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Donating or Volunteering To Help Disaster Survivors

Editor's note: For information on helping disaster survivors in Joplin, Mo., see this updated blog post.


Huntsville, AL, May 2, 2011 -- Deputy Administrator Rich Serino (L), discusses the ongoing tornado response with volunteers and Art Faulkner (R), Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director. This group of volunteers is helping to deploy staged food and water, and the power had just gone out in the distribution center.
Huntsville, AL, May 2, 2011 -- Deputy Administrator Rich Serino (L), discusses the ongoing tornado response with volunteers and Art Faulkner (R), Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director. This group of volunteers is helping to deploy staged food and water, and the power had just gone out in the distribution center.
Since deadly tornadoes struck the southeast U.S., the public has been an important part of the emergency management team, volunteering their time, money, and energy to helping disaster survivors and their families. Whether you live in one of the affected areas or whether you live across the country, there are ways you can support the ongoing response and recovery efforts.

Through our partners at the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD), there are several trusted sources for helping disaster survivors. Financial contributions to a recognized disaster relief organization is the safest and most effective donation you can make. You can donate money directly to NVOAD members, including texting a donation to the American Red Cross or Salvation Army*. (If you are involved with an organization that may be interested in becoming a member of NVOAD, here’s more information.)

While we work closely with NVOAD members, each state also has its own Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters as well. Here is a list of websites for some of the impacted states, with more information on volunteering or donating to the response efforts:

And in case you’re interested in the most effective ways to disaster survivors after any disasters, visit this page. For the latest updates on the ongoing response and recovery to the southeast tornadoes, visit the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.
 

 * FEMA does not endorse any non-government Web sites, companies or organizations.
 

Administrator Fugate Joins Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in Storm Damaged Greene County

EMA Administrator Craig Fugate speaks at a press conference in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Greeneville, TN, May 2, 2011 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate speaks at a press conference in Greeneville, Tennessee after viewing damage from last Thursday’s tornadoes that ripped through Eastern Tennessee and across the south east part of the country. Behind the Administrator from left to right are Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, State Senator Steve Southerland, U.S. Representative Phil Roe, and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Bassham.

Coming on the heels of his trips to Alabama and Mississippi last week (April 28 and April 29) and over the weekend, today Administrator Fugate traveled to Greene County, Tennessee to meet with Governor Bill Haslam, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) Director Jim Bassham, and U.S. Representative Phil Roe to survey damage, meet with state and local officials, and ensure the state is getting the support they need from FEMA and all our federal partners.

Yesterday, President Obama signed a major disaster declaration for Tennessee, which makes federal assistance available to individuals, in declared counties, who suffered personal property damages or losses, and for public infrastructure, such as schools, fire stations and libraries.

Craig joined the Governor in a briefing with TEMA officials to receive the latest update on the state’s response and recovery efforts. Administrator Fugate reiterated that FEMA stands in support of the Governor and will provided any assistance that is needed.

The group then took a walking tour of some of the damage in Greene County, talking with residence and local officials about their experience and what it will take for the county to recovery. Administrator Fugate praised the first-responders, faith-based and non-profit organizations, and especially the public, for their heroic and compassionate actions over the last few days as the community has pulled together to respond and recover from this devastating storm.

He also reiterated that it is important that for individuals and families in the declared counties, including Greene, to register with for assistance – and that there are a number of ways to do that, including:

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

Unfortunately this was not Craig’s first trip to Tennessee following a disaster. Last May, following the massive flood event that struck the entire state, Craig toured Tennessee extensively from Nashville to North of Memphis, meeting with state and local officials, including local emergency managers to ensure that the Governor was receiving all the federal support that was needed.

To better reach disaster survivors from last year’s flooding, we set up a joint Facebook page with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, communicating critical information about the ongoing response and recovery. This joint Facebook page approach was another extension of our constant coordination with the state – and turned out to be a model worth replicating. In response to last week’s southeast tornadoes, we established a joint Facebook page with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency for the same purpose. Check out this blog post for more social media resources for disaster survivors.

Video of President Obama’s Visit to Alabama on April 29

Since the devastating storms and tornadoes struck the southeast last week, the federal government has been supporting the emergency management team in supporting the ongoing response and recovery efforts. Administrator Fugate traveled to Alabama on Thursday, April 28, and linked up with President Obama the following day. Yesterday, several Cabinet members visited Alabama as well.

The videos below, courtesy of the White House blog, are of President Obama’s visit to the affected area. For the latest updates on the ongoing response and recovery to the southeast tornadoes, visit the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.



Recap of Cabinet Members’ Travel to Alabama and Mississippi

Administrator Craig Fugate and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to Alabama and Mississippi yesterday with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Small Business Administration Administrator (SBA) Karen Mills to survey the damage and the response and recovery efforts underway.  American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern also joined the delegation.

The administration officials visited the Pratt City Command Center in Birmingham, Ala., with Mayor William Bell to tour the damage and meet with first responders -- applauding the ongoing coordination of resources and manpower on the federal, state and local levels to help the community rebuild and recover.

A housing mission planning team comprised of housing and technical experts from FEMA, HUD, Army Corps of Engineers, SBA and voluntary agencies is on-site in Alabama to assist the state-led housing task force in establishing housing priorities.

Secretary Napolitano said:

"We thank the first responders, emergency personnel, as well as citizens and volunteers -- many of whom are victims of this disaster -- for working around the clock to help with response and recovery efforts." "This tragedy has touched so many people - here in Alabama, Mississippi and in other states throughout the region. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost a loved one, are still searching for one, have been injured, or have lost a home or business."

The senior administration officials joined Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour in Smithville, Mississippi, Mayor Gregg Kennedy, U.S. Representatives Spencer Bachus and Alan Nunnelee, Senator Roger Wicker and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack. Together they toured a residential Smithville neighborhood that had been leveled by the storms. Since Saturday, additional FEMA Community Relations (CR) teams have been deployed to Mississippi to meet with disaster survivors to explain the assistance available and to facilitate their registrations for assistance.

Throughout the day, each of the officials underscored their respective roles as part of the nation's response and recovery team -- a team that includes the entire federal government, state, local and tribal officials, the faith-based and non-profit communities, the private sector and most importantly, the public.

The administration has been deeply involved in response and recovery efforts since the storms first hit. Earlier this evening, the President signed a major disaster declaration for the state of Tennessee. Previously, on April 29, the President signed major disaster declarations for Mississippi and Georgia, in addition to the Alabama major disaster declaration signed on April 28, which make federal assistance available to individuals who suffered personal property damages or losses, and for public infrastructure, such as schools, fire stations and libraries.

Damage assessments are ongoing, and counties continue to be designated to receive assistance as damage assessments are completed. Additionally, FEMA has received disaster declaration requests from the governors of Kentucky and Arkansas, and those requests are under review. Preliminary damage assessments are also being conducted today in Virginia.

Families and individuals that have been impacted by the tornadoes and storms, and need assistance have several options for getting help:

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

Recap 4: Response and Support Efforts for Southern U.S. Tornadoes and Severe Storms


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.

At the request of the respective governors, FEMA currently has personnel on the ground in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, and commodities strategically pre-positioned in the region to support the states.

Today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Small Business Administrator Mills, and FEMA Administrator Fugate, along with American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern, traveled to Alabama and Mississippi to survey the damage and meet with state and local officials.

Recap for Sunday, May 1st

  • President Obama Cabinet members Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Donovan, Secretary Vilsack join Administrator Fugate, Small Business Administration Administrator Mills, American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern and other state and local officials to tour affected areas in Birmingham, Alabama and Smithville, Mississippi.
  • Tonight, the President declared a major disaster for the State of Tennessee and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and associated flooding during the period of April 25-28, 2011.
  • Six disaster recovery centers (DRCs) open.  These are staffed by state, voluntary agency and federal personnel to help those whose homes or businesses were affected by recent storms and tornadoes. The centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.  At the DRCs, representatives from FEMA, state and other agencies meet one on one with disaster survivors, explain assistance programs and help survivors apply for disaster aid.
  • More than 150 inspectors are on the ground in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia assessing damages in order to help applicants to receive financial assistance. The number of field inspectors is expected to increase rapidly over the next several days.
  • FEMA Community Relations (CR) personnel are on the ground in Mississippi, joining CR teams already deployed previously to Georgia and Alabama, to meet with disaster survivors to explain the assistance available and to help survivors register for assistance. 
  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) member organizations such as American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Convoy of Hope, and many others continue to be heavily involved in the disaster response by providing assistance to disaster survivors. The Red Cross Safe and Well secure website provides a way for people to find information on people affected by the storms. To register, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell. Open Red Cross shelters can also be found on www.redcross.org.     
  • The Alabama Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives and Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service have set up official web portals 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.

Get FloodSmart: One Month until Hurricane Season Starts

As we’ve seen from the damage caused by the recent tornadoes and severe storms that hit the Southeast, as well as flooding all across the country, natural disasters can be devastating.  They can happen anytime, anywhere, and often without much warning.

While we can’t prevent natural disasters, there are steps we can take to get ready for them, and as we head into the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season next month (June 1st), now is the time to get ready.  Flood insurance policies typically take 30 days before they take effect, so now is the time to invest in preparing your homes and businesses for the heightened flood risks associated with hurricane season.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Past hurricane seasons have illustrated how seasonal flooding can be devastating and costly.  In fact, flooding is both the most common and the most expensive type of natural disaster in the U.S., but many people still lack adequate insurance protection, and homeowners insurance doesn’t typically cover flood damage.

You may not realize that flooding from hurricanes and tropical storms can extend beyond the Gulf and Southeastern coasts as well.  The largest amounts of rainfall from hurricanes are often produced by slow moving storms that stall out miles from a shoreline.  As these storms move inland, high winds and torrential rains increase the likelihood of flooding.  The bottom line is, floodwaters don’t stop at coastlines or floodplain boundaries; everyone is at risk.  It’s important to insure your property no matter where you live.  Check out this blog post from earlier this year if you have questions about flood insurance.

Flood insurance is available through more than 85 insurance companies in nearly 21,000 participating communities nationwide.  Most everyone can purchase flood insurance – including renters, business owners, and homeowners.  Flood insurance is also affordable.  The average flood insurance policy is around $600 a year.  And in moderate- to low- risk areas, homeowners can protect their properties with low-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at just $129 a year.  Individuals can learn more about their flood risk by visiting FloodSmart.gov or calling 1-800-427-2419.

Addressing Sheltering and Housing Needs After the Southeast Tornadoes

Author: 

Edited: May 1, 4:10 pm EDT

As FEMA and our federal partners continue to work with the states in support of their recovery efforts, there has been a great deal of focus on the need to shelter a significant number of residents whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by tornadoes and other severe weather.

States and non-government groups like the Red Cross are still very much involved in ensuring displaced disaster survivors are provided shelter, and sustaining those shelters with the needed supplies like food and water. We understand that many residents may be asking themselves what's next as they are confronted with the challenge of finding short-term housing and the possibility of needing long-term accommodations.

FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support the state in meeting its housing needs. This joint effort is comprised of housing and technical experts from the State, FEMA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Army Corps of Engineers, Small Business Administration (SBA) and voluntary agencies. Working together, the team will partner with the state as they establish housing priorities; seeking ways to make the greatest use of existing housing resources, such as apartments and rental units; and deploying temporary housing units, if needed.

As extensive work continues to restore power, open roadways, and remove debris so that homes can begin to be repaired or rebuilt, FEMA is:

  • Working with our partners at HUD to identify areas of greatest need for housing, and to identify available rental resources in impacted areas to assist families displaced by these storms to find longer-term housing solutions; 
  • Working with the Army Corps of Engineers and the local communities to identify areas where the Corps could provide temporary home repairs, such as covering broken windows or holes in roofs, so that residents can move back or stay in their home for shelter until more extensive repairs can be made;
  • Working with our partners at SBA to help individuals and businesses apply for low interest loans so that they can more quickly rebuild or repair their damaged homes and replace lost property; and
  • Perhaps most importantly, actively taking registration information through our call centers. We have inspectors on the ground assessing the damages suffered by those who have registered, and FEMA is approving financial assistance for housing (such as rental assistance and home repair money) and financial assistance for other essential needs (such as disaster-related medical needs, replace lost clothing, furniture and other necessary items).

The first step for individuals to be considered for assistance is to register.  Our Community Relations (CR) teams are on the ground meeting with residents to explain the types of assistance that is available through the federal government and helping residents to register.  If you have questions, we encourage you speak with a CR team if they knock on your door (just remember, all FEMA staff will have FEMA identification) or call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) and press "1".

In addition to in-person CR teams, there are several options for getting help:

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

FEMA has also expanded its agreement with Operation HOPE to bring financial experts in to Disaster Recovery Centers to provide guidance to disaster survivors on how to apply the funds provided by FEMA and the Small Business Administration, such as funds provided for home repair, to speed their recovery.

In Photos: Responding and Supporting the Southern States

Since the deadly tornadoes and severe storms struck parts of the country, FEMA began mobilizing people and resources to support several states in which entire communities were devastated by some of the most powerful tornadoes ever seen. As we work with our local, state, and Federal partners, here are some photos from the past few days:

President Barack Obama talks with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate to discuss the continuing federal disaster relief efforts for areas affected by the devastating severe storms and tornadoes that struck the Southeast this week.
President Barack Obama talks with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate to discuss the continuing federal disaster relief efforts for areas affected by the devastating severe storms and tornadoes that struck the Southeast this week, during a phone call in the Oval Office, April 28, 2011. President Obama visited damaged areas and disaster survivors in Alabama on April 29.


FEMA Mobile Command Operations Vehicles deploying to hard hit areas to start the emerency assistance registration process for surviors in need.
Montgomery, AL, April 30, 2011 -- FEMA Mobile Command Operations Vehicles deploying to hard hit areas to start the emerency assistance registration process for surviors in need.


FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in the Georgia Emergency Operations Center listen to a briefing from the state’s emergency management personnel on the damage from the tornados and storms that struck the southeast on April 27th.
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2011 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in the Georgia Emergency Operations Center listen to a briefing from the state’s emergency management personnel on the damage from the tornados and storms that struck the southeast on April 27th.


FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center leave for Alabama in the MCOV's (Mobile Command Operations Vehicles) for deployment to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2011 -- FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center leave for Alabama in the MCOV's (Mobile Command Operations Vehicles) for deployment to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.


FEMA's Bond Luddeke discusses logistics with an U.S Airforce officer.
Montgomery, AL, April 30, 2011 -- FEMA set up an Incident Support Base at Maxwell Airforce Base in Alabama to stage generators, water, Meals Ready to Eat, and other supplies that Alabama emergency management can direct where the need is and get them there quickly. FEMA's Bond Luddeke discusses logistics with an U.S. Airforce officer.


FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center secure generators to the trailer for deployment to Alabama to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2011 -- FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center secure generators to the trailer for deployment to Alabama to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.


FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center load pallets of water onto truck trailers for deployment to Alabama.
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2011 -- FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center load pallets of water onto truck trailers for deployment to Alabama to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.


American Red Cross disaster volunteers work at the state disaster headquarters and distribution center in Smithfield, North Carolina.
Smithfield, NC, April 29, 2011 -- American Red Cross disaster volunteers work at the state disaster headquarters and distribution center in Smithfield, North Carolina. The American Red Cross and FEMA are partnering to respond to the severe storms and deadly tornadoes that damaged or destroyed homes and businesses across North Carolina on April 16, 2011.  More Photos from the American Red Cross


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel fuel and test the generators before deployment.
Montgomery, AL, April 30, 2011 -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel fuel and test the generators before deployment.

For the latest updates on our role, check out the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.

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