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Update 2: Closely Monitoring Severe Weather in the Midwest

Severe weather is expected to continue from the Deep South to the Mid-Atlantic through Friday, and FEMA stands ready to support impacted states if requested. Through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill., and Atlanta, Ga., we’ve been in touch with state and local officials, and we continue to coordinate closely with our federal partners at the National Weather Service, and are tracking ongoing weather threats.

Below is a summary of actions by the emergency response community and FEMA:


  • Governors in the following states have declared states of emergency to make available state government resources, such as personnel, equipment and facilities, to support and assist disaster response operations.
    • On Tuesday, Feb. 28, Governor Pat Quinn declared a state of emergency for the southern third of the state of Illinois.
    • On Tuesday, Feb. 28, Governor Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for Kansas.
    • On Wednesday, Feb. 29, Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri in response to the severe storms.
  • Prior to severe weather, FEMA Region V staff was already in Springfield, Ill., participating in a planning workshop. Two FEMA staff members remain at the State Emergency Operations Center to monitor the situation alongside the state.
  • The Missouri Business Emergency Operations Center, located at the Missouri State EOC, has been virtually activated to facilitate two-way communications between the private sector, the State Emergency Management Agency, and FEMA. A FEMA Private Sector Liaison is coordinating with the Missouri Business Emergency Operations Center to share vital information to its private sector partners.
  • At the request of the State of Missouri, FEMA is deploying teams to Missouri to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments with other state and local personnel which are scheduled to begin Friday, March 2 in 17 counties. These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties and to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.
  • Missouri Governor Nixon has ordered the National Guard deployed to support local law enforcement agencies with emergency coordination and recovery.
  • Additional Preliminary Damage Assessment Teams are on alert/standing by for potential State requests.

This severe weather threat should serve as a reminder to everyone to have a plan ready as we can’t always anticipate when or where a disaster might strike.
 


For tips and other useful preparedness information, visit www.ready.gov, m.fema.gov, and download the FEMA smartphone app (Blackberry, Android, Apple).

Closely Monitoring Severe Weather in the Midwest

Updated: 1:30 PM, February 29

We continue to closely monitor weather conditions and are in close contact with the National Weather Service following the severe storms that occurred last night and into this morning through parts of the Midwest. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by these storms.

Through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., and Chicago, Ill., we have been in close touch with state and local officials and we continue to monitor weather conditions across the Midwest states. State emergency management officials from Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana have reported damages from tornadoes in some areas. We will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local partners and stand ready to support the states, requested.

Beth Freeman, Region VII Regional Administrator commented on the storms that affected Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska:

On behalf of FEMA, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured by tornadoes that impacted Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska late last night and into this morning. Also, I would like to commend the ongoing work of local and state first responders for the measures taken in the aftermath of these storms to protect lives and provide immediate assistance during this difficult time. FEMA has been in constant contact with officials at the Kansas Department of Emergency Management (KDEM), the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) since the severe weather hit. We encourage residents in impacted areas to listen to instructions from their local leaders on protecting life and property as response efforts continue.

Andrew Velasquez III, Region V Regional Administrator also commented on the storms that affected Illinois:

On behalf of FEMA, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of those who were killed or injured by tornadoes that impacted Illinois this morning. FEMA has been in been in constant communication with officials at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) since the severe weather hit, and I commend local and state first responders for their diligent and tireless efforts to protect lives and provide immediate assistance in the aftermath of these storms. We encourage residents in impacted areas to listen carefully to instructions from their local leaders and take the recommended protective measures to safeguard life and property while response efforts continue.

As Beth and Andrew stated, it is important to recognize the first responders, such as 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.

We also want to take the time to remind everyone that no matter where you live, it’s important to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news and to monitor for severe weather updates and warnings, and follow instructions of state and local officials.

If severe weather is expected in your area, keep in mind these safety tips:

  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.
  • Injury may result from the direct impact of a tornado or it may occur afterward when people walk among debris and enter damaged buildings. Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
  • After a tornado, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.

For more information on preparing for an emergency, visit www.ready.gov.

Here’s a list of resources for state emergency management social media accounts :

Kansas

Missouri


Arkansas


Illinois


American Red Cross


Supporting Residents in Alabama After January 22 Tornadoes

Author: 

I’m back in Alabama again, leading FEMA’s response to another set of tornadoes that hit Alabama Jan. 22-23. Every disaster is equally important, because each disaster is such a tragedy for each survivor. For me, knowing we can help even one disaster survivor makes the work worthwhile and makes me glad to be able to help the people of Alabama who have been affected by these storms.

Trussville, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- Damage in the city of Trussville during the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Trussville, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- Damage in the city of Trussville during the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Since President Obama made the disaster declaration for Alabama on the afternoon of Feb. 1, I’ve been going full-throttle. The next morning I met with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in Montgomery for the formal signing of the federal-state agreement. I told the Governor that returning to Alabama felt like coming home to family, and he said that over the last year, he couldn’t have asked for more cooperation from FEMA.

Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 2, 2012 -- Joe Girot (L), FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) signs the Federal - State agreement for assistance with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (c) and the Director of Alabama Emergency Management Art Faulkner (r). FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 2, 2012 -- Joe Girot (L), FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) signs the Federal - State agreement for assistance with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (c) and the Director of Alabama Emergency Management Art Faulkner (r). FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Within 72 hours, my team set up five disaster recovery centers (DRC’s) in Chilton and Jefferson counties. Community Relations staff fanned out into the hardest-hit areas and distributed information on the new disaster recovery center locations and guidelines on FEMA registration.

Center Point, Ala., Feb. 3, 2012 -- Duane Marusa, Community Relations Specialist, explains the registration process to a storm survivor in Center Point, Alabama. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Center Point, Ala., Feb. 3, 2012 -- Duane Marusa, Community Relations Specialist, explains the registration process to a storm survivor in Center Point, Alabama. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Center Point, Ala., Feb. 3, 2012 -- Mary Smith, Community Relations Specialist, explains the registration process to a storm survivor in Center Point, Alabama. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.


Center Point, Ala., Feb. 3, 2012 -- Mary Smith, Community Relations Specialist, explains the registration process to a storm survivor in Center Point, Alabama. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

As of today, FEMA has more than $592,000 in funding ready to assist individuals and families whose registrations have already been approved. We have 378 property inspections completed and more than 500 visits have been made to the five DRC’s. The Small Business Association has staff at all the DRC’s and has already distributed 559 loan applications for homeowners and 75 for businesses.

On Sunday I got to speak (in Spanish!) about FEMA’s Individual Assistance programs during a Spanish-language service at the First Methodist Church of Clanton. About 80 people were there, and I was able to be sure they could spread the word about the DRC’s located in Clanton and Maplesville in Chilton County.

Clanton, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- Joe Girot, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) encourages the congregation of Iglesia Metodista San Juan during their service to register for assistance with FEMA. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Clanton, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- Joe Girot, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) encourages the congregation of Iglesia Metodista San Juan during their service to register for assistance with FEMA. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Clanton, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialists hand out information translated in Spanish to assist non-english speaking survivors. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.


Clanton, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialists hand out information translated in Spanish to assist non-english speaking survivors. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

We’ve just moved into our Joint Field Office in Pelham, Ala., which is more centrally located to the affected areas. All of us working this disaster (DR-4052) are proud to be part of Alabama’s emergency management team, and working with human services agencies, local government officials, and tireless volunteers to get Alabama – once again – back on the road to recovery.

Success Story: Preparedness & a Community Storm Shelter Saves Lives

Author: 

The Alabama town of Maplesville has a success story on its hands – one big enough to draw a visit from the governor.

Following Hurricane Ivan in 2005, Maplesville decided to build a community storm shelter because of its long history of storms. The town joined up with the Chilton County Emergency Management Agency and the Chilton County Commission and worked on a 5-year plan that ended with Maplesville receiving a storm shelter.

FEMA and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency helped the town fund it with Hazard Mitigation Grant Program money. The 2005 grant provided just more than $48,000 of the nearly $70,000 total project cost as the 60-person-capacity steel shelter went up not far from the town fire station. It opened in November 2007.


View from inside the shelter. Photo by Grieg Powers/FEMA.

The shelter has been used successfully many times, including the historic storms and tornadoes that hammered Alabama in April 2011. Following that federally declared disaster, one of the worst to hit the state, Governor Bentley vowed to make more safe rooms the legacy of that disaster.

The most recent proof of the value of the shelter came just a few days ago when severe storms and tornadoes raked parts of Alabama, including Maplesville. Well over 100 people – some coming from as far away as five miles – gathered inside that shelter to escape the storm. While the storm raged, two trees fell on the shelter – one of them a foot in diameter. Despite cosmetic damage to the shelter, no one inside reported any injuries.


Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is accompanied by (from left) by State Rep. Kurt Wallace and State Sen. Cam Ward. Photo by Grieg Powers/FEMA.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is accompanied by (from left) by State Rep. Kurt Wallace and State Sen. Cam Ward. Photo by Grieg Powers/FEMA.

Governor Bentley held a news conference in front of the virtually unaffected shelter, stating "You can see the result and how lives can be saved by having these all over the state."

Christine Epperson, a volunteer firefighter and assistant Emergency Medical Services chief commented, "My first thought is always to open the safe room. These people are my family, my life and I want to help protect them."

Following a disaster, hazard mitigation grants make funds available to states and communities to do work that will make structures and infrastructure more resistant for the next disaster. In this case, as Maplesville Mayor Aubrey Latham put it, "The shelter did what it was supposed to do."

Outside view of the shelter. Photo by Grieg Powers/FEMA.

Progress Continues in Joplin

Last week I was able to pay a second visit to our Joint Field Office in Joplin, Missouri. My first trip to Joplin was back in July, about five weeks after the devastating EF-5 tornado struck the city. I spent much of my youth south of Joplin in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so I am no stranger to the effects of tornadoes. Despite this experience, I was struck by the destruction Joplin suffered from the May tornado. Fatalities numbered 161, hundreds were injured, and more than 7,500 structures were damaged and another 4,000 completely destroyed. About one-third of the city of 45,000 was totally flattened.

During my first visit I was extremely impressed with the partnerships and professionalism that were driving the first weeks of the recovery. The leadership of city officials and the high levels of engagement by dozens of volunteer agencies and the private sector were impressive. I was struck by the Expedited Debris Removal Program and how the many hours of back-breaking work by volunteers allowed for debris to be cleared facilitating the re-building of homes and businesses in the impacted areas. In addition to the obvious physical signs of the early recovery, there was a feeling of optimism and resilience in everyone I met, from the City Manager, to the wait staff in restaurants, and people on the streets, I got the feeling that “here is a community that will come back better and more resilient than ever…”.

On my recent visit, I was deeply impressed by the progress that has been made in the six months since I was in Joplin. The more I thought about how so much had been done to recover, the concepts of the whole community approach to responding to and recovering from disasters that we have been espousing in presentations around the country jumped out at me. The folks of Joplin, working with volunteer agencies, and individual volunteers, the private sector, supported by state and federal government, were making the “new normal” for their city a reality.

Debris (1.2 million cubic yards) had been cleared within 75 days to facilitate rebuilding (over 3,600 building permits issued), over $17 million had been made in donations to support debris removal not eligible for government reimbursement, 117,000 volunteers from around the country had come to assist in rebuilding homes and providing a wide range of assistance. Mark Rohr, the City Manager, has stated that, “recent numbers released by the Building Department have indicated that approximately 50% of the homes destroyed by the tornado are already under permit for repairs or reconstruction. In my mind, this is a surprisingly positive and bodes well for Joplin’s future”.

Joplin, Mo., August 2, 2011 -- Damage sustained inside of St. John's Regional Medical Center after the May 22 EF-5 tornado that struck the city. FEMA is working to provide assistance to disaster survivors.
Joplin, Mo., August 2, 2011 -- Damage sustained inside of St. John's Regional Medical Center after the May 22 EF-5 tornado that struck the city. FEMA is working to provide assistance to disaster survivors.

The major hospital that had been totally destroyed, but its capabilities to serve the community had been replaced by a temporary hospital and a 102 bed interim hospital is under construction. The promise of city officials to have facilities ready for children to return to classes in August had been met through Herculean efforts by government and the private sector. Five schools had been destroyed and six damaged. To assist, our Agency provided 167 temporary classrooms and 67 temporary safe rooms. While these contributed to building classroom capacity, former big box stores were re-configured into temporary schools, private companies provided classroom supplies and the United Arab Emirates contributed computer systems. Thousands of families had lost their homes. When I visited in July there were no available hotel rooms. Now, rental units have been found for families, and almost 600 temporary housing units were provided by our team. In July I walked on open fields owned by the city, there are now over 337 families living in communities created on those sites. There are also some empty spaces in which the units occupied by 74 families are no longer needed as they have permanent housing solutions.

Economic recovery is key to long term efforts to achieve a “new normal”. It was heartening to see that, while the tornado destroyed more than 500 businesses, 90% have now reopened or are opening in the near future. Home Depot, and other major employers have quickly rebuilt stores that were totally destroyed and have re-hired hundreds of folks. A Citizens’ Advisory Recovery Team (CART) was established to represent the whole community. This body, along with the Joplin City Council, the School Board, the Board of Aldermen, Chamber of Commerce, and the CART Executive Committee, supported by FEMA Long Term Community Recovery folks have developed and presented implementation plans for the recovery. Jane Cage, a business owner who stepped up to lead the Council has indicated, “Recovery is broad. It has to touch on almost every aspect of life in Joplin for us to succeed. We only really get one chance to do this right….”.

Ms. Cage exemplifies the nature of the recovery in Joplin. It is an effort in which the entire community is engaged. While we in the federal interagency family are in support of these efforts, it is clear that the impressive progress, and a shared vision for the future is being lead by the people of Joplin. They truly represent the best of the “Heartland of America”.

Closely Monitoring Severe Weather & Tornadoes in the Southeast

Author: 
Editor's Note: Updated at 3:25pm.

The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches and warnings in several parts of the Southeast. People living in parts of the Mississippi Valley, Lower Ohio Valley and Tennessee Valley have been experiencing tornadoes, widespread damaging winds and hail since last night and conditions are forecast to continue today.

FEMA, through our regional offices in Atlanta, Ga., and Denton, Texas, is closely monitoring the weather situation, including tornadoes, affecting parts of the Southeast, and has been in touch with state and local officials. We’re also in close contact with our federal partners at the National Weather Service forecast offices.

When natural disasters like these 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.

Although there have been no requests for federal assistance at this time, FEMA stands ready to support the states if needed as part of the emergency management team.

We’d like to remind everyone that could be affected by severe weather to follow the instructions of state and local officials, and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated disaster response and evacuation information.

We urge everyone to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news for severe weather updates and warnings, and follow the direction provided by their local officials.

As severe weather approaches, keep in mind these safety tips:

  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information, and follow the guidance of your local officials.
  • Injury may result from the direct impact of a tornado or it may occur afterward when people walk among debris and enter damaged buildings. Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
  • After a tornado, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.

Finally, everyone should become familiar with the terms used to identify a tornado hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe tornado hazards include the following:

  • 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 more information on tornado preparedness tips, visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to find out how you can protect your family during emergencies.

For additional updates from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross, you can follow their Twitter and Facebook pages:

On Facebook: Alabama Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross

On Twitter: @AlabamaEMA, @AlabamaRedCross

Closely Monitoring Severe Weather and Tornadoes in the Southeast

Published by: Public Affairs

Yesterday a string of severe storms and tornadoes developed in many parts of the southeast, and as of this morning, several tornado watches and severe storm watches and warnings remain in effect for numerous locations. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities that lost loved ones or suffered damage as a result of these storms and we encourage residents to continue to monitor weather conditions closely and to follow the direction provided by their local officials. If a tornado watch or warning is issued in your area, stay indoors until the watch or warning has been lifted.

As a reminder, make sure you’re familiar with the terms associated with tornado watches and warnings:

  • Tornado Watch means tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. Know what counties are in the watch area by listening to NOAA Weather Radio or your local radio/television outlets.
  • Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Since yesterday, we have been closely monitoring these storm outbreaks and their aftermath through our regional offices in Atlanta, GA and Denton, TX, and have been in close contact with our state and local partners across the southeast. While local officials are just beginning to assess the damage, and there have not yet been any requests for federal assistance, we stand ready to assist them – if needed.

For those not impacted by the severe weather, now is a good time to make sure your emergency supply kit is ready. It should include at least a three-day supply of food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, and other items specific to your family’s needs. To help you build your kit, download the FEMA smartphone app (Android & Apple devices) and use the interactive checklist.

For more information on preparing for an emergency, visit the new Ready.gov.

Lessons learned, but the mission continues

Author: 

Six months after one of Alabama’s deadliest tornado outbreaks, you can’t help but reflect on what you were doing when you learned of the magnitude of the April 27th storms and what those first images and sounds were like as people described the storms’ impact on their lives. As the State Coordinating Officer for Alabama Emergency Management Agency, my mission was meeting the immediate needs of the survivors, ensuring they had a place to shelter, something to eat and staff available to answer their questions as they made future plans regarding their recovery.

In the midst of sheer devastation, the April storms are an example of team work and coordination, between the locals, state, federal, private and volunteer partners. As I reflect back, if a part of that puzzle was missing, the response and recovery would not have gone as well. With any big, life-altering event, you walk away with life lessons; as an agency we are looking at definite areas we want to modify and amend before the next disaster. I’m convinced that this will not be the worst disaster that we will ever face, as bad as this disaster was for the state. That’s why it’s important for AEMA to continue to train and exercise for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best outcome.

Six months later, this mission is far from over. That is why it is imperative for the AEMA staff and the rest of Alabamians not to forget the lives lost as a result of the April 27 storms and the April 15 storms. Each of us can honor the memory of the victims by making sure our friends, family members and neighbors take severe weather preparedness serious.

Here’s an update on the work we’ve done and our ongoing recovery efforts following the devastating storms in Alabama six months ago:



To learn more about preparedness in Alabama, visit http://www.ema.alabama.gov/.

Supporting Disaster Recovery in New England

Author: 

Even as the leaves change color in New England, many communities across the region are still working hard, recovering from the damage from this past season’s destructive weather.

At FEMA, we continue to work closely with our state and local partners that are still recovering from the tornadoes that swept through the Connecticut River Valley and the aftermath of tropical storm Irene. Both events affected homes, businesses and communities in all six states in the region. We continue to support individuals and communities affected by these disasters, and the recovery has come a long way, as this video shows:




Between June 1 and October 1, across New England, FEMA and the Small Business Administration has provided the following support:
 

  • 6,302 individuals and families approved for grants totaling $29,160,789
  • 434 individuals and families approved for low-interest disaster loans totaling $20,542,400
  • 52 businesses approved for low-interest disaster loans totaling $5,684,100

And as of Thursday, October 13, $4,841,388 in public assistance grants have been obligated for 416 local governments and private nonprofits. The numbers will continue to rise; our work here is far from over.

FEMA has set up offices across the region to ensure we’re working closely with our partners at the state, local and tribal levels, as well as voluntary organizations and others in the private sector. We want to ensure that every penny of assistance eligible under law reaches the communities that need them.

As New Englanders work to recover from the impact of the recent storms, FEMA continues to offer assistance and support to local and state partners across the region. We are proud partners in this recovery effort and remain committed to offer support and assistance for the remainder of the recovery effort.

For more on the ongoing recovery efforts, visit our disaster pages:

Connecticut – Tropical Storm Irene
Maine – Tropical Storm Irene
Massachusetts – Severe Storms and Tornadoes
Massachusetts – Tropical Storm Irene
Rhode Island – Tropical Storm Irene
Vermont – Tropical Storm Irene
New Hampshire – Tropical Storm Irene

Alabama “Be Ready” Events: Consider Your Role in Disaster

Author: 

When disaster strikes, it’s the first responders right there in your local community who make the difference in effective disaster response – the firefighters, medics, utility workers, the faith and community-based groups, the crisis counselors and search and rescue teams. And these are just some of the people who serve during emergencies or disasters.

But, could you play a key role in your community during a disaster?

Folks all over Alabama asked themselves that question as communities across the state held “Be Ready” events throughout September, recognized as National Preparedness Month.

There, residents got to talk with both paid and volunteer first responders from local, state and federal agencies. Citizens asked questions about what it takes to serve the community during a crisis. They also learned about the services, plans and procedures that are put into place in advance of any disaster that may strike. They learned that being prepared for a disaster can mean more than just having a safe room and an evacuation plan.

Here’s a video from one “Be Ready” event:



Though people in Alabama have recently experienced tornadoes and severe storms, they could also be faced with other natural and man-made hazards, such as:



There are as many ways to serve during a disaster as there are different types of disasters. After Alabama’s devastating tornadoes in April 2011, volunteers worked together on everything from rebuilding homes to writing grants for safe rooms. If you’d like to volunteer in your community, you could join Citizen Corps or register with one of the many faith-based organizations that serve during times of crisis.

If you’re looking for opportunities that can make a lasting difference in your community, I encourage you to consider getting involved with helping your community prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

Troy, Ala., September 8, 2011 - Students interact with a Patient Simulator at Be Ready Day. The simulator, which speaks, cries, bleeds and moves, makes it possible for practicing patient care with real reactions to emergency situations. Be Ready Day, hosted by Troy University and sponsored by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, emphasized teaching students about safety in a number of areas, including tornado preparedness.
Troy, Ala., September 8, 2011 - Students interact with a Patient Simulator at Be Ready Day. The simulator, which speaks, cries, bleeds and moves, makes it possible for practicing patient care with real reactions to emergency situations. Be Ready Day, hosted by Troy University and sponsored by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, emphasized teaching students about safety in a number of areas, including tornado preparedness.

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