KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Today, FEMA Regional Administrator Dick Hainje joined Governor Matt Blunt in an aerial tour of damages in Newton, Jasper and Barry counties. Several tornadoes touched down late Saturday, developing 175 mph winds that killed 15 people and destroyed at least 140 homes.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were lost in the storm this weekend," said Hainje. "This afternoon Gov. Blunt and I toured by air the damage in southwest Missouri from Saturday's deadly storm system.
"The state of Missouri has suffered a tremendous loss of life, and again on behalf of FEMA I offer my heartfelt condolences.
"I also wish to express my appreciation to Governor Blunt for his leadership during this crisis. Today Preliminary Damage Assessment teams led by the state and assisted by FEMA canvassed the area, and more assessments will be done tomorrow."
At the state's request, joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) teams are now working in Jasper, Newton and Barry counties. Each team has representatives from the state, FEMA and SBA. Local emergency managers are guiding them to the areas hit by these storms so that they can assess damage to residences, businesses, and public facilities. The results of the PDAs will be used to determine if a major disaster declaration is warranted.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been fully engaged with the state of Missouri since Saturday evening when an EF4 tornado swept through the western edge of Newton County at 6 p.m. The Regional Response Coordination Center in Kansas City and the Joint Field Office in Jefferson City were activated by 7 p.m.
FEMA and SBA staff from the existing operation are currently supporting response efforts in southwest Missouri (FEMA has 241 people assigned to the current declared disasters.)
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.