As Hurricane Matthew nears landfall in Florida, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is already preparing for major impacts along Southern states on the East Coast including the Sunshine State, Georgia and the Carolinas.
“Earlier in the week we were actually looking as far North as the Mid Atlantic, but it looks like right now the first up will be Florida. Southeast Georgia is going to potentially have a lot of impacts, particularly Brunswick and into the Savannah region, South Carolina... not so sure about North Carolina, but our plan is to be ready to support all four states from significant impacts from this hurricane," FEMA Administration Craig Fugate told the FOX Business Network.
Fugate said the agency is focused immediately on the East side of the I-95 corridor and evacuating from storm surge, but also looking into how far inland the hurricane-force winds may go.
“We tell people you need to go tens of miles,” he said. “If you do choose to go further, leave early. Traffic is heavy, but there’s still time to evacuate to higher ground.”
On Thursday, President Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina as well as Florida. Fugate explained what the commander-in-chief’s action means.
“It just formalizes what we’ve been doing for the last two days,” he said. “Congress made it very clear after Katrina if we think that disaster has occurred or is occurring or could occur, we can start moving resources before the states ask. This would be the formal document that allows us to turn those resources over to the states, but it has not impeded us from moving stuff now.”
The FEMA administrator also explained what the government agency’s obligations are to citizens who have their property damaged by Hurricane Matthew.
“We focus on the uninsured losses. We saw this again when we were in Louisiana. So we focus on… what your insurance didn’t cover. It’s not only going to be flood. Along the Gulf Coast, particularly in Florida, a lot of people have very high hurricane deductibles. So we think that not only is it going to be flood, but it’s going to be people who were underinsured for wind damage. And we will focus with our partners at SBA on either loans, or if they qualify, grants. But we are anticipating that there could be a lot of people over the next couple of days that may need assistance in rebuilding their homes.”