WASHINGTON - The North Atlantic hurricane season starts this month, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has taken a number of steps to prepare.

DOE has strengthened its hurricane response system through increased coordination with federal, state, and local leaders, including: training an additional 30 employees for emergency response, bringing the number of specially trained DOE response coordination personnel to more than 70; hosting the Energy Leadership forum in Tunica, Miss., in January to review best practices and lessons learned with industry representatives and federal, state, and local government leaders; updating and enhancing the hurricane modeling system for DOE's Visualization Room; working with states to improve their energy assurance plans; and implementing a toll-free hotline that will allow state and local leaders and representatives from the energy industry to improve communications with DOE during emergencies.

Last year, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita knocked out electricity to a large portion of the Gulf Coast and damaged a number of oil and gas recovery platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and refineries along the shore. In response, DOE deployed emergency response experts to the Gulf region and had dozens of other individuals working on the hurricane response from DOE headquarters in Washington. DOE coordinated with other federal agencies, state and local government leaders, and private industry to overcome obstacles and bring power back online and bring fuel to affected regions of the country.

Publication date: 06/05/2006