BALTIMORE – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the Mid-Atlantic states is preparing for Hurricane Florence.
CBP activated Casey Durst, the Baltimore Field Office Director, as the agency’s Lead Field Coordinator for FEMA Region III Monday night. LFC Durst activated the Region III emergency operations center today, and has ordered CBP Ports of Entry to take preemptive action to protect employees, safeguard assets, and pre-deploy resources to support response efforts. CBP employees in the Norfolk, Virginia area are complying with the governor’s mandatory evacuation order from low-lying coastal areas and are relocating family to safe havens before returning to duty. CBP will staff travel and trade facilitation operations at regional airports and seaports until flights and cargo operations cease.
Region III includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Hurricane tracks predict Florence to make landfall as a powerful category 4 storm in North Carolina. Residents in these Mid-Atlantic states should expect to experience impacts from Florence, such as damaging winds, power and phone outages and heavy flooding, particularly along coastal areas.
CBP encourages all residents in the path of Florence to obey evacuation and other emergency orders issued by state authorities and emergency management agency. Residents and visitors should continue to monitor local radio or TV broadcasts for updated emergency information.
CBP’s highest priorities are to promote life-saving and life-sustaining activities, the safe evacuation of people leaving the impacted area, the maintenance of public order, the prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and the speedy recovery of the region.
“Customs and Border Protection’s foremost concern is for the health and safety of all those living in harm’s way, including our selfless front-line federal officers and agents,” Durst said. “CBP is committed to safety of our communities and will contribute our unique capabilities when asked to assist our state and local authorities to respond to and to recover from this dangerous hurricane.”
During previous hurricane responses, CBP has contributed aerial damage assessment, urban search and rescue, human detection dogs, shelter and distribution center security, and helicopter and vehicle relief supplies distribution.
“The goal to any hurricane response is to quickly mitigate the storm’s impacts, ensure health and safety or our employees and residents, and to resume business operations, such as our international trade and travel facilitation, to help the affected region return to some sense of normalcy,” Durst said. “CBP officers and specialists will be ready to start processing international flights and cargo as soon as airline and maritime cargo commences.”