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Recap 4: Response and Support Efforts for Southern U.S. Tornadoes and Severe Storms


Since the deadly tornadoes first struck parts of the country last week, the federal government has been in constant contact with all of the impacted states as they responded to and began recovery efforts from these devastating storms.

At the request of the respective governors, FEMA currently has personnel on the ground in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, and commodities strategically pre-positioned in the region to support the states.

Today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Small Business Administrator Mills, and FEMA Administrator Fugate, along with American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern, traveled to Alabama and Mississippi to survey the damage and meet with state and local officials.

Recap for Sunday, May 1st

  • President Obama Cabinet members Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Donovan, Secretary Vilsack join Administrator Fugate, Small Business Administration Administrator Mills, American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern and other state and local officials to tour affected areas in Birmingham, Alabama and Smithville, Mississippi.
  • Tonight, the President declared a major disaster for the State of Tennessee and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and associated flooding during the period of April 25-28, 2011.
  • Six disaster recovery centers (DRCs) open.  These are staffed by state, voluntary agency and federal personnel to help those whose homes or businesses were affected by recent storms and tornadoes. The centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.  At the DRCs, representatives from FEMA, state and other agencies meet one on one with disaster survivors, explain assistance programs and help survivors apply for disaster aid.
  • More than 150 inspectors are on the ground in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia assessing damages in order to help applicants to receive financial assistance. The number of field inspectors is expected to increase rapidly over the next several days.
  • FEMA Community Relations (CR) personnel are on the ground in Mississippi, joining CR teams already deployed previously to Georgia and Alabama, to meet with disaster survivors to explain the assistance available and to help survivors register for assistance. 
  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) member organizations such as American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Convoy of Hope, and many others continue to be heavily involved in the disaster response by providing assistance to disaster survivors. The Red Cross Safe and Well secure website provides a way for people to find information on people affected by the storms. To register, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell. Open Red Cross shelters can also be found on www.redcross.org.     
  • The Alabama Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives and Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service have set up official web portals to help with coordinating donations and volunteers.  Cash is the preferred method of donation in order to ensure that disaster survivors get the services and supplies they need quickly.

Get FloodSmart: One Month until Hurricane Season Starts

As we’ve seen from the damage caused by the recent tornadoes and severe storms that hit the Southeast, as well as flooding all across the country, natural disasters can be devastating.  They can happen anytime, anywhere, and often without much warning.

While we can’t prevent natural disasters, there are steps we can take to get ready for them, and as we head into the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season next month (June 1st), now is the time to get ready.  Flood insurance policies typically take 30 days before they take effect, so now is the time to invest in preparing your homes and businesses for the heightened flood risks associated with hurricane season.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Past hurricane seasons have illustrated how seasonal flooding can be devastating and costly.  In fact, flooding is both the most common and the most expensive type of natural disaster in the U.S., but many people still lack adequate insurance protection, and homeowners insurance doesn’t typically cover flood damage.

You may not realize that flooding from hurricanes and tropical storms can extend beyond the Gulf and Southeastern coasts as well.  The largest amounts of rainfall from hurricanes are often produced by slow moving storms that stall out miles from a shoreline.  As these storms move inland, high winds and torrential rains increase the likelihood of flooding.  The bottom line is, floodwaters don’t stop at coastlines or floodplain boundaries; everyone is at risk.  It’s important to insure your property no matter where you live.  Check out this blog post from earlier this year if you have questions about flood insurance.

Flood insurance is available through more than 85 insurance companies in nearly 21,000 participating communities nationwide.  Most everyone can purchase flood insurance – including renters, business owners, and homeowners.  Flood insurance is also affordable.  The average flood insurance policy is around $600 a year.  And in moderate- to low- risk areas, homeowners can protect their properties with low-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at just $129 a year.  Individuals can learn more about their flood risk by visiting FloodSmart.gov or calling 1-800-427-2419.

Addressing Sheltering and Housing Needs After the Southeast Tornadoes

Author: 

Edited: May 1, 4:10 pm EDT

As FEMA and our federal partners continue to work with the states in support of their recovery efforts, there has been a great deal of focus on the need to shelter a significant number of residents whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by tornadoes and other severe weather.

States and non-government groups like the Red Cross are still very much involved in ensuring displaced disaster survivors are provided shelter, and sustaining those shelters with the needed supplies like food and water. We understand that many residents may be asking themselves what's next as they are confronted with the challenge of finding short-term housing and the possibility of needing long-term accommodations.

FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support the state in meeting its housing needs. This joint effort is comprised of housing and technical experts from the State, FEMA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Army Corps of Engineers, Small Business Administration (SBA) and voluntary agencies. Working together, the team will partner with the state as they establish housing priorities; seeking ways to make the greatest use of existing housing resources, such as apartments and rental units; and deploying temporary housing units, if needed.

As extensive work continues to restore power, open roadways, and remove debris so that homes can begin to be repaired or rebuilt, FEMA is:

  • Working with our partners at HUD to identify areas of greatest need for housing, and to identify available rental resources in impacted areas to assist families displaced by these storms to find longer-term housing solutions; 
  • Working with the Army Corps of Engineers and the local communities to identify areas where the Corps could provide temporary home repairs, such as covering broken windows or holes in roofs, so that residents can move back or stay in their home for shelter until more extensive repairs can be made;
  • Working with our partners at 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; and
  • Perhaps most importantly, actively taking registration information through our call centers. We have inspectors on the ground assessing the damages suffered by those who have registered, and FEMA is approving financial assistance for housing (such as rental assistance and home repair money) and financial assistance for other essential needs (such as disaster-related medical needs, replace lost clothing, furniture and other necessary items).

The first step for individuals to be considered for assistance is to register.  Our Community Relations (CR) teams are on the ground meeting with residents to explain the types of assistance that is available through the federal government and helping residents to register.  If you have questions, we encourage you speak with a CR team if they knock on your door (just remember, all FEMA staff will have FEMA identification) or call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) and press "1".

In addition to in-person CR teams, there are several options for getting help:

  • registering online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov,
  • registering through a web-enabled mobile device at  m.fema.gov, or 
  • calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.  The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. 

FEMA has also expanded its agreement with Operation HOPE to bring financial experts in to Disaster Recovery Centers to provide guidance to disaster survivors on how to apply the funds provided by FEMA and the Small Business Administration, such as funds provided for home repair, to speed their recovery.

In Photos: Responding and Supporting the Southern States

Since the deadly tornadoes and severe storms struck parts of the country, FEMA began mobilizing people and resources to support several states in which entire communities were devastated by some of the most powerful tornadoes ever seen. As we work with our local, state, and Federal partners, here are some photos from the past few days:

President Barack Obama talks with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate to discuss the continuing federal disaster relief efforts for areas affected by the devastating severe storms and tornadoes that struck the Southeast this week.
President Barack Obama talks with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate to discuss the continuing federal disaster relief efforts for areas affected by the devastating severe storms and tornadoes that struck the Southeast this week, during a phone call in the Oval Office, April 28, 2011. President Obama visited damaged areas and disaster survivors in Alabama on April 29.


FEMA Mobile Command Operations Vehicles deploying to hard hit areas to start the emerency assistance registration process for surviors in need.
Montgomery, AL, April 30, 2011 -- FEMA Mobile Command Operations Vehicles deploying to hard hit areas to start the emerency assistance registration process for surviors in need.


FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in the Georgia Emergency Operations Center listen to a briefing from the state’s emergency management personnel on the damage from the tornados and storms that struck the southeast on April 27th.
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2011 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in the Georgia Emergency Operations Center listen to a briefing from the state’s emergency management personnel on the damage from the tornados and storms that struck the southeast on April 27th.


FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center leave for Alabama in the MCOV's (Mobile Command Operations Vehicles) for deployment to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2011 -- FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center leave for Alabama in the MCOV's (Mobile Command Operations Vehicles) for deployment to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.


FEMA's Bond Luddeke discusses logistics with an U.S Airforce officer.
Montgomery, AL, April 30, 2011 -- FEMA set up an Incident Support Base at Maxwell Airforce Base in Alabama to stage generators, water, Meals Ready to Eat, and other supplies that Alabama emergency management can direct where the need is and get them there quickly. FEMA's Bond Luddeke discusses logistics with an U.S. Airforce officer.


FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center secure generators to the trailer for deployment to Alabama to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2011 -- FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center secure generators to the trailer for deployment to Alabama to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.


FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center load pallets of water onto truck trailers for deployment to Alabama.
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2011 -- FEMA personnel at the Atlanta Distribution Center load pallets of water onto truck trailers for deployment to Alabama to help with recovery efforts after the devastating tornados ripped through the South.


American Red Cross disaster volunteers work at the state disaster headquarters and distribution center in Smithfield, North Carolina.
Smithfield, NC, April 29, 2011 -- American Red Cross disaster volunteers work at the state disaster headquarters and distribution center in Smithfield, North Carolina. The American Red Cross and FEMA are partnering to respond to the severe storms and deadly tornadoes that damaged or destroyed homes and businesses across North Carolina on April 16, 2011.  More Photos from the American Red Cross


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel fuel and test the generators before deployment.
Montgomery, AL, April 30, 2011 -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel fuel and test the generators before deployment.

For the latest updates on our role, check out the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.

Recap 3: Response and Support Efforts for Southern U.S. Tornadoes and Severe Storms

Since the deadly tornadoes first struck parts of the country earlier this week, the federal government has been in constant contact with all of the impacted states as they responded to and began recovery efforts from these devastating storms.

At the request of the respective governors, FEMA currently has personnel on the ground in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, and commodities strategically pre-positioned in the region to support the states.

President Obama joined Administrator Fugate, the Governor and other state and local officials on the ground in Alabama yesterday.

On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Small Business Administrator Mills, and FEMA Administrator Fugate will travel to Alabama and Mississippi to survey the damage and meet with state and local officials.

Recap for Friday, April 29th

  • An Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) is on the ground in Kentucky and an additional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) arrived in Mississippi, IMATs are also on the ground in Alabama and in Georgia to assist in the coordination efforts as the states continue to respond and begin to recover from this devastating storm outbreak.
  • FEMA Community Relations (CR) teams are on the ground in Georgia and Alabama to meeting with disaster survivors to explain the assistance available and to help survivors register for assistance. Additional CR teams have been deployed to Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
  • FEMA partnered with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency to create a joint Facebook page as an additional way to reach Alabama residents during the response and recovery efforts after the severe storms and tornadoes.
  • 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, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Army Corps of Engineers, Small Business Administration 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. 
  • U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced HUD will speed federal disaster assistance to Alabama and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding this week.
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has made immediately available $6 million in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program aid for disaster recovery projects in 10 states affected this month by storms and floods.
  • The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Southern Baptists and other voluntary and faith-based organizations are also providing meals, shelter and other relief supplies. More than 90 American Red Cross response vehicles are fanning out through the affected areas distributing meals and relief supplies.

New Widget & Alabama/FEMA Facebook Page

We’ve partnered with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency to create a joint Facebook page as an additional way to reach Alabama residents during the response and recovery efforts after the severe storms and tornadoes.

And as we support multiple states that are impacted by the severe storms, I wanted to provide a list of other online resources:
 

Alabama Emergency Management Agency
Facebook full site / Facebook mobile site
Twitter full site / Twitter mobile site
Information on volunteering

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
Facebook full site / Facebook mobile site
Twitter full site / Twitter mobile site
Information on volunteering

Georgia Emergency Management Agency
Facebook full site / Facebook mobile site
Twitter full site / Twitter mobile site

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Facebook full site / Facebook mobile site
Twitter full site / Twitter mobile site

People can also receive Twitter updates via text message from their respective emergency management agencies. You don’t need your own Twitter account to receive these updates, but keep in mind that standard text messaging rates apply:
 

  • For the Alabama Emergency Management Agency Twitter updates text follow AlabamaEMA to 40404 (this is Twitter’s text message number).
  • For the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Twitter updates text follow MSEMA to 40404
  • For the Georgia Emergency Management Agency Twitter updates text follow GeorgiaEMA to 40404
  • For FEMA Twitter updates text follow FEMA to 40404

3 Ways to Apply for Federal Assistance

As we continue to keep all of our stakeholders informed about our response and support efforts with the recent disasters, we wanted to make sure all of our stakeholders know there are three ways disaster survivors can apply for assistance:
  • Register online at www.disasterassistance.gov
  • Register through a web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov
  • Call 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in designated counties can apply for assistance. For a full list of the designated counties, visit the state disasater page: Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

If you know someone in the affected area and you’re communicating with them, please share this information with them.

Financial Literacy & Disaster Preparedness

Disasters not only affect community infrastructure and public works, but they often overcome family finances, making recovery difficult and sometimes impossible. Before, during and after disasters strike, we work with a number of non-profit, voluntary and faith-based groups who specialize in getting disaster survivors financially back on their feet.

As we often say, FEMA is just one part of the emergency management team that helps individuals and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.  In this light, we’ve renewed our partnership with Operation HOPE, a non-profit public benefit corporation, to enhance financial counseling services available before, during and after disasters.

Our partnership with Operation HOPE will result in greater access to free financial counseling and information for disaster survivors, including:

  • debt counseling,
  • case management services, and
  • workshops, seminars and manuals for those seeking help at disaster recovery centers.

In conjunction with National Financial Literacy Month and the agreement signing held on April 27, we also will be co-hosting a webinar with Operation HOPE on Emergency Financial Preparedness.  This webinar, scheduled for May 3, will emphasize the importance of what it means to be financially prepared.  We will also touch on why, in the face of disaster, failing to be financially prepared can create even more stress and anxiety than the disaster itself.

So, what can you do to be financially prepared for emergencies?

  • Start by completing an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit. This document can help you keep track of important documentation, like insurance policy information, so you have clear financial records that will help maintain stability in the event of an emergency.

Find additional resources on financial preparedness, more on our partnership with Operation HOPE, and information on helping your community prepare for a disaster at www.CitizenCorps.gov


 

Recap 2: Response and Support Efforts for Southern U.S. Tornadoes and Severe Storms

Since the deadly tornadoes first struck parts of the country earlier this week, the federal government has been in constant contact with all of the impacted states as they responded to and began recovery efforts from these devastating storms.

At the request of the respective governors, FEMA currently has personnel on the ground in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee, and commodities strategically pre-positioned in the region to support the states.

President Obama joined Administrator Fugate, the Governor and other state and local officials on the ground in Alabama today.

On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Small Business Administrator Mills, and Administrator Fugate will travel to Alabama and Mississippi to survey the damage and meet with state and local officials.

Recap for Friday, April 29th



  • FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour fly from Jackson, MS to Smithville, Monroe County, to survey the storm-damaged areas.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate joins President Obama in Alabama to view damages as a result of severe storms and tornados that struck Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and other states in the southern and mid-Atlantic regions this week.  President Obama also meets with Governor Robert Bentley, state and local officials, and families affected by the storms. 
  • An additional Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) is on the ground in Alabama, IMATs are also on the ground in Mississippi and in Georgia to assist in the coordination efforts as the states continue to respond and begin to recover from this devastating storm outbreak.    
  • FEMA liaison officers arrive on the ground in Tennessee’s emergency operations center to state efforts.
  • FEMA, its federal partners and the affected states hold a video-teleconference to discuss response efforts and to address anticipated needs. 
  • Secretary Janet Napolitano visits the FEMA National Response Coordination Center where she is briefed by the federal agencies on the ongoing, coordinated federal operations in support of the current and anticipated needs of the affected states.  
  • Supplies such as meals, water, infant toddler kits and tarps begin to arrive, or are en-route to an incident support base established in Maxwell, Alabama.  The support base will allow FEMA to move supplies closer to the affected area, in case they are needed.
  • Nearly 1,100 National Guard men and women perform search and rescue, security, transportation, and road clearing missions in support of the Alabama tornado relief effort.
  • Alabama receives additional assistance, as part of its major disaster declaration, for Marengo and Sumter counties, meaning individuals in those counties can now also apply for federal aid. Damage assessments are ongoing, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are completed in the affected areas. 
  • The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announces details of the open USPS offices, along with hours of operation and services that were being provided to disaster survivors affected by the recent storms in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services provides information on post-storm health messages, to prevent carbon-monoxide poisoning, promote generator safety and encourage safety around downed power lines.  
  • The American Red Cross continues to provide food and shelter to the thousands of people whose lives were turned upside down by these storms throughout the South and the Midwest. Open Red Cross shelters can be found on www.redcross.org. The Red Cross Safe and Well secure website provides a way for people to find information on people affected by the storms. To register, visit www.redcross.org.

Moving Commodities to Alabama

On April 28, President Obama declared a major disaster for Alabama after one of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history tore through the Southeast. Alabama and Georgia were hit particularly hard, with large tornadoes traveling long paths and causing extensive damage.

Yesterday, FEMA began to send supplies to a FEMA staging area in Montgomery, AL to ensure the needed supplies are located close to the affected areas. More than 2 million liters of water, 1 million meals, roughly 60,000 tarps and other supplies are either en route or have arrived at the staging area.

If the southern states request supplies, items from the Incident Support Base will be sent forward to a Federal or State staging area, and ultimately transferred to the state. All points of distribution are identified and managed by the local/state emergency managers.

More than 100 generators are at the staging location, and could be used to potentially assist with the restoration of power to schools, fire stations, and other critical facilities.  As the situation on the ground changes, we stand ready to send additional supplies to support state response and recovery requirements.

Check out the blog post where we talk about our Incident Support Bases (ISB) – it references our logistical support base that supports spring flooding in the Upper Midwest. The ISB at Maxwell will provide similar support to Alabama and other affected States.
 

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