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FEMA and Federal Partners Continue To Support Missouri, Midwest States in Response to Tornadoes and Severe Storms

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–May 24, 2011.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners are continuing to work closely with state and local officials in Missouri and other states impacted by the deadly tornadoes and severe storms that struck the Midwest on Saturday and Sunday. Today, FEMA, through its regional offices, is also closely monitoring the threat of severe weather, including tornadoes, in the central U.S. for parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, including in Joplin. In addition to other resources, FEMA is deploying a forecaster from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service to Joplin to watch and provide warnings for the ongoing severe weather.

This morning, President Obama reiterated that the families impacted by the devastating tornadoes are in his thoughts and prayers and announced plans to travel to Missouri on Sunday to meet with survivors and the local officials coordinating the response effort.  The President and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have received multiple briefings on the tornadoes. FEMA leadership have been regularly updating President Obama and Secretary Napolitano by phone  throughout the response efforts.

FEMA has already deployed staff on the ground in Missouri to help state officials with coordination and other needs as they continue their response. At the President’s direction, and under the leadership of Security Napolitano, Administrator Fugate and Deputy Administrator Serino are in Missouri to ensure that the state has all the support it needs. Yesterday, Serino toured the damage in Joplin and met with state and local officials.

“We continue to keep the families and communities impacted by these devastating storms in our thoughts and prayers, and we are here to continue to listen and learn from the folks on the ground, to ensure we are supporting our state and local partners as effectively as we can,” said Administrator Fugate. “I remain in close contact with President Obama and Secretary Napolitano to update them regularly on the response efforts and what additional federal support may be needed as recovery efforts get underway. We also continue to urge all survivors in Jasper and Newton counties to contact FEMA about applying for federal disaster aid by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov or m.fema.gov.”

Under the President’s leadership, FEMA yesterday added the two Missouri counties impacted by tornadoes, Jasper and Newton, to an ongoing disaster declaration the state received for recent storms, which means that tornado survivors in those counties can now apply for disaster assistance with FEMA.  Individuals in these counties can apply for aid three ways: by calling FEMA at (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585; online at www.disasterassistance.gov; or directly on their mobile phones at m.fema.gov.

In Minnesota, joint state and federal preliminary damage assessments for Hennipen County are scheduled to begin later this week. These damage assessments are the first step in helping a governor determine whether the scope of the damages are beyond what the state is capable of handling and if additional federal assistance is needed.

Since the tornadoes struck, FEMA, through its regional offices in offices in Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois, has been in constant contact and coordination with officials in Missouri, Minnesota and Kansas.  At the request of the state, FEMA has already deployed staff to Missouri’s emergency operations center to help with coordination needs, and deployed special teams to support the state as response efforts continue.

Specifically, Sunday night FEMA deployed a Mobile Emergency Response Team to Missouri to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics and operations support.  In anticipation of requests from the state, FEMA also sent an Incident Management Assistance Team to Joplin to coordinate with state and local officials.

Also Sunday night, FEMA activated the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate hospital medical needs and patient evacuations with the state of Missouri, if needed.  HHS has the lead federal role in supporting the state for public health and medical services needs during disasters.

Last week, as part of the federal government’s National Level Exercise 2011, which simulated a catastrophic earthquake hitting Missouri and other states in the central U.S., Administrator Fugate spent time in Missouri with state and local officials, including Governor Nixon. Missouri was one of several states that participated in the exercise, along with federal agencies, the private sector and other organizations.

While severe weather continues to affect the region, we urge the public to listen to the instructions of state and local officials, and to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for updates and directions provided by their local officials.  Also follow these steps to stay safe before, during and after a storm:

  • Follow the instructions of state and local officials,
  • Listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information,
  • Make sure you have a safe place to go in case severe weather approaches,
  • Familiarize yourself with severe weather watch/warning terms:
    • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
    • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

For complete tips on getting prepared for a tornado, severe storm, or flooding, visit Ready.gov or our mobile site (m.fema.gov).

Source: fema.gov

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