As we continue to monitor the aftermath of the storms, Administrator Fugate commented today:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who’ve lost loved ones in Oklahoma, and the survivors affected by these storms. FEMA's priority is to support local efforts to keep residents and communities safe, and we remain in close coordination with the affected states.
We urge residents to monitor storm conditions, and follow the guidance of their local officials, both for the continuing severe weather threats as well as directions to avoid affected areas.”
The importance of being prepared can never be underestimated. On Saturday, in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska, there were reports of more than 100 tornadoes, along with dangerous winds, driving hail, and some flooding, and I would like to commend the effort of local and state first responders in preparing for the storms, as well as their ongoing work in the aftermath to protect lives and provide immediate assistance during this difficult time.
There have been many stories of residents heeding warnings, buying weather radios, and either evacuating mobile home parks or finding safe places to take shelter in their homes. While there have been some reports of injuries, and tragically some deaths, the potential impacts could have been much worse if not for the preparedness measures that were taken.
I wanted to note the actions of residents in the Pinaire Mobile Home Park in Wichita, Kansas who took these warnings seriously and sought shelter prior to the severe weather hitting. Their prompt response to the warning likely saved many lives. Residents of mobile homes must plan in advance and identify safe shelter options because mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned in cases of severe weather because they can overturn very easily, even if they have been “secured.”
Our thoughts are with the countless citizens in communities and rural areas whose homes have been damaged or destroyed, and I want to encourage residents in impacted areas to continue to listen to their NOAA Weather Radios, monitor media and follow instructions from their local leaders so we can all protect life and property. If possible, take this opportunity to make sure your emergency supply kit has what it needs using the checklist on Ready.gov, and if you’re in an area where severe weather is still forecasted, read our blog from yesterday on steps you can take to prepare and remember to remain vigilant.
If you’re a survivor in an impacted area, there are a few important points you should remember:
Regional Administrator Beth A. Freeman has reached out to the governors of Kansas and Iowa and has been in constant contact with officials at the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Regional Administrator Andrew Velasquez spoke with Emergency Management Agency Directors in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, and Regional Administrator Tony Russell has been in constant communication with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
State liaison officers have also been proactively deployed to the Emergency Operations Center in Topeka, Kansas and Des Moines, Iowa to coordinate response activities, and Incident Management Teams are also being deployed to the Kansas and Iowa state emergency operations centers to support the state response efforts if needed.
We all stand ready to provide assistance to the states and storm survivors as needed. And remember, there is more severe weather forecasted for different parts of the country, so stay informed by visiting http://www.weather.gov/ and http://mobile.weather.gov/.
- Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.
- Use extreme caution when walking among debris, downed power lines and entering damaged buildings; be aware of exposed nails and broken glass and wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
- Avoid carbon monoxide hazards and never use generators or other gasoline devices inside your home, basement, garage or camper.
- Be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home, and in general, if you suspect any damage to your home, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
- Hang up displaced telephone receivers that may have been knocked off by the tornado, but stay off the telephone, except to report an emergency.