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Federal Resources for Responding to Tornadoes and Other Disasters – A Quick Overview


We’ve been getting a lot of questions recently concerning the number of presidentially-declared disasters and whether FEMA has enough money to respond to and help communities recover from the devastation that we’ve all witnessed recently.

In fact this morning, Administrator Fugate got asked about this by CNN as he was doing live interviews from Joplin, Missouri. As he explained, disaster response and recovery is a team effort, with resources for survivors and reconstruction efforts coming from FEMA and other federal agencies, state and local governments, private insurers, volunteer and faith based organizations, and other non-governmental sources. Disaster recovery often takes months, and sometimes even years, with the efforts and costs being shared across the entire team.

CNN: “Are you worried at all about a new era of fiscal austerity in this country where we might not have the money for all of this?”

Fugate: “No. Again, this country has always come to the aid of their communities and states in disasters. We’ll do that in a responsible way. But we can’t do it by ourselves. I think the important thing here is that we have to do this as a team – state, locals, the federal government, but also the volunteers who many of the response and efforts you're seeing at a local level are being carried out by church groups and volunteers from all walks of life helping their neighbors in this time of disaster.”

To provide additional background, we thought we would provide a quick overview of our funding work. FEMA prepares for all hazards and is responsible for initiating mitigation activities, training first responders, working with state and local emergency managers, and managing the National Flood Insurance Program, among other things. As a component agency of the Department of Homeland Security, our funding is part of the overall DHS budget.

As with all federal agencies, FEMA receives a budget appropriated by Congress to support a broad variety of disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation services.

As part of the annual budget, Congress also appropriates money to FEMA specifically to aid disaster survivors and communities. This pot of money, also known as the Disaster Relief Fund, funds response, recovery and mitigation activities for presidentially declared disasters all over the country and helps to pay for ongoing disaster work.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Disaster Relief Fund is not the only federal resource available to help disaster survivors and communities. For example, federal assistance can also be made available through the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Agriculture, among other agencies. FEMA works very closely with the states during the recovery process to assess the damage, offer advice on rebuilding to enhance community safety and promote greater resilience in the future, and determine how much long-term recovery projects will cost. We’re already working with our state partners affected by the recent disasters, but it’s still too early to tell how much will be needed to rebuild.

Right now we have more than $2.4 billion in the Disaster Relief Fund. This allows us to immediately respond to disasters by supporting life-saving and life-sustaining efforts, and by providing individual assistance to people who live in the designated counties included in a disaster declaration. When we encourage disaster survivors to apply for FEMA assistance, the Disaster Relief Fund is where those dollars come from. The Disaster Relief Fund also provides the dollars for longer-term recovery projects such as rebuilding schools or roads. Under law, those projects do not receive funding upfront, the way individuals do when they apply for disaster aid. Instead, for longer-term recovery projects, funds are provided to the states throughout the rebuilding process. States then allocate these funds at the local level for requested recovery projects.

During an especially tough disaster year, additional funding may be provided to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund.

As Administrator Fugate always says, FEMA is part of a larger team effort when it comes to disaster response and recovery. In addition to our federal partners, there are many other organizations and agencies that are involved in the response and recovery process that bring their resources to bear, in terms of financial resources, manpower and other support. All of these partners play a critical role in helping rebuild after disasters such as the recent tornadoes and flooding.

How To Help Tornado Survivors in Joplin, Mo. or Other States

Editor's note, June 2, 2011: Added Administrator Fugate's video about the best ways to help the people of Joplin.

To help manage the generous outpouring of support for Joplin, Mo., tornado survivors, disaster recovery experts have established some simple ways to help, whether volunteering or making donations.

Along with our partners at the Missouri Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, here are some specific ways to help those impacted by the recent storms and tornadoes.

Donate or Volunteer

  • The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency has established a web portal to coordinate donations and volunteers.  Keep in mind that cash is the preferred method because it offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover as well.
  • Those in Missouri can also call 2-1-1 in most areas for information on volunteering their time or making a donation.  This 2-1-1 service, operated by the United Way, is available through much of Missouri.  For those who are out of state or unable to get through on 2-1-1, call 1-800-427-4626. Those with medical skills interested in volunteering can go online at

    Remember,  unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.


  • Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information or referrals are urged to call 2-1-1, or 800-427-4626, or go to for a list of open shelters. For individuals with a hearing loss, call 7-1-1 or use Video Relay Service to reach 2-1-1 or 800-427-4626. 

Helping survivors in other states

  • For those who have been affected in Minnesota or other states outside Missouri or those who want to help can visit

Other Resources
If you or someone you know is looking for a friend or relative who may have been affected the storms, visit

Midwest Storms Recap 2: Overview of Federal Family's Support For States' Response Efforts

Since the deadly tornadoes first struck parts of the country last week, the federal government has been in constant contact with all of the impacted states as they responded to and began recovery efforts from these devastating storms.

The administration, through FEMA, is committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear to support Missouri and the other states devastated by the deadly tornadoes and storms this weekend.

Through our regional offices in Kansas City, MO and Chicago, IL, has been in close contact and coordination with the states since the storms first struck, and has already deployed staff and resources to the impacted areas in Missouri to help with response needs.

Here is a recap of the support efforts of the federal family:

Tuesday, May 24

  • President Obama announces he will be visiting the Joplin area, this weekend.
  • President Obama and DHS Secretary Napolitano continue receiving regular updates on the response efforts by FEMA senior leadership.
  • FEMA Administrator Fugate and Deputy Administrator Serino are touring affected areas in Missouri and meeting  with state and local officials, first responders and representatives of voluntary organizations to ensure the state has what they need as response efforts continue.
  • Through its regional offices in Kansas City, Missouri and Denton, Texas, FEMA continues monitoring severe weather forecasted for Joplin, Missouri, as well as parts of Kansas and Oklahoma.
  • A NOAA/National Weather Service forecaster, mission assigned by FEMA, is en route to provide an on-scene meteorologist for Joplin, Missouri to help monitor/warn of the potential and ongoing severe weather in the area.
  • Joint state/federal Preliminary Damage Assessments are scheduled for Hennepin County, Minnesota on Thursday, May 26, 2011. These damage assessments are the first step in helping a governor determine whether the scope of the damages are beyond what the state is capable of handling and if additional federal assistance is needed.
  • A federal mortuary assistance team is en route to the area, to assist the state and local governments.
  • Missourians who need shelter information or referrals are urged to call 2-1-1, or 800-427-4626, or go to for a list of open shelters. For individuals with hearing loss, use 711 or video relay service (VRS) to call 211 or the 800-427-4626.
  • The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency has established a web portal at to help with coordinating donations and volunteers.  Cash is the preferred method of donation in order to ensure that disaster survivors get the services and supplies they need quickly.
  • For those who have been affected in Minnesota or other states outside Missouri or those who want to help can visit /howtohelp

May 24: Monitoring Severe Weather in Central U.S. as Missouri Tornado Response Continues

As we continue to support the states’ efforts to recover from the deadly tornadoes that struck over the weekend, we are also closely monitoring the threat of severe weather today for the central U.S., including in Joplin, Mo. The National Weather Service is forecasting severe storms (with the possibility of tornadoes) for parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri – if you’re in the area, make sure you are prepared for potential severe weather:

  • Have a safe place to go in case a severe storm or tornado is imminent. The safest place is inside, in an interior room on the lowest level away from windows.
  • Make sure your emergency kit is ready, and that you bring it with you to your safe place. An emergency kit should have enough food and supplies to sustain you and your family for up to 72 hours. (Visit for more information.)
  • Stay informed of your latest forecast by following local news and weather reports, and have a battery operated radio handy in case the power goes out. If local authorities give an order to take shelter, go to your safe place immediately, and wait for additional guidance from local officials.

As the latest line of severe weather crosses the Central U.S., we continue to work closely with those states struck by the devastating tornadoes over the weekend. Today, Administrator Craig Fugate is in Joplin, to meet with state and local officials to ensure they have the resources they need as response efforts continue and they start looking toward recovery. He will be joined by Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, who spent yesterday on the ground in Joplin surveying damage and visiting with local officials and disaster survivors.

President Obama has pledged the full support of the federal government, through FEMA, to those in Joplin, and also announced he will be there on Sunday to visit with survivors.

Other links
- Find complete information on preparing for a tornado at

Day 2 – Hurricane Preparedness Week: Storm Surge

As we work to support Missouri and other states impacted by the tornadoes that devastated the Midwest this weekend, and as disaster response and recovery efforts continue for the recent tornadoes and flooding in many parts of the U.S., we’re also observing National Hurricane Preparedness Week.  Hurricane season begins June 1, so now is a great time to get prepared before a hurricane strikes.

Today’s focus is on storm surge, a lesser-known but very dangerous by-product from the power of hurricanes.  Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm.  What makes storm surge so dangerous is that it combines with the tides and creates a rise in the water level that can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides.

Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website for more information on storm surge, and check out this video from Robber Berg, National Hurricane Center hurricane specialist, talking about storm surge.

For tips on getting prepared for hurricanes, visit

Other Links
- Purchasing flood insurance is a great way to protect your home or business from the financial damages of flooding.  Visit for more information.


Midwest Storms: Overview of Federal Family's Support For States' Response Efforts

Editor's Note: We added to Monday's activities and added a photo of President Obama.

The administration, through FEMA, is committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear to support Missouri and the other states devastated by the deadly tornadoes and storms this weekend. FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo. and Chicago, Ill., has been in close contact and coordination with the states since the storms first struck, and has already deployed staff and resources to the impacted areas in Missouri to help with response needs.

Both President Obama and DHS Secretary Napolitano have called Governor Nixon to express their condolences and offer the full support of the administration, and at their direction, FEMA Administrator Fugate will travel to Missouri to ensure the state has what they need as response efforts continue.  The following timeline provides an overview of these and other federal activities, to date, to support the impacted states, families and communities.

And as an additional note, as part of the federal government’s National Level Exercise 2011 last week, which simulated a catastrophic earthquake hitting Missouri and other states in the central U.S. Administrator Fugate spent time in Missouri with state and local officials, including Governor Nixon. Missouri was one of several states that participated in the exercise, along with federal agencies, the private sector and other organizations.

Monday, May 23

  • Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano calls Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to express her condolences for the lives lost and communities devastated by the storms. Secretary Napolitano offers the full support of FEMA and the federal family.
  • President Obama calls Governor Nixon to express that the entire administration stands behind Missouri and stands ready to support the state, as needed. President Obama announces that at his direction, FEMA Administrator Fugate will travel to Missouri to ensure the state has all the support needed as response efforts continue.
  • FEMA activates its Regional Response Coordination Center in Kansas City to Level II, which means that they are operating 24 hour schedule with the activation of select emergency support functions needed to support state operations. 
  • FEMA Regional Administrator Beth Freeman traveled to Joplin, Missouri from the regional office in Kansas City to coordinate response and recovery efforts with state and local officials. 
  • FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino travels to Joplin, Missouri, where he will meet with state and local officials and tour the disaster affected area.  
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate travels to Joplin, Missouri, to meet with state and local officials and ensure they have what they need as response operations continue.
  • Administrator Fugate approves the addition of the two counties impacted by the tornadoes in Missouri, Jasper and Newton counties, for individual assistance and public assistance that includes debris removal and emergency protective measures, as part of a current federal disaster declaration the state received for recent storms. This means tornado survivors in those counties can begin applying for federal disaster aid, either by phone, online, or on their mobile phones. To register, survivors can call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585, apply online at or apply on their smartphones at
  • FEMA activates Emergency Support Function 3, which authorizes the federal family to provide technical advice and evaluation for debris removal to assist the state and local authorities in Missouri.
  • FEMA activates Emergency Support Function 10, which authorizes the federal government to provide support to the state for responding to actual or potential discharges of hazardous materials.

Sunday, May 22 

  • A multi vortex tornado touches down in (Jasper County), Missouri.  Local reports indicate 2,000 structures were destroyed, including residences, businesses, schools, apartment complexes and churches. St. John’s Regional Medical Center was badly damaged and patients are being evacuated.
  • FEMA’s regional office in Kansas City, begins constant coordination and communications with Missouri’s emergency management team and local officials.
  • Missouri Governor Nixon declares a state of emergency for affected counties.
  • FEMA places personnel from the Kansas City regional office on alert and deploys staff to the Missouri Emergency Operations Center.  Missouri residents are urged to continue to listen to instructions from their local leaders on protecting life and property as response efforts continue.
  • In anticipation of requests, FEMA deploys an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to Joplin to coordinate with state and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting disaster response and recovery.
  • FEMA dispatches a Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) Team, including an Emergency Operations Vehicle, to Missouri to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements.
  • FEMA has commodities staged at locations throughout the state and throughout the country to supplement supplies of the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and other voluntary agencies should their resources become depleted.
  • FEMA activates Emergency Support Function 8, which authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate hospital medical needs and patient evacuations, in support of the state, if necessary.
  • President Obama issues a statement on the tornado in Missouri and the severe storms across the Midwest, expressing condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives and directing FEMA to work with the affected areas' state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts.

Saturday, May 21

  • A series of tornadoes touches down in the town of Reading, Kansas. FEMA, through its regional office in Kansas City, begins constant contact with the state’s emergency management team. 

FEMA Stands Ready to Support Missouri after the Tornadoes & Severe Weather

On behalf of everyone at FEMA, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured by tornadoes this evening in southwest Missouri. 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 very difficult time.

FEMA has been in constant contact with officials at the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency since the severe weather hit. Earlier this evening, I spoke with state emergency management officials indicating the federal family stands ready to support the state in its response and recovery from this evening’s storms. FEMA placed personnel from our Kansas City regional office on alert and we stand ready to assist. Missouri residents should continue to listen to instructions from their local leaders on protecting life and property as response efforts continue.

Note: FEMA is also closely monitoring the tornadoes reported in other states this afternoon and during this weekend. In addition to Missouri, today tornadoes struck Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Reading, Kansas last night. Through our regional office in Kansas City, we will continue to work in constant coordination with the impacted states and stand ready to assist, as needed.

Tornado watches remain in effect tonight for many states across the U.S. If you live in one of these states, remember to follow the instructions of state and local officials and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. We urge all individuals to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for updates and directions provided by their local officials.

Day 1 - Hurricane Preparedness Week: What We’re Doing to Prepare

Today marks the start of National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2011. President Obama recently designated May 22-28, 2011, as National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and called upon all Americans, especially those in hurricane prone areas as well as inland areas, to learn more about how to protect themselves against hurricanes and to work together, as a whole community, to respond to and recover from them.

FEMA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are partnering once again to get the message out about the importance of preparedness for hurricanes and other possible disasters. We are aggressively preparing and wanted to share a recap of the things we’re doing to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season:

Maintaining Robust Readiness Assets

FEMA has multiple disaster response teams, emergency communications capabilities, current and future operational planning capabilities, and operations centers that play a key part in coordinating and providing support to state and local governments in need.

  • FEMA has three National-level Incident Management Assistance Teams that can deploy within two hours and arrive on scene within 12 hours to support the state, territory, local and/or tribal emergency managers. Each of FEMA’s Regional offices also have at least one IMAT. Regions IV, VI and IX having two teams.
  • Mobile Emergency Response Support provides mobile communications, logistics, and operations capabilities required for the on-scene management of all-hazard disaster response activities. FEMA can rapidly deploy any of its six MERS detachments to provide voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to response operations, and joint federal and state response teams in resource-constrained environments.
  • 28 National US&R Task Forces, and three Incident Support Teams, comprise the National US&R Response System. The Task Forces can deploy within six hours of activation, are self-sufficient for 72 hours, and are sponsored by state emergency management and/or local fire and rescue departments through cooperative agreements with FEMA. Teams are staffed, trained and equipped to assist state and local governments with the organization, skills, tools and equipment required to respond to structural collapse incidents and other search and rescue response operations.
  • The Hurricane Liaison Team supports hurricane response operations through the rapid exchange of critical information among the National Hurricane Center and emergency managers at all levels of government, and responds to emergency management questions and concerns.
  • FEMA’s Disaster Emergency Communications Division has significantly enhanced state and local government’s communications capabilities, supporting the development of communications plans. DEC has provided support in the establishment of 36 state specific plans to improve the nation’s interoperability capabilities. An additional six state plans will be completed in FY2011.
  • Enhancements to the National and Regional Response Coordination Systems, which provide overall federal support coordination for emergencies, information technology has improved FEMA’s capacity to support and provide needed resource and guidance to affected states and communities during incident response.
  • FEMA established a Movement Coordination Center to plan, coordinate, schedule, and track transport of resources (supplies, equipment, teams and personnel) necessary for timely support to incident operations.

Building new and strengthening existing partnerships

The variety of challenges posed by hurricanes, such as inland flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes requires a whole community preparedness effort, built upon strong partnerships with federal, tribal, state, and local governments, non-profit and voluntary organizations, the private sector, and the public. Over the past year, FEMA has established and renewed partnerships to better serve states and their residents who may be affected by hurricanes or other hazards.

  • The National Disability Rights Network provides technical expertise to ensure that the access and functional needs of people with disabilities are incorporated into all aspects of planning for, responding to and recovering from disasters.
  • Operation HOPE provides greater access to free financial counseling and information for disaster survivors, including: debt counseling, case management services, workshops, seminars and manuals for those seeking help at disaster recovery centers.
  • The National Council on Independent Living will have access to Disaster Recovery Centers, to provide disaster assistance services to disaster survivors with disabilities.
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can deploy assets to assist in the search for children missing as a result of a declared emergency or disaster.
  • The American Red Cross will jointly lead the planning and coordination of mass care services, which will strengthen and expand the resources available to help shelter, feed, provide emergency first aid and deliver supplies to survivors of a disaster.
  • Internal Revenue Service can support FEMA during large events with surge staffing support by activiating call center agents at pre-identified IRS facilities.
  • The Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response, within the Department of Health and Human Servicess Administration for Children and Families, supports state and local disaster case management services through the Disaster Case Management Program.
  • FEMA coordinated with 29 federal departments and agencies to finalize and update 263 Pre-Scripted Mission Assignments to ensure a rapid and responsive delivery of federal resources and capabilities such as heavy-lift helicopters from the Department of Defense, generators from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from the Department of Health and Human Services, and Emergency Road Clearing Teams from the U.S. Forest Service.
  • FEMA has established a Private Sector Representative position to engage in information sharing and resolve private sector issues impeding the private sector from reopening during major disasters.
  • FEMA tested a National Business Emergency Operations Center which was highly successful in incorporating private sector expertise and capabilities into national response efforts.
  • FEMA hired Stakeholder Relations Specialists in each of the 10 regions to communicate, coordinate and collaborate with the private sector during disasters.

Training and Planning

  • FEMA strives to achieve a Nation prepared through a comprehensive planning cycle that includes our federal, state and local partners, the private sector and citizens. While much work has been done in training, exercising and planning, several key training and planning initiatives have been undertaken going in to the 2011 hurricane season.
  • FEMA offered its Hurricane Preparedness Course (L324) at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. One was targeted for the northeast states, one for the southeast states, and one for the gulf coast states.
  • FEMA offered courses at the National Hurricane Conference in Atlanta, GA that included Debris Management; Planning for the Whole Community- Integrating and Coordinating the Access and Functional Needs of Children and Adults with Disabilities; Mitigation Planning Workshop for Local Government; Hurricane Readiness Course for Coastal Communities; and Hurricane Readiness for Inland Communities.
  • FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute offers online and classroom courses. For more information, visit /training.
  • FEMA is co-sponsoring an Interagency Logistics Course, in collaboration with the United States Army Logistics University. The course provides a strategic and operational overview of interagency disaster logistics. The first official course was held last year and three additional courses will have been completed for this year by May 2011.
  • In September 2010, FEMA held its first ever National "Getting Real" Conference. The three day forum, hosted by FEMA in Baltimore, brought together leaders from the emergency management and disability communities to discuss strategies to integrate the entire community into planning for emergencies.
  • FEMA developed a Disaster Case Management Program manual and application guidance to assist states in how to implement disaster case management. The application guidance will soon be released.
  • FEMA completed Guidance on Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters. This guidance was developed by representatives from federal, state and local agencies, voluntary organizations and the private sector to assist agencies and organizations engaged in sheltering, to enable individuals with access and functional needs to maintain their independence in general population shelters.
  • Hurricane preparedness information and a hurricane preparedness webinar “Preparing Your Community for Hurricane Season” is available to Citizen Corps groups. For more information, visit

Expanding Access to Information

As advancements in technology continue to become more accessible across populations and governments, it has become increasingly more important for FEMA and our partners to have plans and platforms in place for the timely delivery and access of information. FEMA has undertaken several initiatives and enhancements to make information more accessible.

  • Last year, FEMA announced a new feature to the mobile platform to make it easier for disaster survivors to apply for assistance. The platform was further enhanced, this year, to include information on locations of open disaster recovery centers, and we’re working to provide open emergency shelters as well.
  • National Disaster Recovery Program Database allows tribal, state and local governments, and emergency managers to view housing and recovery programs.
  • The recently developed National Mass Evacuation Tracking Systems can help states track the movement of transportation-assisted evacuees, along with their household pets, luggage and durable medical equipment.
  • FEMA completed enhancements to the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System that will enable federal, state or local law enforcement officials assigned to missing person cases to access records entered into the system.
  • FEMA’s new web-based action tracking tool will allow users access to information to adequately manage requests and to identify the status of requests for commodities and other resources.
  • FEMA added Geospatial Information Systems mapping capabilities to the National Shelter System and expanded data fields to assist emergency managers at all levels to plan evacuation routes, identify shelters that are outside hazard areas and close to needed services.
  • This year, FEMA upgraded its Hazards U.S.- Multi-Hazard risk assessment computer software program. The software program can help state and local emergency managers anticipate potential infrastructure and building damage, amounts of debris and the potential injuries that could occur from hurricanes and other natural disasters.

This hurricane season, stay connected with FEMA on Facebook and Twitter and by embedding our hurricane preparedness widget on your website.

You can also visit and check out this YouTube video from the National Weather Service for information about the upcoming hurricane season.

What We’re Watching: 5/20/11

Severe Weather Outlook
This spring has been filled with severe weather so far, and forecasts from the National Weather Service say it’s likely to continue in many parts of the country. Flooding is expected to continue along the Mississippi River, from Illinois down to Louisiana. Parts of North and South Dakota are also expected to see flooding over the next ten days as well.

Drought conditions are projected to continue across the southern U.S., particularly in New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Florida. For your local forecast, go to or on your phone. And whatever hazards are in your area, has tips for getting prepared and staying safe.

Hurricane Awareness Week
Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2011 hurricane outlook, projecting an above-normal season for the entire Atlantic Basin - Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator, blogged about the outlook yesterday.

As they mentioned yesterday, hurricane season starts on June 1, so we’re encouraging people to take steps now to get prepared for a hurricane. Since next week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, keep an eye on this blog for more information on getting ready for the season. But until then, you can start getting prepared today at, or put our “Get Prepared For A Hurricane” widget on your website.

North Carolina: One Month Recovery Update


Damaged home.
Snow Hill, NC, April 25, 2011 -- Properties in Greene County, N.C., await cleanup and recovery following the deadly tornadoes and severe storms that swept through the state April 16, 2011.

It’s hard to believe it has been one month since a series of deadly tornadoes and storms ripped through several North Carolina communities, taking the lives of 24 residents and causing millions of dollars in property damages. I wanted to give a personal update on the ongoing recovery efforts in North Carolina and provide a few examples of how FEMA continues to work with all members of the emergency management team to assist survivors and affected communities.

To date, Federal and state disaster assistance grants and loans add up to nearly $10 million, a testament to cutting through red tape and getting assistance to affected individuals and communities. Yesterday, we held a press conference with the state of North Carolina and the Small Business Administration to provide an update of the ongoing recovery efforts:

Four days after the storms struck, jointly, federal and state partners sent community relations specialists out into neighborhoods to help people understand what help may be available to them. These specialists continue to go door-to-door, providing information in English and Spanish to people affected by the tornadoes. To date, the community relations teams have visited almost 12,558 homes and talked to over 13,100 people. They have also provided information to over 2,200 businesses, over 240 community organizations and over 900 faith-based organizations.

Miriam Stack, FEMA community relations specialist, works with Raleigh residents to answer questions during a neighborhood outreach.
Raleigh, NC, April 24, 2011 -- Miriam Stack, FEMA community relations specialist, works with Raleigh residents to answer questions during a neighborhood outreach following the severe April 16 storms and deadly tornadoes that damaged or destroyed homes and businesses across North Carolina.

Days after the disaster declaration, FEMA and the North Carolina Emergency Management Office opened a joint field office and 16 disaster recovery centers. So far, more than 3,900 residents have visited a disaster recovery center to apply for assistance and learn about the other programs available to them.

Since the storms struck, we have also been working alongside the many voluntary, faith- and community-based groups that work to get disaster survivors back on their feet as quickly as possible. Here are a few photos that show this work in action:

Salvation army volunteers unload a truck of supplies.
Raleigh, NC, May 12, 2011 -- The Salvation Army staff partner with the Green Chair Project to help disaster survivors in North Carolina re-furnish their homes. The Green Chair Project makes donated home furnishings available at a low cost to individuals and families identified and referred to Green Chair by its partner agencies. FEMA is responding to severe April 16 storms and deadly tornadoes that damaged or destroyed homes and businesses across North Carolina on.

FEMA community relations specialist speaks with Red Cross volunteers.
Raleigh, NC, April 24, 2011 -- Maureen Ivey, FEMA community relations specialist, confers with the Red Cross about the recovery efforts in Wake County, N.C., following the severe April 16 storms and deadly tornadoes that damaged or destroyed homes and businesses across North Carolina.

As I said in our news conference yesterday, we are encouraging those who suffered losses in eligible counties to apply for FEMA assistance as soon as possible. The deadline for FEMA registration and U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan applications is June 20. We will continue to get the word out about registering for assistance, and we hope you will do the same if you know someone who may have been affected by this disaster.



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