Wave of disasters put strain on FEMA and relief groups

(SBG San Antonio photo)

Hurricane Irma looms as the most ominous threat but it's just one of several major disasters impacting the United States right now. News 4 Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila took a look at the strain being placed on FEMA and other relief organizations.

Federal and state emergency officials are facing a wave of disasters that include massive hurricane Irma, widespread destruction from Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, and at the same time numerous wild fires are raging in multiple states including the pacific northwest.

Asked if he’d ever seen anything like this before, Henry Van de Putte of the American Red Cross in San Antonio stated: “I would say the level of response that we're currently engaged in is unprecedented."

Red Cross officials who've been running non-stop since Hurricane Harvey struck maintain they are up to the challenge.

“We've got folks that have deployed in and are actually getting ready to deploy out to other areas that are necessary maybe for Irma, for other parts of Harvey response, and also the Los Angeles wildfires. So part of the key for being ready for something like this is having a preparedness plan and training well in advance," said Van de Putte.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed more than 100 of its personnel to South Florida to assist state and local officials.

“I can guarantee you that I don't know anyone in Florida that's ever experienced what's about to hit South Florida," said FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

FEMA said it prepares for scenarios such as multiple disasters happening at once.

Large supplies of food, bottled water, cots, blankets and supplies are strategically placed at locations throughout the United States so they can be trucked in quickly.

Meanwhile congress has approved billions of dollars for disaster relief so victims of Harvey can continue to rebuild their lives.

“Your federal government is working as diligently as we can to make certain we can respond to whatever needs arise," said HHS Secretary Tom Price.

After mistakes made during hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, FEMA says it has practiced for just this scenario, two major hurricanes hitting the U.S. in quick succession. But the sheer magnitude of Irma is something no one could anticipate.

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