* Editor’s note: Media may download imagery of CBP’s responses to recent hurricanes at CBP Flickr for still photos at DVIDS for video b-roll. CBP Hurricane Ian imagery will populate as it becomes available.
MIAMI — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is making final preparations for Hurricane Ian, which continues to gain strength as a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.
CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus activated Vernon Foret as the agency’s Region IV Lead Field Coordinator (LFC) for the response to Hurricane Ian. CBP’s Region IV provides communications and coordination for all assets in Region IV, which includes Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Foret, who currently serves as CBP’s Director of Field Operations for the Miami and Tampa Field Offices, will lead CBP’s Hurricane Ian preparation, response and recovery efforts, and coordinate CBP’s participation in federal, state, and local rescue and recovery operations.
CBP personnel across Florida and the Southeast United States are working closely with a far-reaching network of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partners and local officials. Floridians, particularly along the Gulf coast, should closely monitor local news media for forecast updates, and heed safety messaging and evacuation orders directed by local and state officials.
CBP’s highest priorities are to promote lifesaving and life-sustaining activities, the safe evacuation of people leaving the impacted area, the maintenance of public order, the prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and the speedy recovery of the region.
CBP remains in constant communication with travel and trade stakeholders during emergencies and conducts international travel and trade facilitation operations at regional airports and seaports until those airports and seaports suspend operations.
“As the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, Customs and Border Protection has deeply rooted local, state and federal partnerships and contributes many specialized capabilities that uniquely positions CBP as a vital component of federal and state disaster response and recovery operations,” said Foret. “Our foremost concern is for the health and safety of all those living in harm’s way, including our selfless front-line federal officers and agents.”
In preparation, LFC Foret ordered CBP Ports of Entry in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina to take preemptive action to protect employees, safeguard assets, and pre-deploy resources to support response efforts.
CBP has strategically pre-positioned Air and Marine Operations aircraft and vessel crews, U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Group, which includes Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue teams (BORSTAR), and Office of Field Operations Disaster Assistance Response Teams. CBP personnel will be ready to conduct search and rescue operations, to conduct aerial damage assessments for local and state response authorities, and to assist employees and their families in the region as soon as it is safe to do so.
CBP’s Office of Field Operations in Florida includes more than 2,500 front-line federal officers, agricultural specialists, trade, and mission support personnel securing over 1,200 miles of the coastal border and providing travel and trade facilitation. U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and Office of Field Operations (OFO) teams from Region IV deploy during major disasters providing specialized expertise, equipment—and helping those in need.