WASHINGTON – At the direction of President Obama, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is supporting impacted areas after last night’s severe weather outbreak in the central United States. FEMA has Incident Management Assistance Teams on the ground at the State Emergency Operations Centers in Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
Today, President Obama called Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe to receive an update on the severe weather and express his condolences for those families who lost a loved one and his concern for the individuals still missing. He expressed his gratitude for the heroic first responders working to save lives. Secretary Johnson also called Governor Beebe to offer condolences and the support of the Department of Homeland Security. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is traveling to Arkansas today to ensure the appropriate federal resources are being brought to bear to support the state and local efforts.
Overnight, FEMA deployed the Texas Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue Team as well as the White Incident Support Team to the State of Arkansas. An additional team based in Nebraska is also on alert and prepared to deploy if requested. FEMA has liaisons in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi prepared to coordinate any requests for federal assistance.
FEMA has activated its National Response Coordination Center in Washington D.C. and the Regional Response Coordination Center in Atlanta, Georgia to help coordinate any requests for assistance from impacted States or Tribes. These centers bring together partners from the federal family including the National Weather Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and others to closely coordinate federal resources that may be requested from the impacted State and Tribal governments.
“Severe weather is continuing to have impacts across the region, so stay informed about changing weather conditions and know what to do during a tornado by visiting ready.gov,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “FEMA is working to support the efforts of state, tribal and local first responders as they help residents affected by these storms.”
FEMA remains in close contact with the National Weather Service, which continues to forecast the potential for severe weather to develop later today. Widespread severe storms -- including strong tornadoes, damaging winds and very large hail -- are expected Monday and Monday night over parts of the eastern United States from the Mississippi valley to the Appalachians. The greatest risk is forecast from southern Kentucky and Tennessee south into Mississippi and Alabama.
Severe weather can occur anytime, day or night, and residents should be prepared to take action immediately. For a complete listing of weather-related forecasts in the area, visit www.weather.gov.
When natural disasters, such as tornadoes and severe storms strike, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet immediate human needs.
Severe Weather & Tornado Safety Tips
- Maintain an emergency supply kit both at home and in the car to help prepare for power outages or impassable roads. Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn more about how to be better prepared and how to protect your family during emergencies. Find severe weather and tornado preparedness tips at http://www.ready.gov/severe-weather.
- Follow the instructions of state and local officials, and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated disaster response and evacuation information. Residents can listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news to monitor for severe weather updates and warnings. The National Weather Service is the source for tornado watches and warnings.
- Become familiar with the terms used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe tornado and other severe weather hazards include the following:
For a flash flood:
- A flash flood watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- A flash flood warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
For a severe thunderstorm:
- A severe thunderstorm watch means that a severe thunderstorm with large hail and/or damaging winds is possible in your area.
- A severe thunderstorm warning means that a severe thunderstorm with large hail and/or damaging winds is occurring or imminent, move indoors immediately.
For a tornado:
- A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area.
- A tornado warning means a tornado is either occurring or imminent, take shelter immediately.
Residents are encouraged to prepare for what to do during a tornado and plan where you will go if a tornado watch is issued in your community:
- Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
- If underground shelter is not available, go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor of a sturdy building.
- Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
- Vehicles, trailers and mobile homes are not good locations to ride out a tornado. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
- If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Plan to stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are now being sent directly to many cell phones on participating wireless carriers' networks. WEAs sent by public safety officials such as the National Weather Service are designed to get your attention and to provide brief, critical instructions to warn about imminent threats like severe weather. Take the alert seriously and follow instructions. More information is available on WEA at www.ready.gov/alerts
The American Red Cross Tornado Warning and Alert app has an automatic audible siren that goes off when NOAA issues a tornado warning, provides notification when a warning expires and allows users to let other know they are safe. For more information visit www.redcross.org.
The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.
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.