FEMA, Federal Partners Support Response to Severe Storms in Oklahoma

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Release date: 
May 21, 2013
Release Number: 
HQ-13-051

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners, including the National Weather Service, continue to closely monitor the effects of severe weather that impacted Oklahoma and other areas within the Central United States, and at the President’s direction, are providing resources to support the response.

Today, Secretary Napolitano spoke with U.S. Senators Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, U.S. Representative Tom Cole, and Mayor Glenn Lewis of Moore, Oklahoma to express concern for citizens impacted by the severe weather and tornadoes, offer support and ensure the state and local emergency management teams have the necessary resources as they respond to and recover from yesterday’s tornado and severe weather.

At the direction of President Obama, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is on the ground in Oklahoma to ensure all federal resources are supporting our state, local, and tribal partners in life saving and safety operations including search and rescue, and tomorrow Secretary Napolitano will travel to Oklahoma to meet with state and local officials.

The administration, through FEMA, is closely monitoring the impacts of the storm and remains in close contact with emergency officials to ensure there are not any unmet needs. As of 8 p.m. ET today, more than 300 FEMA personnel were on the ground and FEMA stands prepared to deploy additional teams and resources, if needed by the state.

Last night, the President declared a major disaster for the State of Oklahoma, supporting state, local and tribal emergency work in affected areas.  Federal disaster aid also is available to affected individuals in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie counties. 

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in these affected areas are encouraged to apply for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov.  Disaster assistance applicants who use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.

Federal activities underway today to support Oklahoma response efforts includes the following: 

  • One national FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) and a regional IMAT are on site at the state emergency operations center in Oklahoma City to coordinate with state and local officials in support of recovery operations. 
  • Three national FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Teams (Texas Task Force 1, Nebraska Task Force 1 and Tennessee Task Force 1) have been performing search and rescue operations in Oklahoma. 
  • FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) assets are positioned in Oklahoma to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements. 
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) deployed three Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) that are en route to Oklahoma today.
  • The HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) activated its Disaster Distress helpline. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746) to survivors who are experiencing emotional distress.
  • FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration participated in joint federal, state preliminary damage assessments teams to help identify the damages in impacted counties. 
  • Three FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are arriving in Oklahoma today to help address the immediate and emerging needs of disaster survivors including: on-site registration, applicant status checks, on-the-spot needs assessments, and access to partners offering survivor services. Additional teams are also en route.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emergency response personnel joined with the regional FEMA IMAT.
  • The American Red Cross (ARC) has Disaster Mental Health responders on the ground in addition to Spiritual Care Team members. The American Red Cross Safe and Well secure website provides a way for people to find information on survivors affected by the storms.  Open Red Cross shelters can also be found on www.redcross.org/find-help/shelter.     
  • U.S. Department of Transportation issued a regional emergency declaration as a result of interruptions in the availability and/or delivery and repair of services and property throughout the region, to include the State of Oklahoma and a need for emergency transportation of medical supplies and personnel, first aid, food, fuel and other emergency relief.  
  • The Internal Revenue Service today provided tax relief to individuals and businesses affected by the storms in Oklahoma.  The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on May 18, 2013. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until Sept. 30, 2013 to file these returns and pay any taxes due.
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) deployed 55 AmeriCorps members to help in the response activities, which includes 40 AmeriCorps members serving in FEMA Corps.
  • The Department of Defense (DoD) deployed members of the Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) to include a search and rescue planner to Oklahoma City in support of ongoing activities. Firefighters and fire apparatus from Tinker Air Force Base have responded to Moore under an existing mutual aid agreement.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it will provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to tornadoes and severe storms.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that the agency is offering assistance to those in need.  USDA offers many programs that can provide assistance to landowners, farmers, ranchers and producers during disasters. 
  • FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., a multi-agency coordination center that provides overall coordination of the federal response to natural disasters and emergencies, to support state requests for and  FEMA Region VI Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) located in Denton, Texas remains activated to coordinate any requests for federal assistance, if requested.
  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) member organizations such as American Red Cross, Salvation Army and many others continue to be heavily involved in the disaster response by providing assistance to disaster survivors.  Individuals and businesses who are interested in knowing how they can help, cash donations to the voluntary agency of choice is the preferred means of assistance.  For information on the voluntary organizations that support disaster response and recovery efforts, visit www.nvoad.org.
  • Additional resources beyond these immediate assets will also be available to support response and recovery efforts, including for affected individuals and small businesses.

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, local and tribal 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.

For information on yesterday’s federal activities, visit fema.gov.

There are tools and resources available online to help prepare for, respond to and recover from any type of disaster. Visit www.ready.gov to learn more. The Spanish language site – listo.gov. Those with a Blackberry, Android or Apple device can download the FEMA app to access safety tips, shelter locations, and more.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
May 22, 2013 - 14:58
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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