While Hurricane Irene could have been much, much worse, it cut a wide swath of damage and flooding across more than six states as well as Puerto Rico. With the experience of Hurricane Katrina in mind, however, FEMA and other homeland security agencies as well as the National Guard and DoD, were leaning forward in making preparations to face the storm, doing whatever was possible to prepare. While the toll the hurricane took on the U.S. remains to be completely calculated, a combination of good luck and good preparation would seem to have minimized the damage and loss of life.
Hurricane Irene: Preparation and Response
Bill Read, director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center (on-screen, center), provides a briefing to federal and state partners on Hurricane Irene via videoteleconference. FEMA photo by Aaron Skolnik Building damage caused by the heavy rain of then Tropical Storm Irene in San Salvador ward, Caguas, Puerto Rico, Aug. 26, 2011. FEMA was performing the Preliminary Damage Assessment process. FEMA photo by Michael Medina-Latorre The community of Mini Mini in Loiza, Puerto Rico, was severely affected by the rain that followed Hurricane Irene, Aug. 24, 2011. FEMA photo by Yuisa Rios Fork lift operators move pallets of water from a vendor trailer onto a trailer leased by FEMA at an Atlanta, Ga. staging area in preparations for Hurricane Irene, Aug. 24, 2011. The supplies of water and MREs would be trucked to an Incident Support Base (ISB) in North Carolina based on the storm forecast track. FEMA photo by Tim Burkitt A FEMA logistics employee moves MREs to get ready to load onto a trailer at the Atlanta Distribution Center in preparation for Hurricane Irene. The supplies of water and MREs were planned to be trucked to an Incident Support Base in North Carolina based on the storm forecast track. FEMA photo by Tim Burkitt FEMA tractor trailers containing bottled water, generators and other emergency supplies wait to be admitted to the Incident Support Base at Ft. Bragg, N.C., Aug. 26, 2011. FEMA was staging equipment and emergency supplies in anticipation of Hurricane Irene on the coast of North Carolina. FEMA photo by David Fine U.S. Airmen with the 621st Contingency Response Wing (CRW) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., prepare emergency equipment for immediate response to Hurricane Irene at the CRW's Global Reach Deployment Center at the installation Aug. 25, 2011. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres U.S. airmen with the public works department at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling fill sand bags at the base, located in Washington, D.C., in preparation for Hurricane Irene Aug. 25, 2011. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany E. Jones, U.S. Air Force FEMA Hurricane Specialist Brandon Bolinsky takes notes Aug. 25, 2011, for the FEMA Liason Team during the National Weather Service coordination conference call to update the status of Hurricane Irene in anticipation of her arrival on the United States Eastern seaboard. FEMA photo by David Fine Senior Hurricane Specialist Daniel Brown develops a current forecast on Aug. 25, 2011, for the path of Hurricane Irene in anticipation of her arrival on the United States Eastern Seaboard. FEMA would use this forecast information to prepare emergency supplies and resources in strategic locations. FEMA photo by David Fine Aircraft from Navy and Marine Corps installations in the path of Hurricane Irene are moved to Naval Air Station Pensacola Aug. 26, 2011. The base was a staging area for aircraft temporarily relocating to other bases to avoid damage from the hurricane. More than 20 F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet aircraft used the base to fuel before continuing to Naval Air Station Key West and Marines refueled before continuing to Knoxville, Tenn. U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Caleb White The National Guard Command Center in Arlington, Va., monitors Hurricane Irene to support National Guard and civilian authorities, Aug. 26, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill A Station New York boat crew aboard their 45-foot Response Boat-Medium depart the boat docks enroute the West Point Military Academy Aug. 27, 2011. Station New York crews were taking the RB-Ms to West Point in an effort to avoid the destruction being caused by Hurricane Irene. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Barry Bena Crewmembers from Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, perform aircraft maintenance on an MH-65 Dolphin Aug. 27, 2011 at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Seven Coast Guard air units joined forces to combine eight helos and nine search and rescue crews for response efforts to Hurricane Irene. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Potter. A photo taken from aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) of tug boats steadying the Wasp class Amphibious Assault Ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) as Hurricane Irene passes over Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Aug. 27, 2011. Enterprise was undergoing a planned post- deployment maintenance period, preventing her from getting under way prior to the storm's arrival. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael L. Croft DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate update President Barack Obama via video teleconference on efforts related to Hurricane Irene, Aug. 28, 2011. FEMA photo