centralina Council of Governments, an organization of more than 70 municipalities located in the Central Piedmont of North Carolina, partnered with the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) to analyze which industries are connected to one another through supply and distribution.Partnering with a regional Council of Government to approach the problem of situational awareness could be a key strategy to gain research capacity, convening power, and regional understanding.. 

This approach can also synergize efforts to identify and secure resources. For example, the recently restarted Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program (RCPGP) is a federal grant program to close known capability gaps and support local actors in developing solutions.

2. Identify key infrastructure owners/operators and proactively support dynamic private sector continuity planning for all elements of production.

Regional trade organizations, industry groups, and private sector stakeholders can show leadership by proactively mapping their supply chains and identifying key pressure points. This does not have to be a novel effort, but built on the existing capability of partner organizations to ensure they are able to continue their essential services and have an avenue to create awareness of actual or potential disruption. Private sector actors can collaborate to develop data dashboards that chart shortages of key resources, changes in suppliers, increasing demand, and anticipated downstream impacts.

Increased situational awareness and an active forum for information exchange and advocacy allows a more coordinated community-level response. Supply chain experts are exploring how public-private partnerships could be developed to support and finance these measures, even while acknowledging the risks of introducing top-down approaches.

Based on our experience working through similar challenges with our clients, there are limitations of approaching this task solely as an exercise in documenting corporate relationships and business practices. One of these limitations is that relationships must be understood in the context of shock (disasters and unanticipated events) and community stress (the challenges experienced by communities due to specific characteristics and local economies). 

3. Create regional, cross-state compacts for the sharing of key and critical goods and services, supported by government coordination and communication.

Developing policies that promote resource sharing and resource re-routing could extend the viability of existing products and maximize current resource levels. We assert that government can play an important role in communicating to the public to prevent and limit hoarding and over-buying. Typically, disaster responders have worked with state and federal government officials to shift resources after a shock and to restore the functionality of the private sector. Prep-planning and policy support for these maneuvers would increase efficiency. 

In this non-traditional disaster environment, we need to best understand how the government can best support and restore conventional systems to meet community needs.

Conclusion

Mitigating disruptions begins with building relationships, gaining strategic awareness and collaborating across sectors.Global supply chains have been disrupted now for more than two years and, given continued geopolitical impacts, there is seemingly no end in sight. Leaders at every level – even those whose portfolio does not traditionally include commerce – will need to quickly plan and prepare for these impacts.


Harrison Newton is a Senior Managing Associate at Hagerty Consulting. Prior to joining Hagerty, he spent nearly a decade in public service with Washington, DC. During his tenure with DC, he was responsible for establishing the District’s first Resilience Office, where he ultimately served as the Deputy Chief Resilience Officer responsible for promoting resiliency programs across various District departments and agencies. 

Tory Littlefield is a Managing Associate within the Preparedness Division at Hagerty Consulting. Prior to joining Hagerty, Mrs. Littlefield spent seven years as an emergency management planner in Vermont with a regional planning commission.