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Federal News

FEMA Honors Achievement in Community Preparedness

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 18:02

2014 Individual and Community Preparedness Award Winners Announced

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced the winners of the 2014 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of individuals, programs and organizations throughout the country working to prepare their communities for emergencies.

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Media Advisory: Washington Governor Jay Inslee to Speak About Building Resilience at the Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 07:36
Summary: As part of the Planning Committee for the Fifth Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference, the Department of the Interior’s Northwest Climate Science Center is pleased to invite you to join more than 250 scientists and practitioners from the Northwest to learn the latest on Pacific Northwest climate science and adaptation, including presentations on landslides, wildfires, sea level rise, extreme weather events, natural resource and infrastructure vulnerability, human health and cultural impacts.

Contact Information:

Chris  Trent ( Phone: 703-648-4451 ); Lisa  Hayward Watts ( Phone: 206-616-5347 (o) );



As part of the Planning Committee for the Fifth Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference, the Department of the Interior’s Northwest Climate Science Center is pleased to invite you to join more than 250 scientists and practitioners from the Northwest to learn the latest on Pacific Northwest climate science and adaptation, including presentations on landslides, wildfires, sea level rise, extreme weather events, natural resource and infrastructure vulnerability, human health and cultural impacts.

At 1:30 PM on Wednesday Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, will give a Keynote Address on increasing resilience in Washington State and the Northwest. 

Who: Scientists, managers and administrators addressing climate change across a range of sectors. Plenary by Washington Governor, Jay Inslee. 

When: The conference will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, September 9-10, 2014

Where: Kane Hall on the University of Washington Seattle campus. Click here for directions.

Members of news organizations and of science writers' associations are encouraged to attend the conference. To learn more and to RSVP contact Lisa Hayward Watts at lhayward@uw.edu or 206-795-8843.

Avian Flu in Seals Could Infect People

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 05:00
Summary: The avian flu virus that caused widespread harbor seal deaths in 2011 can easily spread to and infect other mammals and potentially humans

Contact Information:

Gail Moede Rogall ( Phone: 608-270-2438 ); Heidi Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-526-6694 );



The avian flu virus that caused widespread harbor seal deaths in 2011 can easily spread to and infect other mammals and potentially humans.

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital shows that the avian influenza H3N8 strain that infected New England harbor seals could be transmitted to other mammals through the air without physical contact. Transmission by respiratory droplets through coughing, for example, is the main way influenza viruses spread among people. The study also showed that current seasonal flu vaccines do not protect against this seal virus, meaning a new vaccine would be necessary if there ever was an outbreak in humans.

"The ability to transmit through the air is an important step in the path toward any influenza virus becoming pandemic," said USGS scientist Hon Ip. "The lack of protection against the seal virus from the annual seasonal vaccine highlights the risks posed by this H3N8 group of viruses."

The article, led by St. Jude in collaboration with the USGS and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was published today in the journal Nature Communications and is available online.

The scientists tested a sample of the influenza virus taken from an infected harbor seal in New Hampshire in 2011, and found that the virus was closely related to influenza viruses from wild birds. However, the H3N8 virus isolated from the seal contained mutations that allowed it to reproduce efficiently in human lung cells, cause disease in mice and infect ferrets through the air.

"Findings from this study highlight the need for continued surveillance and study of avian influenza genetics, particularly in areas like coastal regions where wild birds, wild mammals and human populations come into contact with each other,” said USGS scientist Jeff Hall.

H3N8 viruses, common in wild birds, have been associated with ongoing outbreaks in dogs and horses and have also been detected in pigs, donkeys and now seals. Beginning in September 2011, more than 160 young harbor seals were found dead or dying along the New England coast as a result of this infection. In previous H3N8 mortality events, up to 20 percent of the local seal population died.

For more information on zoonotic diseases, or diseases that spread between animals and humans, please visit the USGS National Wildlife Health Center website.

Race the Wave 5K fun run/walk to practice tsunami evacuation routes.

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 13:41

September 2, 2014
News Release

 

Race the Wave 5K fun run/walk to practice tsunami evacuation routes.

Cannon Beach, OR – September is National Preparedness Month and Pacific Northwest coastal communities are leading by example. Cannon Beach, Oregon will host Race the Wave, their first hazard-themed fun run designed to blend awareness and action into a single activity.

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Categories: Federal News

Media Advisory: Officials, Scientists to Dedicate Showcase Gage on Rapid Creek

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 11:15
Summary: A U.S. Geological Survey streamgage will be dedicated by Congressional and city officials on September 3 in Rapid City

Contact Information:

Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-526-6694 ); Mark Anderson ( Phone: 605-394-3220 );



Reporters: A photograph of the showcase gage is available online.   

A U.S. Geological Survey streamgage will be dedicated by Congressional and city officials on September 3 in Rapid City. This showcase streamgage is located on Rapid Creek at Rapid City in Founders Park and will provide visitors with critical information about how streamflow is measured and other water-resource issues related to floods, droughts, water supply and recreation.

What: Media and public are invited to attend a dedication ceremony and open house for the historical USGS showcase streamgage on Rapid Creek at Rapid City.

Who: U.S. Senator John Thune (invited) or representative
Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker
Mark Anderson, Director, USGS South Dakota Water Science Center
Dave Carpenter, National Weather Service
Other agencies and users of streamflow information

When: Wednesday, September 3, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Please gather on-site at 9:30 a.m.; comments will be at 10 a.m., followed by open house.

Where: North side of Rapid Creek across the footbridge in Founders Park (map of streamgage location)
Rapid City, S.D.  

The Rapid Creek at Rapid City streamgage has one of the longest periods of record in South Dakota, with continuous discharge since July 1942.  The new showcase gage has an outreach or public education purpose in addition to measuring flow. The gage house was designed to fit in and be part of Founder's Park.

The streamgage features three display windows that can be changed and updated over time. Current displays explain how a streamgage operates, describes the history of flooding along Rapid Creek, and provides a summary of the efforts by the City of Rapid City to improve water quality of urban runoff.  A graph of the historical flows is provided with a QR code that will allow visitors to rapidly learn the current gage height and streamflow discharge from a smartphone or other mobile device.

The largest peak discharge at this location was estimated as 50,000 cubic feet per second during the historic 1972 flood. This flash flood took 238 lives and was among the deadliest flash floods in U.S. history.

The streamgage is operated in cooperation with the City of Rapid City and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk and for many recreational activities. 

Be Disaster Aware. Take Action to Prepare. National Preparedness Month Launches September 1

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 14:45

CHICAGO –September is National Preparedness Month, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages everyone to make disaster preparedness a priority.

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Categories: Federal News

NJ Firefighters to Receive New Breathing Apparatuses - Stanhope Wins Federal Grant of Nearly $158,000

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:05

NJ Firefighters to Receive New Breathing Apparatuses

Stanhope Wins Federal Grant of Nearly $158,000

New York, NY -- The 3,548 residents of the Borough of Stanhope will be safer because the town’s 40 volunteer firefighters will be better equipped with their 19 new self-contained breathing apparatuses, Dale McShine, Director of Grants for FEMA’s Region II, said here today. 

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Categories: Federal News

Ten Years Later: Remembering Hurricane Frances

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 11:06

ATLANTA – September 5 marks 10 years since Hurricane Frances hit Florida and brings timely reminders to be prepared for hurricanes.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Grants to Local Fire Departments Offer Up-to-Date Equipment and Training to Stations Large and Small

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 10:53

New York, NY -- The Atlantic City Fire Department has some 250 full-time firefighters and six fire stations serving a southern New Jersey population of 40,000.  The department received last month a federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) of almost $490,000 to replace personal protective equipment ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and years of on-the-job use.  The local share of the grant brought the total to $543,400.

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Categories: Federal News

Recent Report Highlights Need for Greater Focus on Preparedness Planning for Households

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 18:44

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Ad Council release new PSAs
as part of the national Ready campaign to encourage families to create a plan

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Awards $84,740 Grant to Stearns County: Hazard Mitigation funds will be used to construct a tornado safe room

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:23

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released $84,740 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Stearns County, Minn., for the construction of a safe room at the Rose Park manufactured home community.

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Tuesday Midday Update on South Napa Earthquake

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 19:52
Summary: This release of information serves as an updated summary of U.S. Geological Survey information as it relates to the current understanding of the South Napa earthquake. Yesterday’s more comprehensive news release can be found here.

Contact Information:

Justin  Pressfield ( Phone: 916-335-1211 ); Susan  Garcia ( Phone: 650-329-4668 );



This release of information serves as an updated summary of U.S. Geological Survey information as it relates to the current understanding of the South Napa earthquake. Yesterday’s more comprehensive news release can be found here.

The area surrounding the epicenter of the mainshock is continuing to experience a number of aftershocks. As of Tuesday Aug. 26, 4 PM PDT, there have been more than 80 aftershocks; only four of these have had magnitudes greater than 3. The greater-than-magnitude 3 aftershocks include:

  • M3.0 Tuesday 6:45 AM PDT
  • M3.9 (largest aftershock) Tuesday 5:33 AM PDT
  • M3.6 Sunday 5:47 AM PDT
  • M3.5 (4 minutes after mainshock) Sunday 3:24 AM PDT

There are also updated probabilities of additional aftershocks. These will continue to be updated on the USGS website for this event.

At this time (two days after the mainshock) the probability of a strong and possibly damaging aftershock (M5 or greater) in the next 7 days is approximately 12 percent.

Most likely, the recent mainshock will be the largest in the sequence. However, there is a small chance (approximately 2 percent) of an earthquake equal to or larger than this mainshock in the next 7 days.

In addition, USGS anticipates approximately 1 to 10 small (M3-M5) aftershocks in the next 7 days.

“Scientists from the USGS continue to work day and night to do careful field research in the area of the South Napa earthquake,” said Tom Brocher, Director of the USGS’s Earthquake Science Center. “The flow of new and refined information is allowing us to continue to inform the emergency managers and the public about this incident as well as to grow the knowledge about earthquakes to allow society to better prepare for future occurrences.”

The USGS is continuing to incorporate the new data into existing models to refine our estimates. While USGS publishes prompt approximations of economic losses based on real-time and later-arriving data, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is expected to issue an official economic loss estimation after a comprehensive, and more accurate, damage assessment is completed.

The USGS is interested in finding volunteers willing to host seismic instruments so that scientists can obtain more records from aftershocks and learn more about this sequence of earthquakes.  Those interested, who are in the area of strong shaking, should go to http://earthquake.usgs.gov/monitoring/netquakes/ and complete the "sign up" page.

The Earthquake Early Warning test system functioned as designed in Sunday's earthquake.  Within five seconds of the earthquake it produced a warning (estimated at magnitude 5.7 within three seconds of its occurrence), sufficient to provide warning to Berkeley, San Francisco, and areas farther south. The EEW prototype was developed by the USGS in partnership with the UC Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, University of Washington, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

FEMA Releases New Tribal Consultation Policy

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 16:56

Today, Administrator Craig Fugate announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Tribal Consultation Policy, which begins a new phase of engagement and collaboration with American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes.  The new policy establishes a process for regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials on Agency actions that have tribal implications, and it emphasizes the importance of consulting with Indian Country.

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FEMA Urges Caution Following California Earthquake

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 14:49

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its Regional Office in Oakland, California, is monitoring the situation following the U.S. Geological Survey report of a 6.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred this morning six miles south southwest of Napa, California.  FEMA remains in close coordination with California officials, and its Regional Watch Center is at an enhanced watch to provide additional reporting and monitoring of the situation, including impacts of any additional aftershocks.

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Michigan, FEMA to Start Damage Assessments This Week

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 17:22

CHICAGO –Beginning Tuesday, August 26, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD), FEMA, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and local officials in the Metro Detroit area will be conducting joint preliminary damage assessments due to the flooding that occurred the week of August 11. 

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Update on the Magnitude 6 South Napa Earthquake of August 24, 2014

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 15:03
Summary: Yesterday at 3:20 AM local time, the northern San Francisco Bay Area was struck by the largest earthquake to impact the Bay Area since the 1989 M6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake

Contact Information:

Justin  Pressfield ( Phone: 916-335-1211 ); Susan  Garcia ( Phone: 650-329-4668 );



Yesterday at 3:20 AM local time, the northern San Francisco Bay Area was struck by the largest earthquake to impact the Bay Area since the 1989 M6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake. Yesterday’s earthquake appears to have ruptured on or just west of mapped traces of the West Napa Fault, the most seismically active of the faults mapped between the longer Rodgers Creek Fault on the west and the Concord-Green Valley Fault to the east. USGS has named the earthquake the “South Napa earthquake.”

Yesterday’s M6.0 earthquake caused significant damage in south Napa County.  It occurred in the broad zone of deformation that accommodates the relative motion of the North American and Pacific Plates.  The 2000 M5.0 Yountville earthquake occurred on the West Napa Fault and also damaged Napa.  The 1898 M6.3 Mare Island earthquake occurred in the vicinity of yesterday’s earthquake.

“USGS scientists are working around the clock to understand the earthquake and relay information to emergency managers and the public,” stated Tom Brocher, Director of the USGS’s Earthquake Science Center.  “In less than a day we made tremendous strides in understanding what happened and have crews of scientists continuing to investigate this event.”

Damage is localized in the region surrounding Napa due to the rupture directivity to the north-west. River valley sediments in Napa Valley likely contributed to the amplification of shaking around Napa.

Yesterday, USGS and California Geological Survey (CGS) geologists mapped surface rupture produced by the earthquake from the epicenter NNW at least 10 km (6 miles) on a previously mapped strand of the West Napa Fault.  At that point the surface rupture may have jumped eastward about half a mile toward Napa and extended NNW another few miles along a previously unmapped strand of the West Napa Fault.  USGS and CGS geologist continue to conduct field reconnaissance to refine these interpretations and to look for additional surface rupture.  The surface ruptures show a northward shift west of the West Napa fault of about two inches.

GPS receivers operated by the USGS and others also measured a shift of the earth of a few inches caused by the earthquake.  Yesterday, USGS geophysicists made additional measurements of the earth’s movement that will refine models for the earthquake movement.

USGS analysis of the seismic recordings indicates the earthquake rupture propagated to the NNW and upward, directing the brunt of the earthquake energy to the NNW towards Napa.  The dozens of aftershocks that have been recorded to date are also aligned on this NNW trend.  At this time (one day after the mainshock) the probability of a strong and possibly damaging aftershock in the next seven days is approximately 1 in 4.

Today, USGS technicians will be retrieving additional seismic data from several seismic stations that either do not automatically communicate their data to us or failed to do so.  They will also be deploying additional recorders in Napa.  These data should help refine the ShakeMap showing the intensity of shaking throughout the Bay Area and better understand the strong shaking experienced in Napa.

The Earthquake Early Warning test system functioned as designed in yesterday’s earthquake.  Within five seconds of the earthquake it produced a warning (estimated at magnitude 5.7 within three seconds of its occurrence), sufficient to provide warning to Berkeley, San Francisco, and areas farther south.  No warning would have been possible within 20 miles of the earthquake.  EEW prototype was developed by the USGS in partnership with the UC Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, University of Washington, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

FEMA Provides Federal Funding to Oregon Fire in Trinity County, California

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 11:35

OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to assist the state of California combat the Oregon Fire currently burning in Trinity County.

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A Decade After 2004 Storms, FEMA Urges Hurricane Preparedness

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 09:37

ATLANTA - September’s National Preparedness Month reminds us of the importance of preparing for hurricanes. While the southeast is no stranger to life-changing hurricanes, this September marks 10 years since hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne affected Florida and other states, 15 years since Hurricane Floyd crossed North Carolina’s coast and 25 years since Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina. Each storm left its own unpredictable mark on the people and communities they touched.

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Natural Methane Seepage on U.S. Atlantic Ocean Margin Widespread

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 09:10
Summary: Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought, according to a study by researchers from Mississippi State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other institutions

Contact Information:

Carolyn Ruppel ( Phone: 617-806-6768 ); Adam  Skarke ( Phone: 662-268-1032 ext. 258 ); Hannah Hamilton ( Phone: 703-648-4356 );



Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought, according to a study by researchers from Mississippi State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other institutions.

Methane plumes identified in the water column between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Georges Bank, Massachusetts, are emanating from at least 570 seafloor cold seeps on the outer continental shelf and the continental slope.  Taken together, these areas, which lie between the coastline and the deep ocean, constitute the continental margin.  Prior to this study, only three seep areas had been identified beyond the edge of the continental shelf, which occurs at approximately 180 meters (590 feet) water depth between Florida and Maine on the U.S. Atlantic seafloor.

Cold seeps are areas where gases and fluids leak into the overlying water from the sediments.  They are designated as cold to distinguish them from hydrothermal vents, which are sites where new oceanic crust is being formed and hot fluids are being emitted at the seafloor.  Cold seeps can occur in a much broader range of environments than hydrothermal vents.

“Widespread seepage had not been expected on the Atlantic margin. It is not near a plate tectonic boundary like the U.S. Pacific coast, nor associated with a petroleum basin like the northern Gulf of Mexico,” said Adam Skarke, the study’s lead author and a professor at Mississippi State University.

The gas being emitted by the seeps has not yet been sampled, but researchers believe that most of the leaking methane is produced by microbial processes in shallow sediments.  This interpretation is based primarily on the locations of the seeps and knowledge of the underlying geology.  Microbial methane is not the type found in deep-seated reservoirs and often tapped as a natural gas resource. 

Most of the newly discovered methane seeps lie at depths close to the shallowest conditions at which deepwater marine gas hydrate can exist on the continental slope.  Gas hydrate is a naturally occurring, ice-like combination of methane and water, and forms at temperature and pressure conditions commonly found in waters deeper than approximately 500 meters (1640 feet). 

“Warming of ocean temperatures on seasonal, decadal or much longer time scales can cause gas hydrate to release its methane, which may then be emitted at seep sites,” said Carolyn Ruppel, study co-author and chief of the USGS Gas Hydrates Project.  “Such continental slope seeps have previously been recognized in the Arctic, but not at mid-latitudes.  So this is a first.”

Most seeps described in the new study are too deep for the methane to directly reach the atmosphere, but the methane that remains in the water column can be oxidized to carbon dioxide. This in turn increases the acidity of ocean waters and reduces oxygen levels. 

Shallow-water seeps that may be related to offshore groundwater discharge were detected at the edge of the shelf and in the upper part of Hudson Canyon, an undersea gorge that represents the offshore extension of the Hudson River. Methane from these seeps could directly reach the atmosphere, contributing to increased concentrations of this potent greenhouse gas.  More extensive shallow-water surveys than described in this study will be required to document the extent of such seeps.

Some of the new methane seeps were discovered in 2012.  In summer 2013 a Brown University undergraduate and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hollings Scholar Mali’o Kodis worked with Skarke to analyze about 94,000 square kilometers (about 36,000 square miles) of water column imaging data to map the methane plumes.  The data had been collected by the vessel Okeanos Explorer between 2011 and 2013.  The Okeanos Explorer and the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle, which has photographed the seafloor at some of the methane seeps, are managed by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

"This study continues the tradition of advancing U.S. marine science research through partnerships between federal agencies and the involvement of academic researchers,” said John Haines, coordinator of the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program “NOAA's Ocean Exploration program acquired state-of-the-art data at the scale of the entire margin, while academic and USGS scientists teamed to interpret these data in the context of a research problem of global significance."

The study, Widespread methane leakage from the sea floor on the northern US Atlantic Margin, by A, Skarke, C. Ruppel, M, Kodis, D. Brothers and E. Lobecker in Nature Geoscience is available on line.

USGS Gas Hydrates Project

The USGS has a globally recognized research effort studying natural gas hydrates in deepwater and permafrost settings worldwide.  USGS researchers focus on the potential of gas hydrates as an energy resource, the impact of climate change on gas hydrates, and seafloor stability issues.

For more information about the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gas Hydrates Project, visit the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey Gas Hydrates Project website.

For more information, visit the Mississippi State University website.

Map of the northern US Atlantic margin showing the locations of newly-discovered methane seeps mapped by researchers from Mississippi State University, the US Geological Survey, and other partners. None of the seeps shown here was known to researchers before 2012. (High resolution image)

 

After Assault by Sandy, FEMA, State, Fund Model Mitigation Project for Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 08:00

Eatontown, NJ -- In October of 2012, storm surges caused by Hurricane Sandy rose from the waters of Newark Bay and engulfed the 152-acre Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s wastewater treatment facility.

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