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Thursday, June 8, 2023

DOT Assists Hurricane Ida Response Efforts in the Southeast

DOT’s Federal Highway Administration has briefed state DOTs regarding emergency response to damaged roads and bridges, and stands ready to support requests when they are received.

As part of the hurricane response process, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is working closely with state, local and federal agencies to provide all available resources to help people in Louisiana and across the Southeast respond to and recover from Hurricane Ida.

DOT activated the Routing Assistance Hotline to provide routing assistance to first responders in FEMA Regions 4 and 6.  The Routing Assistance Hotline provides a 24 hour toll free number for responders to call and receive safe routes  in and around areas impacted by Hurricane Ida.  The Routing Assistance will help responders safely transport supplies, including food, water, shelter, health and medical supplies, and power restoration materials.   

DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has briefed state DOTs regarding emergency response to damaged roads and bridges, and stands ready to support requests when they are received.  FHWA’s Emergency Relief program provides funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events.  

Additionally, after a roadway washout tragically led to fatalities and injuries in Mississippi last night, FHWA Mississippi Division Leadership is in contact with MDOT leadership regarding the expediting of the construction contract and possible request of Emergency Relief Program funds.   

FHWA’s Louisiana Division office is working closely with Louisiana DOTD to identify any needed resources. LA DOTD also submitted a notice of intent requesting Emergency Relief funding for this incident. FHWA has directed LA DOTD to proceed with assessments.  

DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a waiver that gives the United States Coast Guard 8th District and the Environmental Protection Agency flexibility to transport non-radioactive hazardous materials to help with relief efforts in areas impacted by the Hurricane. PHMSA also worked with states and pipeline operators within the path of the Hurricane to help ensure safe and rapid recovery efforts. 

On Sunday,  DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced an Emergency Declaration that provides truck drivers flexibility to move critical freight to areas damaged by Ida.  This flexibility will make it easier for truckers to haul in essential items such as food, water, fuel, and power restoration equipment like utility poles, transformers and generators to help support emergency relief efforts. 

This declaration is in place for Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. DOT’s top priority is safety, and as states respond to Hurricane Ida, FMCSA will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor driver work hours and conditions for the duration of the exemption.   

On Sunday, the DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) activated an Emergency Relief Docket (ERD) that offers railroads the ability to obtain temporary waivers from safety regulations to help them speed up service recovery and restoration  to move goods  necessary for emergency relief efforts. The ERD ensures that routine safety compliance requirements do not unnecessarily interfere with legitimate efforts by a railroad to respond to an emergency situation. 

The USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has been in contact with transit agency leaders in the area, including New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA). NORTA alerted FTA late last week that it would be moving its vehicles to higher ground as of Sunday and was prepared to utilize those vehicles for evacuation as well as post-storm recovery efforts. 

Read more at the Department of Transportation

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