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Federal Response To Hurricane Sally: Know Them All

Updated : September 18th, 2020

federal response to hurricane sally

 

Sally, the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama since Hurricane Ivan in 2004, strengthened to a tropical storm after making landfall near Miami, Florida. The tropical storm slowly garnered strength until it was given Category 1 status and intensified into a Category II hurricane, on the same evening. 

The hurricane brings almost 61cm (2ft) of rains and winds ranging to 85mph (135kmh). The National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated that Sally might cause “historic flooding” and “extreme life-threatening flash flooding.” In addition, widespread flash flood, severe thunderstorm, and tornado warnings were issued.

Hurricane Sally’s harsh downpour will most probably damage numerous buildings and cause power outages leaving people, at least for a while, out of places to work. As the states bordering the Gulf Coast engage in preemptive measures to safeguard their citizens, another detrimental consequence tends to be the loss of employment. 

How Are States Preparing To Cope With Sally?

The coronavirus pandemic still continues to challenge the stretched resources available with the states. They are having to allocate more funds and manpower to deal with Hurricane Sally. Here is a look at how the states bordering the Gulf Coast are preparing for the impact:

Louisiana

In preparation for the upcoming hurricane, the governor of Louisiana declared an emergency across the state, that is still reeling from Hurricane Laura’s effects. Public schools and universities were canceled, and shelters were opened.

Alabama

Kay Ivey, Alabama’s governor, issued evacuation orders to flood-prone and low-lying areas and closed off all the beaches on the coast. An emergency was also declared in Alabama in preparation for the approaching storm.

Mississippi

The Mississippi governor, while declaring the emergency, urged citizens to prepare for Hurricane Sally. As the rain could be very heavy in the southern parts of the state, some mandatory evacuation orders were issued. Shelters were opened for evacuees.  

The respective governments are taking measures to mitigate the effects of the damage caused by the hurricane. They are likely to take funds from the Disaster Unemployment Assistance to take care of their unemployed citizens.

Impact Of Hurricane Sally

Gusts of up to 105mph, relentless rainfall, and a growing storm surge ravaged buildings, boats, and hurled debris around Alabama. Trees bent over, almost three feet of water submerged the vehicles parked on the roads, and over half a million consumers were left without power as the winds knocked down power lines. Videos doing rounds on social media depict the severity of the considerable damages caused by the hurricane.

Mississippi

Jackson County in Mississippi was victim to most of Sally’s flooding. A power outage was experienced on the eastern side of the city. More than 10,000 people had no power during the storm’s peak stage.

Alabama

Dauphin Island in Alabama experienced storm surge flooding but Orange Beach was the most affected by the flooding.

Several condos in Gulf shores were damaged, with a few completely destroyed. A gas station was reported to be destroyed in the Spanish Port area.

Most of the major structural damages were recorded at Mobile and the Gulf Shores.

Florida

Sally’s asymmetrical nature caused continual thunderstorms and showers since September 12. Multiple tornado warnings were issued across Florida. Special marine warnings indicative of hazardous marine conditions were also issued for the Florida coasts. Florida’s Panhandle area bore the brunt of the storm. 

Other areas

The south part of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana overflowed because of Sally’s winds. Two tornadoes were reported in Georgia. Rincon and Eastover, South Carolina, also witnessed a tornado.

Hurricane Sally’s Effect on Unemployment

Even as Sally weakened to a tropical depression, it has caused substantial damage to life and property. We are yet to see how Sally will impact the economy of the local areas. The hurricane may boost the U.S. joblessness claims that are already in millions because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The situation in the U.S. does not look favorable to people who are already facing unemployment.

Many businesses have already closed down, heeding the warnings issued. It is going to be difficult for them to recover even after the hurricane. It is likely that some businesses will survive the loss of revenue, but the employees who depend on their daily or weekly wages will be the hardest hit. The hurricane’s impact on the job market will be detrimental to the local employees.

Federal Response To Hurricane Sally

President Trump gave his consent to declaring an emergency in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. This declaration sanctions the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to offer protective assistance and measures to the worst affected areas.

Incident Management Teams from FEMA were deployed to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to ensure no unmet needs. Additional teams from the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Defense, Health and Human Services, and others are preparing to provide further supportive measures to affected states and tribes.

The U.S Department of Labor set up the following special assistance programs for the unemployed:

  • A collaborative effort by the IRS, U.S. Department of Treasury, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is planning to release compliance guidelines for employee benefit plans and decide the beneficiaries and participants as a mitigative measure to Sally’s effect on workers.
  • The Office of Workers Compensation relaxed the refill restrictions on medication for injured workers displaced as a result of Hurricane Sally.  
  • The Employment and Training Administration is gearing up to provide Disaster Dislocated Worker Grants to help the workforce in the affected states.

In situations like this, filing for Unemployment Insurance (UI) may help them make ends meet. If one does not meet the criteria required for this, he or she can apply for the Hurricane Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program. The unemployment benefits due to the hurricane can be collected for up to 26 weeks since the government’s DUA announcement.

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