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November 18, 2013

FEMA Monitoring Severe Weather in the Midwest; Urges Residents to Follow Direction of Local Officials

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its regional offices in Chicago and Kansas City, is monitoring severe weather, including strong tornadoes, that continues to impact the Midwest and staying in close coordination with officials in affected and potentially affected states. Earlier today, FEMA elevated its National Watch Center in Washington, D.C. to a 24/7 enhanced watch, and has deployed liaisons to support state emergency operation centers in a number of impacted states. "Residents should continue to monitor weather conditions as they develop and follow the direction of local officials,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "Be prepared for power outages and dangerous road conditions as a result of downed power lines and flooding – remember if you encounter a flooded road while driving, turn around, don't drown." Since before the storm system developed, FEMA has been in close coordination with state and local partners through its regional offices. FEMA's Region V Administrator, Andrew Velasquez III, has been in close contact with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, the Wisconsin Emergency Management Agency, the Michigan Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security regarding the potential impacts in those states. FEMA has deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to support the State of Illinois. FEMA also has deployed liaison officers to emergency operations centers in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and additional liaison officers are on standby and ready to deploy, if requested. FEMA is in continued contact with its emergency management partners in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. According to the National Weather Service, numerous fast-moving thunderstorms, capable of producing strong tornadoes along with widespread damaging winds and large hail, will move across portions of the middle Mississippi and Ohio Valley region and the southern Great Lakes region for the remainder of today into this evening. Visit www.ready.gov to learn more about what to do before, during, and after severe weather. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind should severe weather occur in your area: Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area. A tornado warning is when a tornado is actually occurring, take shelter immediately. Ensure your family preparedness plan and contacts are up to date and exercise your plan. If you haven’t already, now is the time to get prepared for tornadoes and other disasters. Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning: Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection. If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris. Vehicles, trailers and mobile homes are not good locations to ride out a tornado. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible. If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location. Follow FEMA online at blog.fema.gov, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.