As Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Regional Response Coordination Center in Denton has sprung to life.
"As of this morning, it's a 24/7 operation," said FEMA spokesperson Earl Armstrong.
The center is responsible for providing emergency management assistance to both Texas and Louisiana.
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They officially step in only when the governor of a state in their region requests FEMA help. But to ensure their teams can roll out at a moment's notice, the preparations start now.
"Right now we're watching the storm and gathering information about it," said Armstrong. "We're also talking with our state partners and our federal partners. They're telling us we might need X, Y, or Z -- and so we'll try to find those things for them and come up with a plan to bring those items to them."
Armstrong says they've already deployed a small team and some supplies to areas that are closer to the Gulf -- for safety reasons, they try to avoid putting their teams in the direct path of an incoming storm.
Those crews can help assess the needs once the storm makes landfall and then communicate with the RRCC in Denton to direct resources to the appropriate areas.
"Each year we plan for events and we go down the checklist on those plans," said Armstrong. "Each time an event happens, there is a different twist -- something is added. And so we draw on experience and what's happening right now to figure out what we need to do."
FEMA says anyone in the path of the storm should pay close attention to any evacuation orders and come up with a plan to get out. The agency also recommends stocking up on water, non-perishable food items, and other emergency supplies in case power or water goes out for an extended period of time.
They add that non-emergency personnel should stay away from any disaster areas even after the storm passes. Those who want to help victims should instead donate to a reputable disaster relief organization.