Hurricane Idalia Rapidly Intensifies Into a Category 4 Storm Ahead of Its Historic Landfall


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), as of 8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Hurricane Idalia has made its historic landfall near Keaton Beach, along the coast of the Florida Big Bend as a Category (Cat) 3 hurricane after downgrading from Cat 4 strength. The National Weather Service (NWS) has indicated that Hurricane Idalia represents an “unprecedented event,” as no major hurricanes on record have ever directly impacted Florida’s Big Bend region.

Idalia’s current maximum sustained winds are estimated to be up to 120 miles per hour (mph) and extend outward up to 25 miles as it tracks north-northeast at 18 mph. Hurricanes in the United States (US) are categorized according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale based on their wind speeds, with a Cat 1 reflecting 74 to 95 mph winds and a Cat 5 indicating hurricanes with wind speeds of 157 mph or higher. The NHC estimates that with Cat 3 strength at landfall, devastating damages will occur, including uprooted trees, severe impacts to well-build homes, power outages from downed lines, and the possibility of neighborhoods becoming uninhabitable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Hurricane Idalia – GeoColor: NOAA

As of 8:00 a.m. EDT, the NHC reports that catastrophic storm surge between 12 and 16 feet and damaging hurricane-force winds are projected along the Florida Gulf Coast. Destructive waves are anticipated to hit Wakulla and Jefferson County, and residents of Yankeetown, Florida, should be aware of the ongoing Storm Surge Warning. Additionally, the NWS has issued a flood watch through Wednesday evening that includes portions of Florida, including Coastal Dixie, Coastal Franklin, Coastal Gulf, Coastal Jefferson, Coastal Taylor, and Coastal Wakulla counties. NOAA’s Tide Gauge, which measures the coastal height of the ocean, reported a water level of more than six feet above the usual mean at Cedar Key, Florida.

Life-threatening winds are anticipated within Idalia’s path, including inland across northern Florida and in portions of eastern Georgia and southeastern South Carolina. Residents in the storm’s path throughout Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are advised to monitor flood warnings, as flash, urban, and moderate river flooding are all expected from today into Thursday. Idalia is forecasted to impact southern Georgia later today before shifting northeast and east-northeast as it moves along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later today and Thursday.

Major Hurricane Idalia: NWS

As of 9:00 a.m. EDT, more than 240,000 Florida customers were without power. Idalia’s storm surge has prompted record-breaking water levels in Tampa Bay, where levels were nearing roughly four feet as of 5:30 a.m. EDT. High water marks have also been observed in Clearwater Beach and Cedar Key, Florida, as significant storm surge amplifies the flooding risks of coastal communities. Additionally, nearly 12 million people across central and northern Florida and southeast Georgia are under a tornado watch as rain bands stretch across the area – tropical systems often produce tornados embedded in rain bands. An extreme wind warning is also in effect for multiple counties, as life-threatening 115 mph winds are expected as Idalia’s eyewall comes ashore.

Ahead of Idalia, on August 28, President Biden made a federal emergency declaration for the State of Florida, thereby making federal resources available to the state for life safety and sustaining purposes. On August 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis expanded the State’s initial Executive Order to include 49 counties under a state of emergency and issued evacuation orders across 22 counties. The Florida National Guard (FLNG) has been fully mobilized, with 3,700 guardsmen positioned across the state for preparedness and response efforts. An additional 1,800 guardsmen are on the way bringing the total to 5,500 prior to the storm landing. The Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) is coordinating the State’s Preparedness and Response efforts and has 100 pallets of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), nearly 500 pallets of bottled water, and more than 20 pallets of tarps available to supplement affected residents and emergency responders.

In anticipation of Hurricane Idalia tracking inland, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper each issued state of emergency declarations for their respective States on August 29.

Twitter: FDEM

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidance to individuals preparing for, experiencing, or affected by hurricanes. As Hurricane Idalia brings the potential for a life-threatening storm surge, FEMA encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions to prepare for flash flooding. It is imperative to remember that flash floods can develop with little to no warning and reach full peak in only a few minutes. Authorities suggest individuals seek higher ground, avoid walking or driving in flood waters, and heed the guidance and warnings of local authorities.

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, during 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 to limit water intake while consuming the amount of water your body needs, avoid drinking contaminated water for as long as possible, and 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 for drinking, food preparation, or other household needs.

Over the coming days and weeks, Hagerty’s Blog Team will continue to provide guidance on making effective preparations for long-term recovery, as well as continuing our situational updates.



Tropical Cyclone Activity Increases in the Atlantic While Recovery Efforts From Extreme Weather Continue Across the US


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC) is currently tracking four systems in the Atlantic, including one tropical storm, one tropical depression, and two disturbances. As of 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on August 23, Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for several parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti as Tropical Storm Franklin makes its way across the island of Hispaniola with maximum sustained winds of up to 40 miles per hour (mph). Franklin is forecasted to produce torrential rainfall totals of up to five to 10 inches, while central parts of Hispaniola are expected to receive up to 15 inches of rainfall. The NHC warns that the heavy rainfall will likely cause potentially life-threatening flash and urban flooding and mudslides. Franklin is expected to travel north later today, August 23, bringing tropical storm conditions to Turks and Caicos.

On August 22, Tropical Depression Harold made landfall on Padre Island, Texas, as a tropical storm before weakening to a tropical depression as it made its way across the southern portion of the state. Harold brought heavy rainfall amidst months of hot, dry conditions in Texas, with some areas receiving up to six inches of rainfall. Harold has continued to weaken as it travels into Northern Mexico and is forecasted to dissipate later today, August 23. Additionally, there are two disturbances in the central Atlantic with a respective 50 percent and 10 percent chance of formation into a tropical system within the next 48 hours.

2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook Update: NOAA

While initial season outlooks depicted a near-normal level of activity in the Atlantic basin this year, federal forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) increased their predictions on August 10 to report a 60 percent likelihood of an above-normal forecast. The updated outlook anticipates 14 to 21 named storms for the season, with winds reaching 39 mph or higher. Six to 11 of these storms could likely become hurricanes, with two to five predicted to become major hurricanes as either Category (Cat) 3, Cat 4, or Cat 5. This hurricane season, beginning on June 1 and extending through November 30, has already delivered five tropical storms and one hurricane. As we quickly approach the peak of hurricane season, the NHC bases its increased activity predictions upon the ongoing El Niño and record-warm Atlantic sea-surface temperatures.

Additionally, Post-Tropical Cyclone Hilary, which produced heavy rain and flash flooding across the West Coast and southwestern United States (US) from Sunday, August 20 to Monday, August 21, broke rainfall records in the States of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon; Nevada’s rainfall of 9.20 inches more than doubled the state’s previous high. Hilary was also the first Eastern Pacific tropical storm system to impact the State of California since Nora in 1997 and the first tropical storm to move over the Los Angeles (LA) Basin since 1939. Daily rainfall records across Southern California were shattered on August 20, including 2.99 inches in downtown LA, 3.28 inches in Burbank, and 3.93 inches in Palmdale.

Twitter: NWS LA

Significant rainfall records also included 2.2 inches in Death Valley, California, on August 20–known as the driest and hottest area in the US–which set a 112-year-old daily rainfall record and matched the area’s average yearly precipitation totals in just one day. The conditions in Death Valley prompted the closure of Death Valley National Park and forced an estimated 400 residents, travelers, and employees to shelter in place. As of Wednesday, August 23, evacuation warnings remain in effect for the counties of San Bernadino, Inyo, and Kern, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their federal partners are continuing to support the state and local response and recovery efforts in California and Nevada.


According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 92 active large wildfires have burned more than 629,000 acres in 16 states as of August 22. Due to the significant fire activity impacting large geographic areas across the US, the NIFC has elevated its Preparedness Level to a 4 (PL4) out of 5 (PL5), indicating that roughly 60 percent of the country’s Incident Management Teams (IMTs) and wildland firefighting responders are currently committed to active fire events.

As of August 23, Washington is experiencing the bulk of active wildfires, with eight currently burning across the State. The State’s two largest fires–the Gray Fire and the Oregon Fire–have collectively burned over 20,000 acres and resulted in at least two fatalities in Spokane County. According to InciWeb, response crews currently hold 48 percent of the Gray Fire within control lines and are still working to suppress the Oregon Fire, which sits at zero percent containment as of August 23. On August 20, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) funding to support the State’s response efforts, deeming that “both fires threatened to cause such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.

Twitter: Maui County Fire Department (MFD)

Additionally, recovery efforts continue on the Island of Maui, Hawai’i, where more than 1,000 people remain unaccounted for as of August 22 following the catastrophic Maui Wildfire. According to Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen, the Maui police and fire departments are working diligently alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other response teams to locate the missing individuals. As of August 22, officials have confirmed at least 115 casualties as a result of the fires.

On August 21, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell accompanied President Biden onsite to survey the damage and meet with the community’s emergency responders and survivors. More than 1,000 FEMA personnel have been positioned onsite to support Maui’s recovery efforts as of August 22. Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved over $10 million in federal relief funding for residents impacted by the fires and authorized the immediate availability of $3 million in Emergency Relief (ER) funds to support the Hawai’i Department of Transportation’s (HDOT) infrastructure repair efforts.

Flash Flood Safety Tips: NOAA

Tropical storms bring potentially life-threatening conditions to many coastal and urban communities. FEMA encourages individuals to heed the warnings of local authorities and take the necessary precautions to prepare for flash flooding and storm surge. 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. FEMA also provides safety guidance for preparing for, experiencing, and recovering from a hurricane. Additionally, FEMA urges individuals to be prepared and take necessary safety measures before and during a wildfire. In the event of a wildfire, it is important to follow evacuation orders immediately and adhere to the additional safety guidance provided by FEMA.

Over the coming days and weeks, Hagerty’s Blog Team will continue to provide guidance on making effective preparations for long-term recovery, as well as continuing our situational updates.



Post-Tropical Cyclone Hilary Impacts the Western US as Multiple Tropical Storms Develop in the Atlantic

MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2023, AS OF 12:00 PM EST

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), PostTropical Cyclone Hilary in the Southwest United States (US) brought five to 10 inches of rain to southern California and Nevada from Sunday, August 20 to Monday, August 21. The storm, once a Category (Cat) 4 Hurricane, has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone and is moving north-northeast at 29 miles per hour (mph) across Central/Northern Nevada as of 2:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Sustaining wind speeds of up to 35 mph, the NHC expects the storm to produce an additional two to four inches of rainfall across portions of southern California and Nevada. Hazards of this storm include life-threatening flash flooding, landslides, mudslides, and debris flows. Strong and gusty winds are expected to persist across portions of the western US today, with gust speeds of up to 45 mph.

Flash Flooding Outlook for Post-Tropical Cyclone Hilary: NHC 

As Southern California dealt with the impact of Post-Tropical Cyclone Hilary, on Sunday, August 20, at 2:41 p.m. PDT, a magnitude (M) 5.1 earthquake occurred 7 kilometers (km) southeast of the City of Ojai, California, at a depth of 4.8 km. Officials reported that the earthquake occurred on the Sisar fault system causing “moderate” shaking intensity according to the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale, with the most significant shaking in Ojai and light shaking in the surrounding cities of Ventura, Oxnard, and Camarillo. Southern California residents received an early warning notification on the MyShake app prior to experiencing the temblor. An update at 5:00 p.m. PDT on August 20 by the Ventura County (VC) Office of Emergency Services (OES) indicated that there were more than 30 aftershocks since the original eventsnoting that it is common for aftershocks to occur for several days or even weeks following an earthquake of that magnitudebut reported no injuries and no major structural damage to any buildings. According to the Southern California Seismic Network (SCSN), there were 19 recorded foreshock events in the three days leading up to the M5.1 earthquake, including an M2.5 earlier on the day of the event. Since records began in 1932, SCSN reports that there have been only five earthquakes of M4 or greater within 10 km of the M5.1 event on August 20. Earthquake scientists, including Dr. Lucy Jones, have indicated no correlation between the earthquake and the tropical storm.

Atlantic Hurricane Season

Additionally, in the Atlantic, there are currently three tropical storms and two disturbances. On Sunday, August 20, Tropical Storm Emily formed in the Atlantic Ocean as the fifth named storm of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season. As of August 21, at 5:00 a.m. EST, the NHC has reported that Emily is located roughly 1,165 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph as it heads west-northwest at 12 mph. Emily’s path is expected to continue in its current direction over the next couple of days and potentially shift north by the middle part of the week. The system is forecasted to weaken into a post-tropical cyclone by Monday evening, August 21, and is not expected to post any hazards to land.

A second confirmed system, Tropical Storm Franklin, has prompted a tropical storm watch for the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos Islands through Tuesday night, August 22. As of August 21, at 8:00 a.m. EST, Franklin is located roughly 235 miles south of the Dominican Republic’s capital city, Santo Domingo, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Forecasters expect Franklin to continue its west-northwestward track before shifting north and increasing intensity. The center of the system is forecasted to approach the southern coast of Hispaniola by Tuesday afternoon, August 22, and produce risks of heavy rain, high winds, storm surge, and potentially life-threatening flash flooding.

The eighth named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, Tropical Storm Gert, is moving west at nine mph with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph as of 5:00 a.m. EST, according to the NOAA NHC. This storm is about 455 miles east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands. While the NHC predicts this storm to gradually turn west-northwest by Monday night, August 21, forecasters anticipate the storm to dissipate within the next 24 to 48 hours. 

Tropical Storms in the Atlantic-GeoColor: NOAA 

Additionally, the NHC has identified two disturbances in the Atlantic carrying moderate to high chances of cyclone formation as of August 21 at 8:00 a.m. EST. The first tropical disturbance, located in the Western Gulf of Mexico, poses an 80 percent chance of storm formation within the next two days. Forecasters anticipate the system to develop into a tropical depression or tropical storm before approaching the coastline of southern Texas and northern Mexico on Tuesday, August 22. In the Eastern Tropical Atlantic, a second disturbance over the Cabo Verde Islands has a 40 percent chance of developing into at least a tropical depression over the next two days. As conditions appear conducive for gradual development, the NHC expects the system to form later this week as it moves west-northwestward across the eastern tropical Atlantic.  

Maui Wildfires

In addition, the Island of Maui, Hawai’i, continues its recovery efforts after the catastrophic Maui wildfire, which lasted from August 8 to August 11. According to Maui officials, as of August 21, there are 114 confirmed fatalities, numerous injuries, and an estimated 850 people unaccounted for as a result of the wildfire. Additionally, the County of Maui has extended an Unsafe Water Advisory (UWA) for residents in Lahaina and Upper Kula area. Officials from the Department of Water Supply (DWS) urge residents to use bottled water for all needs as the water remains unsafe for consumption even when treated. On August 18, US Army Pacific released a public statement announcing its support of the disaster, including the deployment of Joint Task Force (JTF) 5-0 and 691 Department of Defense (DOD) personnel in Maui. For further updates throughout the State of Hawaii, residents are encouraged to follow advisories from the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency’s (HI-EMA) Facebook Page, Maui Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)’s Facebook page, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hawaii Wildfires Webpage.

Flood Safety Tips: NWS 

FEMA provides guidance to individuals preparing for, experiencing, or affected by hurricanes. Post-Tropical Cyclones and Tropical Storms bring potential for life-threatening storm surge to many coastal and urban communities. Individuals should heed the warnings of local authorities and prepare for tropical storms 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. Individuals under Tornado Warnings should seek shelter right away.

Over the coming days and weeks, Hagerty’s Blog Team will continue to provide guidance on making effective preparations for long-term recovery, as well as continuing our situational updates.



Catastrophic Wildfires Devastate Maui Communities


According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), there are currently 85 active large wildfires burning more than 546,000 across the United States (US) in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, wildfires broke out on the Island of Maui, Hawai’i, due to flash drought conditions and high winds enhanced by a category (CAT) 4 Hurricane Dora, passing off the southern coast of the State. These catastrophic wildfires caused over 99 fatalities, numerous injuries, and more than 1,000 people to become unaccounted for across the island of Maui. Additionally, the wildfires destroyed over 1,700 structures in the historic town of Lahaina. According to the Lieutenant Governor of Hawai’i, the Maui Wildfire has now been classified as the deadliest wildfire to take place in the US in over 100 years, surpassing the Camp Fire that took place in Paradise, California, in 2018, and resulted in over 85 fatalities.

Government Leaders Tour Wailuku: FEMA

Following extreme wildfire events beginning Tuesday, August 8, Hawai’i Governor Josh Green, MD, and Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke have issued five emergency proclamations to assist impacted residents. Governor Green’s most recent proclamation, issued on Monday, August 14, notes that only essential travel should be made to West Maui, ensuring that those impacted by the fires can get emergency services. This proclamation follows the August 8 federal disaster declaration approved by President Biden on August 10, making federal funds available to individuals and business owners within Maui County and surrounding impacted regions. In remarks about the disaster declaration, Governor Green said, “As governor of the State of Hawai‘i, I pledge to spare no resources to combat the destructive wildfires, shelter the displaced, treat and bring comfort to the traumatized, support our first responders, restore communication lines and enlist the aid of our federal and county partners to confront this once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages individuals who have been directly impacted by wildfires to apply for disaster assistance funding made available through the federal disaster declaration. Funding is also available to government and partner organizations to assist with debris removal, emergency protective measures, and sheltering. Additionally, in a press conference on August 13, Governor Green announced that aid would be made available for locals left without shelter, allocating

According to Hagerty’s Executive Chairman and former FEMA Administrator Brock Long, historically, infrastructure recovery and rebuilding in the wake of wildfires can take years of recovery time and federal, state, and private assistance and aid.

Twitter: Hawai’i State Department of Health (DOH)

Additionally, the County of Maui has issued an Unsafe Water Advisory (UWA) for residents in Lahaina and Upper Kula area. Maui officials from the Department of Water Supply (DWS) noted that residents should not drink or boil water but instead use bottled water for all drinking, brushing teeth, ice making, and food preparation until further notice. Affected areas can be located using the County’s DWS map. For further updates and public health information throughout the State of Hawai’i, residents are encouraged to follow advisories from the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) Facebook Page, Maui Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)’s Facebook page, and FEMA’s Hawaii Wildfires Webpage.

National Weather Service (NWS): Wildfires Escalate Quickly

Wildfires can happen in any part of the country at any time, spreading quickly and unpredictably. FEMA urges individuals to be prepared and take necessary safety measures before and during a wildfire. In the event of a wildfire, it is important to follow evacuation orders immediately and adhere to the additional safety guidance provided by FEMA, including:

  • Evacuate right away if instructed to do so by authorities;
  • Remove all leaves, debris, or flammable materials within at least 30 feet of your home;
  • Monitor emergency alert systems for the most up-to-date information; and
  • Pack an emergency supplies kit, including an N95 mask.

It is essential to stay informed about severe weather events by ensuring you receive real-time guidance from authorities. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)’s NWS provides active alerts by type of weather emergency and location, as well as NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts. Additional ways to receive the most up-to-date safety instruction is through real-time notifications available via the FEMA Mobile App, enabling Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on your phone, and signing up to receive alerts from your local emergency management office.

Over the coming days and weeks, the Hagerty Blog Team will continue to provide guidance on making effective preparations for long-term recovery, as well as continuing our situational updates.


Severe Storms Impact the Eastern US as Wildfires Force Evacuations Across Hawaii


Across the United States (US), many areas experienced extreme weather from August 5 to August 8, as multiple severe storm systems delivered widespread thunderstorms, resulting in injuries and fatalities in addition to flight delays and cancelations, power outages, and property damage. Over the four days leading up to August 8, various regions across the US, including the Northeast, Midwest, and Mountain West, experienced at least 27 confirmed tornadoes. According to the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC), August 7 saw the second-highest number of storm reports so far in 2023, with over 700 combined tornado, wind, and hail reports.

Twitter: NWS Eastern Region

On August 7, a bow echo – a bow-shaped band of rain showers or thunderstorms associated with strong straight-line winds and tornadoes – traveled inland from New Jersey and across states from New York to Georgia. According to local officials, this storm system caused one fatality in Florence, Alabama, as a result of a lightning strike and one fatality in Anderson, South Carolina, as a result of a fallen tree. Additionally, in Westminster, Maryland, over 40 people were trapped inside their vehicles due to downed power lines on a major highway. The storms’ impacts left over 37,000 customers in Maryland without power into Tuesday, August 8, according to

Also, a severe weather outbreak on August 8 produced thunderstorms, near-hurricane-force wind gusts, hail, flash flooding, and tornadoes in many Eastern US regions. The NWS confirmed that several tornadoes ranging from an Enhanced Fujita (EF)-1 to an EF-3 touched down in various areas of New York. According to the NWS, two tornadoes also touched down in Barnstable and Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, receiving respective EF-0 and EF-1 ratings. Storms continued to impact the Northeast into August 9, as more than 75,000 people, mostly located in Pennsylvania and Maryland, are still without power.

Hawaii Wildfires

Additionally, several large wildfires across Hawaii’s Maui and Big Island communities have prompted widespread power outages and mandatory evacuation orders. In West Maui, emergency responders conducted multiple rescues off the coast of the historic town of Lahaina, where numerous people sought refuge in the ocean to escape the smoke and flames. According to the NWS, the fires’ rapid spread has been fueled in part by strong wind gusts from Hurricane Dora, a Category (Cat) 4 hurricane that was located roughly 740 miles southwest of Honolulu as of early Wednesday, August 9.

Twitter: NOAA Satellites

In Maui County, the hurricane-force winds have also led to multiple downed power lines, causing power outages for more than 15,000 residents and disconnecting the community’s landlines and 911 emergency call service. Due to the strong winds, emergency responders have been unable to utilize helicopters and provide aircraft support to help contain the fires. According to Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen Jr., at least six fatalities have been confirmed as a result of the fires as of August 9.

On August 8, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation in response to the fires and activated the State’s National Guard to provide assistance to those impacted in Maui and Hawaii Counties. While all of the Hawaiian islands are currently under red flag warnings or are facing climate conditions that produce increased fire risks, the NWS forecasts high winds to weaken by Thursday, August 10, as Hurricane Dora continues westward and away from the Islands.

12 Ways to Prepare Before a Disaster Happens:

It is critical to stay informed about weather emergencies to receive the most up-to-date guidance and instructions on how to stay safe. The NOAA NWS website provides the latest warnings by type of weather emergency and location. Additional ways to stay updated during emergencies are through real-time notifications available via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Mobile App; enabling Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on your phone; NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts; and signing up to receive alerts from your local emergency management office.

Severe weather can happen at any time, without much advance notice, and in any part of the country. FEMA encourages individuals to identify the most common disasters that might impact their area and to make and practice a Family Emergency Plan. During a severe weather event, be ready to evacuate or shelter in place per the real-time guidance emergency officials provide. Emergencies can be unpredictable, and instructions for how to stay safe can change. If you are instructed to shelter in place due to a tornado warning, follow FEMA guidance, including:

  • Seek shelter in a safe room, basement, or storm cellar. If you do not have these options, seek refuge in a small interior room on the lowest level possible and stay away from windows, exterior doors, and outside walls.
  • If you are outside, try to find shelter in a sturdy building, if possible.
  • If this is not possible, you are most safe in a low, flat location. Do not get under an overpass or bridge.
  • Beware of flying debris, and use your arms to protect your head and neck.

Some emergencies, like wildfire events, necessitate evacuations from the area either in advance or immediately. It is essential to adhere to evacuation orders right away, as well as to follow additional guidance to stay safe, including:

  • Follow your planned evacuation routes or the alternate instructions provided by local officials.
  • Find open Red Cross shelters, if necessary.
  • Take your preassembled disaster supplies kit.
  • If time allows, notify family members of where you are going, secure your home, and check in with neighbors who may need assistance.


The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Maddy Brown, Tyler Friesen, and Zinzi Steele

Here at Hagerty, we truly believe the advantage is our people. In honor of National Intern Day this month, we are highlighting some of Hagerty’s Interns to discuss their professional development and what led them to the Hagerty team. This year, Hagerty’s interns support multiple teams across the firm and bring diverse educational backgrounds, perspectives, and professional interests.

1. Tell us about yourself and how your path led you to Hagerty Consulting.

Maddy Brown: I am a graduate student at DePaul University in Chicago, studying Digital Communication and Media Arts. For quite some time, my goal has been to work in digital publishing, but I wasn’t exactly sure what specific role in that field would be the best fit for me. I love to write and experiment with digital multimedia, so when searching for jobs this past spring, I was fairly open to any role where I could utilize those skills and cater to my interests. Prior to this role, I had honestly never heard of the field of emergency management before, but Hagerty’s Communications Intern job listing caught my eye, as its responsibilities included assisting in the creation and editing of newsletters and social content. I thought that sounded like a good fit for me, so I applied, and here I am!

Tyler Friesen: My name is Tyler Friesen, and I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Grand Canyon University (GCU) in Phoenix, Arizona. I enjoy programming and software development, which, ultimately, led me to seek an internship position supporting the Information Technology (IT) department at Hagerty. By participating in this internship opportunity, I plan to further develop my skills outside of the classroom and see what software development looks like in the industry.

Zinzi Steele: I was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, and am currently a rising junior at Middlebury College studying Economics and Chinese. As I continue to explore and pinpoint career paths I am interested in pursuing, I knew I wanted to spend my summer back home gaining valuable and purposeful work experience at a company within an industry I am very interested in, and Hagerty has been a great place to do that.

2. What is something you learned during your internship that you will take with you?

Maddy Brown: One thing I have learned through this experience is the value of collaboration. The Marketing Team is constantly collaborating on the written work we produce, so I have had to learn how to read through the work of others with an editorial eye and receive and apply edits from others to my own work. It is not the easiest thing to have your written work deconstructed and edited, and there is a learning curve to not take these things to heart, but I am so grateful for this lesson. Collaboration is so valuable to the production of high-quality work and is a skill that is important across all professions, so to have the opportunity to learn how to be a better and more effective team member from the intelligent and inspiring women of the marketing team is a lesson that I will take with me for years to come.

Tyler Friesen: Aside from all the new technologies, the biggest thing I have learned is how to build software in a team environment. When working independently on personal projects, you can get by without using all of the organizational tools. However, when working collaboratively, we utilize technologies such as Jira or CodeCommit to help track our progress. I believe that the experience I have gained while working with these tools in a team environment will help position me for success when I begin seeking full-time positions after graduation.

Zinzi Steele: I believe that you can learn in any task that you do. Throughout my internship, I have worked on a variety of assignments, and no matter what I am working on, there is always new information and valuable knowledge embedded in the task. Through my everyday work, I have been learning about how Hagerty functions as a company and much more, which has been very interesting and helpful to me as a college student navigating my career path.

3. Which of the firm’s core values resonates with you the most and why?

Maddy Brown: The value of teamwork strongly resonates with me. It has been very clear to me since the beginning of my internship that Hagerty prioritizes teamwork and leverages collaboration in a lot of the work we do. I am of the belief that each person brings a unique perspective to the table simply through their own personal lived experience, and by bringing all these differing perspectives together, you are left with a greater, more comprehensive understanding of the world. Having a team to rely on not only lightens the personal workload but broadens the possibility for innovation as the ideas and strengths of one person can be amplified by the ideas and strengths of their team. I truly feel that we are stronger and more innovative when we work together and support one another.

Tyler Friesen: Excellence is the core value of the firm that resonates with me the most. I believe striving for the best, whether it be in one’s personal life or in one’s career, will always be rewarded. That reward is not always material but knowing that you did the best is reward enough in itself.

Zinzi Steele: Hagerty’s core value of integrity resonates with me the most. I try to live my life by doing the right thing even if it is the hard thing, and Hagerty’s value of integrity is in line with that as well as the work I want to do in the future.

 4. Where is one place in the world you would like to travel to and why?

Maddy Brown: My dream is to visit the city of Montréal, Canada. I was raised in large part by my grandmother, who grew up in Montréal and moved to the United States (US) as a teen. We were like two peas in a pod throughout my childhood, so it is a huge dream of mine to travel to her hometown and experience where she was a child.

Tyler Friesen: One day I would like to go to Europe and backpack throughout the continent. I’ve never crossed the Atlantic before, and I think it would be really interesting to see all of the old buildings and architecture. Seeing things in person that I have only read about in history books would be an amazing experience.

Zinzi Steele: I will be studying abroad in Taiwan during the spring of 2024 and cannot wait! I am really excited to put my Chinese language studies to use, live in an immersive linguistic and cultural experience, and push myself outside of my comfort zone.

5. What are you passionate about outside of work?

Maddy Brown: I am passionate about cooking! When I became a vegetarian during my senior year of high school, I quickly had to learn how to cook meals for myself as my dad wasn’t going to cook vegetarian meals. The shift in my diet forced me to experiment with new foods and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of cooking. Now, I seriously look forward to cooking for myself at the end of the day because it is my “me time,” a time when I can get my creativity flowing. My staple dishes are spicy vegetable ramen, Greek pasta salad, and my grandmother’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Tyler Friesen: Outside of work, I like to run a lot. I run for the club team at my university, where we’ve taken the top five finishers in local 5Ks. I also recently picked up rock climbing and hope to experience outdoor lead climbing sometime soon. I have found there to be a lot of problem-solving required when picking your route, which is similar to what I’ve experienced when programming.

Zinzi Steele: CrossFit! It is such a fun way to move, be a part of a community, and challenge myself. This past year I completed the CrossFit Level One course, allowing me to coach classes at my college, which has been so much fun!

To learn more about Hagerty’s team of dedicated professionals, visit our people page here.

Maddy Brown is finishing her final year of postgraduate studies at DePaul University, where she will graduate with a Master of Arts in Digital Communication and Media Arts this Fall 2023. Maddy currently serves as the Marketing Team’s Communications Intern, supporting various copywriting, editing, and marketing research operations.

Tyler Friesen is a second-year student pursuing Computer Science at Grand Canyon University (GCU). Tyler has supported the Hagerty Team as an Information Technology (IT) intern since March 2023 and hopes to expand his professional and technical skills in a real-world environment through this internship opportunity.

Zinzi Steele is junior at Middlebury College studying Economics and Chinese. Zinzi is a Human Resources and Head Quarters intern who has been assisting Hagerty’s Evanston office and Human Resources team since the Summer of 2023.

Extreme Heat Wave Persists, Fueling Record-Breaking Temperatures for Millions

TUESDAY, JULY 25, 2023, AS OF 3:00 PM EST

An extreme heat wave is continuing to impact large portions of the United States (US), as more than 46 million Americans are currently facing heat alerts as of Tuesday, July 25. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US has set or tied over 13,000 high-temperature records so far this year, with nearly 2,000 occurring within the month of July. On July 24, residents in Phoenix, Arizona, experienced their 24th consecutive day of 110-degree or higher temperatures, breaking a nearly 50-year record. At this rate, forecasters believe Phoenix is on course to become the first major US city to reach an average monthly temperature above 100 degrees. As of July 15, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) in Arizona has confirmed 18 heat-related casualties so far this summer, with 69 possible heat-related cases currently under investigation.

An infographic heat map provided by the National Integrated Heat Health Information System showing the current temperatures across the United States.

Current Temperature Map: National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIIHHIS)

Meanwhile, the city of Miami, Florida, recorded its 44th straight day of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees on July 24, of which 26 days observed daily heat index records. In the Southeast, the continuing heat is largely tied to the historic sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico that have reached the highest levels on record this month. The marine heat fuels increased humidity in the air, amplifying a region’s surrounding heat index. According to NOAA officials, the elevated water temperatures are also prompting one of the most severe coral bleaching events in Florida’s history.


Federal forecasters have confirmed that last month was the earth’s hottest June ever recorded, breaking a 174-year global climate record. As the recent string of record-breaking temperatures has continued, climate experts anticipate July to reach similar heights and potentially become the “warmest absolute month on record.”

According to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, temperatures have only continued to rise throughout July, with the global average temperature in 22 of the first 24 days of the month being hotter than any other single day ever recorded. On July 6, the record was broken for the hottest day in recorded history – a global average temperature of 62.744 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, an extreme marine heatwave is pushing sea surface temperatures to approach the highest levels ever recorded; further, Antarctic sea-ice coverage has been observed at record-low levels this month.

Recently, there has been growing urgency internationally to implement improved mitigation and protective measures for extreme weather like heat waves and tropical storms, which have continued to increase in frequency. A report by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) indicates that nearly $145 billion is needed to develop warning systems and other tools to minimize fatalities and damage from impending disasters. The commission noted that most countries have failed to allocate even 10 percent of the necessary resources. Further, the report warned that China, India, and Japan are at risk of incurring the greatest absolute monetary losses, while it is expected the economies of smaller countries like Vanuatu, Tonga, Palau, and Micronesia would experience even greater damage.

In the US, local and state agencies can receive federal support for extreme heat through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mitigation funding opportunities, including the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, which helps communities increase resilience to various natural disasters. While extreme heat is not among the named natural hazards historically qualified to receive a disaster declaration, many state and local officials are currently urging for its eligibility, as excessive heat has become the number-one cause of weather-related casualties in the country.

When Temps Rise Outside, Get Inside:

According to FEMA, in most of the US, extreme heat is a period of at least two to three days of high humidity and temperatures exceeding 90 degrees; and cautions that excessive heat is often the leading cause of death annually amongst weather-related emergencies. Therefore, FEMA urges individuals living in areas impacted by extreme heat to take necessary safety measures in preparation for and during heat waves. If your community is under an Excessive Heat Warning or Watch, here are some FEMA recommendations for how to keep safe:

  • Seek shelter in an indoor, air-conditioned space;
  • Avoid strenuous activities, especially outdoors;
  • Wear light clothing and stay hydrated;
  • Pay attention to signs of heat-related illness;
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car; and
  • Make sure your family, friends, and neighbors are staying safe.

To stay informed about extreme heat warnings, NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) provides active alerts in your area. Additional ways to stay updated are through real-time notifications available via the FEMA Mobile App, enabling Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on your phone, NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, and signing up to receive alerts from your local emergency management office.


The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Savita Goel and Harrison Newton

Here at Hagerty, we truly believe the advantage is our people. June marks the official start of summera season that promises higher temperatures, warmer seawater, and increased climate risks. While extreme weather events can impact communities at any time of the year, the summer season is historically prone to generate some of the nation’s most costly disasters, including crippling heat waves, hazardous wildfire activity, and devastating hurricanes. As communities face these hazards and brace for the hot and dry weather conditions of upcoming months, now is an important time to understand your risks and increase resilience against the summer threats you may face. Today, two of Hagerty’s disaster resilience experts discuss their career paths, professional experiences, and personal summer safety resilience measures.

1. Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty. 

Savita Goel: Prior to joining Hagerty, I began my career as a structural engineer in India. From there, I worked in Malaysia for a few years, where my desire to work on infrastructure development projects in an international environment began. As I look back today, I realize that I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to organically transition throughout my career – from engineering for new development projects to accepting an advisory/project management role supporting infrastructure projects and later evolving into a career in disaster risk management. In each of these roles, I was involved in engineering services for pre- and post-disaster management, including tasks such as insurance claim management, risk mitigation assessments for property insurance, and risk mitigation for utility infrastructure and healthcare portfolios.  

After the financial crisis of 2008, I decided to go to business school with the intention of focusing on corporate strategy. However, I realized I had a passion for finance, specifically project financing. At that time, Hagerty was recruiting members for its program conformance team (PCT), which was a very natural transition! 

Harrison Newton: I have always had a love for service. I enjoy work that allows me to feel as though I’m helping people, particularly by way of fostering a better understanding of our common stake in the community and how we can best use our resources. I started my career in public health, which was really the first field where I began to articulate modern resilience principles. Public health is not just about healthcare – it is often the result of the work done and investments made in other sectors and fields. I received my master’s degree at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and joined a regional non-profit that supported community clinics in preventing environmental toxin exposures in children and supporting neighborhood disaster readiness. To do this work well, I developed skills in reconciling medical priorities with doctors, housing specifications with city code enforcement agents, and policy with local and federal officials. 

Ultimately, this led me to a career in city government in the nation’s Capital, where I served as Chief of the Environmental Health Branch for the United States (US) Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). There, I developed new systems for helping pediatricians, housing officials, and emergency management teams share information and work together to protect and respond to families after toxic exposures. I was placed in a number of positions with the same common denominator – working across sectors and silos to promote collective, strategic action. That culminated with my appointment as the District of Columbia’s (DC) first Deputy Chief Resilience Officer within the Office of the Mayor (EOM). After helping lead a 16-month development process for the “Resilient DC” plan and the formation of the DC Resilience Cabinet of city executives, I supported the plan’s implementation. 

I joined Hagerty because I wanted to work with unique communities across the country and believe emergency management is where we can often best catalyze the movement toward community resilience. 

2. What role do you play in supporting Hagerty’s response to disasters?

Savita Goel: In the Recovery Division at Hagerty, we help clients access post-disaster recovery assistance, which includes leveraging recovery grant programs such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) grants program and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds.  

In my role at Hagerty, I help support our clients by advising and assisting them as they navigate routine proceedings of FEMA PA grantsan often complicated and challenging process due to detailed disposition requirements, changing deadlines, and new and emerging policy updates and program changes, such as the Consensus-Based Codes, Specifications, and Standards for the PA Grants Program and the recent increase in FEMA’s new Small Project Threshold to $1 million. I also advise Hagerty’s internal teams with federal grant programs under the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA). 

Harrison Newton: In my work at Hagerty, I manage large projects that sit at the intersection of strategy, disaster risk, and community need. In supporting one of our city government clients, I co-developed and managed a program that helped more than 10,000 residents find employment after the COVID-19 pandemic, cleaning and repairing the city’s parks and community infrastructure. I have also helped lead a study of a coastal state’s use of federal recovery funds across more than a decade of disasters to identify best practices going forward. In this work, I most often play the role of plan or study architect and collaboration agent, defining the approach and goals for delivery that will meet the client’s needs and ensuring stakeholder support. 

I believe the difference between planning documents and strategies that transform communities and activate visions is the true involvement of the served community, the structured involvement of stakeholders across all sectors, and the smart use of data management to identify and develop actions. In the end, the focus of my work is activating groups with different interests to identify and pursue resilience. 

3. What do you find most rewarding about working in the field of emergency management?

Savita Goel: I believe that our life experiences always leave their traces in our memory and, over time, become part of our DNA. This is true for experiences at work as much as it is for our personal life experiences. As we work together to assist our clients in navigating challenging situations along the process of federal grants management, we regularly discuss the needs of a region and/or community with our clients. In order to assist our clients with their federal grants management, we must dedicate time to understanding how their sub-agencies operate. All of these experiences are different from the last one. I love the challenge of learning the nuances of an applicant’s needs and navigating federal grant policies. It is very rewarding to look back at instances when our advice to an applicant was instrumental in the success of their grant applications, especially for recovery grants such as FEMA PA.   

Harrison Newton: Emergency management is about helping people on their worst days. That is a common mission that unifies us. The more resilient we can make communities, the more we can ensure that the “worst day” is one that people can better endure and recover from. I think that is a worthy mission. 

4. What personal resilience measures do you take to prepare for severe summer weather?

Savita Goel: Despite working in resiliency, I did not have insurance for my apartment for years. After a friend brought it to my attention, I finally convinced myself to get the appropriate insurance for my apartment. In my daily personal activities, I make sure to plan all outdoor activities in advance, especially during the summer, to provide me with enough time to monitor weather forecasts and avoid potentially hazardous situations. Additionally, I avoid outdoor runs on hot and humid days, and if I must go out, I make sure to stay hydrated. 

Harrison Newton: I can never say enough about making sure you have reliable, redundant methods of communication. In today’s world, disasters can truly arrive quickly and unexpectedly, so I keep an amateur radio (HAM radio) and several walkie-talkies ready. Additionally, I keep a rainy-day fund to help with disaster expenditures. 

5. What are you passionate about outside of work? 

Savita Goel: I am passionate about exploring the outdoors and traveling as much as possible. There are so many places to explore, and the world around us is constantly changing. 

Harrison Newton: When not working on the next bold resilience strategy, you can find me playing the latest board game with friends or family. I particularly love collaborative games that challenge the group’s ability to work well together! 

To learn more about Hagerty’s work coordinating facilities and personnel to serve disaster-impacted communities, visit our Response page here.

Savita Goel is Hagerty’s Deputy Director of Infrastructure Resilience and an experienced engineer with more than two decades of experience serving clients from the public and private sector. For the last decade, Savita has been assisting clients with their Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) program grants management. Before joining Hagerty, Savita advised private sector clients on their risk management strategies, including risk assessment for insurance underwriting, critical infrastructure assets, and real estate investments.

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. Additionally, Harrison also served as the Chief of the Environmental Health Branch at the District’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). 


Extreme Weather Continues to Impact the United States as the Midwest Is Affected by Unhealthy Air Qualities


Many areas across the United States (US) experienced severe weather during the weekend of Friday, June 23 to Sunday, June 25, as a strong storm system and a continuing heat wave has caused widespread power outages, property damage, injuries, and fatalities. In addition to the severe storms and extreme heat, smoke from Canada’s unprecedented wildfire season—that caused unhealthy air quality in the New York City area earlier in June—has now spread to the Midwestern US, with air quality alerts impacting Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit as of Wednesday, June 28. 

Twitter: National Weather Service (NWS) Indianapolis

Extreme Storms and Tornadoes

Throughout the past two weeks, sizable portions of the US have experienced severe weather and tornadoes. More than 600 severe weather reports were reported during the week of June 18 through June 24, putting at least 57 million Americans under a severe weather threat. Several states across the Southeast and Ohio Valley, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, were impacted by the extreme weather that produced almost 400 storm reports, including four tornadoes and hundreds of high wind and hail events. The aftermath of the storms left over 700,000 people without power on the evening of Sunday, June 25, and severe damage to property, including a “trail of destruction” in Bargersville, Indiana, where a tornado caused moderate to severe damage to at least 75 properties.

Another tornado that touched down in Martin County, Indiana, about 85 miles southwest of Indianapolis, caused one confirmed fatality and one injury; in Arkansas, officials reported two fatalities and an injury from a fallen tree resulting from the severe storms in the area. This storm system continues to push east. The NWS warns that the Northeast will experience showers with embedded thunderstorms through Thursday, June 29. Additionally, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has issued a Slight Risk of severe thunderstorms over the Upper Mississippi Valley through June 29 and the Mississippi/Western Ohio Valleys from June 29 to 30. The storms are accompanied by excessive heat warnings and advisories for parts of the Southwest, Southern Plains, Lower Mississippi Valley, and Central/Western Gulf Coast, from the NWS Weather Prediction Center (WPC) that will continue until Thursday, June 29.

Twitter: Millington Fire Dept.

Extreme Heat

Meanwhile, an oppressive heat wave is continuing to impact tens of millions of people across the Southwest US and parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The Big Bend area of southwest Texas reached 119 degrees on Friday, June 23, within one degree of tying the state’s all-time high of 120. On Sunday, June 25, several areas hit record-high temperatures, including a reported 112 degrees Fahrenheit in San Angelo, Texas, and 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Del Rio, Texas, the eighth consecutive record-breaking day in Del Rio. The extreme heat caused a fatality on Friday, June 23, Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, an area experiencing daily temperature highs up to 119 degrees and a lack of shady areas and access to water.

Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories extended to the heavily populated cities of Austin and San Antonio, where temperatures were hovering around and sometimes exceeding triple digits. Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings are expected to remain in effect through the end of the week across the eastern third of Texas, along the Central Gulf Coast, and north through the Lower Mississippi Valley, including Dallas-Fort, San Antonio, New Orleans, Little Rock, Jackson, Memphis, Montgomery, and Nashville, according to the WPC.

Twitter: National Weather Service (NWS) Austin/San Antonio

As of Wednesday, June 28, the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) estimates that over 104 million US residents remain under a heat advisory. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts dangerous heat index values leading into the weekend of July 1, particularly near the Gulf of Mexico, where humidity is expected to be high (above 60 percent). The heat index, which is the combination of relative humidity and the air temperature, is measured based on what the temperature feels like to the human body. NOAA’s heat index calculator shows that temperatures above 103 degrees Fahrenheit with normal relative humidity (between 30 and 50 percent) “can lead to dangerous heat disorders with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity in the heat.” Using this metric, NOAA assessed that heat exposure was the number one cause of weather-related fatalities in 2022 and, looking forward, cautions residents living in high-humidity areas to seek shelter during high heat index weather.

Current US Heat Forecast and Watches Map: NIHHIS

In response to the heat, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) have provided residents of Texas with maps and resources at Local Seasonal Relief Centers. These centers are designed to keep residents safe from extreme heat and cold conditions, and many serve as points of distribution (PODs) for emergency essentials and medical supplies. In neighboring Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a State of Emergency Declaration for North and Central Louisiana in response to severe weather, including extreme heat, on June 17. Assistance remains available as extreme heat and severe winds continue to impact the region. 

Poor Air Quality Impacts Communities Across
the Midwest and Eastern US

Air Quality Map as of June 28, 2023: AirNow

In addition to extreme heat, the US has had a continuous trend of poor air quality since early June due to many factors, including a notable influx of Canadian wildfires caused by hot and dry weather during an anticyclonic ridge at the end of May. The Canadian Society for the Protection of Forests against Fire/la Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) has issued warnings to the public, encouraging limited use of fire in public forests and increased awareness of the region’s critically dry and hot conditions. By mid-June, it was estimated that 123 million Americans, or over one-third of the US, were under air quality alerts. This meant that the air quality within those regions contained excessive quantities of any of the five Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-identified major pollutants: ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Further, the air quality index (AQI) measures air pollution on a scale of zero to 500, where a low value indicates good air quality and anything above 200 or 300 is considered very unhealthy and hazardous, respectively. As of June 27, residents of the upper Midwest have been experiencing unhealthy and potentially unsafe air conditions, with AQI ranging from 150 in parts of Illinois and Michigan, to over 200 in metropolitan Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

IQAir, which provides a live ranking of air pollution across the globe, named Chicago as the city with the greatest pollution, with an AQI of 209, peaking at noon on Tuesday, June 27. By three in the afternoon, it had dipped to 193, just below what the EPA and NOAA consider “very unhealthy;” at this level, NOAA and the EPA note that the risk of health effects is increased for all residents impacted by the smoke. In response to dangerous air quality effects, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) encouraged residents to limit exposure outdoors and stay updated on the situation. Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson issued a statement addressing the situation on Tuesday afternoon, stating, “The City will continue to provide updates and take swift action to ensure that vulnerable individuals have the resources they need to protect themselves and their families.” In response, local officials have closed beaches and canceled outdoor concerts through Wednesday to encourage Chicagoans to remain indoors.

On Wednesday, June 28, Detroit, Michigan surpassed Chicago for the worst air quality with an AQI of 232 at noon. In response, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced that the State has been put under an air quality alert through Thursday due to elevated levels of particulate matter. In addition, the Detroit Health Department noted that prolonged exposure to wildfire pollution can create eye and respiratory infection, as well as heart failure for those with preexisting conditions. Detroit’s Acting Chief Public Health Officer Christina Floyd pledged to update residents with help from EGLE to ensure residents of the city remain safe and healthy.

Know Your Alerts and Warnings:

To stay informed about severe weather events, NOAA NWS provides the latest alerts in your area. Another way to stay updated is through real-time alerts available via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Mobile App and other local and national communication systems. FEMA encourages individuals to stay informed to protect themselves against extreme weather events and urges individuals living in areas impacted by extreme heat to take necessary safety measures in preparation for and during heat waves. FEMA recommends equipping your residence or business with proper insulation, air conditioners, coverings, and reflectors on windows to keep cool. Many communities stand up free, public cooling centers, the locations of which are shared via local news outlets or can be accessed by contacting your local health department or 2-1-1 resource.

Additionally, it is important to prepare before a tornado occurs. The safest place to shelter during a tornado event is a constructed storm shelter that follows the International Code Council (ICC) standards for structural design and testing criteria. If this is not possible, ensure that a room in your home or business is fortified for use during a tornado. The best rooms will be located on the lowest level, away from exterior walls or windows, and underground. Manufactured or temporary structures, such as mobile homes or recreational vehicles (RVs), are unsafe during a tornado. Identifying an alternate shelter is critical if you are in a manufactured structure.


Policy Update: DHS Notice of Funding Opportunity and Allocations Released for New Migrant-Focused Shelter and Services Program

This is an update to our March blog post and continuing coverage of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program – Humanitarian (EFSP-H) and its replacement, the new Shelter and Services Program (SSP), which makes federal funding available for costs associated with providing shelter and essential services to noncitizen migrants encountered and released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

On June 12, 2023, FEMA released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the first tranche of SSP funding, totaling $291 million out of the $363.8 million allocated to the SSP. The NOFO identifies eligible applicants/recipients and adds clarity on selection criteria and requirements. Key takeaways from this update include: 

  • Nearly 60 percent of funds were allocated to non-border states. 
  • The largest SSP allocations were to New York ($104 million), Texas ($62 million), California ($31 million), Illinois ($29 million), and Arizona ($23 million). 
  • Around 40 percent of the awards were allocated to non-governmental organizations.

While this funding was initially announced in late February as EFSP-H funding, it has been re-released through the SSP NOFO. The SSP is expected to largely follow EFSP-H guidance, but policy details are still being released.  

How were eligible applicants and allocations determined?

Funding amounts available to eligible applicants are based on release and destination data received from United States (US) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from October 1, 2022, to May 21, 2023 – accounting for the final destination in the US of asylum seekers and other migrants, rather than just their point of entry. Additionally, eligible applicants/recipients also had to apply for assistance via the Emergency Food and Shelter Program – Humanitarian in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.  

Who are eligible applicants for the first tranche?

The following table outlines all eligible applicants for the first tranche of funding. Any funds not accepted by the applicant in this allocation will roll over to the second tranche of funding later this year. 

Who else is eligible?

Only those listed in the table above are eligible for this first tranche of funding; however, we anticipate an additional selection of eligible applicants when additional funding is released. Sub-applicants may apply for and receive awards from the eligible applicants provided they are a local government, tribal government, state, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a non-profit. As with applicants, sub-applicants must demonstrate their capacity to perform SSP activities.  

What expenses are eligible?

Broad categories include “shelter, food, transportation, acute medical care, personal hygiene supplies, and [associated] labor” to support the safe, orderly, and humane release of noncitizen migrants from DHS short-term holding facilities.  

DHS notes that primary expenses (e.g., shelter, food, transportation, acute medical care) will take priority over secondary expenses (e.g., renovations or modifications to existing facilities, clothing, outreach, and translation services). Administrative costs related to both program management and grant (SSP) management costs may also be reimbursed. Our first and second blogs on the EFSP-H and SSP outline eligibility criteria, which is anticipated to reasonably align with the EFSP-H guidance. 

The NOFO reaffirms prior eligibility criteria for funding as well as performance metrics. It is worth noting that eligible applicants, through their application, must demonstrate the capacity to conduct these services. Furthermore, for reimbursement of services, the SSP requires Alien Registration Numbers (A-numbers) or evidence of DHS processing showing the individuals have had prior interactions with CBP. The NOFO goes on to state performance metrics, including data such as the number of meals provided, nights lodged, transport, medical care items provided, personal hygiene provided, and labor to manage cases.  

We recommend applicants and subapplicants map expenses against the list of eligible activities in the NOFO to ensure they do not claim ineligible expenses or exceed reimbursement limits in eligible categories; for instance, there are caps on what percentage of total funds can be expended on certain eligible activities. This may be necessary to maximize reimbursement and grant allocations.  

Next Steps

The provision of EFSP-H, and now SSP, federal funding to border communities and onward travel destinations across the country is critical to the successful and sustained reception, stabilization, and integration of migrants and asylum-seekers into the US.  

Additionally, recognizing the SSP is a new program and guidance is in development, applicants should expect further guidance in the coming months. Current eligible applicants have until July 12, 2023, to submit their application. The period of performance for this tranche of funding begins March 1, 2023, and extends 31 months to September 30, 2025. The next tranche of funding is $72.7 million, and we anticipate it will be made available soon. As additional policy and guidance are made available, we will continue to provide updates.  

Hagerty Can Help

If you have any questions about the SSP or your organization/jurisdiction’s eligibility, please contact us below, and one of our experts will be in touch. 

Nicole Morales is Hagerty’s Deputy Director of Response and strategic advisor to local and state governments and private sector organizations responding to natural and human-made disasters and humanitarian crises. She has led multi-disciplinary response teams across the country for hurricanes, wildfires, explosions, the COVID-19 pandemic, and, most recently, refugee resettlement and humanitarian missions. Prior to joining Hagerty, Nicole served as a consultant to FEMA, providing planning expertise and collaborating with federal interagency stakeholders to develop national response plans. 

Sage Hartis a Senior Managing Associate in Hagerty’s Recovery Division, supporting various natural disaster recovery and COVID-19 response projects in New York, Puerto Rico, California, and other areas of the country. His experience and expertise include program management, policy analysis, finance, and data analytics. Sage holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s in finance from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.