Hurricane Irene was the only 2011 hurricane to make a U.S. landfall. As Irene neared landfall, NISAC modeled the hurricane’s potential impacts on critical infrastructure in several key sectors located in the projected storm track. This provided situational awareness and advanced warning of potential infrastructure impacts for DHS and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) leadership and personnel on the ground, both federal and local.

The most important issues in hurricane Irene’s U.S. landfall were similar to those faced after most major hurricanes

  • rescuing and treating people stranded and/or injured by the storm;
  • distributing basic services to the population (safe drinking water, food, and shelter);
  • restoring normal infrastructure services; and
  • rebuilding structures.

Major issues included evacuating population living in the surge zone; power outages; and the impacts of power outage, storm surge, and debris on the functioning of local emergency services, road transportation, air transportation, water supply, wastewater treatment, and communications.

Based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) projected storm path, which indicated a broad area of impact from South Carolina to Maine, NISAC estimated areas of storm surge and power outage. Using these results, NISAC provided warning of the following potential issues that could result from hurricane Irene:

  • The daytime population in the expected inundation area is about 1.2 million people.
  • A large number of chemical facilities (700+) were projected to lose power, resulting in potential supply-chain impacts.
  • Key Internet facilities, including MAE East, New York International Internet Exchange, and Flag Telecom Landing, were in projected surge zone. This could result in local Internet outages.
  • Flooding and power outages at Reagan Washington National Airport and Norfolk International Airport as well as some level of inundation at all New York City airports could have regionally significant impact and potential national slowdowns in air traffic.
  • Direct damage to port facilities and aids to navigation were expected as a result of inundation and storm surge. Port of New York/New Jersey could potentially be heavily impacted by the storm surge.