WASHINGTON—Following the President’s commitment on Friday that the federal government would do everything possible to help families and communities recover from the deadly tornados and severe storms that struck the southeast earlier this week, several members of his Cabinet are in Alabama and Mississippi today. They are there to meet with families affected by the storms, as well as meet with state and local officials and to view damage and assess the initial recovery efforts already underway.
Today’s travel party comprises: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills.
Since the immediate impact of the storms, the President, Secretary Napolitano, and Administrator Fugate have been in constant contact with the governors of all the impacted states to ensure they have the support they need.
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 the States of Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and those requests are under review. Preliminary damage assessments are also being conducted today in Virginia.
“FEMA is part of a team that continues to work with communities to help them rebuild and recover. This team includes the entire federal family, state, local and tribal officials, the faith-based and non-profit communities, the private sector and most importantly the public,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “This administration will bring the full support of the federal government and its partners to bear to support the states, families and communities devastated by these deadly tornadoes, for as long as it takes.”
A housing mission planning team is on the ground in Alabama to support the state in meeting its objectives. This team, comprised of housing and technical experts from FEMA, HUD, Army Corps of Engineers, SBA and voluntary agencies, will assist the state-led housing task force in establishing housing priorities; seeking ways to maximize housing resources, such as apartments and rental units; and other resources, if needed.
As work continues to restore power and remove debris so that homes can begin to be repaired or replaced, FEMA is working with HUD to identify available rental resources to help survivors find long-term housing solutions. FEMA is also working with the Army Corps of Engineers to provide temporary home repairs, such as covering broken windows or holes in roofs and getting survivors back home more quickly; and working with 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.
Additionally, FEMA is actively taking registration information through its call centers, has inspectors on the ground assessing the damages o...