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Tuesday, 21 May 2013 21:01

FEMA, Federal Partners Mobilize in Response to Severe Storms in Oklahoma

WASHINGTON – The Administration, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)  remains in close contact with emergency officials and continues to coordinate federal support to state, tribal and local officials in Oklahoma through FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center in Washington, DC and Regional Response Coordination Center in Denton, Texas. At the President’s direction, FEMA is already providing resources to support the response.


Last night, the President declared a major disaster for the State of Oklahoma, supporting state, local and tribal emergency work in affected areas.  Federal disaster aid also is available to affected individuals in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties. 


Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in these affected areas are encouraged to apply for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or by web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Survivors who use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT seven days a week.


Today, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano briefed the President on response and recovery efforts, and at the direction of the President, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate traveled to Oklahoma to ensure all federal resources are supporting state, local, and tribal partners in life saving and safety operations including search and rescue.


“First responders are providing critical, life-saving assistance in the impacted area,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Oklahoma residents can help the emergency response by keeping mobile phone lines free from congestion and staying in touch with friends and family by text messaging, email or social media. I urge residents to follow guidance from state, local and tribal officials who are requesting individuals to remain away from the affected areas so first responders can have access to reach hard-hit areas.”


In coordination with the state, FEMA deployed a liaison officer, a national Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) and two regional IMATs to the state emergency operations center in Oklahoma City to coordinate with state and local officials in support of recovery operations. Three national Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams and an additional Incident Support Team have been deployed to support the immediate response efforts.  Two Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) teams are in Oklahoma to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics and operations support elements.


Preliminary damage assessment (PDA) teams, comprised of representatives from the state, FEMA and the Small Business Administration, are on the ground and will begin assessments today, which will assist the state in identifying additional eligible federal assistance that may be warranted.


Three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSATs) are scheduled to arrive in affected areas later today to help federal, state, local, and tribal partners gather detailed information on the affected communities during the critical first hours, days and weeks. DSATs will address immediate and emerging needs of disaster survivors including: on-site registration, applicant status checks, on-the-spot needs assessments, and access to partners offering survivor services.


The Red Cross Safe and Well secure website provides a way for people to find information on survivors affected by the storms. To register, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell. Open Red Cross shelters can also be found on www.redcross.org/find-help/shelter.     


Individuals with a Blackberry, Android or Apple device can download the FEMA app to access safety tips, shelter locations, and more.


Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at www.fema.gov/medialibrary and www.youtube.com/fema; Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fema and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fema.