The 2005 hurricane season, which ended on Nov. 30, was the most active in U.S. history with a total of 26 named storms.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responded in record ways to the six storms that made landfall along the country’s coastlines, including the nation’s largest and costliest natural disaster ever, Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to Katrina, FEMA also responded to Hurricane Dennis, Tropical Storm Cindy, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ophelia, and Hurricane Wilma. Combined, the six storms represent the most widespread and catastrophic series of disasters in the nation’s history. Hurricane and tropical storm damage in 2005 spurred emergency and disaster declarations in a record 44 states and the District of Columbia to address the expense of sheltering millions of evacuees forced from their homes by Katrina and Rita.
“This hurricane season has been historic in many ways, not only in the number of storms but in FEMA’s role in them,” said David Paulison, acting director of FEMA. “FEMA has taken more applications, and delivered more assistance in a shorter period of time than during any other hurricane season in our history. I am proud of the good people who work at FEMA and for their tireless effort to help those whose lives were altered by these storms. A long road to recovery remains ahead of those who were impacted by the Gulf Coast hurricanes and we will continue to be there to help.”
The agency’s data processing centers have collected a record three million applications for assistance throughout the 2005 hurricane season. In comparison, this is almost triple the number of applications FEMA took during all of 2004 when four hurricanes hit the Florida coast. Until last year, FEMA had never taken more than a million applications for any single year.
Already, FEMA has provided more than $22 billion dollars in relief funds in response to the six storms, and that figure is expected to rise significantly over the coming months and years as relief operations continue. The $22 billion dollars is the most granted during a single year by FEMA, and represents the fastest delivery of relief funds in FEMA’s history.
For the first time ever, the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) utilized all three of its components at the same time; medical response teams, patient evacuation, and definitive hospital care. NDMS deployed more than 5,000 health care professionals and treated more than 160,000 patients during the hurricane season, 16 times more patients than they had ever treated in any other single year.
FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue teams also responded in record numbers dispatching 68 teams comprised of more than 3,000 personnel. More than 6,500 rescues were made during the hurricane season by these teams. A total of 38 teams alone were deployed to assist in the rescue efforts for Hurricane Katrina, marking the largest deployment of search and rescue teams for any single event in our nation’s history.
In all, FEMA set records for the number of commodities distributed, the number of personnel deployed, the number of patients treated, the number of people rescued and the number of families and governments assisted during the 2005 hurricane season.
FEMA said it expects additional records will be broken as work with state and local officials continues to rebuild this area of the country.
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