We’re closely monitoring the severe weather conditions (tornadoes and thunderstorm watches/warnings) in several states, including Illinois and Missouri.
Looking further out this weekend, our friends at NOAA forecast heavy rain for parts of the Pacific Northwest with areas in the eastern Pacific Northwest and Northern California experiencing heavy snow. High winds are predicted for parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Coastal areas.
Additionally, flooding may occur in areas across Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, much of Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and isolated parts of Southwest Oregon. Visit www.ready.gov/floods for safety tips and other information on what to do before, during, and after a flood.
Severe drought conditions are expected to continue throughout parts of the Southeast, Central and Southern Great Plains, Southwest, and Upper Mississippi Valley.
We encourage everyone to monitor your area’s local forecast as weather conditions can change. Stay up-to-date on your local forecast by visiting weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device.
National Hurricane Conference
The 2012 National Hurricane Conference begins next week Monday March 26 in Orlando, Fla. The conference serves as a national forum for federal, tribal, state and local officials to come together, exchange ideas and recommend new policies improving emergency management efforts and hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and property.
On Tuesday, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate will speak at the conference and a roundtable discussion following his presentation.
The conference is a great opportunity for individuals interested in educational and professional training in hurricane and disaster preparedness. To register for the conference, visit www.hurricanemeeting.com.
Monitoring for the Endangered Houston Toad in Texas
In January, we blogged about how we work with numerous federal partners to ensure that recovery efforts avoid or minimize adverse impacts to the environment, especially potential impacts on endangered species. Here’s a short video detailing how we worked with wildlife experts from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bastrop County to monitor for the endangered Houston toad amid survivor recovery operations following the historic wildfires of 2011.
Photos of Ongoing Response & Recovery Efforts
Here are some photos highlighting our ongoing response and recovery efforts in Kentucky and Tennessee:
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Over the past several weeks, we’ve talked a lot about supporting several states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia) with joint preliminary damage assessments as a result of the recent wave of severe storms and tornadoes, and I wanted to provide a little information into what this means, and what a PDA team does when they are on the ground.
Following a disaster, a Governor requests PDAs as the first step in the declaration process. Federal representatives, including the U.S. Small Business Administration, join state, tribal, and local officials to form what we call “PDA teams.” They are responsible for surveying damages in designated counties, and they do this by going city-by-city, street-by-street, door-to-door, until impacted areas identified by state, tribal, and local officials have been thoroughly assessed.
The joint PDA teams are not just looking at the numbers of damaged or destroyed homes, they’re also obtaining information on the impact to the community as a whole. In larger disasters or when affected areas are inaccessible, PDAs may be conducted by car or plane.
They talk to as many residents as possible to ensure detailed assessments are made. From walking door-to-door in neighborhoods that have experienced damage, to sometimes walking among debris piles and engaging one-on-one with survivors who have been personally impacted, the PDA teams conduct their assessments to fully understand how the disaster has and will impact you and your family. Even when the damage may not seem apparent, the team is looking for all types and signs of damage, such as water lines from flooding, damaged roof and windows, and damage to doors and windows.
Many of the questions the teams may ask are aimed to garner a clear understanding of the impacts, including: whether you have insurance; whether your utilities are out; whether you have a place to stay; was your job affected; did your children need to change schools; was your car damaged; and do you have special medical needs.
A PDA team may not need to talk to every survivor. If a disaster survivor has already reported their damages to local or state officials, those reports will be shared with the PDA team and cross-referenced with the street report, and then all of the information will be considered for the assessments.
Along with assessing the damages that affected individuals within a community, PDA teams consisting of state, federal, tribal and local officials will also assess the impact of the incident on public infrastructure. This includes the cost of emergency measures, such as debris removal, and repair or restoration of public facilities such as roads and buildings.
Once assessments for a jurisdiction such as a county or parish are completed, the team moves onto the next as the effort is consolidated to help out in other areas. The goal is to complete the job efficiently and thoroughly to ensure the teams have captured the total impact to the communities and area of the state affected by the disaster.
The Next Step
Once all of the data has been compiled, it’s turned over to the state’s Emergency Management Agency.
It is important to remember that PDA teams do not determine whether a major disaster declaration will be issued.
The information that is collected is provided to the state for a governor to determine if he or she will request federal assistance. If the Governor believes the damages “are beyond state and local capabilities,” he or she will submit the written request to the President and specify the type of assistance needed and which counties are affected. It is important to remember that FEMA assistance is supplementary in nature and will only be authorized when a disaster is of the severity and magnitude to be beyond the effective response of the state and effected local governments. Moreover, legally, FEMA cannot duplicate assistance received through any other source including insurance or other federal programs.
What Should I Be Doing Now?
What should you do while the Governor’s request is pending? As soon as possible, notify your insurance company and file a claim. Keep your receipts of any disaster-related expenses such as lodging, medical, repair and cleaning supplies, etc. You should also make a list of the major items that have been damaged such as utilities, appliances, furniture, and personal property.
If you have immediate needs such as shelter, food, water, clothing, etc., you should seek help from the local voluntary and faith-based groups in your area.
What is a Major Disaster Declaration?
If the President approves the request, the declaration will specify what forms of assistance are available. If the Presidential declaration includes Individual Assistance, then individuals can apply if their county was part of the declaration. Even if you have already reported your damage to the Red Cross, local, or state officials, and the PDA team stopped to talk with you – this IS NOT THE APPLICATION for FEMA assistance.
To be considered eligible for federal assistance, you need to apply with FEMA once a declaration has been made – either by calling our toll-free number (Call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585) or registering on our full website or mobile site.
We understand that dealing with the aftermath of a disaster is a stressful and trying time, and we hope that you will never need to go through the process of assessing and reporting damages. The true fact is that disasters happen, and every bit of knowledge we have about the process arms us all in a way to make the recovery just maybe a small bit easier.
FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division is looking for youth leaders dedicated to public service and making a difference in their community to serve on FEMA’s National Youth Preparedness Council.
Bringing youth to the table provides a clear and true picture of the thoughts, needs, and capabilities of nearly 25% of our nation’s population. It is critical to listen to them and their peers, align our youth strategies as an agency to the message we hear, and to build up our nation’s future leaders in emergency preparedness.
The National Youth Preparedness Council is an opportunity for select youth leaders interested in expanding their impact as a national advocate for youth preparedness to serve on this highly distinguished national council. Members of the council will participate in a community preparedness roundtable event in Washington, D.C., and voice their opinions, experiences, ideas, solutions and questions on youth disaster preparedness with the leadership of national organizations working on youth preparedness.
Who is Eligible?
Young men and women from 12 to 17 years of age who want to make a difference in their community, have contributed to youth disaster preparedness in their community or have lived through a disaster and want to share their experiences are eligible to apply for the council.
Youth Preparedness Council nominees will represent a variety of young people: current and former students, youth members of a local Citizen Corps Council, a youth club or a member of a faith-based organization that is vocal and active in preparing peers, family, and neighborhoods for potential emergencies are encouraged to apply.
Similarly, if you know of a young person with any of these qualities, you may nominate him or her to serve on the council.
Interested in Applying?
Interested candidates or nominations should emphasize youth disaster preparedness activities that the candidate/nominee has participated in or can be related to a disaster the candidate/nominee has lived through. Nominations should describe a specific emergency situation and/or examples of youth disaster preparedness activities that would qualify the nominee to serve on the Council.
Some examples of preparedness activities include:
If you are nominating yourself, you must submit a letter of recommendation from any adult parent, guardian, community first responder, teacher or community leader that can attest to your community preparedness activities. If you are an adult nominating a young person to serve on the council, you do not have to include an additional letter unless you choose to do so.
Nominations must be received by April 6, 11:59 p.m. EDT. For complete instructions on applying, visit our website.
Youth Preparedness Council Participants will be announced in May 2012, and will be FEMA’s honored guests at a community preparedness roundtable event in Washington, D.C. on June 28 and 29.
Visit our website for more information on the National Youth Preparedness Council or to apply.
A new storm in the Pacific Northwest will produce valley rain and mountain snow across western Washington. Snow melt resulting from a strong warming trend could bring flooding this weekend to much of the Northern Rockies and Intermountain West. Winds from 15-30 mph are expected across much of Montana, with gusts over 40 mph in the Chinook areas. These strong winds, combined with low relative humidity, will result in critical fire weather conditions today across much of north-central Montana.
A clipper-like system in the Midwest is expected to bring snow from the upper peninsula of Michigan off into much of the northeastern U.S. A Red Flag Warning is in effect today for western and north-central Nebraska as a result of strong winds and low relative humidity.
Update on Tornado Response
FEMA continues to support efforts of state, tribal and local officials in states impacted by severe storms and tornadoes Feb. 28 – March 3. President Obama declared a major disaster declaration, on Tuesday, for the Commonwealth of Kentucky making federal disaster aid available aid to supplement commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area affected by the recent storms. Residents and business owners in the designated Kentucky counties who sustained losses can apply for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments are ongoing in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.
National Flood Safety Week
We’re teaming up with NOAA again to bring you National Flood Safety Awareness Week 2012. Starting next week, March 12 -16 we’ll share information on flood risks, how individuals, families, and businesses can take precautions to protect their families and homes in the event of flooding and safety tips on what to do before, during, and after flooding.
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, but there are simple steps citizens can take today to reduce their risk to all types of floods. Head over to www.ready.gov/floods for information on floods and make sure to check back next week for the start of Flood Safety Awareness Week.
Clocks Spring Forward on Sunday
Remember, on Sunday we spring forward an hour for Daylight Savings – it’s also a great reminder to make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home. Smoke alarms significantly increase your chances of surviving a deadly home fire, so we encourage everyone to take these simple steps to be prepared:
For more information about home smoke alarms and fire sprinklers, visit www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms.
Watches & Warnings – What’s the Difference?
As we head into spring, and severe weather and storms become more active, we wanted to ensure that everyone understood the difference between a severe weather watch and warning. Watch this video from our friends at NOAA explaining the difference between severe weather watches and warnings.
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Posted by: Alexandra Kirin, Public Affairs
Since the deadly tornadoes first struck, this week in the Midwest, FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, Chicago, and Atlanta, is in close contact and coordination with the impacted states. This week, President Obama spoke with the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio to express his concern for citizens impacted by the severe weather and tornadoes this week, including yesterday and overnight, and condolences to families who had lost loved ones. Today, Secretary Napolitano spoke with the governors of Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee following the storms that affected these states Friday evening, and overnight.
The administration, through FEMA, is closely monitoring the storms and their impacts and remains in close contact with emergency officials in impacted states across the country to ensure there are not any unmet needs. FEMA and its partners have teams on the ground in hard hit areas, and is prepared to deploy additional teams and resources, if needed by the states.
The following timeline provides an overview of these and other federal activities, to date, to support the impacted states, families and communities.
Saturday, March 3
Friday, March 2
Thursday, March 1
Wednesday, February 29
Tuesday, February 28
As we have all seen on the news and on social media, states throughout the Midwest have been affected by deadly tornado outbreaks over the last few days. State emergency management officials in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee have reported tornado in several areas, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who have lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storms.
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a moderate risk for severe thunderstorms across southern Indiana, southwest Ohio, most of Kentucky, central Tennessee, northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama today. There is a slight risk of severe weather from near Lake Erie southward to the central Gulf Coast states. The main threats will be tornadoes, widespread damaging wind, large hail and flash flooding. The most significant flash flood threat is from southeast Tennessee into northwest Georgia, northern and central Alabama and east central Mississippi.
As Administrator Fugate often says:
Severe weather can strike when you least expect it. Remember, no matter where you live, it’s important to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news and to monitor for severe weather updates and warnings, and follow instructions of state and local officials.
FEMA remains in close contact with our federal partners at the National Weather Service, especially since these storms can sometime occur unexpectedly with little to no warning. Discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued and if you have severe weather in your area, keep in mind these safety tips:
Also, be sure to check your homeowner or renter insurance because most homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage, but most people can purchase flood insurance – including renters, business owners, and homeowners. Individuals can learn more about their flood risk and how to get their flood insurance policy by visiting http://www.floodsmart.gov/.
Visit http://www.ready.gov/ or http://www.listo.gov/ for more information on tornado and flood safety tips. If you have a Blackberry, Android or Apple smartphone or tablet, you can download the FEMA app to access safety tips and checkoff items in your emergency kit.
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