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Friday, October 4, 2013

Federal Shutdown: Is Workers' Compensation Ready for Tropical Storm Karen?

With a Federal Government in a shutdown, will the State Workers' Compensation system be ready for a natural disaster? The public announcements indicate that FEMA will have to ramp up, but will other Federal agencies be ready and reactivated in time? Workers' Compensation will be stressed with emergency responders who become ill and injured as a result of hurricane related activities. One year almost to the Superstorm Hurricane Sandy and recovery efforts are still continuing. Time will tell.......

State emergency management officials on the U.S. Gulf Coast have been assured that the recent shutdown of the federal government will not affect the Federal Emergency Management Administration's response to Tropical Storm Karen.The storm is expected to come ashore late Saturday or early Sunday on the Gulf Coast. A hurricane watch has been issued from southern Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle.
A hurricane watch means that winds exceeding 74 miles per hour (119 kilometers per hour) are possible within 36 hours. Although Karen could strengthen into a hurricane as it approaches the Gulf Coast, forecasters aren't certain that it will maintain that strength until it makes landfall.
Meanwhile, emergency management agencies in the area are conferring with FEMA officials as they prepare for the storm.
A call to FEMA's External Affairs office in Atlanta was answered by a recording saying that its staff had been furloughed because of the federal government shutdown. Calls to FEMA offices in the Gulf Coast region were answered by staffers not authorized to speak on the record. But state emergency management officials said they are talking to FEMA personnel and the  federal agency is preparing to respond to the storm.
"Our director locally has been in touch with FEMA, and he's received every assurance that FEMA will support us," said Mike Steele, communications director for the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge.
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