With Matthew, the first big hurricane to threaten Florida and the Carolinas in several years, barreling up the coast, the FCC has started its anticipatory disaster response. A public notice released this afternoon alerts the public that Commission personnel will be available, 24/7, to assist communications providers as they deal with the effects of the storm. Emergency communications providers – a universe that includes broadcasters, cable operators, wireless and wireless providers, and, of course, first responders – should contact the FCC’s Operations Center if they need help in initiating, resuming, or maintaining communications operations during the weekend. The phone number for the Operations Center is 202-418-1122, and its email address is FCCOPCenter@fcc.gov.
Although the public notice doesn’t mention it, folks in the storm zone might also want to take a look at the FCC’s “tips” on communicating during emergency conditions. The tips, developed by the Commission in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), aren’t what you’d call radical or cutting-edge by any means, but they serve as an excellent reminder that, in emergencies, caution, cool heads and common sense are among the most useful tools available.
Historically, the Commission has also activated its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) in advance of approaching major storms. Such activation has not yet been announced by the FCC (as of 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5), but we won’t be surprised if word comes down before too long that the DIRS is open for business. Check back here for updates.