Hurricane Matthew: What You Need to Know

Today, President Obama headed to FEMA headquarters to get the latest update on our preparation and response efforts to Hurricane Matthew. America has not seen a hurricane this strong in almost a decade. A few days ago, Hurricane Matthew became the first Category 5 hurricane to form in the Atlantic since 2007 — and countries in the Caribbean, including Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica, have already felt the impact.

This hurricane is projected to first impact the east coast of Florida and track parallel to the coastline of Georgia and the Carolinas. While we do not know exactly how the hurricane will impact the United States, it's important that all of us – federal, state, tribal, and local authorities as well as people and businesses residing in potentially affected communities — take the necessary steps to prepare. 

So here's what you need to know.

What We're Doing:

On the home front, FEMA has deployed officials to Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. FEMA is also pre-positioning commodities and resources to incident support bases in Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina to marshal resources and store them at a facility that is out of the path of the storm, but still in proximity to areas that could potentially be affected by the storm. This helps expedite providing assistance in the immediate aftermath of a storm. 

Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are deployed to also to the EOCs in Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia, and IMATs are scheduled to arrive to EOCs in South Carolina and Virginia today.  These IMATs augment existing state capabilities to jointly coordinate Federal and state assistance, commodities, and supplies to impacted communities. FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) in Atlanta and Philadelphia — and the National Response Coordination Center here in D.C. — have also begun operating 24/7.  The RRCC in New York City is also at enhanced watch in case the storm tracks further up the coast and to assist other regions.

What You Can Do:

If your community is in the path of the hurricane, there are steps you can take right now to make sure you, your family, and your home is prepared. 

Here are 5 basic preparedness tips you can follow: 

  1. Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.

  2. Put together a disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate.

  3. If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.

  4. Make a family emergency communication planYour family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to think about the following situations and plan just in case.

  5. Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”

Find out what else you can and should do here:

Be Ready

How You Can Help: 

Even as we prepare here, Hurricane Matthew is already hammering our neighboring countries, and has already claimed the lives of 11 people. USAID has deployed disaster response teams to Haiti, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. Those teams were deployed in advance of the storm's arrival. And these disaster experts are actively monitoring the storm's track in real time, communicating with officials on the ground in Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Belize, to ensure that relief efforts are being coordinated if U.S. assistance is necessary.

USAID has also strategically pre-positioned emergency relief supplies, including shelter materials, blankets, hygiene kits, household items, and water purification equipment to ensure that they can be made available on short notice to communities that are directly affected by the storm. Many of these countries don’t have the resources that we do in this country to deal with a storm as severe as Hurricane Matthew. The United States stands ready to provide assistance to help people in those countries who are in need.  

Americans who want to help can visit the Center for International Disaster Assistance at to learn more. 

How you can help

Follow along in real-time to get the latest on Hurricane Matthew, where it's headed, and what you need to know to keep yourself and your family safe.