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FEMA activates regional offices in wake of severe storms

FEMA Atlanta office March 3

President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano called the governors of states hard hit by tornadoes the week of Feb. 27 to offer condolences and help, as FEMA activated regional offices to provide support in the affected areas.

An outbreak of at least 74 tornadoes in the midwest and south killed 39 people in 10 states during the week. Kentucky, with 21 fatalities and Indiana with 13 fatalities, were the hardest hit. Ohio, Alabama and Georgia also suffered fatalities. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear asked on March 4 for federal disaster relief.

In the immediate wakes of the storm, as well as calls to Beshear, Obama and Napolitano called Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to offer condolences on March 3.

Beshear said in a March 4 press conference that he expects damages in his state to far surpass the $5.8 million in statewide damage needed to qualify for federal assistance.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and with the communities affected by the recent storms,” said Napolitano. “The Department’s priority is to work with the impacted states to identify and address their needs, and we will continue to remain in close contact with the states as they respond to and recover from these storms.”

FEMA said on March 3, that its regional offices in Kansas City, Chicago, and Atlanta, were in close contact with state emergency officials in states that are being affected by severe weather, including tornadoes. FEMA's National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., and its Regional Response Coordination Center in Chicago have been fully activated to support state requests for assistance, it said.

Napolitano said on March 3 her agency is coordinating with the Department of Defense to establish a national Incident Support Base in Kentucky to stage commodities in strategic locations close to the impacted areas, if needed and requested by the state. More than 98,000 meals and 146,000 liters of water are en route to the Incident Support Base, she said on March 3. On March 4, FEMA said an additional 10,000 meals and more than 350,000 additional liters of water were on their way to the incident support base close to the impacted areas.

FEMA said its regional administrators have been in touch with state emergency management officials for Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storms. Our priority, as always, is to make sure that we are here to support local efforts to keep residents and communities safe. FEMA has teams on the ground in hard hit areas and is prepared to deploy additional teams and resources if needed by the states," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

 At the requests of the states, FEMA and the Small Business Administration have deployed teams to Missouri and Illinois to assist with preliminary damage assessments, said Fugate. The assessments identify damages in impacted counties and to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested. A FEMA disability integration specialist was part of the preliminary damage assessment team in Missouri to assess the needs of people with disabilities and access and functional needs who were displaced from their independent living center.

FEMA said it has also proactively deployed a federal coordinating officer to Indiana, who is serving as a liaison to the Indiana Emergency Operations Center to provide support to the state and to assist in coordination efforts as the state continues to respond to the recent storms. Incident Management Assistance Team and eleven community relations teams have also been proactively deployed to Indiana to assist with situational awareness, as requested, said FEMA.


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