USET Tribes Prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit NOAA

Brandon Stephens

For Immediate Release:
United South and Eastern Tribes
Issued at 11:30 PM Central Time
October 28, 2012
USET Tribes Continue to Prepare for Snow, High Tides, and Hurricane Sandy For additional information:
Brandon Stephens, Development Director- (615) 467-1560 (Office), (615)
872-7417 (Fax) Bstephens(at)

(Undated) – - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC) is predicting life threatening storm activity from Hurricane Sandy when it makes landfall around New York Long Island Sound and New York Harbor. The threat of potentially bad weather from high and low pressures, a full moon, a snow storm, and hurricane has emergency management coordinators from various USET member Tribes making preparations for response and recovery. Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday morning.

The threat of rising surf and tide water, heavy snow, and hurricane force winds are causing government leaders to issue evacuation notices
and close government offices from Washington, D.C. to New York City according to published reports.

United South and Eastern Tribes, Incorporated (USET) is working with the Tribes to coordinate efforts to respond to the storm and get
critical resources from state and federal agencies. While Tribes wait for Hurricane Sandy to approach the New York and New Jersey coast,
USET Tribal Emergency Mutual Aid Compact (TEMAC) has started conference calls and communications to help Tribes beginning the planning for evacuations, response, and recovery activities.

USET Senior Project Coordinator, Emergency Management, Harrell French is working to coordinate Tribes who have experience, like the
Seminoles, to work with northeastern Tribes who may not have as much experience with massive storms like Hurricane Sandy. “The first
time a Tribe encounters a situation like this there is always lot of confusion. Once we know more about the storm we are going to match
up experienced emergency management coordinators to follow the storm with those Tribes,” French said. The Seminole Tribe of Florida has almost a yearly encounter with hurricanes and is volunteering to assist northern USET members with coordinating their resources and
placing a focus on their response and recovery effort. Recently Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Tunic-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, Chitimacha
Tribe of Louisiana, and Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana dealt with Hurricane Isaac in August.

During USET’s conference call, USET TEMAC’s newest partner, The Tribal Emergency Management Association (iTEMA), is advising all Tribes in the path to declare a state of emergency due to the weather predictions and potential destruction that could occur. iTema’s Jake Heflin told Tribes to be proactive by sending the declarations to FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and to their respective state governors. Heflin said, “This will signify to the government that you are ‘ahead of the storm’ and preparing for response and recovery.”
The Shinnecock Indian Nation has already declared a state of emergency for its Tribe on Long Island New York.Tribes are also being
encouraged to maintain good records of equipment, resources, and labor hours that go in to their response and recovery efforts. “This will be important for reimbursement and assistance that may come from FEMA and their states,” Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Emergency Management Director Willo Sylestine stated to Tribes in the storm path.

FEMA is working closely with USET to provide resources to Tribes to deal with the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Director of FEMA’s National
Integration Center, Carla Boyce, and FEMA Special Advisor for National Tribal Affairs, Richard Flores are working diligently to coordinate
technical support, planning, and physical resources to assist Tribes to endure the storm and work on rebuilding. FEMA’s assistance to
Tribes has been critical along with assistance from Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Tribes in the direct path of the storm include the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Narragansett Indian Tribe, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay
Head, Mohegan Tribe, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and Shinnecock Indian Nation. The Shinnecock Indian Nation could be the first Tribe to feel the effects.

USET Tribes are providing an update on their conditions, preparations for the storm, and made requests for resources. USET member Tribes and the Tribal Emergency Mutual Aid Compact are hosting daily teleconferences to coordinate response and recovery efforts with the federal government.

Shinnecock Indian Nation: The Tribe is less than a mile from the coast on a peninsula. Shinnecock Emergency Management’s Tracy Pace says,“We sit out in the bay and are protected by a dune which has been evacuated already. We are putting up notices and sending out emails and going door-to-door. We have checked on special needs already. Have category 1 and category 2 evacuations going. We are expecting a lot of rain, a lot of trees to down along with utility lines.” About a 1000 people are in the Shinnecock service area that could feel the effects of the storm. FEMA has coordinated with the Shinnecock to ensure the Tribe’s emergency operation center and health center have back up power.

Oneida Indian Nation: The Tribe is located in central New York and may have different issues with the weather. Oneida Emergency Management’s Terry Winslow says he is in a different position than the Shinnecock Tribe and is more worried about the winter snow storm.
Winslow says, “Our biggest fear is the snowfall and the high winds (that may come from the hurricane/tropical storm). Those things coupled together are going to give us widespread electrical outages.” Winslow’s efforts now are to make sure generators are filled with fuel and working properly.

Catawba Indian Nation: The Catawba are in north central South Carolina and were expected to feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy as it
moved up the coast. Catawba Assistant Chief Wayne George says his area dodged a bullet. “We got overcast skies and 15-20 mile per hour
wind. That is all we got out of it. We were lucky. We stand ready to help out the other Tribes if they need it,” George told the group.
Passamaquoddy Tribes and Penobscot: Passamaquoddy Tribes and the Penobscot Indian Nation are located in southeastern Maine. The weather is stable according to emergency management officials at the moment this press release was made. Penobscot Emergency Management’s Vera Francis says, “We are checking on all our (waste water) systems. We have double checked our waste water facility as well as our fire department, as they will be our back up if there is a storm surge that overtakes it. We are concerned about heavy rainfall and infiltration of lots of sea water. We have been organizing all weekend and getting information out to all of our people. We are getting
the boats in and get their yards cleaned up (for possible high winds. I think people are taking this very seriously.” Harrell French
assured Francis that USET has resources to help management water quality issues.

Tribes that are in the potential impact area are encouraged to contact Senior Project Coordinator, Emergency Management, Harrell French for coordination and assistance with response and recovery preparations at (615) 467-1636.

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