Hurricane Irene hovered about 50 miles north of New York City when it was downgraded to a tropical storm, but it was still causing massive flooding as it moved to the Canadian border. Tropical storm force winds could still be felt as far as 320 miles away.
Incident Command Posts (ICP) along the East Coast continue to conduct damage assessments on employee homes and port facilities. As of noon Saturday, all employees have been accounted for, but damage to property is still being assessed. The heaviest toll on employee homes so far seems to be in the New York Field Office.
The ICP and Field Offices also continue their coordination with various airport and seaport operators, airlines and trade stakeholders to reconstitute business operations.
Initially, airlines and airport authorities suspended operations at seven airports, and U.S. Coast Guard Captains of the Port ordered 11 ports closed to inbound and outbound traffic. Airports as far north as Philadelphia are already operational and ready to process flights. Seaports up through Philadelphia should start opening for business by Monday.
Meanwhile, CBP Field Operations Headquarters activated an Emergency Operations Center that is staffed with representatives from the Office of Field Operations (OFO) and the Joint Operations Directorate (JOD). Their mission is to support field operations and provide staffing and material support to the entire response and recovery operations.
OFO and JOD are also posting Unified Business Resumption Messages. These messages provide instant alerts and up-to-date information to the trade community if an event occurs that could delay the flow of trade through a port of entry.
To support response and recovery operations locally, Commissioner Alan D. Bersin activated Lead Field Coordinator constructs. These LFC's are aligned with traditional FEMA regions as opposed to OFO Field Offices or Border Patrol Sectors. The following are the LFC's assigned to each region listed in the order of Irene's impact.
A total of 38 Field Operations employees have been deployed to support these LFC constructs. Many more officers, from Houston, New Orleans and Miami, have deployed to New York and New England to help local employees recover and return to work as quickly as possible.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.