Floyd drives traffic to FEMA Web site

Interest in Hurricane Floyd has driven traffic at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's World Wide Web site to a new record, a FEMA official said yesterday.

More than 3 million hits were recorded by Internet users who visited the site (www.fema.gov) on Tuesday, breaking the record of 2.6 million hits set on Monday, said Marc Wolfson, a spokesman and Web content manager for FEMA. Monday's record broke the 2 million "hit record" set last year during Hurricane Bonnie, Wolfson said.

FEMA counts a hit every time a file is requested from the server. A session is counted every time an Internet user stays on the site for more than five minutes, Wolfson said. The number of Internet sessions rose to 245,000 Wednesday. People are accessing the site to get the latest on the hurricane and to get information on how to prepare.

"We provide them with another way of getting the weather reports from the National Hurricane Center," Wolfson said. "The system is linked to the center's servers and looks for new files and updates every 20 minutes and loads it onto our server. The weather sites get so bombarded. It helps take some pressure off them."

The site also includes information on Project Impact, FEMA's program to encourage the construction of buildings that are resistant to hurricanes and other forces of nature. Wolfson said by clicking on Project Impact from the home page, users can take a survey about disasters designed to help FEMA understand what people would be willing to do to make their community more disaster resistant.

FEMA, which invests about $1 million annually in its site, has been able to handle the traffic thanks to a decision last year to increase bandwidth by upgrading from a T-1 line to fiber-optic cable, Wolfson said. The FEMA site is supported by Bell Atlantic Federal Services.

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