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Update 4: Responding to the Severe Weather & Ways to Help


Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who've lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storms that hit the Midwest and South.

Our regional administrators have been in touch with state emergency management officials in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, and at this time, we have not received any requests for federal assistance from the affected states.

In order to support any state requests and to coordinate our response, we've activated our National Response Coordination System in Washington, D.C. and our Regional Response Coordination Center in Chicago.

Earlier, Administrator Fugate remarked:


Our priority, as always, is to make sure that we are here to support local efforts to keep residents and communities safe. FEMA has teams on the ground in hard hit areas and is prepared to deploy additional teams and resources if needed by the states. We urge residents in impacted areas to listen carefully to instructions from their local officials. If asked to remain in shelters, homes or safe places or to avoid affected areas, please do so. Roads may be damaged or blocked by debris, and traffic jams can slow emergency managers and first responders in doing their job.

How You Can Help Tornado Survivors

The compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than after a disaster, and we know a lot of people are asking the question: how can I help?

Cash donations are the best way to help and we ask that you visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters for a list of organizations that you can feel confident in making a donation to. You can also follow NVOAD on Facebook and on Twitter @NationalVOAD.


Emergency Management Partners Response

The following are some of the things we are doing along with our emergency management partners to respond to the disaster and support the disaster survivors:


  • At the requests of the states, along with the Small Business Administration, we have deployed teams to Missouri and Illinois to assist with preliminary damage assessments.These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties and to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.
  • A FEMA disability integration specialist was part of the preliminary damage assessment team in Missouri to assess the needs of people with disabilities and access and functional needs who were displaced from their independent living center.
  • We have proactively deployed a federal coordinating officer to Indiana, who is serving as a liaison to the Indiana Emergency Operations Center to provide support to the state and to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond to the recent storms.Incident Management Assistance Team and eleven community relations teams have also been proactively deployed to Indiana to assist with situational awareness following the storms and to support the state as requested.
  • At all times, we maintain 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 if needed.
  • We have also coordinated with the Department of Defense and established a national Incident Support Base in Kentucky to stage commodities in strategic locations close to the impacted areas, if needed and requested by the state. More than 98,000 meals and 146,000 liters of water are en route to the Incident Support Base.
  • Many local governments and voluntary agencies, such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, are providing shelter to disaster survivors who have been displaced from the storms.

We urge residents in impacted areas to listen carefully to instructions from their local officials and take the recommended protective measures to safeguard life and property while response efforts continue. Listen to state and local officials who ask you to remain in shelters, homes or safe places until they give the “all clear” to travel. Roads are very likely to be damaged or blocked by debris, and traffic jams slow emergency managers and first responders as they attempt to reach hard-hit areas.

Visit Weather.gov and mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device for the latest weather forecast from the National Weather Service.

Visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov for more information on tornado and flood safety tips. If you have a Blackberry, Android or Apple device, you can download the FEMA app to access safety tips, shelter locations, and more.

What We’re Watching: 3/2/12

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

REMAIN VIGILANT: The National Weather Service forecasts call for dangerous weather to continue across portions of the South and Midwest into Friday evening. Specifically, there is a high to moderate risk for severe thunderstorms across southern Indiana, southwest Ohio, most of Kentucky, central Tennessee, northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama. There is also a slight risk of severe weather from near Lake Erie southward to the central Gulf Coast states. These storms present threats of tornadoes, widespread damaging wind, hail and flash flooding. The most significant flash flood threat is from southeast Tennessee into northwest Georgia, northern and central Alabama and east central Mississippi.

FEMA urges all individuals in the path of the storms to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news for severe weather updates and warnings and follow the direction provided by their local officials.

Although the severity of the storms may lessen on Saturday and the through the remainder of the weekend, heavy rains may continue in parts of the Southeast and flooding has the potential to occur where the ground is already saturated.

We encourage everyone to become familiar with the terms used to identify a tornado and flood hazards and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued:



  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if local officials give notice to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Visit www.ready.gov for more information on tornado and flood preparedness tips.

Additionally, there are winter weather advisories currently in effect for the Great Lakes. Continue to listen to the weather forecasts and visit www.ready.gov/winterweather for information on winter storms.

High winds are expected in parts of Southern California, the Southwest, Southern Rockies, the Southern and Central plains and Ohio Valley.

Severe drought conditions continue for parts of central and Southern Great Plains, the Southwest and Southeast, and Upper Mississippi Valley. Weather conditions are favorable for wildfire activity in parts of the Southwest including Texas, New Mexico and Southern California. Visit www.ready.gov/wildfires for things that you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your property.

As always, we encourage you to monitor your area’s local forecast as weather conditions can change. Stay up-to-date on your local forecast by visiting weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device.

Thoughts and Prayers to Coast Guard

Following the tragic accident of the U.S. Coast Guard aircraft that crashed this past Tuesday while on a training mission in the Gulf Coast, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and shipmates of CG-6535. Please continue to keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

March is Red Cross Month

Yesterday, President Obama proclaimed March as Red Cross Month. All month, we salute the Red Cross for their many contributions to emergency response. Last year, the American Red Cross responded to 137 large-scale domestic disasters across the United States in 46 states and territories. In addition to collaborating with FEMA in training exercises and disaster response operations helping disaster survivors, the American Red Cross supplies almost half of the nation’s donated blood, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and their families.

Midwest Severe Weather Response

In the aftermath of all the severe weather we’ve also seen how the proactive efforts of local agencies prepared them to deal with this week’s tornado outbreak. For Skaggs Regional Medical Center, a local hospital in Branson, Mo., that preparedness included mass casualty medical surge training at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala.

AmeriCorps members from the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team were deployed to several sites in Missouri following the aftermath of the severe storms and weather in the Midwest.

Missouri state emergency officials requested assistance from AmeriCorps programs in Stone and Taney counties, where a significant portion of the damage occurred. Less than 24 hours after the storms hit, 19 members from AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team had boots on the ground in hard-hit towns like Branson, which sustained significant damage. Additional deployments are waiting on standby in the coming days.

Chad Angell, team leader with AmeriCorps St. Louis said:
 

We are working hard to support to the people of Taney and Stone counties and provide an effective disaster relief operation. Together, AmeriCorps members and everyday volunteers are critical in getting those affected by disasters on a pathway to recovery.

Update 3: Preparing for Continued Severe Weather in the Midwest

As we have all seen on the news and on social media, states throughout the Midwest have been affected by deadly tornado outbreaks over the last few days. State emergency management officials in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee have reported tornado in several areas, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who have lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storms.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a moderate risk for severe thunderstorms across southern Indiana, southwest Ohio, most of Kentucky, central Tennessee, northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama today. There is a slight risk of severe weather from near Lake Erie southward to the central Gulf Coast states. The main threats will be tornadoes, widespread damaging wind, large hail and flash flooding. The most significant flash flood threat is from southeast Tennessee into northwest Georgia, northern and central Alabama and east central Mississippi.

As Administrator Fugate often says:

Severe weather can strike when you least expect it. Remember, no matter where you live, it’s important to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news and to monitor for severe weather updates and warnings, and follow instructions of state and local officials.

FEMA remains in close contact with our federal partners at the National Weather Service, especially since these storms can sometime occur unexpectedly with little to no warning. Discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued and if you have severe weather in your area, keep in mind these safety tips:

for tornadoes:

  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.
  • Injury may result from the direct impact of a tornado or it may occur afterward when people walk among debris and enter damaged buildings. Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
  • After a tornado, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.

for flooding:


  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if local officials give notice to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Also, be sure to check your homeowner or renter insurance because most homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage, but most people can purchase flood insurance – including renters, business owners, and homeowners. Individuals can learn more about their flood risk and how to get their flood insurance policy by visiting www.floodsmart.gov.

Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov for more information on tornado and flood safety tips. If you have a Blackberry, Android or Apple smartphone or tablet, you can download the FEMA app to access safety tips and checkoff items in your emergency kit.

Retirement of David Garratt

Author: 


On Friday, Feb. 24, the FEMA team assembled in the HQ lobby to wish a fond farewell to David Garratt, a dedicated public servant and emergency manager who took his first steps onto the road of retirement. David joined FEMA in 1995 after retiring from the United States Air Force. He worked his way up the FEMA ranks serving in key leadership positions, including as the Acting Deputy Administrator. In his last assignment prior to his retirement David served as the Senior Advisor to Secretary Janet Napolitano for Emergency Management.

Over the years, David excelled in key positions all across the agency including leading the recovery programs in providing over $40 billion in disaster assistance in response to some of the nation’s largest disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Other notable accomplishments include leading the National Emergency Support Team in response to the 9/11 disaster, the establishment of the first Homeland Security Coordination Center, and the development of the Catastrophic Incident Annex and Supplement for the National Response Plan.

David was a true advocate for the FEMA workforce, demonstrated by championing the Workforce Enhancement Initiative, strengthening FEMA’s recruitment, hiring, leadership development, performance management, and retention, and in developing a one-stop shop for customer service across the Agency with a unified Mission Support Customer Assurance Program.

David’s contributions, dedication and commitment to emergency management and the American people are truly commendable. We thank David with tremendous gratitude for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Washington, D.C., Feb. 24, 2012 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate thanks David Garratt for his contributions to FEMA. In his last assignment prior to retirement, David Garratt served as the Senior Advisor to Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano on matters related Emergency Management.

Washington, D.C., Feb. 24, 2012 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate thanks David Garratt for his contributions to FEMA. In his last assignment prior to retirement, David Garratt served as the Senior Advisor to Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano on matters related Emergency Management.

FEMA Salutes the American Red Cross

Author: 



Today President Obama declared March 2012 American Red Cross month. Here at FEMA, we join the White House in saluting the organization on their many contributions to emergency response. We are grateful for their constant partnership and take a moment to reflect the broad scope of their work with disaster survivors across the country.  Just as they are responding to the severe weather in the Midwest today, 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. In one stretch, the Red Cross had at least one shelter open for 195 consecutive days, so our team has had many opportunities to work alongside their dedicated staff and volunteers as they provided comfort and shelter to those in need.

The American Red Cross is not just a great partner during the response to disasters – it is the largest supplier of blood and blood products nationally, helps service members stay connected to their families, invests in humanitarian programs and helps neighbors help each other in all varieties of emergencies.  We value the tremendous work the American Red Cross brings to the table each day as they touch millions of lives, and we are proud to work with them as they continue their compassionate mission.

And here is the full text of the Presidential Proclamation:



AMERICAN RED CROSS MONTH, 2012
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

After more than 130 years of providing humanitarian relief at home and abroad, the American Red Cross remains a reflection of the compassion and generosity central to our national identity. At moments of profound need, the actions of men and women across our country reflect our noblest ideals of service -- from search-and-rescue teams that brave disaster zones to ordinary citizens who deliver not only lifesaving care and supplies, but also hope for a brighter tomorrow. During American Red Cross Month, we pay tribute to all those whose dedication to relieving human suffering illuminates even our darkest hours.

A visionary humanitarian and unyielding advocate for those in need, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881 after many years of tending to soldiers and families injured in war's wake. In the generations that followed, the American Red Cross served as a force for peace and recovery during times of crisis. Presidents of the United States have called upon the American Red Cross time and again, beginning when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Red Cross Week during the First World War, and continuing into the 21st century.

Today, emergency response organizations like the American Red Cross continue to play a vital role in responding to disasters that cast countless lives and communities into harm's way. When devastating storms struck cities spanning the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard this past year, the American Red Cross and other relief organizations were instrumental partners in preparedness, response, and recovery. And when a devastating earthquake shook Japan's Pacific coast, they answered by extending support to the people of Japan and standing with them as they rebuild.

We are reminded in times like these that the strength of our humanitarian response and the measure of our resilience are drawn not only from the committed action of relief organizations, but also from individuals who step forward, volunteer, or give what they can to help their neighbors in need. With generous spirits and can-do attitudes, Americans from every corner of our country have come together again and again to show the true character of our Nation. As we celebrate American Red Cross Month, let us resolve to preserve and renew that humanitarian impulse to save, to serve, and to build, and carry it forward in the year to come.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America and Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2012 as American Red Cross Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities, and by supporting the work of service and relief organizations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

BARACK OBAMA

Update 2: Closely Monitoring Severe Weather in the Midwest

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

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


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

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


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

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