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Chile quake: The U.S. government response

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 3:11 p.m. ET
Federal agencies have once again mobilized following the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile early Saturday morning.

"The United States stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts, and we have resources that are positioned to deploy should the Chilean government ask for our help," President Obama said Saturday afternoon.

"We're also preparing for a tsunami that could reach American shores later today, particularly in Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam," he said. "A tsunami warning is in place, and people have been alerted to evacuate coastal areas. I urge citizens to listen closely to the instructions of local officials, who will have the full support of the federal government as they prepare for a potential tsunami, and recover from any damage that may be caused."

Here's an agency-by-agency breakdown of the U.S. government response:


Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is monitoring the situation from Vancouver where she's leading the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is monitoring the situation, especially in Hawaii, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in a statement.

"FEMA stands ready to assist should a request for assistance be made, and does have pre-deployed assets in Hawaii, including food, water, generators and other resources," Fugate said. "We urge all individuals to follow the direction provided by local officials.” Fugate is also providing updates via his Twitter feed @CraigatFEMA.


The State Department is seeking information on Americans in the quake zone. The U.S. Embassy in Santiago has established a command center and the department has created a Chile Earthquake Google Person Finder for people in the quake zone and people seeking information about them. A similar person finder was established after the Haiti earthquake.

Those concerned may also e-mail or call 1-888-407-4747. The State Department's @TravelGov feed recommends using Facebook, Twitter and text messaging to reach family members.

"I leave for the region tomorrow and will be in close contact with President Bachelet and other leaders," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. "Our Hemisphere comes together in times of crisis, and we will stand side by side with the people of Chile in this emergency."


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued several tsunami watches and warnings since the quake. The agency's Pacific and Alaska tsunami warning centers have a total of 15 scientists, with at least two watchstanders on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, NOAA spokeswoman Susan Buchanan said in an e-mail. But the entire staff normally reports for work following a seismic event of this magnitude, she said. (For more specific seismological information, check out The Post's Achenblog.)

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center will coordinate with the emergency management community in affected areas and remain in constant communication with updates and information, Buchanan said. The center has evacuation information for Hawaiian residents posted on its Web site.

NOAA's TsunamiReady program is headed by Jenifer Rhoades, who leads a four-member team. Her office plans to provide updates from a command center in Silver Spring throughout the day.


More than 12 million people were exposed to strong shaking, a big concern to earthquake experts at the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency's National Earthquake Information Center, based in Colorado, has been tracking the quake and aftershocks since early this morning. NEIC uses more than 1,000 seismic stations around the world to track earthquake signals in real time. The office is assisting with emergency response, media requests and distributing information across the government.

And as if NEIC won't be busy enough, it still has staffers in Haiti assessing a follow-on quake there that took place last week.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 27, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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I would also add USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to the list. They are preparing for a possible deployment.

Posted by: adamsmorgan | February 27, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

is it just a rumor that obama and his family are heading to hawaii to conduct relief efforts there for the next two weeks?

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | February 27, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

dang, i missed this one;

"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is monitoring the situation from Vancouver where she's leading the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics."

good 'ole janet napolitano... "hey janet! please don't cut your "official presence" at the winter olympics short because of some petty little earthquake.... after all janet, attending the olympics is WAY MORE IMPORTANT than human life."

wouldn't it *wonderful* if we actually had someone in government that was worth a sht for once?

keep monitoring the situation from the olympics... you're doing a heckuva job jannie!

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | February 27, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

So,didn't both George W Bush,and his Sec of
Homeland Security Micheal Chertoff also get
blasted for goofing off when Hurricane Katrina hit,just like Big Mouth Obama's Phony Incompetent Sec of Homeland Security
Failure Janet Napolitano is off goofing off
at the Olympics in Canada,while a million
Americans are caught in a huge blizzard and
without power back in the Eastern USA,don't
deserve to blasted the same way now then?..

And so,then we have rush to the tv cameras
Big Ego Narcisstic Loud Mouth Liar in Chief
Barack Hussein Obama making a total fool
and complete a$$ out of himself,before the
details about the Earthquake in Chile,
or the tsunami in Hawaii are even known.

But,meanwhile over a million of our own
fellow US Citizens are trapped in a huge
blizzard and without power,not that Obama
or Napolitano care,you see,folks! Impeach
Obama and Fire Screw Up Janet Napolitano!

Posted by: sandy5274 | February 27, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

HAhahahaha, you people are absolutely pitiful. I wonder do you all get paid to go on all the blogs and post something negative about our country and our President? How much does something like that pay? I mean for goodness sakes, no matter what it is you haters find something negative to say. No matter how irrelevant it is you haters find a way to vilify President Obama. Perhaps if you people got a life or improved your relationships, you wouldn't be so angry all the time.

Posted by: catmomtx | February 27, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

catmomtx wrote, "HAhahahaha, you people are absolutely pitiful. I wonder do you all get paid to go on all the blogs and post something negative about our country and our President? How much does something like that pay?"


me? i get paid 100k a year, plus $250 a post.


Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | February 27, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh Dear God send Obama's Joke Sec of Homeland Security to Chile to help direct
the Earthquake Recovery Efforts and let an
Aftershock nail her and please oh Lord send
the phony baloney teleprompter reader damn
incompetent Chicago thug ex-community organizer from Kenya on to Hawaii and let
a big second tsunami wave drown his useless
hide from us all will you God now then?

"Never Waste A Crisis!" -Barack Obama!

Posted by: Jan1977 | February 28, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

i wrote, "me? i get paid 100k a year, plus $250 a post."


hey catmomtx.. you of course know i'm kidding. i just have to say this, because there are probably people out there that would have believed me.

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | February 28, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

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