NPS Hurricane and Severe Weather Response

The National Park Service (NPS) manages a wide variety of areas across the United States and its territories, with many different types of physical environments and visitor experiences where varying levels of service are required to manage incidents and emergencies.

During severe weather such as hurricanes, the NPS strives to ensure the safety of its employees, visitors, and resources. When the NPS is engaged in an ongoing severe weather response effort, this page will provide timely updates about NPS response activities and links to specific information about parks that may be involved.

large boats in front of a two-story visitor center building
The visitor center at Virgin Islands National Park after Hurricane Irma

NPS photo, K Brunsman

Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Updated September 20, 2017 -- 2 pm

Fromom September 6 through September 12, Hurricane Irma carved a path of destruction from the Caribbean, along the Florida peninsula, and into other areas of the southeastern United States, including coastal Georgia and South Carolina. A second storm, Hurricane Maria, has been moving over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico since late yesterday.

The NPS response to parks most significantly impacted by Irma and Maria is coordinated by the National Park Service Eastern Incident Management Team, which moved from its staging point in Atlanta to South Florida last week. The NPS is also coordinating closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the lead agency for the federal response to severe weather emergencies.

The EIMT’s work focuses on accounting for employees at impacted parks, organizing for the work ahead, and bringing in additional staff resources that will conduct damage assessments, coordinate debris removal, and provide access to park areas. As Hurricane Maria has been impacting the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the team is also supporting parks in the Caribbean as they implement emergency plans to protect employees and park resources.

The EIMT issues daily updates about the NPS response for parks most significantly impacted. Those updates are posted here as they become available.

Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Florida

Georgia

South Carolina

North Carolina

Hurricane Harvey

Updated September 20, 2017

In the early morning of August 26, Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast and for the next several days meandered over parts of southeast Texas and southern Louisiana, bringing torrential rain and causing catastrophic flooding.

In response to the storm, the NPS has been providing assistance at a number of national park units in Texas and Louisiana and support for other Department of the Interior bureaus. Affected parks are open, but some sustained damage to trails and facilities. Check with the park before you go to get up-to-the minute details.

The NPS has also supported a number of mission assignments with the Federal Emergency Management Agency supporting survivors in Texas. For the response to Harvey, the NPS sent rangers and other staff from more than 43 different locations to support search and rescue, public safety and security, and damage assessments there.

Texas

Louisiana

Mississippi

Other Park Alerts

Check alerts from parks across the country.

Other Federal Resources and Information

NPS Policy and Authorities

NPS emergency response efforts are directed by NPS Management Policies, which state, “The saving of human life will take precedence over all other management actions as the National Park Service strives to protect human life and provide for injury-free visits” (Section 8.2.5.1, Visitor Safety and Emergency Response). The NPS ability to respond to incidents is essential to the safety of all who enter NPS areas and is implemented in this policy.

The NPS also has authority to support emergency response outside of the parks. During times of emergency, the NPS may be asked to provide response to conduct search and rescue, firefighting, or public safety and security. The NPS can provide support for needs involving public works and engineering, public health and medical services, oil and hazardous spill response, and external affairs. In addition, the NPS is one of the support agencies to provide natural and cultural resources and historic preservation functions in the federal government under the National Response Framework.