Skip to main content

Hurricane Bertha Update #1

United States Virgin Islands
Publication date

The situation in brief as of 8:00 p.m. Monday, July 8:

Preliminary reports from federal disaster response personnel in the U.S. Virgin Islands indicate numerous homes have been damaged, many of them still undergoing repairs from Hurricane Marilyn. All three airports are closed, and navigational instruments at the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico are operating only for emergency landings on one runway. Air traffic control has been turned over to FAA controllers in Miami.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is responsible for coordinating the federal government's disaster response efforts, has put its Emergency Support Team (EST) at FEMA headquarters in Washington on 24-hour operations. The EST is continuing to alert, activate and deploy federal resources and disaster teams as necessary and will make mission assignments to other federal agencies as special needs are determined.

Among EST priorities over the next 24 hours are the development of contingency plans for the evacuation of the estimated 2,800 tourists on St. Thomas.

The governors of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have submitted requests for Presidential disaster declarations through the appropriate FEMA officials.

With the resources of FEMA Region IV headquarters in Atlanta fully committed to preparing for potential emergencies connected with the Olympic Games, coordination of the disaster response to Hurricane Bertha will be spearheaded by Region VI (Denton, Tex.), with Region VIII (Denver, Colo.) and Region X (Bothell, Wash.), and additional FEMA Regions in reserve.

A FEMA Field Assessment Team (FasT) is en route to St. Thomas via military air transport. Two additional FEMA damage assessment teams have been alerted for possible U.S. mainland duty.

FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) task force in Nebraska has been placed on alert, replacing the US&R task force from Metro-Dade County, Fla., which may be needed closer to home if Hurricane Bertha strikes southeastern Florida.

The Department of Transportation has activated a Movement Coordination Center to manage transportation logistics for response personnel and equipment deployed to the disaster areas as required.

The U.S. Public Health Service has designated Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from Texas, Ohio, Indiana and Massachussetts to respond as required, as well as a Medical Support Unit from Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.

The Internet has become an increasingly popular source of hurricane-related information. FEMA's World Wide Web site ( today experienced a ten thousand percent increase in use, registering approximately 1 million accesses in a 16-hour period.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Office of Emergency Information & Public Affairs --- Washington, D.C.

Information Available 24 hours a day
on the World Wide Web:
via fax-on-demand: phone in the U.S.A. (202) 646-FEMA (646-3362)
via digital audio for broadcasters & print: contact