WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration is staging approximately 250 personnel at southeast airports to be deployed to Florida for assistance with airport security after Hurricane Irma moves through the region. These TSA employees have volunteered to assist with Florida airport security operations upon reopening, knowing that their colleagues who reside in the hurricane’s path will be dealing with the aftermath of the storm.
Mandatory evacuations in the Miami area have begun and are expected to impact at least 200 TSA employees who live in the areas under evacuation orders. Depending on the track of the storm, the evacuation orders for residents could expand, impacting hundreds of TSA employees, which is why TSA is pre-positioning support teams in the region. Members of what TSA calls Transportation Security Support Teams – small teams of TSOs who deploy to an airport in need to provide additional support – have departed from Boston Logan International (BOS), Bradley International Airport (BDL), Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH), Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Oakland International Airport (OAK), Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), Sacramento International Airport (SMF) and San Diego International Airport (SAN).
“My thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by the storms,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske, who visited Houston Wednesday. “We are actively engaged in preparing for Hurricane Irma and its impact. We have begun to move TSA personnel into that area of the country so that we will have people in place to provide security screening when the airlines and airports are ready to resume service after the storm passes.
“Currently, we have nearly 1,000 TSA employees who are participating in recovery efforts related to both hurricanes,” Pekoske said. “I am proud of and humbled by the spirit and dedication to service exhibited by the TSA workforce during this difficult time.”
With active advisories for Hurricane Irma, now a category 5 hurricane, TSA is reminding travelers to check with airlines for up-to-date flight information and to be prepared with a plan if they will be in the affected areas.
Meanwhile, post Hurricane Harvey, TSA continues to maintain an increased presence in Houston, with hundreds of TSA employees who volunteered from across the country to assist with security operations at both George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Many are also working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist survivors of the devastating hurricane.
More than 5,000 members of the TSA workforce live in the Texas region immediately impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and more than 200 suffered significant damage to or loss of their homes and property. While those employees address their personal situations, others stepped up and volunteered to deploy to Houston. Those support personnel arrived last week to help with the reopening of both Houston airports.
Approximately 700 TSA personnel have deployed in total to help the Houston area recover. About 75 members of the total include members of TSA’s National Deployment Force, canine teams and Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) units deployed in support of local and federal efforts. Five transportation security support teams comprising 25 people per team also deployed to the region last week to ensure proper staffing at Houston Intercontinental and Houston Hobby airports. Another 500 TSA volunteers joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Surge Capacity Force, and now comprise approximately 40 percent of the entire FEMA force. TSA employees are currently part of more than 30,000 federal staff deployed in support of Hurricane Harvey response efforts.
TSA volunteers traveled to Texas from across the country including personnel from TSA headquarters, LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York City, O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, San Antonio International Airport (SAT), Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas.
To learn more about DHS and FEMA efforts, visit the FEMA Hurricane Harvey resources and information page. FEMA continues to urge survivors to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov for FEMA assistance.