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What We’re Watching: 3/9/12

At the end of each week, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Weather Outlook

A new storm in the Pacific Northwest will produce valley rain and mountain snow across western Washington. Snow melt resulting from a strong warming trend could bring flooding this weekend to much of the Northern Rockies and Intermountain West. Winds from 15-30 mph are expected across much of Montana, with gusts over 40 mph in the Chinook areas. These strong winds, combined with low relative humidity, will result in critical fire weather conditions today across much of north-central Montana.

A clipper-like system in the Midwest is expected to bring snow from the upper peninsula of Michigan off into much of the northeastern U.S. A Red Flag Warning is in effect today for western and north-central Nebraska as a result of strong winds and low relative humidity.

Update on Tornado Response

FEMA continues to support efforts of state, tribal and local officials in states impacted by severe storms and tornadoes Feb. 28 – March 3. President Obama declared a major disaster declaration, on Tuesday, for the Commonwealth of Kentucky making federal disaster aid available aid to supplement commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area affected by the recent storms. Residents and business owners in the designated Kentucky counties who sustained losses can apply for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.

Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments are ongoing in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

National Flood Safety Week

We’re teaming up with NOAA again to bring you National Flood Safety Awareness Week 2012. Starting next week, March 12 -16 we’ll share information on flood risks, how individuals, families, and businesses can take precautions to protect their families and homes in the event of flooding and safety tips on what to do before, during, and after flooding.

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, but there are simple steps citizens can take today to reduce their risk to all types of floods. Head over to www.ready.gov/floods for information on floods and make sure to check back next week for the start of Flood Safety Awareness Week.

Clocks Spring Forward on Sunday

Remember, on Sunday we spring forward an hour for Daylight Savings – it’s also a great reminder to make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home. Smoke alarms significantly increase your chances of surviving a deadly home fire, so we encourage everyone to take these simple steps to be prepared:


  • Test and clean your smoke alarms today and on the first of every month
  • Replace the batteries at least once a year
  • Place smoke alarms on every level of your residence and in every bedroom
  • Check the manufacture/expiration date on the smoke alarm (yes, smoke alarms have expiration dates)
  • Practice your family’s fire escape plan

For more information about home smoke alarms and fire sprinklers, visit www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms.

Watches & Warnings – What’s the Difference?

As we head into spring, and severe weather and storms become more active, we wanted to ensure that everyone understood the difference between a severe weather watch and warning. Watch this video from our friends at NOAA explaining the difference between severe weather watches and warnings.

Calling for Nominees for FEMA’s National Youth Preparedness Council

FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division is looking for youth leaders dedicated to public service and making a difference in their community to serve on FEMA’s National Youth Preparedness Council. The National Youth Preparedness Council is an opportunity for select youth leaders interested in expanding their impact as a national advocate for youth preparedness to serve on this highly distinguished national council. Members of the council will participate in a community preparedness roundtable event in Washington D.C. and voice their opinions, experiences, ideas, solutions and questions on youth disaster preparedness with the leadership of national organizations working on youth preparedness.


Who is Eligible?

Individuals from 12 to 17 years of age who want to make a difference in their community, have contributed to youth disaster preparedness in their community or have lived through a disaster and want to share their experiences are eligible to apply for the council.

Youth Preparedness Council nominees will represent a variety of young people: current or former students, youth members of a local Citizen Corps Council, a youth club or a member of a faith-based organization that is vocal and active in preparing peers, family and neighborhoods for potential emergencies are encouraged to apply.

Similarly, if you know of a young person with any of these qualities, you may nominate him or her to serve on the council.

Interested in Applying?

Interested candidates or nominations should emphasize youth disaster preparedness activities that the candidate/nominee has participated in or can be related to a disaster the candidate/nominee has lived through. Nominations should describe a specific emergency situation and/or examples of youth disaster preparedness activities that would qualify the nominee to serve on the Council.

Some examples of preparedness activities include:

  • Teen CERT in Action
  • Citizen Corps Council Activities
  • After School Activities
  • Faith-based Youth Preparedness Activities
  • Increasing Local Disaster Awareness
  • Youth Club Activities (e.g., Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts)

If you are nominating yourself, you must submit a letter of recommendation from any adult parent, guardian, community first responder, teacher or community leader that can attest to your community preparedness activities. If you are an adult nominating a young person to serve on the council, you do not have to include an additional letter unless you choose to do so.

Nominations must be received by April 6, 11:59 p.m. EDT. For complete instructions on applying, visit our website.

Youth Preparedness Council Participants will be announced in May 2012, and will be FEMA’s honored guests at a community preparedness roundtable event in Washington, D.C. on June 28 and 29.

Visit our website for more information on the National Youth Preparedness Council or to apply.

Recent Tornadoes Highlight the Efforts of State, Tribal, and Locals to Respond to the Needs of Survivors

Author: 

While FEMA always stands ready to assist our governors and emergency management partners during an emergency, we are not always the only or best option. By leveraging the strengths and capabilities of the entire team we can more efficiently and effectively meet the needs of disaster survivors. These storms, while tragic, also highlight the incredible work of local and state responders and the leadership of Governors to exercise the robust capabilities of their state to recover.

I talk a lot about this and how FEMA – while part of the team – is not the whole team. In looking at the most recent storms in the Midwest and South, I’m once again reminded and encouraged about how this concept works and the different resources available. There are many types of aid that our partners and teammates at the federal, state, tribal, and local level, as well as voluntary agencies and the private sector bring to assist in a time of need. You also hear us talk about our whole community approach to emergency management. It means we are all in it together. Neighbor helping neighbor – meeting the needs of everyone, even when FEMA assistance is not available.

Often when states choose not to pursue or do not receive a disaster declaration there may be other federal resources available to assist residents that have a need. In the aftermath of these recent storms, we’ve seen examples from across the affected areas of states finding resources to meet their citizens’ needs without the need for federal disaster assistance from FEMA. A specific example is housing. By looking at a state’s own resources identified in a state housing strategy, the state can often identify vacant housing units for eligible survivors. Federal partners, like HUD and the USDA Rural Development can start the process of identifying vacant housing in conjunction with the state without any special federal declaration. For homeowners and business, a state can also apply for assistance from the Small Business Administration. SBA provides low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, and businesses that have been affected in an SBA declared disaster. Based on a survivors income and eligibility these disaster loans might be just want is needed to repair, rebuild and move forward.

And let’s not forget that individuals are a large part of the team. Taking proactive steps to purchase insurance can minimize a person’s exposure to the uncertainty of disasters. When FEMA supports states in joint preliminary damage assessments, one the biggest considerations we look at is whether people that were affected have insurance. The level of insurance can often be a major consideration when determining whether a state should request a FEMA declaration. Its also important to remember that even when a FEMA disaster declaration is made, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits. Insurance is the first and best line of defense and even where FEMA’s Individual and Public Assistance programs are made available, we do not provide assistance for damage that would otherwise be covered by insurance.

Even in the absence of a FEMA disaster declaration and after insurance claims have been paid, there might still be a need to address some unmet needs. So we look to another member of the team, voluntary organizations. As we highlighted a few days ago, this past year alone, the American Red Cross aided survivors and communities in response to storms, flooding, fires and tornadoes in 46 states and territories. But, the voluntary agencies that come to the aid of survivors include many more than the American Red Cross. Local organizations, faith based groups and access and functional needs partners often meet the needs without needing to go outside the community. For more information on Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters, take a look at one of our past blog posts by Deborah Ingram, Assistant Administrator, Recovery Directorate where she wrote about engaging voluntary agencies before, during, and after a disaster.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families as they continue to recover from the tornadoes and severe weather. FEMA and our federal government partners stand ready to assist communities when needed. But, as states recover from these recent storms, I want to applaud the wonderful work they are doing to meet their citizens needs.

Bringing in Federal Disaster Help: The Disaster Declaration Process

Most of you have been following the tornadoes that struck several southern and mid-western states last week. As you may have read on this blog and in the news, FEMA and its federal partners remain in close contact with emergency officials in impacted states across the country.

We did a post last March on FEMA’s role in responding to spring flooding, which also included an explanation of the disaster declaration process. As state and local emergency officials assess damage in their jurisdictions, we thought it would be helpful to citizens to once again explain how disaster declarations are requested.

As with all disasters, FEMA supports a disaster response team that also includes tribal, territorial, state, and local governments as well as the private sector and voluntary organizations.

When natural disasters like tornadoes occur, local first responders are the ones on the ground who provide the emergency assistance that protects the public’s health and safety, while meeting immediate human needs. These first responders include local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups in each community.

In most cases, first responders, along with state and local emergency management officials, have the resources that are needed to respond and recover from the event.

What if they need federal help?

In cases where a severe weather event overwhelms the resources at the state level and below, a governor may request an emergency declaration or a major disaster declaration. Both declaration types, if signed by the president, would authorize FEMA to provide supplemental federal disaster assistance. However, the event that triggers the disaster declaration, as well as the type and amount of assistance provided may differ.

  • Emergency Declarations: An emergency declaration can be declared for any occasion or instance when the president determines federal assistance is needed. Emergency declarations supplement state and local efforts in providing emergency services, such as the protection of lives, property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States. The total amount of assistance provided for a single emergency may not exceed $5 million. If this amount is exceeded, the president shall report to Congress.
  • The president can declare a major disaster declaration for any natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion, that the president believes has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state, territory, tribal, local government, and voluntary agencies to respond. A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.

When does a governor make a request?

Prior to making a request for federal assistance and based on initial information received from local officials, the Governor can request support from the FEMA to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments, or PDAs, for both Individual Assistance (homeowners, renters and businesses) and/or Public Assistance (debris removal, emergency protective measures and infrastructure). This is not a request for a disaster declaration, but one of the initial steps in the declaration process.

Local, state and federal officials make up the joint PDA teams working to identify the extent of disaster damage. The PDA teams look at the losses to households, businesses, public infrastructure and local government services as well as the impact to the community. All of the data collected during the PDAs is provided to the Governor’s office to determine whether the event is beyond the state and local capabilities, then the Governor may submit a formal disaster declaration request to the FEMA regional office.

And what exactly do you mean by “assistance”?

A major disaster declaration request will include a request for assistance under one or two broad categories of assistance, which we refer to as public assistance and individual assistance. Public assistance is financial assistance for repairing public infrastructure, like roads, schools, fire stations, etc.

Individual assistance can be provided to eligible individuals and households who are uninsured, or under-insured, and suffered losses due to disaster damage. It’s important to remember that by law, the amount of individual assistance a person or household can receive is capped, and may not cover losses to the extent that an insurance policy would. This assistance is also intended to support only necessary and serious needs that resulted from the disaster.

FEMA is also able to provide assistance by serving as a coordinator for the federal agencies that can help support response and recovery efforts. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses its engineering and contracting capabilities to support FEMA and other federal, state and local government agencies in a wide variety of missions during natural and man-made disasters. Learn more here.

But isn’t this all complicated?

This is the formal process, but in reality, every day, through our 10 regional offices we work hand in hand with our state counterparts to plan for whatever the next emergency may be.

A Discussion with the Private Sector about National Preparedness

Author: 

Engaging the private sector – including businesses, community and faith-based organizations, schools and individuals – in national, regional and local emergency preparedness, response and recovery is among FEMA’s highest priorities.

Administrator Fugate recognizes – and actively promotes – the private sector, “from Fortune 500 companies to your local grocery store,” as an essential partner, a member of the “whole community” team that will help build the nation’s capacity to respond to and recover from a catastrophic event.

As was proven in numerous disaster operations in 2011 – including Spring tornadoes and floods in the Southeast and Midwest and Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene along the East Coast – growing and leveraging strong working relationships between emergency managers and the private sector helps us better serve survivors, rebuild our communities and boost local economies.

Along with our partners, we want to know what businesses and nonprofit groups think about the role the private sector plays in national preparedness. We are particularly interested in obtaining feedback for the “National Frameworks,” which will clearly define key preparedness roles and responsibilities for all whole community partners and are part of Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8): National Preparedness.

To this end, we are hosting webinars during the month of March for people to provide their thoughts on the private sector and nonprofit roles and responsibilities identified in the working draft Frameworks. We’re interested in validating content, identifying gaps and discussing new ideas, and Framework authors will be on hand during the events to provide background information and answer questions. All feedback will be considered when revising and finalizing the working draft Frameworks.

The dates and topics of the webinars are:

  • March 7, 2012 - 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. EST - Webinar 1: Prevention
  • March 12, 2012 - 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. EDT - Webinar 2: Mitigation
  • March 14, 2012 - 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. EDT - Webinar 3: Protection
  • March 21, 2012 - 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. EDT - Webinar 4: Response

Other ways the public can contribute to FEMA’s Whole Community efforts include submitting suggestions and ideas on our online collaboration site and participating in National Disaster Recovery Framework Stakeholder Events.

Individuals, communities and businesses are the most critical response and recovery assets present during the initial hours and days following an event, and it is imperative that they are involved in our disaster planning efforts.

Help strengthen the resilience and security of our country and RSVP for the webinars now.

Update 8: Overview of Response and Support Efforts to the Severe Weather


Since the deadly tornadoes first struck last week, FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill., and Atlanta, Ga., has been in close contact and coordination with the impacted states. The administration, through FEMA, is closely monitoring storm impacts and remains in close contact with emergency officials in impacted states across the country to ensure that any unmet needs are addressed. FEMA and its partners have teams on the ground in hard hit areas, and are prepared to deploy additional teams and resources, if needed by the states.

Last week, President Obama spoke with the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio to express his concern for citizens impacted by the severe weather and tornadoes, and offer condolences to families who have lost loved ones. DHS Secretary Napolitano spoke, Saturday, with the governors of Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee following the storms that affected these states.

The following is an overview for Monday, March 5:



  • FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill., and Atlanta, Ga., continues to closely monitor conditions in the areas affected by severe weather, and has been in close coordination with state and local officials. FEMA continues to stand ready to support the states, as requested.
  • Regional Administrator Phil May is in Kentucky, and meets with Emergency Management Director John W. Heltzel for updates on the state response efforts there.
  • Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) Team proactively deploys to Kentucky to provide secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to response operations, if needed.
  • At the request of the states, FEMA preliminary damage assessments are underway in Kentucky, Illinois, and West Virginia. These assessments are an important step in identifying the damages in impacted counties and will help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.
  • At the request of the state, FEMA deploys teams to Ohio to assist with joint preliminary damage assessments with other state and local personnel. These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties and help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.
  • Community relations teams deploy to Tennessee to assist with situational awareness following the storms in support of the state and governor, as requested.
  • FEMA continues to monitor winter weather across the Mississippi Valley that may impact response operations or disaster assessments.

See yesterday's blog post for a recap of earlier federal activities.

Comment on the National Planning Frameworks and the Recovery Interagency Operational Plan to Help Strengthen the Nation’s Preparedness

Author: 

FEMA and its partners are seeking your input on four working drafts of the National Planning Frameworks, and the initial draft of the Recovery Federal Interagency Operational Plan, which are part of Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness. PPD-8 is a policy directive that asks federal agencies to work with the whole community—including all levels of government, individuals and communities, businesses, nonprofit and faith-based organizations—to work together to improve national preparedness.

As an element of the implementation of PPD-8, the National Frameworks, focusing on Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response and Recovery, clearly define key preparedness roles and responsibilities for the entire community.

Through ongoing engagement efforts which include the use of our online collaboration tool, webinars and workshops, we have been able to complete working draft documents. We are currently focusing on revising the National Response Framework and developing the Prevention, Protection and Mitigation Frameworks. As each of these products are made final, federal interagency operational plans will be developed to provide guidance across the federal government to successfully implement the Frameworks.

The final National Disaster Recovery Framework was released in September 2011, and reflects input gathered through extensive outreach with more than 600 stakeholders representing federal, state, local and tribal governments, as well as public and private organizations. Since the release, forums have been held across the country to support development of the initial draft of the Recovery Federal Interagency Operational Plan.

Over the course of the next 30 days, stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide additional input to the drafts of these Frameworks and the initial draft of the Recovery Federal Interagency Operational Plan. The period will end on April 2, 2012.

Please visit www.fema.gov/ppd8 to view the working drafts of these documents and submit your input using the accompanying matrix.

There continues to be a variety of opportunities to engage in the development of the frameworks through webinars, in-person workshops and through an online collaboration tool. Information on these opportunities can also be found at www.fema.gov/ppd8.

This engagement is another opportunity to ensure broad participation in the implementation of PPD-8. With your help, FEMA and its partners have already created the National Preparedness Goal, which sets the vision for building a more resilient and secure Nation, and a National Preparedness System description, which identifies the programs, processes and tools for achieving that vision. We are also reviewing and incorporating stakeholder input to the National Preparedness Report, due to the White House by March 30, 2012. You can track our progress at www.fema.gov/ppd8.

Thank you for your continued input and support. Together, we can make the Nation more resilient and secure.

Update 7: Overview of Response and Support Efforts to the Severe Weather


Since the deadly tornadoes first struck, this past week in the Midwest, FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill., and Atlanta, GA, is in close contact and coordination with the impacted states. The administration, through FEMA, is closely monitoring storm impacts and remains in close contact with emergency officials in impacted states across the country to ensure there are not any unmet needs. FEMA and its partners have teams on the ground in hard hit areas, and is prepared to deploy additional teams and resources, if needed by the states.

This past week, President Obama spoke with the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio to express his concern for citizens impacted by the severe weather and tornadoes this week, and condolences to families who had lost loved ones. Yesterday, Secretary Napolitano spoke with the governors of Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee following the storms that affected these states.

The following is an overview for today, Sunday, March 4:



  • FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill., and Atlanta, Ga., continues to closely monitor conditions in the areas affected by severe weather, and has been in touch with state and local officials via a conference call held today.
  • At the request of the states, FEMA deploys teams to Indiana and Tennessee to assist with joint preliminary damage assessments with other state and local personnel. These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties and help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested. These assessments are expected to begin Tuesday, March 6.
  • FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories.  An additional 10,000 meals and more than 350,000 additional liters of water are en route to the incident support base strategically located close to the impacted areas. 
  • The preliminary damage assessments for Missouri were completed.  The assessments identify the damages in impacted counties and will help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.   

See yesterday's blog post for a recap of earlier federal activities.

Update 6: Safety Tips When Returning to Damaged Areas

As communities inspect the damage from the storms, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who’ve lost loved ones and whose lives have been affected by the severe weather and tornadoes.

As areas become more accessible, FEMA encourages disaster survivors to be careful around debris and damaged buildings. Because tornadoes often damage power lines, gas lines or electrical systems, there is a risk of fire, electrocution or an explosion. Protecting yourself and your family requires promptly treating any injuries suffered during the storm and using extreme care to avoid further hazards.

Here are some safety precautions that could help you avoid injury after a tornado:


  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.
  • Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
  • Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to light homes without electrical power.
  • Never use generators, pressure washers, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage or camper -- or even outside near an open window, door or vent. These sources can cause carbon monoxide (CO) -- an odorless, colorless gas -- to build up in your home, garage or camper and poison the people and animals inside. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated.
  • Hang up displaced telephone receivers that may have been knocked off by the tornado, but stay off the telephone, except to report an emergency.
  • Cooperate fully with public safety officials.

When inspecting damages to your home, consider the following tips:

  • 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.
  • In general, if you suspect any damage to your home, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
  • If it is dark when you are inspecting your home, use a flashlight rather than a candle or torch to avoid the risk of fire or explosion in a damaged home.
  • If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you have not done so already.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company, the police or fire departments, or State Fire Marshal's office and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to your house until you are told it is safe to do so.

For more information on how you can protect your family before, during, and after emergencies, visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov. If you have a Blackberry, Android or Apple device, you can download the FEMA app to access safety tips, shelter locations, and more.


Atlanta, Ga., March 3, 2012 -- Regional Administrator Phil May, Deputy Regional Administrator Mary Lynn Miller and senior staff participate in a coordination call following the deadly tornado outbreak on Friday and Saturday, March 2-3.
Atlanta, Ga., March 3, 2012 -- Regional Administrator Phil May, Deputy Regional Administrator Mary Lynn Miller and senior staff participate in a coordination call following the deadly tornado outbreak on Friday and Saturday, March 2-3.

Atlanta, Ga., March 3, 2012 -- FEMA staff in the Atlanta Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) participate in a video teleconference on the anticipated federal role in the response to the deadly tornado outbreak of March 2-3.
Atlanta, Ga., March 3, 2012 -- FEMA staff in the Atlanta Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) participate in a video teleconference on the anticipated federal role in the response to the deadly tornado outbreak of March 2-3.


The following are a few updates since yesterday's response and support update:

  • At the request of the states of Indiana and Tennessee, we are deploying teams to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments with other state and local personnel. These assessments will begin Tuesday, March 6 and the purpose is to identify the damages in impacted counties and to help the respective governors determine if additional federal support will be requested.
  • The four teams deployed to Missouri to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments completed their assessments yesterday, Saturday, March 3. The assessments identify the damages in impacted counties and will help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.
  • More than 109,000 meals and 648,000 liters of water are en route to the incident support base that FEMA and the Department of Defense established in Kentucky. The purpose of the incident support base is to stage commodities (meals, water, cots and blankets) close to the impacted areas if needed and requested by the states.

For those looking for ways to help tornado survivors, cash donations to disaster relief organizations are preferred because financial contributions will allow voluntary organizations to fund response and recovery efforts quickly and provide goods and services that disaster survivors need.

This morning, Administrator Fugate reiterated this point:

The compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than after a disaster. We recognize that individuals and organizations will want to do what they can to help those affected by these devastating storms. I encourage those who are interested in helping, to do so by supporting the voluntary agencies that are providing disaster relief in affected areas. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters provides information on trusted organizations that provide disaster relief. Again, I encourage you to give generously. Thank you.

 

Update 5: Overview of Response and Support Efforts to the Severe Weather


Updated: March 4 at 4:15 PM EST

Since the deadly tornadoes first struck, this week in the Midwest, FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Chicago, and Atlanta, is in close contact and coordination with the impacted states. This week, President Obama spoke with the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio to express his concern for citizens impacted by the severe weather and tornadoes this week, including yesterday and overnight, and condolences to families who had lost loved ones. Today, Secretary Napolitano spoke with the governors of Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee following the storms that affected these states Friday evening, and overnight.

The administration, through FEMA, is closely monitoring the storms and their impacts and remains in close contact with emergency officials in impacted states across the country to ensure there are not any unmet needs. FEMA and its partners have teams on the ground in hard hit areas, and is prepared to deploy additional teams and resources, if needed by the states.

The following timeline provides an overview of these and other federal activities, to date, to support the impacted states, families and communities.

Saturday, March 3


  • President Obama speaks with the governors of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky to express his concern for citizens impacted by the severe weather and tornadoes this week, including yesterday and overnight, and offer condolences to families who had lost loved ones. The President acknowledges that the extent of damage may not be known for days, and reiterates to each governor that FEMA stood ready to provide assistance, if necessary, to the extensive response efforts already underway in each state, led by the governors' teams.
  • Secretary Napolitano speaks with the governors of Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee in response to the storms affecting the states Friday evening, into Saturday morning.
  • FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill., and Atlanta, Ga., continues to closely monitor conditions in the areas affected by severe weather, and has been in touch with state and local officials via conference calls held daily. (Editor's Note: added March 4, 2012 at 4:15 PM EST)
  • FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. is activated, and its Regional Response Coordination Center in Chicago, Ill. is fully activated to support state requests for assistance. Regional Response Coordination Centers in Kansas City, and Atlanta, are partially activated and monitoring requests for assistance.
  • FEMA remains in close contact with our federal partners at the National Weather Service forecast offices. Today, the National Weather Service is forecasting a slight risk of severe thunderstorms across the eastern Gulf Coast into the coastal Carolinas. Main threat will be heavy rains across much of the Southeast today.
  • Incident Management Assistance Teams are proactively staged in Indiana and Kentucky to assist in coordination efforts as the states continue to respond and begin to recover from this devastating storm outbreak.
  • FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories.A national Incident Support Base is established in coordination with the Department of Defense to stage commodities such as meals, water, cots and blankets in strategic locations close to the impacted areas, if needed and requested by the states. More than 98,000 meals and 146,000 liters of water are en route to the incident support base.
  • A FEMA liaison to the Indiana Emergency Operations Center, participates in aerial assessments of the hard hit areas in Indiana.
  • The Private Sector Representative from Wal-Mart is working in the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. to gather situational updates, to communicate and coordinate with private sector entities.
  • The Department of Energy, as of 9:00 am, reports there are currently more than 139,000 customers without power in the impacted states.
  • U.S. Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Distress Helpline is available for those impacted by the storms. Trained and resourced crisis counselors can be reached 24/7 from anywhere in the impacted region by calling 1-800-985-5990 or texting 'TalkWithUs' to 66746. More information is available online.
  • More than 15 Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster are providing emergency assistance including sheltering, feeding, distribution of emergency supplies, debris cleanup, and mental and spiritual care to impacted states.

Friday, March 2


  • FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Chicago, and Atlanta, continues to closely monitoring conditions in the areas affected by severe weather, and has been in touch with state and local officials.
  • FEMA’s Regional Response Coordination Center in Chicagi is fully activated to support state requests for assistance.;Regional Response Coordination Centers in Kansas City, and Atlanta, are partially activated and monitoring requests for assistance
  • FEMA remains in close contact with our federal partners at the National Weather Service forecast offices.
  • Joint preliminary damage assessments with other state and local personnel are underway in 17 Missouri counties. These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.
  • A FEMA Disability Integration specialist is deployed as part of the preliminary damage assessment team in Branson, Mo., and has been working to assess the needs of people with disabilities and those with access and functional needs.
  • At the request of the states, FEMA deploys teams to Illinois and West Virginia to assist with joint preliminary damage assessments with other state and local personnel. These assessments are scheduled to begin Monday, March 5.
  • Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels declares a state of emergency, making state response and recovery resources available to the impacted areas.
  • FEMA Regional Administrator, Andrew Velasquez is in constant communication with Indiana emergency management officials.
  • FEMA deploys a liaison officer to the Indiana Emergency Operations Center to provide support to the state, to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond to the devastating storm outbreak.
  • An Incident Management Assistance Team is deployed to the Indiana Emergency Operations Center.
  • Kentucky Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency, making state response and recovery resources available to the impacted areas.

Thursday, March 1


  • President Obama calls Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to hear about the response efforts underway and determine if federal support is needed.
  • FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Chicago, and Atlanta, closely monitor conditions in Midwest states affected by severe weather, including tornadoes, and has been in touch with state and local officials.
  • FEMA remains in close contact with our federal partners at the National Weather Service forecast offices.
  • Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declares a state of emergency for the southern third of the state of Illinois, making state response and recovery resources available to the impacted areas.
  • The State of Illinois requests joint preliminary damage assessments for eight counties. FEMA is deploying teams to begin assessments on March 5, as requested. These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.
  • The State of Missouri and the Small Business Administration have comprised a team of private sector specialists to conduct assessments of impacts on the business community of Branson, Missouri. A FEMA private sector representative is on the team.
  • Missouri Governor Nixon orders the National Guard deployed to support local law enforcement agencies with emergency coordination and recovery.
  • In Kentucky, local states of emergency are in effect for Muhlenberg, Larue and Morgan Counties.

Wednesday, February 29


  • FEMA is in close contact with our federal partners at the National Weather Service forecast offices.
  • FEMA Regional Administrator Beth Freeman has reached out to the governors of Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.  FEMA’s regional office in Kansas City, has been in constant contact with officials at the Kansas Department of Emergency Management, Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency since the severe weather hit.
  • FEMA Regional Administrator Andrew Velasquez III reached out to the Governor of Illinois and is in constant communication with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jon Monken. FEMA Region V is also in communication with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and continues to monitor the situation.
  • Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declares a state of emergency in Missouri in response to severe storms. The governor’s emergency declaration makes available state government resources, such as personnel, equipment and facilities, to support and assist disaster response operations.
  • Prior to severe weather, FEMA had staff 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, SEMA, and FEMA.
  • State emergency management in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana report damage from tornadoes in some areas.
  • At the request of the State of Missouri, FEMA deploys teams to Missouri to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments with other state and local personnel which are scheduled to begin Friday, March 2. These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties 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.

Tuesday, February 28


  • FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, and Chicago, is closely monitoring conditions in Midwest states affected by severe weather, including tornadoes, and has been in touch with state and local officials.
  • FEMA stays in close contact with our federal partners at the National Weather Service forecast offices.
  • The Governor of Kansas declares a State of Emergency, which makes available state government resources, such as personnel, equipment and facilities, to support and assist disaster response operations.

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