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Catastrophic Hurricane Evacuation Plan Evaluation: A Report to Congress
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Appendix I: U.S. DOT Evacuation-Related Responsibilities

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The FAA is responsible for operating the National Airspace System (NAS), including the provision of air navigation services such as air traffic control; regulatory oversight of traffic in the NAS and U.S. air operators; national planning, development, and regulation of airports; and the control and management of the country's airspace.

Reflecting its core responsibilities, authorities, and capabilities, the FAA plays a very active role in responding to national disasters, including support of air evacuations. These activities focus primarily on two aspects of the response effort. First, the agency provides substantial aviation expertise and operational support through the U.S. DOT ESF-1 function at the national, regional, and local levels as needed. This support includes airspace measures such as establishing and managing Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) over disaster areas, enabling evacuation and other relief aircraft to carry out their missions more safely, flexibly, and rapidly. The FAA also operationally coordinates with Federal partners such as DHS and DOD; State and local authorities; and private sector entities to support evacuation efforts. In addition, the agency can take needed regulatory steps such as revising air crew rest requirements for operators conducting critical relief missions as long as safety is maintained.

Second, the FAA quickly restores air navigation services and associated NAS facilities and systems, which may be damaged or otherwise disrupted in the disaster area. This effort is coordinated with DHS, DOD, and other key stakeholders at the Federal, State, and local levels, as well with the private sector, to ensure that services needed for evacuation flights and other relief missions are given priority.

The FAA has established a number of operational cells, which directly support evacuation and other operational disaster response efforts involving the NAS. Some of these specialized cells are activated at FAA facilities, including the Hurricane Recovery Desk at the agency's Air Traffic Control System Command Center and the Hurricane Operations Cell at FAA Headquarters. Both cells coordinate air operations with the NRCC, DOD operational elements, and other entities and were stood up for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005. Other elements of the FAA' response capabilities are integrated with ESF-1 elements established by FEMA at the national, regional, and local levels.

FAA and Aviation Industry Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

The FAA worked closely with the DHS (including FEMA and TSA), DOD, and other Federal, State, and local partners, as well as private sector air operators to quickly restore air transportation to the Gulf Coast region needed to support the post-landfall evacuation of the New Orleans area. Under the extremely difficult conditions after Hurricane Katrina, the FAA was able to quickly restore critical air navigation services in the damaged areas, giving priority to airports (e.g., Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) and services need to support evacuation flights and other critical relief missions. The agency, in coordination with its partners, also rapidly implemented airspace and other air traffic operations measures, including a set of TFRs over the disaster areas along the Gulf Coast, to facilitate relief air operations; a process for vetting relief aircraft run by the Hurricane Recovery Desk and Hurricane Operations Cell mentioned above; and air operation coordination links to the NRCC, DOD operational units, and other key players. In addition, the FAA temporarily eased regulatory restrictions on the maximum flight hours for crews involved in the air evacuations to assist carriers in their scheduling requirements.

At Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, the tower was quickly restored and mobile generators, satellite communicatons, radios and temporary lighting were deployed and installed to support the the largest airlift on United States soil. To expedite the reopening of the airport, several volunteer controllers and technicians rode out the storm at the tower. Recovery efforts were coordinated with other FAA facilities and airports outside of the disaster area to provide technicians, infrastructure experts, and ground and fire fighting personnel to assess damage, assist with immediate repairs, and support operations. This rapid work was accomplished in cooperation with DHS, DOD, State, and local personnel.

In less than one week, almost full air traffic control and navigational aid capability was restored to the New Orleans airport. Within the first week, 400 civilian and military aircraft safely evacuated over 24,000 people, and delivered relief supplies. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport became one of the nation's busier airports as personnel handled 3,300 flights per day, quadruple normal air traffic levels, with an arrival rate of 15 aircraft per hour and up to 150 helicopter operations. FAA personnel worked to staff air traffic control facilities, repair navigational aids and other critical infrastructure, and to provide safety oversight in support of ongoing evacuation and relief efforts.[102]

Before Hurricane Rita made landfall, FAA air traffic control facilities in Houston and Beaumont-Port Arthur helped FEMA evacuation flights carry several thousand people to other cities in Texas and Arkansas. Early Friday morning, September 23, air traffic controllers from San Antonio relieved co-workers who had continued to work as the area was evacuated at the Beaumont-Port Arthur Air Traffic Control Tower to help the military evacuate citizens. The FAA's controllers helped the military airlift 4,000 people out of danger, many of them sick and elderly.

The aviation industry's "Operation AIR CARE" provided emergency airlift support to more than 24,000 New Orleans residents. The Air Transport Association (ATA), a trade group for the major airline carriers, worked with the ESF-1 program, FAA, and FEMA to provide evacuation and relief services. U.S. and foreign commercial carriers and military aircraft also provided substantial resources.

Air carriers initiated volunteer activities and ATA helped to manage the airlifts. Participating passenger carriers included Alaska, America West, American, ATA, Continental, Delta, Jet Blue, Northwest, Southwest, United, US Airways, and Air Canada. Cargo carriers also provided support, including ASTAR Air Cargo, Federal Express and UPS Airlines. FEMA also asked Angel Flight America, which provides regularly flights in private planes for patients and families, to participate in the evacuation efforts, particularly for those with special needs.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Through its Federal-aid programs, FHWA provides financial and technical support to the States and local governments for constructing, improving, preserving, and operating the highway system. Highways are generally owned and operated by State and local jurisdictions that are responsible for planning and implementing highway evacuations. While FHWA does not have regulatory authority to direct movement on highways, in a catastrophic event where Federal agencies are working with State authorities, the FHWA may provide technical support to State officials for highway evacuation operations.

Several FHWA funding programs include evacuation-related activities as eligible expenses, including National Highway System Program, Surface Transportation Program, Equity Bonus, Metropolitan Planning Funds, and State Planning and Research. Examples of the types of evacuation activities that State and local transportation agencies could pursue with FHWA funding include evacuation planning and coordination, contraflow planning, and deployment of traffic monitoring systems such as traffic counters and surveillance cameras along the evacuation routes, and traveler information systems.

FHWA has a number of initiatives to support evacuation planning and implementation including sharing best practices, providing training and technical assistance, and conducting research and development to improve evacuation capabilities. Currently, as already discussed, the FHWA is developing a series of primers to assist State and local emergency response and transportation agencies in planning for evacuations. These primers will be widely distributed and will also serve as training material for a series of regional workshops.

FHWA Division Offices are located in each State, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. In New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, FHWA maintains metropolitan offices. There is also an FHWA Resource Center with locations in Baltimore, Atlanta, Olympia Fields, Illinois, Lakewood Colorado, and San Francisco. Each of these offices has collateral duty personnel designated as Emergency Coordinators (EC) and Alternate Emergency Coordinators. The mission of these ECs is to coordinate organizational efforts to prepare for, respond to, and recover from any emergency or situation that may disrupt normal operations; support the RETCO/RETREP program and ESF-1 function as requested; and serve as the organization focal point for executing FHWA emergency notification and reporting procedures and for responding to requests for situational awareness information regarding the status and capabilities of the NHS, STRAHNET, and other arterials. In addition to these duties, the scope of FHWA field office activities vary depending on the needs of the State. For example, in Florida the FHWA EC coordinates with the Florida Department of Transportation to update statewide contraflow evacuation plans and implement the emergency transportation information system. In Mississippi the FHWA EC participates in hurricane planning activities. The Team Leader for the Evacuation Liaison Team described on page 2-19 is from the Atlanta Resource Center. Field offices also provide representatives as needed to fill a variety of positions in the ESF-1 function and within the federal response command and control framework.[103]

As an adjunct to the Federal-Aid Highway Program, the FHWA administers the Federal Lands Highway Program in cooperation with Federal land managing agencies including the National Park Service, Forest Service, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Federal lands-program provides funding for more than 90,000 miles of federally owned and public authority-owned roads serving Federal lands, including forest highway system roads, parkways and park roads, Indian reservation roads, defense access roads, and other Federal lands roads. The Federal Lands Highway Office of the FHWA provides direct program coordination, administration and design and construction engineering assistance, and directs the conduct of transportation planning and engineering studies for Federal lands projects.

FHWA Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

FHWA staff at headquarters and from division, metropolitan, and resource center offices provided personnel support at ESF-1 and other offices throughout the response network. The FHWA EC in each effected state provided vital, timely highway infrastructure situational awareness information. FHWA provided members to the Secretary of Transportation Emergency Response Team (ERT) operations section based in the CMC. These individuals were responsible for obtaining information from the EC network and other sources and for developing the readiness and capability of the regional transportation infrastructure used to provide routing information to facilitate the post- landfall evacuation of New Orleans and the movement of relief supplies into the region. The ELT, described on page 2-19, facilitated pre-landfall evacuation and contraflow operations throughout the region and supported the post-landfall evacuation operations in New Orleans post-landfall, a mission not previously assigned to that team. Using its Emergency Relief Program funding authority, FHWA provided debris removal and emergency repair funding. FHWA subject matter experts from headquarters and Division Offices provided technical assistance and subject matter expertise to State DOTs to facilitate the speedy design of temporary repairs.

ITS Joint Program Office (JPO)

The ITS JPO supports the development of advanced technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of transportation systems. A major initiative addressing emergency transportation operations is now being revised to better focus on the development and application of ITS technologies to improve evacuation planning, monitoring, and implementation. It is expected that the revised initiative will improve the information available to travelers as well as decision-makers engaged in evacuations.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

In SAFETEA-LU, Congress increased FTA's role in evacuations. Previously, FTA did not have authority to regulate the operation, routes, schedules, rates, fares, tolls, rentals, or other charges of FTA grantees. The new authorizing legislation created an exception to give FTA authority to regulate transit operations when needed for national defense or in the event of a national or regional emergency.[104] SAFETEA-LU also expanded the definition of capital expenditures eligible for FTA funding to include, among other things, security projects such as emergency response planning, exercises, and training. SAFETEA-LU also called for a Public Transportation National Security Study by the TRB under an agreement with the U.S. DOT. The study is to evaluate the ability of 38 major transit systems to accommodate evacuations from critical locations in times of emergency.[105] The study is planned to begin in the summer of 2006.

Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FTA instituted a number of initiatives to help improve the use of transit in evacuations. In September 2005, FTA posted "Hurricane Katrina Information for FTA Grantees" on its internal Web site available to its grantees. This information package provided guidance on FTA funding and regulations affecting hurricane response and recovery. While most of the guidance related to recovery from the hurricane and restoring service, it also provided a basis for transit agencies to plan their roles in future evacuations. For example, the guidance allows FTA grantees to loan transit vehicles to other transit agencies without obtaining an FTA determination ahead of time. In response to hurricane Katrina, FTA also waived the charter bus rule to allow transit agencies to provide buses for evacuation assistance. Under normal operations, FTA's charter bus rule, found in the Code of Federal Regulations (49CFR604), prohibits transit agencies from providing bus service that could be provided by a private charter bus operator.

On November 30, 2005, FTA issued a Federal Register Notice to provide funding levels and guidance from SAFETEA-LU for its 2006 program. This notice includes emergency management as one of its five primary emphasis areas for 2006 and allows States and metropolitan planning organizations to use FTA planning funds to support evacuation planning. The Federal Register Notice states:

A high-profile theme that spans both security and safety is disaster planning. In particular, areas that are vulnerable to disasters of either man-made or natural origin are encouraged to consider including disaster planning work activities into their [required plans]. Examples of planning-related disaster planning activities include all stages of emergency preparedness planning—ranging from preparing multimodal evacuation plans before a possible event, to strategies for bringing emergency supplies and relief aid to affected areas after the event.[106]

FTA included a specific goal in its 2006 Strategic Business Plan to develop an FTA Disaster Response and Recovery Plan to improve its role and effectiveness in emergency response, including evacuations. The goal states:

Based on lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and other events, develop a Disaster Response and Recovery Plan that will include standard operating procedures, staffing and resource plan, updated administrative and procurement procedures including emergency contracts for consultants' with pre-existing scopes of work, guidance for transit agencies for working with State and local disaster preparedness efforts and understanding FEMA policies and procedures for emergency public transportation assistance and funding, and a legislative strategy for FTA emergency authority and funding."

The plan is under development and is scheduled to be completed in September 2006.

FTA's United We Ride program is working to improve the coordination and operations of paratransit service among human services and transportation agencies. This will improve transportation services for people with disabilities, older adults, and individuals with low incomes who do not have access to a personal vehicle, may not be able to access fixed route services, and also may require additional transportation support. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the FTA began new initiatives under this program to help identify and organize paratransit resources to help in mass evacuations.

FTA's "The Public Transportation System Security and Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide,"[107] provides information for transit agencies on comprehensive security and emergency preparedness planning, including evacuations. Transit agencies develop safety and security plans, and the FTA reviews their plans during periodic oversight reviews. In the 2006 guidance for these oversight reviews, FTA added two questions to increase its focus on evacuations: "Has the grantee reviewed and updated as needed its emergency management plan in light of Hurricane Katrina?" and "Are there procedures in the emergency management plan that detail how the transit agency would assist in a large-scale evacuation effort?"[108]

These new programs are in addition to existing emergency preparedness initiatives that include components to help support the effective participation of transit agencies in mass evacuation planning and implementation. For example, FTA conducts two-day forums in major metropolitan areas called "Connecting Communities" to promote coordination among transit agencies and emergency management agencies throughout metropolitan areas. One of the goals of the forums is to integrate transit and transportation systems as a resource in regional emergencies such as evacuations. FTA also offers a training course to transit agencies and emergency responders, "Effectively Managing Transit Emergencies." This course provides training on establishing an emergency management plan and ICS, which are important tools in evacuation planning and implementation.

FTA and Transit Industry Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

During the evacuations and response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FTA staff was deployed to the CMC to provide support for ESF-1 functions. FTA also worked in partnership with APTA to identify buses, mechanics, and drivers from transit agencies across the country that volunteered to help with the evacuation. FTA coordinated the deployment of these resources with the ESF-1 program. APTA worked with FTA to determine how support from the transit industry could be provided and served as an industry liaison to the federal government. Since Hurricane Katrina, APTA has formed the APTA Emergency Preparedness Task Force to develop strategies to improve the working relationship and coordination with the governments at all levels in emergency response.

The transit agencies sending equipment to assist with the evacuation after Hurricane Katrina included:

In Texas, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Dallas Area Rapid Transit in Dallas, and Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, transported hundreds of hurricane survivors who arrived at airport, rail stations, and motor coach terminals to shelters and to hospitals for medical treatment. Transit systems in Little Rock, Arkansas; Cleveland, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Washington, DC; Providence, Rhode Island; Salt Lake City, Utah; Tucson, Arizona; and Atlanta, Georgia, also met hundreds of evacuees at their airports and transported them to shelters.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

FRA monitors the safety of railroads in the U.S. and issues and enforces rail safety regulations. FRA also promotes rail safety and efficiency through railroad assistance programs, research and development, rehabilitation of Northeast Corridor rail passenger service, and consolidation of government support of rail transportation activities. Under its legislative authority, FRA may stop, redirect, or limit rail service, including freight and passenger service and some commuter rail service, to abate unsafe conditions. This authority applies to all railroad service that is connected to the general freight and passenger rail system. This authority does not extend to rail rapid transit systems not part of the general railroad system. [109]

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) is an independent agency created after the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was abolished. The STB serves as both an adjudicatory and a regulatory body and has jurisdiction over railroad rates and service issues and railroad mergers and restructuring. The STB can direct, for a period of 270 days, the movement and prioritization of freight traffic necessary to alleviate an emergency situation involving the failure of traffic movement having substantial adverse impacts on shippers or on rail service in any region of the United States, and may also order that preference be given to certain traffic.[110]

The FRA headquarters and field staff also staff the CMC and FEMA regional emergency operations centers when it is activated for a disaster or elevated threat level. The FRA staff serve as subject matter experts and liaisons between the industry and the government.

FRA and Railroad Industry Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

FRA staffed the CMC and FEMA regional emergency operations centers and worked with Amtrak, commuter trains, and freight railroads. During the critical early days after Hurricane Katrina, FRA held daily conference calls with railroad officials and FEMA and DHS to share information and coordinate relief and recovery efforts.[111] Railroads worked closely through the ESF-1 program and FEMA to assign priorities to the shipments most needed in the stricken areas. An Amtrak train evacuated 96 residents from New Orleans. Trains transported heavy equipment, supplies, and relief equipment such as FEMA supplies, trailers, and other equipment into the area.[112] Difficulty was encountered in staging evacuees to use the passenger rail services that were offered by Amtrak because of communication and coordination problems among local, State, and Federal officials.

The railroad industry, including passenger rail, commuter trains, and freight railroads, were deployed to support emergency response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Trains were used to move some evacuees out of the region and to transport heavy equipment, supplies, and relief equipment into the area.

Trainloads of ballast, ties, and emergency equipment were staged outside of the immediate storm area. Some railroads moved camp cars into place to support maintenance forces that would have to be fed and housed. With advance preparation, the railroads were able to reopen most of their lines within days of the storm, with the exception of those in the immediate New Orleans area.

In the initial preparations for the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, Amtrak offered help but was turned down—so a train with 900 seats (7 locomotives and 20 cars) rolled away empty a day and a half before the storm. After the hurricane, Amtrak provided a special train that operated over freight tracks to evacuate 96 people from New Orleans to Lafayette, Louisiana. These trains also brought in essential supplies of food and water. "We have clear tracks and an empty train ready to help get residents safely out of the city," said Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.[113] The special 12-car Amtrak passenger train moved evacuees to Lafayette, where passengers were transferred to motor coaches to complete the journey to Dallas and other destinations.

Railroads were also used to support evacuation for Hurricane Rita. Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railway, and Trinity Railway Express coordinated equipment, rail lines, and crew to create a special passenger train to evacuate 450 people from the Houston area to Dallas. The railroad industry worked with State and local emergency responders, the National Guard, and volunteer groups on the evacuation. The Salvation Army, other volunteers, and the National Guard helped provide food, water, and other necessities to the evacuees. The baby food, diapers, and other paper products were especially welcome to the many families traveling with children. When the train arrived at Dallas Union Station, some evacuees were met by representatives of the Salvation Army and other agencies who directed them to shelters; others were met by family members. Those with special medical needs were taken to local health care facilities.[114]

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

FMCSA oversees the safety of motor carrier operations in interstate commerce. FMCSA regulates operating and maintenance practices, national standards for licensing commercial vehicle drivers, the transportation of hazardous materials, and hours of service, and makes grants to State and local motor carrier enforcement agencies. The FMCSA regulations that affect the ability of motor carriers to engage in interstate travel to meet evacuation and other disaster-related needs include limits on the hours that a driver may be on duty, motor carrier registration and operating authority, and hazardous materials safety requirements. In addition to the Federal regulations for interstate carriers, States also regulate commercial vehicle operations including registration, fuel tax reporting, and size and weight limits.

The FMCSA supports ESF-1 functions through waivers of regulations and other actions to expedite transportation of passengers and supplies in an emergency. For instance, FMCSA's regulations provide for regulatory relief from the hours-of-service provisions (49 CFR 390-399) upon the declaration of regional or local emergency by the President, the governor of a State, the representatives, or the FMCSA Field Administrator.[115]

The FMCSA headquarters and field staff also help staff the CMC when it is activated for a disaster or elevated threat level. The FMCSA staff serve as subject matter experts and liaisons between the industry and the government. FMCSA subject matter experts provide technical assistance to industry associations and individual companies on how to secure interstate operating authority and how to meet the safety regulations so that they can participate in emergency response contracts, as well as how they can volunteer equipment and services. In a national disaster, truck and bus operators may be eager to offer their services for contract or as volunteers. However, the deployment of large volunteer operators needs to be coordinated so that their services are effectively used and to ensure that they will have specific tasks, fuel, maintenance, lodging, and security once they are on site. Spontaneous volunteers can turn into part of the problem if they become stranded in the disaster area.

FMCSA and Motor Coach Industry Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FMCSA functioned as a clearinghouse of information for truck and bus companies on obtaining the authorizations operators needed to operate legally outside of normal regulatory constraints under emergency conditions. In addition, FMCSA instructed drivers and operators on the necessary steps to ensure that they were in compliance with the rules and regulations of the states that they might need to traverse (some states suspended no motor carrier regulations and others suspended differing sets of rules for varying lengths of time).

FMCSA established a single point of contact (POC) for the industry. The POC was backed up by a technical advisory team that was available around the clock to make complex regulatory interpretations. FMCSA estimates that it responded to an estimated 300 to 400 carrier calls. FMCSA established a Katrina web page providing up-to-date information on emergency declarations and answers to frequently asked questions regarding regulatory exemptions during the emergency.

To facilitate the transportation of supplies and services to the disaster areas, emergency declarations were issued by the President and by FMCSA. These declarations have triggered the temporary suspension of parts 390-399 of the federal safety regulations, including hours-of-service requirements for motor carrier drivers. Additional waivers were granted to motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief effort as follows:

FMCSA Regional Emergency Declaration for carriers and Drivers Transporting Certain Fuels. FMCSA issued Regional Emergency Declarations lasting until October 5, 2005 for the transportation of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, natural gas /CNG, propane and ethanol to, from and within the States located within its Eastern and Southern regions.

Presidential Declaration of Emergency Relief for the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Motor carriers and drivers providing direct emergency relief to, from, or within the areas covered by the Presidential declarations, regardless of commodity carried.

Presidential Declaration of Emergency Relief in Support of Evacuees for the States of Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. Motor carriers and drivers providing items needed to house, clothe, and feed evacuees to, from, or within the areas covered by the Presidential declarations.

An additional measure taken by FMCSA was to allow intrastate carriers to receive 120 day temporary interstate operating authority. FMCSA waived the associated $300 fee. FMCSA estimates that 30 percent of the carriers fulfilling Federal contracts for emergency relief operations were intrastate carriers operating under temporary authority.

The motor coach industry responded to the ESF-1 call to mobilize buses to evacuate people from New Orleans. Over 1,100 buses and drivers were hired and evacuated approximately 218,000 people.

In addition, school buses were also used in the evacuation. One report notes that school bus drivers and vehicles from Zachary and West Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana arrived in New Orleans on August 30 when first asked by the Louisiana Corrections Department to move corrections officers to New Orleans and prisoners out of Orleans Parish. These drivers also helped evacuate the Superdome, rescue stranded residents from other staging areas, transport the National Guard, and move supplies.

For Hurricane Rita, the bus industry assisted in the evacuation before landfall of the hurricane. Texas officials called the American Bus Association (ABA) for assistance in locating suppliers of bus services. Using information compiled during Hurricane Katrina, the ABA notified operators in 14 States of the requirement enabling State and local officials in Texas to acquire the needed buses for the planned evacuation.

U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD)

Among the wide variety of MARAD's programs, those most germane to hurricane response include programs to ensure reserve shipping capacity for use in times of national emergency and promote the development and maintenance of the domestic ship building and repair industries, efficient ports, and intermodal systems.[116] DOT does not have authority to regulate the operation of maritime transportation; that authority resides with the U.S. Coast Guard, an agency of DHS. MARAD maintains the Ready Reserve Force (RRF), currently consisting of 58 vessels that are ready to be activated at short notice in a national emergency. All the vessels in a higher state of readiness have home ports along the coastal areas of the United States, with the exception of three vessels in Japan, and may be used for hurricane relief. MARAD also has approximately 10-20 ships in the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) which have utility for disaster assistance as "berthing ships," tankers (water or oil) and cargo carriers. The RRF and NDRF vessels are usually activated to support the Department of Defense in deploying and resupplying U.S. armed forces. In response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Secretary of Transportation, with concurrence from the Secretary of Defense, activated ships for the first time for disaster relief purposes. MARAD also owns six merchant mariner training ships that are on loan to six State Maritime Academies that may also be useful for disaster assistance. One of the ships is stationed in Texas.

MARAD headquarters and field staff also provide support to the CMC when it is activated for a disaster or elevated threat level. The MARAD staff serves as subject matter experts and liaisons between the maritime industry and the government.

MARAD and Maritime Industry Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Ten MARAD ships in its RRF were activated to aid in the response and recovery to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Through the ESF-1 program, the U.S. DOT and MARAD coordinated with FEMA on the availability and capacity of the ships. FEMA provided mission assignments, funding, and directions to the ships while MARAD retained operational control of the RRF vessels. The activation of these ships for a domestic emergency was unprecedented and provided the Gulf Coast with supplies, water, electricity, and food and shelter for rescue and recovery workers. MARAD ships provided 269,570 meals and 83,165 berth nights for recovery workers and evacuees.

In preparation for Hurricane Rita, MARAD ships were stationed as shelters for equipment and emergency responders prior to the hurricane to support post-storm evacuations and recovery activities. The ships sheltered police dogs, emergency equipment, and personnel from six jurisdictions. The ships allowed emergency personnel and equipment to be sheltered during the storm so that they could be rapidly deployed for post-event evacuations and emergency response.

Approximately 16 U.S. Navy merchant marine reservists were called upon by MARAD and responded in the field and at standing watches at DOT Headquarters. Most of these reservists were graduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and the six State Maritime Academies, and had a wide range of experience from their civilian maritime-related careers. During the Katrina/Rita relief efforts, those in the field augmented MARAD staff providing assistance. The fact that they were in uniform was a key to expediting recovery efforts since Federal and State authorities and the public at large recognized the uniforms.

Maritime resources were used more in the rescue phase of the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina than in the evacuation. However, three ferries from the Crescent City Connection Ferry and a tug and barge worked with the U.S. Coast Guard vessels to transfer a large number of evacuees from Chalmette over to the west bank (Algiers). Private-boat owners also helped to support the evacuation of flooded areas after Hurricane Katrina.

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