Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities struck by the deadly series of tornadoes and severe storms that swept through many of our southern and Midwestern states late last week and over the weekend. FEMA, through our regional offices in Denton, Texas and Atlanta has been closely monitoring the storms and their aftermath, and has been in constant contact with the impacted states. Yesterday, President Obama spoke with Governor Bentley of Alabama and Governor Perdue of North Carolina to let them know that the entire federal government, through FEMA, stands ready to support in their recovery efforts as needed.
Over the weekend we deployed a FEMA representative to the North Carolina emergency operations center to help the state with coordination and other needs. And at the requests of the governors of the respective states, FEMA has deployed teams to North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments with other state and local personnel. These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties and to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested. As of this morning, we now have 12 teams on the ground in North Carolina, one team in Alabama and three teams in Mississippi.
And at the request of the governor of Oklahoma, we also had a team on the ground in the state over the weekend to partner with state and local personnel to assess the damage. Those assessments have been completed and the state will now review the findings to determine whether or not to seek federal assistance.
Already in North Carolina, we have seen the team that we so often talking about coming together to help the community recovery, whether it’s volunteers or neighbor helping neighbor. As the New York Times reported this morning:
Around the parts of the Southern states that were hardest hit, volunteers began organizing food drives and fund-raisers. Many people were connecting through Facebook and Twitter, and others were simply showing up to see how they might help.
In Sanford, the Salvation Army thrift store opened its doors at 3 p.m. and two hours later had already accepted about 400 bags of clothes and household goods, said Derek Oley, 29, the manager. They will start supplying food to people Monday.
“This community is just so awesome right now,” Mr. Oley said. “People are just coming out from everywhere to help out.”
And remember – as these storms proved once again – severe weather can strike anytime, anywhere. If you haven’t already, now is the time to get prepared for tornadoes and other disasters on Ready.gov.