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Region is Ready as Irene Tests Its Mettle

Lock 9 Mohawk river bridge destroyed by heavy flooding during Hurricane Irene (Photo Credit: FEMA/Adam DuBrowa)

The lock 9 Mohawk river bridge was destroyed due to the heavy flooding caused from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Adam DuBrowa/FEMA.

While the Northeast and Caribbean Region has had significant experience dealing with hurricanes and other extreme weather conditions, Hurricane Irene was unique in that its impact was felt throughout the region's entire area of responsibility. However, all the region's Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) exercises and hurricane preparedness training paid off. Region 2 was ready for Irene!

The region's Caribbean Service Center Division in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico was the first to encounter Irene as this major hurricane headed through the Caribbean. The local GSA office took steps to prepare federal properties and construction projects for the hurricane's arrival. At the same time, in the region's New York City headquarters, a team from the its Emergency Management Branch were already helping to staff the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) so that GSA would be ready to provide any needed real estate and contracting support.

As soon as Irene cleared Puerto Rico, GSA personnel immediately took steps to lease FEMA a Joint Field Office (JFO), attend to any necessary clean-up of GSA properties, restore buildings to normal power, and prepare to resume normal operations.

Region 2 RRCC Response to Hurricane Irene as it Makes Landfall (photo credit: FEMA/Elissa Jun)

Region 2 RRCC holds 7am transitional briefing between morning and nightshifts as Hurricane Irene makes landfall into New Jersey and New York.
Elissa Jun/FEMA.

Meanwhile, as the storm continued to advance and approached the northeast, the region's Emergency Management team again reported to the FEMA RRCC and worked there for three days to help coordinate and arrange for GSA to provide contracting and real estate support for FEMA as Irene moved through the area.

In advance of the storm, the region's Design and Construction Division identified damage assessment teams of agency architects and engineers that were tasked to evaluate the condition of GSA properties immediately after the storm and ensure that all of the facilities would be safe for federal employees to return to their workplaces as soon as possible.

Pickup truck buried in flood sediments from Hurricane Irene (Photo Credit: FEMA/Adam DuBrowa)

A 1/2 ton dually pickup truck is buried in the flood sediments deposited from Hurricane Irene's heavy rains.
Adam DuBrowa/ FEMA.

A Federal Acquisition Service team worked through the weekend to find supplies of food, water, self-heating emergency meal kits, sandbags and more, as well as forklifts, pallet jacks, porta-potties and light tower rentals along with other needed items. Meanwhile, property managers and janitorial and mechanical maintenance contractors were on hand through the storm to tend to any emergencies at GSA's buildings.

As Irene finally departed, Region 2 continued its response efforts and turned its attention to supporting FEMA's real estate needs for Joint Field Office space and realty specialists set out to identify and lease space in seven areas across New York, New Jersey as well as additional space in Puerto Rico.

Follow the link below to learn more about the region's emergency management program:

Emergency Management.

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