Shinnecock Indian Nation gets response team from Seminole Tribe of Florida and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate dialogue with USET Tribes
11/1/2012 7:44:24 PM
For Immediate Release:
United South and Eastern Tribes
Issued at 7:30 PM Central Time
November 1, 2012
For additional information:
Brandon Stephens, Development Director- (615) 467-1560 (Office), (615) 872-7417 (Fax) Bstephens(at)usetinc.org
(Southampton, NY) - - The Shinnecock Indian Nation is going to receive some needed assistance with response to the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. While coordinating with the United South and Eastern Tribes, Incorporated (USET) Tribal Emergency Mutual Aid Compact (TEMAC), assistance is being sent by the Seminole Tribe of Florida to New York. Shinnecock Emergency Management is reporting to USET it has never experienced disaster like this. USET Senior Project Coordinator, Emergency Management, Harrell French says, “As you know our newer federally recognized Tribes as still in the process of getting all of their people and procedures in place. This is going to be a big asset to them (Shinnecock). We just give a very big ‘Thank You’ to the Seminole Tribe of Florida.”
The effects of a storm or natural disaster can be frustrating for a government on many levels. Usually natural disaster has a few stages that include the preparation, if it is predictable as Sandy was, the occurrence, response and longer-term recovery. Several Tribes, like the Seminole Tribe of Florida, have lots of experience and knowledge about how to respond, recover, and coordinate with state and federal resources. Seminole Executive Director of Public Safety Jerry Wheeler is sending a response team, Jason Dobronz and Keith Carson, to New York. Their job will be to assist the Shinnecock with assessment, help coordinate resources, and assist with documentation for state and federal agencies. Dobronz and Carson are expected to be at the Shinnecock Indian Nation by Saturday. The Shinnecock Reservation is on the east end of Long Island in Suffolk County, New York.
Shinnecock Chairman Trustee Randy King reports, “We know a tidal surge of about four to six feet came into the Reservation. We still do not have electricity. We had out Tribal burial grounds halfway covered with water. Right now it is the electricity (that is needed) which is the issue.” Without the electricity there is no heat and temperatures are falling in the area. “It’s getting cold and some of our elders don’t have ways to heat their home. We have gotten a liaison from FEMA, Ashley Smith, is helping us assess the whole situation too,” King added. Smith and FEMA Special Advisor for National Tribal Affairs at Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Richard Flores continue to coordinate efforts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and organizations like the Red Cross.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is taking time to speak and listen directly with Tribes. While President Obama has given directives for Fugate to open up transportation in New York and New Jersey and continue to coordinate disaster relief, Administrator Fugate reserved time for Tribes effected by the storm, Tribes sending mutual aid, and Tribal partners (federal and non-governmental). “I think one of the things that we would like to emphasize is the Nation to Nation relationship the federally recognized Tribes. And when it comes to providing assistance, often Tribal governments are more tuned to some of the characteristics you need in order to help each other. We are a big supporter of mutual aid,” Fugate told Tribes.
While there are some issues being considered in Congress that will address Tribal safety and sovereignty, Fugate indicated that FEMA is still working on those issues, but there are bigger issues at hand. He added, “We’re committed to continued support and address the issues that so many Tribes are facing in these disasters. The President is very supportive of the Stafford Act to recognize the sovereignty of the Tribes. But, our goal right now is to primarily focus on the immediate response issues.”
USET’s Harrell French has been invited to assist with FEMA response in Washington, DC. French will be on hand to assist FEMA’s coordination efforts with Tribes for the next a few days at the Washington, D.C. Headquarters.