Update: Notes from Taiwan’s local office added at 4:47 p.m. on Sept. 11. Haiti information added at 5:37 p.m.
Belgium’s effort has been updated as of Sept. 12 at 4:28 p.m. to reflect a broader array of response activities the consulate has undertaken.
Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Irma’s approach has local diplomatic offices scrambling to offer services to their nationals located throughout the Southeast, whether evacuating in the face of the storm or sheltering in place.
Many consulates are working half days or closing altogether Sept. 11, even as they provide contact phone numbers and emails pointing citizens in distress to helpful information. Social media has also been a key mode of outreach, given that many consulates have cumbersome websites affiliated with their foreign ministries.
Now traveling over land, the record-setting Atlantic hurricane that has already devastated some Caribbean islands has been downgraded to a tropical storm, having lost some steam after slamming into Florida over the weekend. The western coast of the state’s peninsula has been hit particularly hard.
As Irma slowly climbs northward into Georgia, the threat is still extreme. All 159 Georgia counties have been included in a state of emergency issued by Gov. Nathan Deal. Winds of 40 miles per hour and gusts of up to 80 miles per hour are expected in Atlanta. Widespread power outages are also expected, and cancellations are mounting at the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Few consulates in Atlanta cover Florida (many countries have diplomatic offices in Miami), but most offices here also handle the affairs of their nationals in states like South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
Some, like Atlanta’s Belgian consulate, have been tailoring social media posts to audiences in each territory with the most up-to-date information from government and news sources. (Belgium also did much more — see below).
Others have issued blanket statements and directed citizens to their embassies for more information.
Some have deployed creative solutions, like the French consulate’s efforts to match evacuating citizens with potential hosts further inland (see more below). Canada’s inbound and outgoing consuls general, Nadia Theodore and Louise Blais, have been out distributing emergency information to hotels in Atlanta as displaced Canadians look for lodging.
Below is a list of consular closures and a look at how each office is notifying and assisting its citizens.
Atlanta is home to consular or trade offices of more than 70 countries, but fewer than 30 of them are “care.r” consulates — fully staffed outfits manned by career diplomats. Many are honorary consuls, usually Americans who have been appointed to represent the country’s interests in their home state.
The storm prep comes as the U.S. marks the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks where hijackers slammed planes into the Pentagon in Washington and took down the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York, killing more than 3,000 people.
See the list:
The Argentine consulate in Atlanta posted information about assistance to affected citizens in the Caribbean.
— CancilleríaArgentina (@CancilleriaARG) September 10, 2017
The consulate is open only for emergencies Sept. 11-12, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. After hours, the consulate referred citizens to emergency services and CIAM, the Centro de Information y Asistencia a Mexicanos.
COMO MEDIDA PRECAUTORIA DEBIDO AL HURACÁN IRMA LUNES 11 Y MARTES 12 DE SEPTIEMBRE, EL CONSULADO ESTARÁ ABIERTO SOLO PARA EMERGENCIAS CON HORARIO DE 8:00 A 16:00 HORAS. FUERA DE ESTOS HORARIOS UTILIZAR LOS TELÉFONOS DE EMERGENCIA Y CIAM
1700 Chantilly Dr NE Atlanta, GA 30324 consulmexatlanta.org
Emergencias: (404) 625-1706
Due to the threat of hurricane Irma, the Consulate General of Brazil in Atlanta will be closed on Monday, September 11.
ALL APPOINTMENTS HAVE BEEN CANCELED, NO PICK-UP OF VISAS.
We’ll email all the applicants whose appointments have been canceled and we’ll try to reschedule all the appointments for next week, depending on the conditions after the storm. Keep checking this website for updates as of Tuesday, September 12.
The Canadian consulate is open Sept. 11, with some staffers at the airport to provide information and help connect stranded Canadians with potential hosts, the consulate tweeted.
— Vera Nicholas (@VNicholas_ATNTA) September 11, 2017
As of about 10 a.m., Air Canada had canceled all flights into and out of Atlanta Sept. 11. The consulate urged passengers to check flights with the Atlanta airport. Delta Air Lines decided early Monday to cancel about 800 flights from Atlanta.
Helplines are as follows:
The Canadian foreign ministry has also published a comprehensive page for citizens impacted in the Caribbean and the Southeast U.S.
The consulate is closed from 11 a.m. onward on Sept. 11. By the end of the day, the consulate should know whether it plans to resume normal operations.
The consulate is closed Sept. 11:
COMUNICADO CIERRE OFICINAS CONSULADO GENERAL DEL PERU EN ATLANTA
El día de hoy el Gobierno de Georgia ha declarado el estado de emergencia en todo el territorio del estado ante el paso del huracán “Irma” y sus posibles impactos. .
Teniendo en cuenta las medidas de prevención adoptadas por las autoridades del estado de Georgia y de la ciudad de Atlanta, se comunica a la Comunidad Peruana que el Consulado permanecerá cerrado el lunes 11 y martes 12 de septiembre.
Para cualquier situación de emergencia, se agradecerá contactar a este Consulado a través de los siguientes teléfonos:
(678) 328 9123
(678) 396 2590
(404) 432 0200
También se podrá comunicar a través de: www.facebook.com/consulperuatlanta
Consulado General del Perú en Atlanta
The consulate in Atlanta is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 11, according to an announcement from Sunday. It also issued a detailed explanation of steps needed to ensure hurricane preparedness (in French), complete with evacuation zones in each state the consulate covers. On social media, the consulate pointed to the French embassy in Washington, which is working overtime to ensure the safety of French citizens across the U.S. Like many missions, it has set up a hotline:
The consulate also asked its Facebook followers whether they’d be interested in hosting French citizens from Florida and other coastal areas fleeing the storm. They’re calling it operation #porteouverte (open door):
Do you have a room of friends and do you want to volunteer to temporarily host one or more fellow countrymen in difficulty?
The detailed Sept. 7 post called for potential hosts to submit contact information in an email to the consulate: firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest information here (French).
Haiti’s Atlanta consulate was closed Sept. 11, according to its Facebook page. No word on whether it will reopen Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Consul D.V. Singh and other representatives are manning a 24/7 helpline for Indian citizens in the Southeast U.S.
The consulate has also pointed to a national helpline set up at the embassy.
On social media, the consulate expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support from the Indian community toward evacuees, including the opening of shelters and donations of food.
It also pointed to its own interventions in Florida to help get trade delegations home ahead of the storm. India is one of the few countries that serves Florida from its Atlanta consulate.
The national hotline is being run out of Atlanta at 202-258-8819 with help from the Consul General from New York, Sandeep Chakravorty.
The consulate is closed Sept. 11 and 12:
Due to the inclement weather expected to
reach the area resulting from Hurricane Irma,
the Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta will
be closed on Monday, September 11th and
Tuesday, September 12th
In case of an emergency, please call the
appropriate phone number listed below.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
*If calling within the US, please dial:
*If calling from outside of the US, please dial:
Citizens in Southeast US with #Irma concerns can call Consulate at 4045544980. From Ireland call Department of Foreign Affairs at 014082000
Consul General William De Baets, who formerly managed Belgium’s crisis response agency in Brussels, B-FAST, told Global Atlanta that the consulate did much more than post on social media, even though much of it happened behind the scenes:
We sent out various messages to the Belgian community in the Southeast (some 5,500 people) giving the important sources of trustful information and our emergency contacts.
We sent out a message to the Belgians in Florida asking for possibilities to shelter/lodge fellow Belgians who might run out of resources and/or not find a hotel. That gave us quite a nice list of people offering a room (or more). With that we did the geographical match for some families in need. (I understand the French also had such a system, but on public social media.)
We were in touch with and relayed updates from the major travel agency/airline (TUI/JetAir) with Belgian clients stuck in Florida (but also in the Caribbean; a challenge of another level).
Through our social media and the press in Belgium we asked Belgians stuck in Florida (and the Southeast) to give their whereabouts to the consulate general. We got quite a number of people checking in and we mapped them.
And finally, we answered questions/worries from Belgians in the Southeast and/or families/friends in Belgium via emergency phone and email.
And back on Facebook, amid the Sept. 11 storm, the consulate urged its constituents not to forget another coming threat:
Even with the offices closed for Monday, Director General Vincent J.Y. Liu has been in the Midtown offices of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta.
He told Global Atlanta that staff has been there “to circulate emergency contact phone numbers via all social media channels, local Chinese News Media and our office website to Taiwanese citizens traveling in the hurricane Irma affected areas and to Taiwanese-American community who are in distress to helpful information in southeastern states. Our office will be closed on Sept. 12.”
The TECO office also circulated a news story about the national government’s messages of condolences to victims and outreach efforts through its Caribbean embassies.
Learn more here.
The United Kingdom consulate in Atlanta is urging local communities to heed warnings and evacuation orders by state leaders, as well as circulating statements by the ambassador and the embassy in Washington, mostly in support of U.S. authorities:
British Ambassador Kim Darroch, who recently visited Atlanta, issued the following statement on Hurricane Irma:
This is a message to all British nationals in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina: If you are in the path of Hurricane Irma, please follow the advice of state and local authorities, including any evacuation orders.
Mandatory evacuations are in place in parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina; you can find further information and updates on the websites of FEMA, Florida Disaster, Georgia Emergency Management, South Carolina Emergency Management and North Carolina Emergency Management, as well as on the websites of local authorities in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
People’s safety is our number one concern, and we are working with US authorities to ensure that every support is available and everything can be done before Hurricane Irma reaches Florida.
Over recent days, teams of staff have been at airports in the affected area providing advice and support to British nationals living in Florida and also British tourists in Florida, including issuing emergency travel documents. Additional staff are on standby to provide assistance once the hurricane has passed, although our ability to provide assistance may be extremely limited.
The situation could deteriorate significantly, even after the hurricane passes, so you should ensure you have your own contingency plans in place and consider your travel plans very carefully, staying in contact with your airline and/or tour operator as appropriate. If you evacuate, please get in touch with your family and tell them your plans.
Again, if you are in the path of the hurricane, please follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders. And continue to check the Foreign Office’s travel advice. If you are in need of help from the Foreign Office, or are concerned about others, call our emergency hotline on +44 207 008 0000.
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