Tags: Hurricane Harvey | Hurricane Irma | fema | brock long | hurricane irma | prepardeness | disaster

FEMA Director: Americans Lack 'True Culture of Preparedness'

FEMA Director: Americans Lack 'True Culture of Preparedness'
A man returns to his flooded home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

By    |   Monday, 11 September 2017 11:33 AM

Federal and state officials have a "long way to go to create a true culture of preparedness in the United States," as many warnings and evacuation orders are confusing to people facing natural disasters, FEMA Director Brock Long said Monday.

"No hurricane is the same," Long told MSNBC. "Each one is unique. It is based on the angle of attack, how far out the winds extend, storm surge variabilities based on whether a continental shelf is steep off of the coast or shallow. And so, when people move to these vulnerable areas, they need to fully understand."

In many areas north of Irma's impact zone, many people may not be aware of the continued dangers of now-Tropical Storm Irma, and while the hurricane was coming into Florida, many people refused to evacuate their homes, and Long said he doesn't know how officials can be any more clear with their warnings.

"We always know that there are going to be people that are not going to listen, and it's unfortunate," Long said. "Hopefully we can do a reset of how the country does evacuations across the board."

Long pointed out that residents don't need to flee to locations hundreds of miles away, but just go far enough to get out of a storm surge area or to facilities where they can be safe from strong winds.

"We have the clean up the terminology," Long said. "You know, it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You're under a voluntary recommended full, partial evacuation. The terminology in itself is confusing. We have a lot of work to do."

It's important to realize that Hurricane Irma is not quite finished rolling through the state of Florida, and that it will create strong storm surge dangers in other states as it continues its trek north, Long said.

"The east side winds, the back side winds are still driving ocean water surge onto the coast," Long told MSNBC, pointing out that the city of Jacksonville is experiencing historic flooding.

"The northeast coast, the coast of Georgia and southern coast of South Carolina, are some of the most vulnerable storm surge areas on the entire East Coast because the continental shelf is so shallow," Long continued. "It's not over, unfortunately."

Evacuations were issued proactively in Jacksonville, Long said, and it continues to be important that local citizens listen to local officials regarding whether they should shelter in place or evacuate.

Long said FEMA is conducting assessments in Florida as it is able to get to various locations.

"The roadway system has debris all over it, and in some cases, the bridge structures may not be safe to cross over," Long said. "I do know there are some aerial impact assessments being conducted as we go."

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Federal and state officials have a "long way to go to create a true culture of preparedness in the United States," as many warnings and evacuation orders are confusing to people facing natural disasters, FEMA Director Brock Long said Monday.
fema, brock long, hurricane irma, prepardeness, disaster
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2017-33-11
Monday, 11 September 2017 11:33 AM
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