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(After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: FEMA Establishes a Temporary Headquarters Away from New York, in New Jersey

Stephen DeBlasio.Stephen DeBlasio. [Source: Jocelyn Augustino / FEMA]The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) establishes a temporary headquarters from which to operate at Camp Kilmer, an Army base near Edison, New Jersey, in place of its office in Lower Manhattan. [9/11 Commission, 3/15/2004 pdf file; Graff, 2017, pp. 344] FEMA’s Region II office is at 26 Federal Plaza, several blocks north of the World Trade Center. After the second hijacked plane crashed into the WTC, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001), communications there “almost instantly” became a problem and “compromised the ability” of the office to operate, according to Richard Ohlsen, one of the office’s employees (see (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Urban Hazards Forum, 1/2002; 9/11 Commission, 3/16/2004 pdf file] Perhaps due, at least partly, to this loss of communications, at some unspecified time a temporary Region II headquarters is subsequently set up away from the city. Arrangements to establish this temporary headquarters are made by Stephen DeBlasio, director of the Administration and Resource Planning Division for Region II. DeBlasio is currently away from New York, in the Virgin Islands for a conference. Immediately after being notified of the crashes at the WTC, he establishes communications from his location in the Virgin Islands. His “first order of business,” he will later recall, is then “to set up a site at Edison, New Jersey, as a temporary FEMA Region II headquarters.” This site is at Camp Kilmer, where FEMA has long maintained space. DeBlasio has 25 phone lines installed there, in addition to the four lines already in place at the site. He also initiates the setting up of a field disaster office at Camp Kilmer, which would be able to accommodate 1,000 people. [9/11 Commission, 3/15/2004 pdf file; Graff, 2017, pp. 344] FEMA’s Region II subsequently deploys members of its emergency response team to various locations, but most of the members go to the site in New Jersey, according to Marianne Jackson, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer. [Urban Hazards Forum, 1/2002] The temporary headquarters at Camp Kilmer is apparently only in use for a relatively short time. After he leaves the Virgin Islands on the afternoon of September 12, DeBlasio will learn that FEMA’s operations for New York have been moved back to the Region II office at 26 Federal Plaza, even though communications there are still out. [9/11 Commission, 3/15/2004 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Marianne Jackson, Richard Ohlsen, Stephen DeBlasio, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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