The month of March was a hectic one for much of Region VIII. A series of severe winter storms created blizzard conditions and heavy snowfall over thousands of square miles, with other areas receiving unseasonably early heavy rains. The result was a widespread flood threat across several states and a number of tribal nations.
While FEMA is not an immediate first responder, the agency works closely with states and tribes to coordinate the response to natural and man-made disasters. In order to identify what needs exist, FEMA uses liaisons to state and tribal governments to get accurate and up-to-date information on the impacts of a disaster. The liaisons talk frequently with state and local partners and can help to identify potential resources or provide other technical assistance. During this time, states and tribes are also collecting information on impacts to their communities. This data is needed should they eventually make a request for joint damage assessments and ultimately a potential request for a federal disaster declaration.
Following the March storm, FEMA Region VIII deployed liaisons to the state EOCs in South Dakota and North Dakota, and to the Oglala Sioux tribal EOC in Pine Ridge, S.D. By having a presence directly in the EOC, FEMA was able to gain insight into the impacts of the storms and help provide guidance on the next steps forward for the states and tribe. Having liaisons is a critical factor in promoting communication between all levels of government and ensuring that all our communities in FEMA Region VIII are able to respond and recover to hazards of any type.
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