WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season begins, lawmakers in Washington and national forecasters are urging Americans to prepare now while things are still calm.
June 1 officially marked the start of what’s expected to be a busy 2021 season.
“So the outlook does call for an above-normal season,” NOAA Seasonal Outlook Expert Matthew Rosencrans said.
According to the NOAA outlook for this year’s season, there could be as many as 20 named storms. That includes six to 10 hurricanes and potentially three to five major hurricanes reaching Category 3 strength or higher.
There is, however, some good news.
“We are not expecting it to be as active as 2020,” Rosencrans said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has over 21,000 employees on hand to respond. The agency is having a busy year already responding to both the pandemic and migrant surge.
“I know they’re stretched because of what is going on at the Southern Border,” Sen. Rick Scott said.
The Republican senator from Florida says he wrote a letter to FEMA asking if the agency is ready. FEMA has not responded yet, according to Scott.
“So I am going to continue to do everything I can to get them ready,” he added.
Rep. Troy Carter, a Democrat from Louisiana, says he wants to make sure FEMA has the support it needs to help communities in the storms path.
“We’re gonna be on that one-yard line making sure that they’re ready to answer the bell in case of need for the people of Louisiana,” he said. “Particularly in a place like Louisiana that has suffered a great deal with flooding and hurricanes.”
Hurricane season runs now through Nov. 30. Peak season is typically from August to October.
Rosencrans says that gives people extra time to prepare.
“Being that we’re not seeing activity now, take the time to prepare now,” he said.
As far as concerns to FEMA staffing going into hurricane season, a FEMA spokesperson told Washington Correspondent Kellie Meyer that “FEMA routinely manages multiple, concurrent disaster operations as well as long-term strategic priorities.”
“FEMA has over 21,000 dedicated emergency managers in the workforce who have a wealth of disaster experience and can be called upon at a moment’s notice to support any disaster,” the spokesperson added. “To meet the current mission demands and build operational readiness for emergent incidents, FEMA continues to collaborate with and recruit and hire skilled personnel to help all citizens before, during and after disasters. This includes leveraging the DHS Surge Capacity Force, which allows FEMA to partner with and deploy members from other federal agencies and utilize FEMA’s Local Hire Program to continue building the workforce now and for the future.”