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Author: Michael Byrne
Birmingham, AL, June 27, 2011 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate addresses employees at the Joint Field Office in Birmingham. On Monday, Administrator Craig Fugate visited the Birmingham Joint Field Office, underscoring the agency’s ongoing focus on Alabama’s recovery from the April tornadoes. The Administrator toured the state in the immediate days following the storm, meeting with federal, state and local officials and ensuring they had the resources needed to respond and recover.In a series of joint state and FEMA meetings, we briefed the Administrator on the progress made thus far and,...
Posted On: June 30, 2011
Author: Michael Byrne
Today, June 27, marks two months since severe storms and tornadoes – some with wind speeds of more than 200 mph – struck hard. It was a catastrophe unlike any other. Tragically, 241 Alabamians were killed. Thousands were left homeless.Our records show that more than 83,200 disaster survivors have applied for financial assistance from state and federal agencies. Think about that. That’s more than the total population of many good-sized Alabama communities.The Federal Emergency Management Agency was in touch with the governor and the state director of emergency management even before the storms...
Posted On: June 27, 2011
Author: Public Affairs
Providing disaster assistance doesn’t mean much if survivors don’t get the help they need. We’ve talked about community relations teams before; the FEMA employees who go door to door to share information on how individuals and businesses owners can apply for assistance, and what assistance may be available.With this spring’s tornadoes, severe storms and flooding, our community relations teams have been busy reaching thousands of disaster survivors. We wanted to share the latest video and photos showing the teams in action.And if you’ve been affected by the recent storms, tornadoes and...
Posted On: June 23, 2011
Author: Public Affairs
Since January, we have been providing updates on this blog about the revamped recoupment process that we are currently undertaking. We are committed to making sure that all of our stakeholders – especially disaster survivors – have a full understanding of this process and how they might be affected by it.As some of you may remember from our previous blogs, FEMA, along with other federal agencies government-wide, is required by law to identify any potential improper payments of federal disaster aid and to take steps to recover those funds.While each individual case is different, in some...
Posted On: June 22, 2011
Author: Michael Byrne
Last week, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and FEMA hosted the Safer Alabama Summit conference in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The aim of this conference was to get the word out about the important role that safe rooms can play in protecting families and communities, and federal funding that is available to build them. I wanted to share a conversation that was the perfect conclusion to the event.Tuscaloosa, Ala., June 13, 2011 -- Federal Coordinating Officer, Michael Byrne, presents at the Safer Alabama Summit.Following the conference, a woman wanted to know how to apply for a grant to finance...
Posted On: June 22, 2011
Author: Michael Byrne
As a former New York City firefighter, I’m no stranger to trauma. First responders who have witnessed devastation sometimes can’t get the upsetting images out of their mind. Or sometimes they hear cries for help weeks later. One fire response at a social club in the Bronx more than 20 years ago still stays with me. The fire wasn’t huge, and was contained quickly, but when firefighters went up to the second floor, they found several people had died from smoke inhalation. We were just sick – here they had done everything right and still couldn’t save their lives.A lot of us were shaken up after...
Posted On: June 17, 2011
Author: Nancy Casper
Rogers, AR, June 4, 2011 --A FEMA Community Relations specialist speaks with a resident during an community event in Rogers, AR. FEMA Community Relations specialists were at the fair to provide residents about FEMA's disaster relief programs and to encourage residents affected by recent flooding or tornadoes to register for assistance.Over a month after FEMA’s arrival in Arkansas following the devastating spring storms and tornadoes, state and federal agencies have rushed over $22 million in assistance to families and communities. While much assistance has come quickly, we still have so much...
Posted On: June 14, 2011
Author: Public Affairs
Secretary Napolitano visited Joplin, Mo. yesterday, meeting with disaster survivors and touring the St. John’s medical facility that was severely damaged during the May 22 tornado. The entire emergency management team – federal, state, local governments; the private sector; voluntary, community, and faith-based groups; and especially the public – continue to support the recovery efforts in Joplin, as well as the other areas hit by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding this spring.For some more perspective on Secretary Napolitano’s visit, check out these stories from the Joplin Globe,...
Posted On: June 10, 2011
Author: Ray LaHood
Editor's Note: This was originally posted on June 9, 2011 on Fast Lane, the official blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.  The photos are from the FEMA photo library. The storms that hit Alabama on April 27 swept across the northern portion of the state in 42 counties, with tornadoes cutting huge paths as much as a mile wide.Tuesday, I toured the devastation in Alabama with U.S. Representatives Spencer Bachus and Terri Sewell, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper, and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez.I must say, it’...
Posted On: June 9, 2011
Author: Michael Byrne
Pratt City, Ala., June 1, 2011 -- A homeowner does a final cleanup of his yard before the debris is removed. Operation Clean Sweep is helping residents rid their property of the storm debris.Sometimes debris is just debris. But in a disaster it can be a much-needed glimpse of humanity. My first experience with this was after September 11, 2001, where I was a deputy federal coordinating officer at Ground Zero. Facing an unbelievable amount of destruction and loss amongst the twisted steel and collapsed chaos of dust and debris, I would occasionally spot a piece of a desk, a handwritten note or...
Posted On: June 6, 2011

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