If you're on the East Coast, you're one of more than 50 million people who are likely to encounter wind, rain, and even snow from Hurricane Sandy. According to the National Hurricane Center, that rain and wind are just getting started.
This weather system poses life-threatening conditions and should not be taken lightly. As Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate said, "People need to be acting now."
A unique mix of powerful weather systems is likely to trap Sandy over the Northeast for several days, and tropical storm force winds are expected along the coast at least through Tuesday and into Wednesday, with rainfalls totaling more than seven inches. For those communities closest to the coast, a strong storm surge is also expected.
If you live in an area affected by Hurricane Sandy, please consider these simple guidelines from FEMA: Follow the directions of local officials, and make preparations.
Also on www.fema.gov, you can find links to updated weather forecasts, the latest information about the federal response to Sandy, and a listing of Red Cross emergency shelters.
The most interesting piece of advice I saw on FEMA's website this morning was this one: Check on your neighbors. And what a terrific idea that is. It's easy to get so involved in protecting our own families and property that we forget about those living near us who need a little extra help. If you've got the time, and the conditions are safe, why not take a moment to reach out to others?
Regarding transportation, please be aware that many public transit systems are closed. That includes, Washington's Metro and Metrobus, Philadelphia's SEPTA, New Jersey's NJ Transit, and New York's MTA Subways. Other systems are closed as well, so again the best advice is to listen to your local officials for further information.
As always, our Federal Aviation Administration is monitoring conditions at airports and in the skies. Airlines have already canceled more than 8,000 flights, so if you have air travel plans, you'll want to contact your airline before heading to the airport.
Because our nation's aviation system is a tightly connected network, even if you're not traveling to or from a city in the Northeast, your flight could be affected by this storm. For example, the airplane or crew for your flight might be arriving from a city that is adversely impacted by Sandy's unsafe conditions.
Again, the best advice is to contact your airline for the latest updates.
If you were planning to travel by rail, please be advised that Amtrak and many commuter rail carriers have canceled service in the Northeast for today. This could have repercussions in cities far from the storm's path because--just as in air travel--Amtrak service to and from one area can depend on trains arriving from another. As with an airline reservation, you should contact your passenger rail provider for the latest information.
With school and work closures in effect today and tomorrow, many people will find themselves at home. If so, please listen to your local officials about road conditions in your area. Flooding, fallen trees, and downed power lines are very serious concerns with this storm, and unnecessary driving can put you and your loved ones at increased risk of harm.
It's also very important to stay off your community's roads to allow free passage for emergency responders and utility crews.
At the direction of President Obama, FEMA continues to coordinate the federal government’s assistance and preparations for Hurricane Sandy. FEMA will continue to provide updates on its website and its Twitter feed about the federal family’s response to Hurricane Sandy.