Several of our bloggers have talked about our role in supporting the flood-fighting efforts in North Dakota, providing assistance to individuals, business owners, and the affected state and local governments. Earlier today, Deputy Administrator Serino visited Minot, and we will provide more details of his trip tomorrow.
As the work of the entire emergency management team continues in areas along with Souris River, here are some photos highlighting both precautionary measures and response activities related to the flooding in North Dakota.
Minot, ND, June 27, 2011 -- Federal Emergency Management Agency employee, Katherine Ordway assists a disaster survivor at the FEMA/State Disaster Recovery Center at the Auditorium in South Minot, North Dakota.
Minot, ND, June 27, 2011 -- Robin Finegan (center), Administrator, FEMA Region VIII, and Stacie Greff (left), external affairs officer, listen to disaster survivor, Dona Young at the Red Cross Shelter in the auditorium in South Minot, North Dakota.
Burlington, ND, June 25, 2011 -- Aerial view of Burlington, North Dakota inundated with flood waters from the Souris River.
Minot, ND, June 25, 2011 -- Aerial view of flooding from the Souris River in the Oak Park neighborhood in Minot. FEMA is providing disaster assistance to Ward and Burleigh counties.
Minot, ND, June 25, 2011 -- National Guard load 1,000 lb. sandbags onto a flatbed truck to use on levees along the Souris River in Minot. FEMA is providing disaster assistance to Ward and Burleigh counties.
Minot, ND, June 24, 2011 -- Officials from the National Guard and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discuss flood fighting measures during a survey of the damaged area.
Minot, ND, June 23, 2011 -- Nicholas Boesl plays in the sand as his mother and sister fill sandbags at the Sertoma Sports Complex. Residents are sandbagging along the Souris River to try to prevent flooding.
Minot, ND, June 23, 2011 -- Construction crews contracted by the Army Corps of Engineers add height to a dirt levee, in an effort to hold back the Souris River from flooding Minot. FEMA is working closely with federal, state, local and tribal partners in the ongoing flood fight.
Minot, ND, June 26, 2011 -- National Guardsman, and U.S. Deptartment of Wildlfe Services travel by airboat through flooded Oak Park neighborhood in Minot, N.D. The team were on a reconnaissance mission to check on telephone/power stations.
Minot, ND, June 25, 2011 -- FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) vehicle parked near the emergency operations center in South Minot.
Minot, ND, June 27, 2011 -- Red Cross volunteer, Phil Wendel talks to disaster survivors at the FEMA/State Disaster Recovery Center in the auditorium in South Minot, N.D.
For the latest on the ongoing recovery efforts, visit the disaster page.
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Minot, ND, June 27, 2011 -- Federal Emergency Management Agency employee, Katherine Ordway assists a disaster survivor at the FEMA/State Disaster Recovery Center at the Auditorium in South Minot, North Dakota.
As Robin Finegan, Regional Administrator for Region VIII, pointed out, we continue to support the federal, state and local flood-fighting efforts in response to historic high waters along the Souris River in North Dakota. We wanted to share two stories that emphasize our role in providing assistance to those affected by the flooding:
- Last night, NBC Nightly News provided an update on the flooding, while interviewing a disaster survivor at a disaster recovery center. We currently have three recovery centers open, along with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, to answer questions about recovery programs and disaster assistance.
For more on the resources available at a disaster recovery center, check out this video that was shot earlier this year, from our operations in North Carolina:
- Today, the Minot Daily News published a story about our community relations teams reaching out to disaster survivors. These teams have been on the ground in Ward and Burleigh counties, encouraging those affected by the flooding to apply for disaster assistance.
If you have sustained losses from the flooding, please apply with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), or by visiting DisasterAssistance.gov or m.fema.gov on your smartphone.
Minot, ND, June 23, 2011 -- Liva Rovig loads sandbags on the back of a flatbed trailer at the Sertoma Sports Complex. Residents are sandbagging along the Souris River to try to prevent flooding.
Images of the flooding in the picturesque Souris River Valley are streaming all over the world. National and international media have descended upon the city of Minot and smaller communities like Burlington, Sawyer and Velva. However, seeing those images on a computer or television screen and seeing them in person are very different experiences.
I have had the opportunity to travel around Minot with local officials, the Governor and the North Dakota congressional delegation. I have seen homes of which only the rooftops are visible. Parks that should be full of children enjoying the summer sunshine sit submerged. And the truly surprising thing is that this flooding has only just begun – in Minot up to eight more feet of water is expected by the weekend.
The residents of this area have displayed amazing composure in the face of this disaster. Despite knowing the historic flooding was heading their way, folks have helped each other pack personal belongings and evacuate in an orderly fashion. Neighbors are helping neighbors, with the flood pulling tight-knit communities even closer. I’ve learned that Minot is known locally as the “Magic City”, and this flood has brought about a magical sense of unity in the city.
Local officials like Minot Mayor Curt Zimbleman and Burlington Mayor Jerome Gruenberg have been great examples of leadership as they lead their communities through perhaps the greatest challenge in their history. These leaders have been valued partners, along with Governor Dalrymple and the North Dakota congressional delegation, as FEMA coordinates federal response efforts.
Already, six air boats from the Fish and Wildlife Service are staged to support rescue and response efforts in Minot and Burlington. The Red Cross has established two shelters in Minot and is ready to open another in Burlington if needed. Cots and blankets have been brought in for use at the shelters. FEMA has provided resources to feed up to 2,500 people for three days and water to match, with the ability to bring in additional commodities as needed.
A community is more than its houses, infrastructure and buildings. The heart of a community is its people and in the communities of the Souris River Valley I’ve seen, that heart is still beating as strong as ever.
For more information about the flooding go to www.nd.gov/des/#souris.
Ongoing Severe Weather
We continue to closely monitor and work with our state and local partners as flooding continues along the Souris River. As you’ve probably seen in the news, local officials have issued evacuation orders for some communities along the river, specifically in Burlington and Minot. As we’ve said on this blog before, we will continue to work with the emergency management team to meet the needs of disaster survivors and the affected communities. Forecasts from the National Weather Service are calling for more rain in the Great Plains and the Midwest, so be sure to follow the direction of local officials and take steps today to get prepared.
And as rivers swell in some parts of the U.S., other areas are fighting a prolonged drought and wildfires. We continue to closely coordinate with state and local officials as wildfires continue across the south in Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Texas and Georgia, to name a few.
For your latest weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov on your smartphone.
NFL Players Encourage Preparedness
Over the past several months, we've worked with many partners from the private sector to encourage disaster survivors to apply for assistance, including the NFL Players Association. In the video below, Vonnie Holliday, defensive linebacker for the Washington Redskins, talks about the importance of getting prepared before a disaster strikes. Check out the video below, and Be sure to take a few minutes to visit Ready.gov this weekend to make a kit, get a plan, and be informed.
As many of you are aware, since this winter, we have been working extensively with all of our state partners to prepare for and respond to a very active flood season. As these efforts continue, we’re very closely monitoring the situation in Minot, N.D., where water levels in the Souris River are predicted to reach record highs and bring historic flooding to the community. There have been predictions of flooding on the Souris, but only recently did we learn just how major that flooding was going to be. And, as with any flood or disaster, it is critical that people follow the instruction of local officials. Today we watched the community of Minot do just that as sirens sounded, and it was made clear that it was time to go.
The most important priority right now is the safety of individuals, families and facilities being impacted by the flooding. Here’s what you can do:
- Follow the instructions of state and local officials,
- Listen to local radio and TV stations for updated emergency information,
- If roads are closed or there is water over a road, do not drive through the water.
FEMA Region VIII here in Denver has been working with the our six states and other federal agencies for months to get ready for these rising waters across the region. We currently have personnel and a joint field office in Bismarck, N.D., as a result of earlier flooding this spring, we have commodities staged at locations in North Dakota, and we have additional supplies prepositioned at an Incident Support Base in South Dakota, in case they are needed.
Recently I visited flooding in South Dakota along the Missouri, and this evening I will make my way to North Dakota and Minot so I can see firsthand the flooding and levees that have been overtopped. Seeing devastating flooding in our states has reminded me how important it is to be prepared for any disaster. If you haven’t already, now is the time to take simple steps to protect your loved ones, homes and businesses from flooding. Visit www.Ready.gov/floods to learn more.
The National Weather Service anticipates that several areas of the Missouri River and North Platte River could experience potentially record-breaking water levels this summer as snow melts and descends from the Dakotas and Rocky Mountains, and additional rainfall continues to be much higher than normal in some areas that feed the Missouri River Basin.
Many areas in our regions are already experiencing flooding, so we wanted to provide a quick update on what FEMA’s doing to be prepared in case the flooding worsens, and share some ways to stay safe if you live in the potentially affected area.
What FEMA’s doing
- We’ve been working closely with our state and federal partners since this winter, in anticipation of a busy spring and summer flood season.
- FEMA currently has a liaison in the Montana emergency operations center, a state liaison team in the Nebraska state emergency operations center to support the state in sheltering support and other requests as it responds to ongoing flooding; and an open field office in Bismarck, N.D., and Pierre, S.D., responding to ongoing and potential flooding. We have also been assisting the state of Wyoming with planning, through a team of liaisons at the state emergency operations center.
- An eleven-member FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team has also been deployed to the Montana state emergency operations center, to help coordinate if additional federal support is needed. Also, this week FEMA, state and local officials in Montana began conducting flood damage assessments.
- We remain in close contact with all of our state and local partners as they prepare for and respond to any potential severe weather. Specifically, we’re coordinating closely with numerous federal partners, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Weather Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Civil Air Patrol and others assisting in the flood fight.
What you can do to stay safe
- Stay informed of local flood conditions with this map from the National Weather Service that shows those areas currently in flood stage. You can also monitor your complete local forecast at weather.gov or on your phone at mobile.weather.gov.
- Become familiar with flood terminology:
- Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if local officials give notice to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
- Make sure you take steps to protect your property and family from the damages of flooding. Visit Ready.gov/floods for more on getting prepared, or visit m.fema.gov on your smartphone for tips on staying safe before, during and after a flood.
This blog will continue to have the latest updates on FEMA’s role, so be sure to check back for more information. And be sure to check out your state’s emergency management website for localized updates.
- Purchasing flood insurance is another way you can protect your property from the financial damages of natural or man-made flooding. Flood insurance policies have a 30-day wait period before they become effective, so make sure to have it before you need it. More info at Floodsmart.gov.
We continue to support the affected states and the entire emergency management team in the ongoing recovery, from the severe storms in the Midwest to the heavy flooding along the Mississippi River.
Throughout every step of the process, we continue to work with our partners to support those impacted by the recent disasters. Here are some of recent shots from our photo library that show the emergency management team in action:
Joplin, Mo., May 29, 2011 -- FEMA personnel work inside a Mobile Emergency Response Support vehicle, equipped with video and telephone communications equipment. FEMA is supporting the ongoing recovery efforts in Joplin, Mo., providing assistance to disaster survivors and the affected community.
Joplin, Mo., May 26, 2011 -- Administrator Craig Fugate surveys a damaged fire station with a Joplin firefighter. Visit the disaster page for the latest updates on the Joplin recovery.
Denning, Ark., May 25, 2011 -- Donna Wood, a Red Cross worker, talks to a resident of Denning, Ark., whose home, in the background, was damaged when a tornado ripped through the area.
Big Rock, Tenn., May 24, 2011 - Larry Combs, Chase Lewis and Daniel Lewis replace power lines knocked down by a tornado which struck May 23. FEMA supports and helps fund replacement of public equipment and facilities.
Sipsey, Ala., May 24, 2011 -- Members of the Florida Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Association are helping a homeowner cut and pull debris to the street for county pickup. Faith-based volunteers are important partners with FEMA in helping survivors recover from the deadly April tornado.
Pineville, La., May 23, 2011 -- Logistics teams at the staging area in Camp Beauregard load what are known as commonly used shelter items kits now part of the commodities delivered to shelters in the event of a disaster.
Memphis, TN, May 23, 2011 -- James Zemlicka, Hazard Mitigation specialist, answers questions for a Lowe's customer on rebuilding safely. Hazard Mitigation representatives are located at Lowe's and Home Depot stores throughout western Tennessee.
Brayton, Tenn., May 17, 2011 -- David Rodriguez, an applicant assistant specialist, interviews Dorothy L.Green (right), Peggy Giunta and her son Haeden Gray. The applicant interview is an important part of the recovery process.
Vicksburg, Miss., May 18, 2011 -- Shnader Bellegrade, FEMA community relations specialist, collaborates with Todd Hallbaur of the American Red Cross regarding assistance for evacuated survivors of the floods in Vicksburg Miss.
Pratt City, Ala., May 17, 2011 – Steve Huffstutler, FEMA community relations specialist, explains the registration process to a homeowner that had some damage to her house. Teams community relations staff are going door-to- door in communities to encourage people to register for assistance and answer questions about the process.
Over the past month and a half, the Central U.S. has experienced a host of disasters – from the historic flooding along the Mississippi River to deadly tornadoes and severe storms that claimed hundreds of lives.
I wanted to take a minute to provide an update on the ongoing recovery efforts in the Volunteer State and make sure that survivors have the information they need to register with FEMA for disaster assistance.
I’m proud to say that since President Obama made federal disaster assistance available on May 1, Tennessee has been approved for more than $9 million in federal aid. These funds have been approved for individuals to help with temporary housing, cover essential disaster-related needs or to provide low-interest loans to eligible homeowners, renters or business owners.
Through a team of federal, state, voluntary, faith- and community-based groups, we continue to get the word out that disaster assistance is available to those affected by the storms. To date, nearly 5,700 individuals have visited joint FEMA/Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) Disaster Recovery Centers in affected counties.
Memphis, TN, May 24, 2011 -- FEMA Applicant Assistant Andres Lugo answers questions for an applicant at the Hope Shelter DRC. Disaster Recovery Centers are set up at the Shelby County Shelters so that applicants have easy access to FEMA. Marilee Caliendo/FEMA
Representatives from FEMA, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other agencies staff these centers to explain disaster assistance programs and help survivors apply for assistance. Check out this video as a disaster survivor goes through the various stations at a Disaster Recovery Center – even though it’s from North Carolina, the scene is very similar in Tennessee, too:
Call 800-621-FEMA (3362), individuals with a speech or hearing impairment may call (TTY) 800-462-7585
- Go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov
- Visit m.fema.gov on your smartphone
- Visit a Disaster Recovery Center
Editor's Note: This post was updated May 18, 8:45 a.m.
Over the past few days, as we have continued working with our other federal partners to support Louisiana and other states impacted by the Mississippi River flooding, we have gotten questions about whether or not flood insurance protects against intentional flooding actions, like the U.S. Army Corps' decision to open the Morganza Spillway, and what other forms of aid are available to people currently being impacted by these events.
These are great – and important – questions and we thought it would be helpful to share some of the answers with all of you.
If I live near the Spillway, how does flood insurance apply to me?
Under current law, as passed by Congress, if you live in a high-risk flood zone and have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender, you are required by your lender to purchase a flood insurance policy, which can be through the National Flood Insurance Program, which offers flood insurance at affordable rates to homeowners and businesses. In terms of the areas in Louisiana currently being impacted by the Morganza Spillway, some communities may be in a high-risk flood zone, and some may not. If you're not sure of your current flood risk, go to www.floodsmart.gov and type in your address to easily determine your flood risk. Anyone can purchase flood insurance as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, regardless of your flood risk. Remember – under current law, in most cases, there is a 30 day waiting period between when you purchase flood insurance and your policy takes effect.
If you already have flood insurance, policies under the National Flood Insurance Program cover flood damages to insured buildings and contents, whether caused by an intentional opening of spillways or breaching of levees (or other actions taken to mitigate the impact of flooding), or whether simply caused by a natural flooding event. We suggest locating your policy and proactively contacting your insurance agent to find out what information you may need to have on hand if you need to file a claim. For general flood insurance questions, a step-by-step guide to filing a flood claim, and more information about flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-4661.
Supporting Louisiana's Flood Efforts
In Louisiana, it is still too soon to tell what the total scope of the damages from this flooding will be. As many of you may remember from our previous posts on how the disaster declarations process works, any requests for federal disaster assistance, whether for individual home repair or replacement funds, or for public infrastructure, begin with the governor. In Louisiana, we are currently working with Governor Jindal and his team to support their initial efforts to prepare for and respond to the flooding – and will continue to work closely with them as this flooding event continues. Our Federal Coordinating Officer on the ground, Gerry Stolar, is embedded with the state’s emergency management team, and he and other FEMA staff on the ground continue to stand ready to assist as needed.
And as we always say, we aren't alone – we're part of a much larger team, including other federal agencies. You can read more about how our partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are supporting the farmers impacted by the flooding events in Louisiana.
What other types of aid are available to help people being impacted?
We’re also continuing to closely monitor the ongoing flood fight in areas along the Mississippi River where the crest has past, such as Missouri and Tennessee, and in Mississippi, where waters are forecast to crest in the next few days. At the request of the governors, President Obama has declared major disasters for the states of Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi, including individual assistance in many areas.
We continue to urge everyone who sustained losses due to flooding in designated counties to begin applying for assistance today by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by 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.
On Saturday, we shared how the emergency management team stood ready to support Louisiana as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made the decision to open the Morganza Spillway. We continue to closely coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to ensure the safety and recovery of the people and communities we serve.
Below is a video of Col. Ed Fleming, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Gerard Stolar, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer, talking about ongoing federal support efforts as the spillway was opened:
For continued updates on the flooding in the Southern U.S., visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “Operation Watershed” page on Facebook. We will also continue to provide updates on this blog.