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What Happens If a Hurricane Comes During the Government Shutdown? What Happens If a Hurricane Comes During the Government Shutdown?

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What Happens If a Hurricane Comes During the Government Shutdown?

Hurricane Karen is forming in the Gulf of Mexico. A shutdown-strapped FEMA is getting ready.

A handwritten FEMA sign drips in the rain where people were waiting on line to receive 1,500 donated coats from New York Cares in the Far Rockaway neighborhood on Nov. 13, 2012.(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

photo of Matt  Berman
October 3, 2013

Hurricane watches are now in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Indian Pass, Fla. It's not yet clear how strong the storm, Hurricane Karen, will become as it moves toward the Gulf Coast. But even though the federal government is shut down, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is getting ready to respond.

In a statement Thursday morning, FEMA said it has begun to recall furloughed employees "necessary to serve functions of the agency that protect life and property." This is happening in accordance with the agency's shutdown contingency plan. FEMA's Hurricane Liaison Team in Miami's National Hurricane Center was reactivated Thursday morning.

But not every weather agency is up and running. Here is where we would typically give you some information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But its website, NOAA.gov, is currently down due to the shutdown. Ready.gov, a site that helps Americans set up plans for disasters, is not updating during the shutdown.

 

Despite the shutdown, FEMA is doing more than just getting ready to respond to a possible hurricane. The agency has enough employees on hand to continue its flood-relief efforts in Colorado and its work helping areas of Oklahoma hit by a tornado in May. Part of the reason is that funding for these efforts comes from the Disaster Relief Fund, which isn't currently affected by the federal government funding lapse.

But FEMA can't just do everything during a shutdown. On Wednesday, a congressional hearing about the agency's emergency alert system took place. No one from FEMA was able to attend.

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