Chile quake: The U.S. government response
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.
"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.
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY:
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.
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| February 27, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
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