Our thoughts and prayers are with the families in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and other states impacted by tornadoes last night.
In Oklahoma, FEMA already has staff on the ground, including a Federal Coordinating Officer embedded with state officials at the Oklahoma Emergency Operations Center, and in Arkansas, we also have a Federal Coordinating Officer embedded with state officials at their Emergency Operations Center. FEMA also has proactively placed two Incident Management Assistance Teams on stand-by to assist with coordination efforts, should they be needed and requested by the state. Damage assessments are beginning in the affected states and will give us a better sense of the scope of the damages. We stand ready to support the response and recovery efforts.
In addition, we continue to support the emergency management team in Joplin, Mo. and Minneapolis, Minn. from Sunday night’s deadly tornado outbreak. In Joplin, specifically, we currently:
- Have a Mobile Emergency Response Support Team on the ground providing self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements
- Are assisting the state with technical advice on debris removal,
- Have an IMAT team on the ground to coordinate with state and local officials to identify potential needs,
- Are coordinating with the Department of Health and Human Services on meeting hospital and medical needs, and
- Are working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in establishing housing priorities.
Here’s an excerpt from a statement by Administrator Fugate this morning on the developing situation:
These historic storms have highlighted the incredible resolve of the American people, especially the first responders, emergency workers, firefighters, volunteers and neighbors who have been working around the clock for days to respond to these storms and conduct search and rescue efforts. Their efforts have been extraordinary. To all of these heroes across the country, we thank you for your efforts and will do whatever we can to support you as our work continues in the days, weeks and months ahead.
We urge all Americans in regions where additional severe weather is expected today to continue to listen to the instructions of your state and local officials and monitor your local news for emergency updates. If you haven’t already, pick a safe location, such as a storm cellar or a basement, where you and your family can stay until the weather passes. It’s essential that everyone who can get themselves out of harm’s way does.