FEMA Tornado Response Update

Southern Storms: Overview Of Response And Support Efforts By Fema And The Federal Government

Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm eastern

*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. The following timeline provides an overview of these and other federal activities, to date, to support the impacted states, families and communities.*

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 home page.
  • 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.

Saturday, April 30th:

  • An IMAT is on the ground in Kentucky and an additional IMAT arrives 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 announces HUD will speed federal disaster assistance to Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia to 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 announces 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.
  • Alabama’s major disaster declaration was amended to include Autauga, Calhoun, Elmore, Etowah, Marion, St. Clair and Tallapoosa counties for Individual Assistance.  All Individual Assistance designated counties are Autauga, Calhoun, Cullman, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, St. Clair, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, and Walker.
  • Georgia’s major disaster declaration was amended to include Coweta, Greene, Lamar, Pickens, and Troup counties for Individual Assistance.  All Individual Assistance designated counties are Bartow, Catoosa, Coweta, Dade, Floyd, Greene, Lamar, Pickens, Polk, Spalding, Troup, and Walker.

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 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 IMAT is on the ground in Alabama, and IMATs in Mississippi and Georgia 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 troops 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.
  • The IRS has activated its disaster tax relief program, which includes providing tax filing and tax payment relief for individuals and businesses covering the period of April 15, 2011 to June 30, 2011.  To learn more about the IRS disaster tax relief program, click here.
  • President Obama declares a major disaster declaration for Mississippi and Georgia which makes federal assistance available to individuals who suffered personal property damages or losses, and for public infrastructure, such as schools, fire stations, and libraries.

Thursday, April 28th:

  • FEMA Headquarters activates its National Response Coordination Staff to Level III, which activates its emergency support functions, including transportation, public works, mass care, public health, search and rescue and others.
  • FEMA Region IV deploys regional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to the Alabama emergency operations center to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond and begins to recover from the devastating storms.
  • FEMA Region IV Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) activates to Level II for increased coordination with the affected states.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, and Alabama State Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner conduct a press conference call on the coordinated state and federal response to the severe and deadly tornadoes in Alabama.
  • On this call, Administrator Fugate announces that at the direction of the president, he will be traveling to Alabama to join the governor and other state and local officials on the ground.
  • FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino travels to the FEMA Region IV headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and meets with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and other state and local officials as they assess the damage.
  • FEMA coordinates with USNORTHCOM to establish an incident support base in Maxwell, Alabama.  The support base will allow FEMA to move supplies such as water, infant/toddler kits, and tarps closer to the affected area, in case they are needed.
  • President Obama speaks via telephone with DHS Secretary Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Fugate to discuss the continuing federal disaster relief efforts for areas affected by the devastating severe storms and tornadoes that have impacted states across the Southeast.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate arrives in Alabama to meet with Governor Robert Bentley and other state and local officials to assess the damage and ensure the state is receiving all the support needed for its response and recovery operations.
  • Regional IMAT arrives in Alabama to support state efforts at the Alabama emergency operations center.
  • FEMA, its federal partners and the affected states hold a video-teleconference to discuss response efforts and to address anticipated needs.
  • The President speaks with the Governors of Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia to express condolences and let them know that the Federal Government is ready to help in any appropriate and possible way.
  • FEMA liaison officers arrive on the ground in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Kentucky emergency operations centers supporting state efforts.
  • The President makes nationally televised remarks to address the severe storms and inform the American people what its government is doing to assist the people in need.
  • FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino joins Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at a press conference at the state’s emergency operations center in Atlanta.
  • FEMA Administrator Fugate joins Alabama Governor Robert Bentley at a press conference in Tuscaloosa, after his meetings and surveying damage in both Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.
  • The Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues a press release to urge workers and members of the public engaged in cleanup activities to be aware of hazards they might encounter and to take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
  • FEMA deploys a mobile emergency response support team to Alabama to provide prompt and rapid multi-media communications processing, logistics and operational support to state officials.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Administrator Val Dolcini reminds crop and livestock producers in affected states that FSA programs may be available to assist with recovery.
  • President Obama declares a major disaster declaration for Alabama, which makes federal assistance available to individuals who suffered personal property damages or losses, and for public infrastructure, such as schools, fire stations, and libraries in Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marshall, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties.

Wednesday, April 27th:

  • Severe weather system including high winds, hail and tornadoes devastates parts of several southeastern states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia.  Alabama is most heavily affected by severe storms.
  • Governor Bentley submits request for a federal emergency declaration for the State of Alabama as a result of severe storms, hail, straight-line winds, and tornadoes.
  • FEMA Region IV Administrator Phil May speaks with both Governor Bentley and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner.
  • DHS Secretary Napolitano speaks with Governor Bentley to express condolences and to discuss latest status.
  • President Obama declares an emergency for all 67 counties in Alabama, and orders federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the area struck by these storms.  The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts. Joe M. Girot is designated as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in Alabama.
  • The President calls Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and expresses his deepest condolences for the tragic loss of life and suffering caused by severe storms and tornadoes in Alabama.
  • President releases statement on the severe storms and tornadoes in Alabama: www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/04/28/president-devastation-alabama
  • FEMA places two National Incident Management Assistance Teams on alert, in case Alabama requests their assistance. These teams help the state coordinate response efforts.
  • FEMA places Texas Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) team on alert, to be available in case Alabama makes a request for assistance.
  • FEMA Region IV deploys a regional liaison officer to the Alabama emergency operations center to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond and begins to recover from this devastating storm outbreak.

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