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Recap of Admin. Fugate’s Visit to Alabama on Thursday (April 29)

Yesterday, at the request of President Obama, Administrator Fugate traveled to Alabama to meet with Governor Bentley and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner, along with other federal, state and local leaders.

Craig started the day in Birmingham where he met with Senator Shelby and Representatives Aderholt and Sewell. Together, along with members of the Alabama National Guard, and thanks to their helicopter support, the group did an aerial damage surveillance tour from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa.



Craig met up with Governor Bentley and Art Faulkner, Director of Alabama Emergency Management, in Tuscaloosa to discuss the ongoing response efforts and to ensure the Governor's team had no unmet needs, and then traveled with the Governor to a devastated part of the city, to meet with state and local officials and disaster survivors.

At a press conference following the meetings, Craig praised the first responders, non-profit and faith-based organizations, as well as members of the general public for their courage, their quick response to this devastation, and for their tireless efforts to save lives and help the disaster survivors.



He also reiterated that FEMA stands in support of the Governor and his team - who is leading the response and recovery efforts in the state.

He then did some interviews with local and national news outlets about FEMA operations in the state and discussed how the recovery efforts will take some time.

Today, Administrator Fugate traveled around the state, this time accompanying President Obama.
For continued information about how FEMA is supporting response and recovery efforts, keep visiting our blog at blog.fema.gov.

Recap: Response and Support Efforts for Southern U.S. Tornadoes and Severe Storms

Below is a recap of our activities since the deadly outbreak of severe storms and tornadoes across the southern U.S. For the latest updates on our role, check out the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.

Wednesday, April 27th:

  • Severe weather system including high winds, hail and tornadoes devastates parts of several southeastern states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. Alabama is most heavily affected by severe storms, which are forecast to affect the East Coast from Florida through New England through April 29th.
  • Governor Bentley submits request for a federal emergency declaration for the State of Alabama as a result of severe storms, hail, straight-line winds, and tornadoes.
  • FEMA Region IV Administrator Phil May speaks with both Governor Bentley and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner.
  • DHS Secretary Napolitano speaks with Governor Bentley to express condolences and to discuss latest status.
  • President Obama declares an emergency for all 67 counties in Alabama, and orders federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the area struck by these storms. The President's action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts. Joe M. Girot is designated as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in Alabama.
  • The President calls Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and expresses his deepest condolences for the tragic loss of life and suffering caused by severe storms and tornadoes in Alabama.
  • President releases statement on the severe storms and tornadoes in Alabama http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/04/28/president-devastation-alabama
  • FEMA places two National Incident Management Assistance Teams on alert, in case Alabama requests their assistance. These teams help the state coordinate response efforts.
  • FEMA places Texas Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) team on alert, to be available in case Alabama makes a request for assistance.
  • FEMA Region IV deploys a regional liaison officer to the Alabama emergency operations center to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond and begins to recover from this devastating storm outbreak.

Thursday, April 28th:

  • FEMA Headquarters activates its National Response Coordination Staff to Level III, which activates its emergency support functions, including transportation, public works, mass care, public health, search and rescue and others.
  • FEMA Region IV deploys regional IMAT to the Alabama emergency operations center to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond and begins to recover from the devastating storm outbreak.
  • FEMA Region IV Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) activates to Level II for increased coordination with the affected states.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, and Alabama State Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner conduct a press conference call on the coordinated state and federal response to the severe and deadly tornadoes in Alabama.
  • On this call, Administrator Fugate announces that at the direction of the president, he will be traveling to Alabama to join the governor and other state and local officials on the ground.
  • FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino travels to the FEMA Region IV headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and meets with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and other state and local officials as they assess the damage.
  • FEMA coordinates with the USNORTHCOM to establish an incident support base in Maxwell, Alabama. The support base will allow FEMA to move supplies such as water, infant toddler kits, and tarps closer to the affected area, in case they are needed.
  • President Obama speaks via telephone with DHS Secretary Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Fugate to discuss the continuing federal disaster relief efforts for areas affected by the devastating severe storms and tornadoes that have impacted Alabama, Mississippi and other states across the Southeast.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate arrives in Alabama to meet with Governor Robert Bentley, and other state and local officials, to assess the damage and ensure the state is receiving all the support needed for its response and recovery operations.
  • Regional IMAT arrives in Alabama to support state efforts at the Alabama emergency operations center.
  • FEMA, its federal partners and the affected states hold a video-teleconference to discuss response efforts and to address anticipated needs.
  • The President speaks with the Governors of Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia to express condolences and let them know that the Federal Government is ready to help in any appropriate and possible way.
  • FEMA liaison officers land on the ground in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Kentucky emergency operations centers supporting state efforts.
  • The President makes nationally televised remarks to address the severe storms and inform the American people what its government is doing to assist the people in need.
  • FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino joins Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at a press conference at the state's emergency operations center in Atlanta.
  • FEMA Administrator Fugate joins Alabama Governor Robert Bentley at a press conference in Tuscaloosa, after his meetings and surveying damage in both Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.
  • The Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues a press release to urge workers and members of the public engaged in cleanup activities to be aware of hazards they might encounter and to take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
  • FEMA deploys a mobile emergency response support team to Alabama to provide prompt and rapid multi-media communications processing, logistics and operational support to state officials.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Administrator Val Dolcini reminds crop and livestock producers in affected states that FSA programs may be available to assist with recovery.
  • President Obama declares a major disaster declaration which makes federal assistance available to individual who suffered personal property damages or losses, and for public infrastructure, such as schools, fire stations, and libraries.

President Declares Major Disaster for Alabama

Early this morning, President Obama declared a major disaster in Alabama as a result of the severe storms and tornadoes that began on April 15.

This makes federal funding available to individuals and business owners in Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marshall, Tuscaloosa, and Walker counties, which can include grants for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans. Federal funding is also available to state and eligible local governments in all 67 counties in the state as they continue with debris removal and emergency protective measures, such as providing shelter and meals.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance today by:

  • registering online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/,
  • registering through a web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov, or by
  • calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.  The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

As you may remember from soon after the storms struck, President Obama authorized an emergency declaration for Alabama, another avenue to provide federal assistance to support the state and local response efforts.  At the President’s direction, Administrator Fugate has been on the ground in Alabama since yesterday morning, in both Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, and will be with the President in Alabama today. Deputy Administrator Rich Serino was on the ground in Georgia yesterday, and will be in Mississippi, with Governor Barbour, today.

In all of the areas affected by the severe storms and tornadoes, we continue to work closely with the entire emergency management team, especially the state emergency management agencies in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.  As President Obama said just after the storms hit, the federal government “stands ready to continue to help the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms”.

For the latest updates on our role, check out the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.  And if your area is at risk for severe storms and tornadoes in the future, you can take steps to get prepared at http://www.ready.gov/.

Online and Mobile Resources for Helping Survivors

Edited: April 30, 10 pm EDT
Related Blog Post: New Widget & Alabama/FEMA Facebook Page

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by the severe storms and tornadoes that hit much of the southeastern U.S. As part of the team responding to the severe weather in the South, we continue to support communities and states as they assess the situation and provide life-saving and life-sustaining support.

Below is a list of online resources you can use and pass on to others who may have been affected. Included in this list are resources that are accessible via smartphones and other mobile devices. And if you’re looking for our latest updates, visit the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.

If you’re on a desktop or laptop computer:
 

If you only have access to a smartphone or mobile device:

Administrator Fugate Travels to Alabama

At the request of President Obama, Administrator Fugate is travelling to Alabama today to meet with Gov. Robert Bentley, and other state and local officials, to assess damage and ensure the state is receiving all support needed for response and recovery operations.  Details regarding Administrator Fugate’s visit to Alabama will be posted on the blog later today.

Since the tornadoes struck, through our regional office in Atlanta, Ga., we have been in constant contact with the governor’s office and state emergency management officials, and have deployed staff to Alabama’s emergency operations center to help with coordination needs. 

And in case you missed it last night, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for Alabama, providing federal support to state and local response efforts. 

For the latest information about FEMA’s response, see the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.

Video: Update From Admin. Fugate on Southeast Tornadoes and Severe Storms

Posted by: Public Affairs

As many of you have no doubt seen, devastating storms and tornadoes struck the southeastern U.S. last night.  Here’s a video update from Administrator Fugate on the latest:



Forecasts from the National Weather Service are calling for more severe weather today.  If you are in the potentially affected area, be sure to stay updated with your local forecast and follow the direction of local officials.

For tips on staying safe before, during and after a tornado, thunderstorm or flood, visit Ready.gov or our mobile site (m.fema.gov).

To keep updated with our latest updates, visit the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.

Alabama, Georgia, and Southern U.S. Hit by Tornadoes and Severe Storms

Our thoughts are with the families and communities in Alabama and Georgia that have been affected by the severe storms and tornados that have ripped through the region this evening and continue to impact the southern states.

Through our regional office in Atlanta, GA we have been in close contact and coordination with state emergency management officials, as they work tirelessly to meet the immediate needs of disaster survivors.

When natural disasters, such as severe storms and tornados, strike, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet immediate human needs.

This evening, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for Alabama, providing federal support to state and local response efforts.

  • The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all federal disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 67 counties in the State of Alabama.
  • Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.
  • At the request of the state of Alabama, FEMA is deploying a liaison officer to the state emergency operations center to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond and begins to recover from this devastating storm outbreak.

More severe weather is forecasted throughout the south, so make sure you’re taking steps to stay safe before, during, and after the storm:

  • Follow the instructions of state and local officials,
  • Listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information,
  • Make sure you have a safe place to go in case severe weather approaches,
  • Familiarize yourself with severe weather watch/warning terms
    • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
    • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

For complete tips on getting prepared for a tornado, severe storm, or flooding, visit Ready.gov or our mobile site (m.fema.gov).

Related blog posts: Our role in severe storms and tornadoes

ShakeOut Tomorrow - Help Us Get To 3 Million

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill is tomorrow!  As we’ve mentioned several times on the blog, the ShakeOut drill is a great way to practice earthquake safety and connect with those who are also at risk for an earthquake.

So take a minute to sign up today – over 2.9 million people have registered across the 11 participating states.  And if you’re already planning on participating, check out these earthquake scenarios to practice in your home, school, workplace, or community.

After the drill, visit the ShakeOut website and share your photos or stories of how you practiced earthquake safety.

Wildfires: Federal Assistance and Safety Tips

When natural disasters, such as wildfires strike, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet the immediate needs of survivors.

In the case of the ongoing Texas wildfires, first responders and firefighters from more than 30 states continue to battle the blazes.  We sincerely commend their heroic efforts to protect public health and safety, fighting the fire to minimize damage to lives, property and critical infrastructure.

Through our regional office in Denton, Texas we are continuing to closely partner with the state of Texas providing financial support for ongoing efforts to fight and mitigate the volatile wildfire conditions.

During this fire season, the federal government continues to support the state of Texas with 22 Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) declarations, including 16 FMAGs since the beginning of April.

So what is an FMAG, and how does it support the efforts of first responders and firefighters?

Basically, FMAG’s provide financial assistance so firefighters and first responders can focus all their efforts on reducing the negative impacts of the fire.  An FMAG authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs, under an approved grant structure.

Firefighting helicopter hovering over a lake.
Loveland, CO, September 13, 2010 -- Firefighting helicopter hovering over a lake. Heavy air tankers work on hot spots on the Reservoir Road Fire just west of the town of Loveland. FEMA authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Reservoir Road Fire.

Items eligible for FMAGs can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; mobilization and demobilization activities; and tools, materials and supplies.

In case you’re interested in the specifics, the program allows for the “mitigation, management, and control” of fires burning on publicly or privately owned forest or grasslands which threaten such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.  FMAGs are provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster.

A note on FMAGs: These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.  A Governor must make a request for a major disaster declaration, including individual assistance, to receive federal disaster assistance for individual home or business owners.

If you’re in an area that may be impacted by wildfires, remember these safety tips:

  • Listen to and follow the guidance of state and local officials. If authorities order an evacuation, leave immediately, follow evacuation routes announced by local officials.
  • Create an area of “defensible space” around your home.  Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc.
  • If you’re caught in the open during a wildfire, The best temporary shelter is in a sparse fuel area.  Clear fuel away from the area while the fire is approaching and then lie face down in the depression and cover yourself. Stay down until after the fire passes.

For more tips on staying safe before, during and after a wildfire, visit www.Ready.gov and our mobile site (m.fema.gov).

Severe weather continues across U.S.: Are you prepared?

A strong line of severe storms, tornadoes and heavy rains are continuing to affect much of the U.S., from Illinois to Arkansas.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities struck by the deadly tornadoes, severe storms and flooding that swept through areas of the Midwest last night including Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee and face more severe storms forecasted for this week.

Through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill. and Denton, Texas we have been in constant contact and coordination with the state’s emergency management teams in Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee to ensure they have the support they need.

There are currently no requests for federal assistance as a result of the yesterday’s storms, but FEMA will continue to stay in constant communication with the states and stands ready to support, if needed.  (Federal disaster assistance is available to residents of Atoka County in Oklahoma, and 18 counties in North Carolina resulting from damage of tornadoes and severe storms earlier this month.)

If you are in the storm’s path and may be affected, it’s important to follow the instructions of state and local officials, and listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. If authorities order an evacuation, leave immediately, follow evacuation routes announced by local officials, and stay away from river banks and streams.

Here are some other tips on staying safe during a flood, tornado, or thunderstorm.  You can find more safety and preparedness tips on Ready.gov or on our mobile site (m.fema.gov).

Floods

  • Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous. Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.  Remember – turn around, don’t drown.
  • Familiarize yourself with flood alerts:
    • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information 
    • Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information. 
    • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately. 
    • Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately. 

Tornadoes

  • If a tornado is possible in your area, go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Do not open windows.
  • Familiarize yourself with tornado terminology:
    • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Thunderstorms

  • Thunderstorms can bring heavy rains, winds, and lightning.  If you hear thunder, seek shelter indoors.  Stay away from doors and windows, and move to an interior room or basement.
  • Become familiar with thunderstorm terminology:
    • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.

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