La respuesta a los tornados de Oklahoma y cómo ayudar

Desde: Lars Anderson, FEMA

Anoche, un gigantesco tornado azotó cerca de Moore, Oklahoma, dejando a su paso un camino de destrucción. Nuestros pensamientos y oraciones con las familias y comunidades que han sido afectadas por los tornados.

Conferencia de prensa del Presidente

Siguiendo las instrucciones del Presidente, el Administrador Fugate ha viajado a Oklahoma para garantizar que todos los recursos federales estén disponibles para asistir al gobierno estatal, tribal y local en los esfuerzos para salvar vidas y garantizar la seguridad, entre estos incluidos los esfuerzos de búsqueda y rescate. Ayer, el Presidente Obama declaró un desastre mayor para el estado de Oklahoma, haciendo disponible fondos de asistencia federal a los individuos y familias en los condados de Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, y Pottawatomie.

Los fondos de asistencia federal se han hecho disponible para apoyar los esfuerzos de respuesta y recuperación, incluyendo:

  • Equipos de evaluaciones preliminares de daños, compuestos por representantes del estado, FEMA y la Administración de Pequeños Negocios, que se encuentran en el campo y comenzarán a realizar evaluaciones hoy. Puede que se añadan más condados o formas de asistencia una vez finalicen las evaluaciones.
  • Tres equipos de Búsqueda y Rescate Urbano (grupo de trabajo de Texas 1, grupo de trabajo de Nebraska 1 y grupo de trabajo de Tennessee 1) y un equipo de apoyo ante incidentes han sido desplegados para apoyar los esfuerzos de respuesta al desastre.
  • Un equipo nacional y dos equipos regionales de asistencia para el manejo de incidentes han sido desplegados para el centro de operaciones de emergencia del estado, localizado en Oklahoma City, para dar apoyo a las autoridades estatales y locales.
  • Dos equipos de apoyo móvil se encuentran en Oklahoma para ofrecer apoyo logístico, operacional, y en telecomunicaciones a los esfuerzos de respuesta. Más equipos también están siendo desplegados.
  • Tres equipos de asistencia para sobrevivientes de desastre también llegarán al área. Estos realizarán la misión de evaluar, notificar y preparar un informe (AIR, por sus siglas en inglés) para ayudar a los colaboradores federales, estatales, locales, tribales y territoriales recaudar información sobre las áreas afectadas durante las primeras horas, días y semanas después del desastre. Estos equipos podrán responder a las necesidades inmediatas y posibles futuras necesidades que surjan para los sobrevivientes: como ayudarles a solicitar asistencia, verificar el estatus de su solicitud, evaluar sus necesidades, y referirlos a colaboradores que ofrezcan servicios de apoyo a sobrevivientes.
  • FEMA también activó al Centro de Coordinación de Respuesta Nacional, localizado en Washington, DC. Este centro promueve la cooperación entre varias agencias y coordina la respuesta federal ante desastres naturales y emergencias, para apoyar las solicitudes de asistencia de los estados. Los centros de coordinación de respuesta de la Región VI (RRCC, por sus siglas en inglés), localizados en Denton, Texas, también permanecen activados.

También quiero compartir algunas sugerencias para aquellos que se encuentren en el área de Oklahoma City o aquellos interesados en ayudar a los sobrevivientes:

  • Si usted se encuentra en el área afectada: Exhortamos a todos los residentes de los condados incluidos en la declaración de desastre a solicitar asistencia de FEMA. Pueden solicitar asistencia por internet o desde su teléfono móvil visitando www.DisasterAssistance.gov/es o llamando al 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Los solicitantes con discapacidades auditivas o del habla pueden llamar al 1-800-462-7585.

    Siga las instrucciones de las autoridades locales y tome las precauciones de seguridad necesarias para permanecer seguro y mantener su propiedad segura mientras se llevan a cabo los esfuerzos de recuperación. Es probable que las carreteras estén dañadas o llenas de escombros. Los tapones de tránsito complicarán la labor del personal de emergencia y primera respuesta según estos hacen su camino a las áreas afectadas.

  • Si está tratando de comunicarse con familia o amigos en el área afectada: La página de Sano y Salvo de la Cruz Roja Americana (o su sitio móvil), mensajes de texto, y los medios sociales son buenos recursos para dejarle saber a sus amigos y familia que está a salvo. Es probable que no haya servicio telefónico después de un desastre, por lo que estos métodos pueden resultar más eficaces.
  • Si usted no se encuentra en el área afectada, pero quiere ayudar: Aquellos buscando maneras de ayudar a los sobrevivientes del tornado, recuerden: donar o ser voluntarios con organizaciones reconocidas. Solo haga donaciones que hayan sido solicitadas por las autoridades locales. Para donar dinero, las mejores donaciones son en efectivo. En el sitio web de las Organizaciones Voluntarias Activas en Desastres  (NVOAD, por sus siglas en inglés) encontrará una lista de organizaciones confiables a las que puede realizar donaciones. Siga a NVOAD en Facebook y Twitter @NationalVOAD.

    Para más información sobre cómo ayudar a los sobrevivientes de desastre, visite http://m.fema.gov/es/get-involved y www.ok.gov/okstrong.

Como dijo el Presidente Obama esta mañana, continuaremos apoyando los esfuerzos de respuesta y recuperación con todos los recursos a nuestra disposición para ayudar a los afectados por el tornado. Para mantenerse informado de los esfuerzos, síganos @FEMA and @FEMAregion6 en Twitter o visite la página del desastre de Oklahoma.

Tornados de Oklahoma – Actualización y fotos de las áreas afectadas

Desde: Lars Anderson, FEMA

sobrevivientes y personal de FEMA en un centro de recuperación por desastre

Nuestros pensamientos y nuestras oraciones están con las familias y comunidades afectadas por los tornados que azotaron el centro de Oklahoma. Continuamos ofreciendo los recursos federales a nuestros colaboradores estatales, locales y tribales del área. A continuación un resumen de lo que está pasando ahora:

  • Exhortamos a todos los afectados por las tormentas a solicitar asistencia por desastre de FEMA visitando www.disasterassistance.gov/es desde sus computadores o teléfono móvil. También pueden solicitar llamando al 800-621-3362. Más de 2,200 sobrevivientes ya se han inscrito para solicitar asistencia.
  • Tres Equipos de Asistencia por Desastre para Sobrevivientes están ofreciendo ayuda a los sobrevivientes de desastre para inscribirse con FEMA y solicitar asistencia. Estos se encuentran equipados con tabletas para poder inscribir a las personas con la mayor rapidez posible mientras toman nota de las necesidades de la comunidad.
  • Se han abierto dos centros de recuperación por desastre cerca de las áreas afectadas para que las personas afectadas por los tornados puedan reunirse en persona con representantes de FEMA y el estado. En los centros, los representantes podrán responder a preguntas sobre el proceso de asistencia por desastres y proveer información sobre los tipos de asistencia disponible.

Además, más de 127,000 litros de agua y alrededor de 30,000 comidas han sido distribuidas a Oklahoma City para apoyar los esfuerzos de respuesta locales. Nuestros colaboradores federales, estatales, locales y tribales están tomando otras acciones. Para mantenerse al día, visite http://www.fema.gov/es/disaster/4117.

Hemos visto una gran demostración de apoyo para aquellos afectados por las tormentas, así que si usted se encuentra fuera del área afectada pero desea ayudar, visite http://www.fema.gov/es/donar-y-ser-voluntario. Aquí encontrará información sobre cómo donar y ser voluntario – incluyendo cómo donar a una organización confiable, servir como voluntario, y donar dinero (no artículos o productos) a las organizaciones benéficas ofreciendo servicios de emergencia.

Cómo solemos decir en FEMA, responder a emergencias requiere trabajo en equipo. Tan solo minutos después de la tormenta este equipo – compuesto de personal de primera respuesta, los gobiernos federal, estatal, local y tribal, y organizaciones sin fines de lucro y benéficas, y los miembros de la comunidad – tomaron acción. Hemos oído varias historias de demostraciones de heroísmo durante la tragedia. A continuación comparto con ustedes algunas fotos y actualizaciones del trabajo que están desempeñando los equipos para el manejo de emergencias.

Equipo de trabajo de Texas 1, Búsqueda y rescate urbano
personal de rescate salvan a un perro de los escombros

Equipo de trabajo de Nebraska 1

Personal de rescate remueven escombros
personal removiendo escombros

Guardia Nacional de Oklahoma
la guardia nacional de oklahoma en una de las carreteras que sufrió daños

Cruz Roja Americana

suministros de emergencia de la cruz roja
voluntario de la cruz roja

Servicios de Emergencia por Desastre del Ejército de Salvación

suministros del ejército de salvación

Feed the Children

Sociedad Humanitaria de Oklahoma

evaluación de la sociedad humanitaria

All That Stuff Named Debris

Posted by: Tony Robinson, Regional Administrator, FEMA Region 6

As you have seen on TV, a tornado leaves behind large amounts of wreckage and debris.  Unfortunately, that debris is generally made up of people’s homes, community buildings, cars, trees, and all sorts of things that a tornado may destroy with winds that can exceed 200 MPH. In order for disaster survivors to even think about rebuilding their homes or their schools or hospitals the debris needs to be picked up and removed.  FEMA and the federal government can assist by helping to pay debris removal costs.

tornado debris
Moore, Okla., May 22, 2013 — Residents look at the place their home stood after a tornado struck the community of Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th. Andrea Booher/FEMA

Local and tribal officials such as mayors, county commissioners, school superintendents, and emergency management officials ultimately make the decisions about how debris gets picked up, where it goes, and who does the work. Generally speaking, they have several options. They can have their own employees do the work, local volunteers and organizations can help, the town could hire a company with heavy equipment, or they could request assistance from the state who can ask the federal government to help if necessary. At this point local officials in Oklahoma are deciding which of these options they will use to go about getting all the debris picked up.

At FEMA, our role is very much a support role by joining the whole community team of local, state and tribal officials, disaster relief organizations, volunteers, and disaster survivors. One of our most valuable contributions to the mission is in the form of funding. As the debris left by the storm is being picked up, FEMA works with the state, local, and tribal officials to provide federal reimbursement for the removal costs. If you’re interested in what FEMA can fund, you can look at our Debris Management Guide.

search and rescue in tornado debris
Moore, Okla., May 22, 2013 — FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (Nebraska Task Force 1) team members search house to house for survivors in a tornado devastated neighborhood. Andrea Booher/FEMA

We can also assist the state with technical experts from FEMA or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who can offer assistance to local and tribal officials on debris management. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may also provide guidance on how to safely handle hazardous waste debris. In Oklahoma, FEMA will be providing additional funding above our normal 75 percent cost share funding for debris that is quickly picked up through a new pilot program.  Remember, the quicker the debris is picked up, the faster people can rebuild their homes.

Local and tribal officials may ask disaster survivors to help with debris removal by bringing debris from their property to the curb or by helping to sort the debris into different categories. If you try to move debris please be careful. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality published guidance on debris management for residents, including how to handle chemicals and other hazardous debris.

All of the debris typically doesn’t just end up in the landfill. It is often sorted before being picked up or taken to a staging site where it is sorted. Just like taking your garbage out on a normal day, items should be recycled and used again helping the environment and in some cases being sold, such as precious metals like cooper, for money.  With FEMA’s new pilot program, your local or tribal government may be able to use proceeds they earn from the recycling of debris for other debris removal or emergency management needs.

The removal of debris is a big job, but FEMA remains committed to assisting state, tribal and local officials and helping their communities in the recovery effort. If you would like to join the team and help those who were affected by the Oklahoma tornado, we have some information on our website, or you can visit the Oklahoma Strong webpage.

tornado debris damaged carMoore, Okla., May 22, 2013 — Moore resident looks at home destruction caused by an F5 tornado that struck on May 20. Andrea Booher/FEMA

Oklahoma Tornadoes – Update & Pictures from the Ground

Posted by: Lars Anderson, Director, Public Affairs

meeting fema staff at disaster recovery center
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and communities affected by the tornadoes in Central Oklahoma.  We continue to coordinate the federal response efforts in supporting our state, local, and tribal partners on the ground.  Here are a few quick updates on what’s happening now:

  • We’re encouraging those impacted by the storms to apply for FEMA assistance at disasterassistance.gov on their computer or phone, or by calling 800-621-3362.  So far, over 2,200 Oklahomans have applied for disaster assistance.
  • Three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are on the ground helping survivors register for FEMA assistance.  These teams are using internet-enabled tablets to register people as quickly as possible, as well as to record any unmet needs that affected individuals or communities are experiencing.
  • Two disaster recovery centers are open near damaged areas so those affected by the tornadoes can speak face-to-face to staff from FEMA and the state.  At the centers, staff answer questions about the disaster assistance process or what help may be available. 

In addition to the items above, more than 127,000 liters of water and nearly 30,000 meals have been delivered to the state at a Federal Staging Area in Oklahoma City in support of the local response efforts.  There are many other actions our federal, state, local, and tribal partners are taking and you can find the latest at fema.gov/OKtornadoes.

We’ve seen an outpouring of support for those impacted by the deadly storms, so if you’re outside of the impacted area and are looking for ways to help those that have been affected, check out fema.gov/howtohelp.  It has information on donating and volunteering responsibly – by doing things like donating only through trusted organizations, volunteering through established channels, and sending cash (not goods) to organizations providing relief.

As we often say at FEMA, responding to emergencies takes a team effort.  Minutes after the tornadoes struck, this team moved into action, including first responders, federal, state, local, and tribal governments, first responders, non-profit organizations, volunteer groups, and members of the public.  There have been a lot of stories of heroism amidst this tragic tornado, so I wanted to share a few visuals and updates from how the emergency management team is helping on the ground.

Texas Task Force 1, Urban Search and Rescue
rescuers pull out dog in cage

Nebraska Task Force 1

rescuers remove debris
rescuers remove debris

Oklahoma National Guard
national guard in damaged street

American Red Cross

american red cross supplies

red cross volunteer

Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services

salvation army disaster supplies

Feed the Children

Oklahoma Humane Society
 
humane society check up

Subscription and assistance need to not be forgotten

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 Another factor that is just as important is the quality of support. If you have multiple products cobbled together to create a solution, this can be a real problem as there is no single owner to any issue that occurs. The appliance model of data protection excels here as the appliance provider can support the hardware, software, operating systems and everything in between.

 When choosing your data protection solution, do not discount the value of support and subscription as it can make your life a lot better having a good support organization standing behind your solution.

Oklahoma Tornado Response & How to Support

Posted by: Lars Anderson, Director, Public Affairs

Yesterday evening a large tornado touched down near Moore, Oklahoma, leaving massive destruction in its path. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and communities affected by the tornadoes.

presidential briefing

At the direction of the President, Administrator Fugate is in Oklahoma to ensure all Federal resources are supporting our state, local, and tribal partners in life saving and safety operations, including ongoing search and rescue.  Yesterday, President Obama declared a major disaster for the State of Oklahoma, making federal funding available to support affected individuals and families in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.
Federal assistance has been made available to support immediate response and recovery efforts, including:

  • Preliminary damage assessment teams, comprised of representatives from the state, FEMA and the Small Business Administration, are on the ground and will begin assessments today, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
  • Three national Urban Search and Rescue Teams (Texas Task Force 1, Nebraska Task Force 1 and Tennessee Task Force 1) and an Incident Support Team have been deployed to support the immediate response efforts.
  • One national and two regional Incident Management Assistance Teams are deployed to the state emergency operations center in Oklahoma City to coordinate with state and local officials in support of recovery operations.
  • Two Mobile Emergency Response Support Teams are in Oklahoma to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements, to assist in the immediate response needs and additional teams are being deployed.
  • Three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are scheduled to arrive later today into communities to perform the Assess, Inform, and Report (AIR) Missions, a tool to help federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners gather detailed information on the affected areas during the critical first hours, days and weeks after a disaster strikes. 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.
  • FEMA activated the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., a multi-agency coordination center that provides overall coordination of the federal response to natural disasters and emergencies, to support state requests for assistance, and FEMA’s Region VI Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) located in Denton, Texas remains activated.

In addition to sharing the role of FEMA and our federal partners, I also wanted to share tips for those in the Oklahoma City area or looking to help survivors:

  • If you’re in the affected area: We encourage residents in declared counties to register for FEMA assistance online or on your smartphone at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Disaster applicants with a speech disability or hearing loss but use a TTY device, should instead call 1-800-462-7585 directly.

    Follow the instructions from local officials and take the recommended protective measures to safeguard life and property while response efforts continue. Roads are very likely to be damaged or blocked by debris, and traffic jams slow emergency managers and first responders as they attempt to reach hard-hit areas.

  • If you’re trying to get in touch with friends/family in the impacted area: Use the American Red Cross Safe & Well website (or mobile site), text messaging, and social media accounts to check-in with friends & family.  After a disaster, phone lines may be congested, so using other communication methods can be more successful.
  • If you’re not in the affected area, but are looking to help: For those looking for ways to help tornado survivors, remember: go through trusted organizations and only send goods that have been requested by local authorities.  If you’re considering donating money, cash donations are often the best way to help. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters has a list of organizations that you can feel confident in making a donation to. You can also follow NVOAD on Facebook and on Twitter @NationalVOAD.

    For more information on helping survivors after a disaster, visit fema.gov/howtohelp and www.ok.gov/okstrong.

As President Obama said this morning, we will continue to bring all available resources to bear as we support those impacted by the deadly tornado. For ongoing updates on FEMA’s response efforts, follow @FEMA and @FEMAregion6 on Twitter or visit the Oklahoma tornado disaster page.

What We’re Watching: 4/12/13

Posted by: Dan Watson, Public Affairs

At the end of each week, we post a “What We’re Watching” blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Monitoring Severe Weather
We continue to closely monitor the severe weather, including dangerous winds, tornadoes and severe winter weather that affected parts of the Central U.S., Midwest and Southeast, last night and Wednesday. We encourage those in affected areas to continue to monitor local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information, and to follow the instructions of state, tribal and local officials.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to get prepared for severe weather.  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.  Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state, tribal or local government, and ensure your home and car are prepared for the severe weather.
  • 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.

We will continue to monitor weather conditions as these storm systems move across the East Coast and will provide updates as necessary.

National Tribal Consultation Call
Over the past several weeks, we’ve hosted regional tribal consultation calls with tribal leadership, their organizations and stakeholders to present information regarding changes to how the federal government provides disaster assistance to tribes and how we can better meet the unique needs of Indian Country after disasters. We’ve gathered valuable comments and insights from our tribal partners related to declarations procedures and this process is culminating in a National Tribal Consultation call next week to further discuss improvements to the disaster assistance process.

Join us on Thursday, April 18 at 3:00 p.m. EDT for a National Tribal Consultation conference call and provide your comments on:

  • the Public Assistance threshold,
  • Individual Assistance declaration criteria, and
  • Cost Share adjustment for Indian Tribal governments.

Here’s the call-in information:

  • Date & Time: Thursday, April 18 at 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Number: 888-708-5699
  • Passcode: 1601121

You can also provide your ideas and comments by visiting FEMA’s online collaboration community, or by sending us an e-mail at [email protected]

In case you missed it, Administrator Fugate recently blogged:

When you’re tackling a new and challenging topic, starting from a solid foundation is crucial to success.  Right now, there is an opportunity to change how the federal government provides disaster assistance and we’re looking for tribal leaders to help set a solid foundation for those changes…

We hope that you can take part in this opportunity to shape disaster assistance programs and processes more effectively.

Youth Preparedness Council
It’s not too late to submit an application or nominate a young leader in your community for our Youth Preparedness Council.  FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council provides an opportunity for young leaders to share ideas and solutions to strengthen the nation against all types of disasters.

Here’s a short video from U.S. Senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island encouraging teenagers to apply to serve on the council.


Remember, the deadline to submit an application or nomination is next Friday, April 19.  So head over to Ready.gov/youth-preparedness for more information or to download an application today!

April 2011 – the Hardest in My Profession

Posted by: Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Birmingham, Ala. National Weather Service

When the majority of your entire 30+ year career stretches between Georgia and Texas, you unfortunately see a lot of damage, destruction and death from severe weather.  You see so much of it that it can become numbing, humbling and saddening.

Still, nothing prepared me and National Weather Service (NWS) Birmingham for the events of April, 2011 and the weeks that followed.  The story actually begins on April 15, 2011, when 45 tornadoes occurred across Alabama along with 7 fatalities.  As a state, we all were still recovering when we realized a major and devastating outbreak of tornadoes would occur during the last week of April.

For almost a week prior to April 27th, NWS Birmingham, as well as other NWS offices, predicted this significant weather event, and by April 25th, provided numerous products and services forecasting the potential for several waves of severe weather, including violent, long-track tornadoes.  Some of these services included working with local TV stations and conducting radio interviews, numerous Emergency Management briefings on the statewide 800 MHz radio system, and providing high impact web graphics and multimedia presentations.

Within the office, plans were made to provide extra staffing on the 27th from 4 AM through the end of the event, as well as provisions for storm damage survey teams in the days after the event. The office electronics staff and Information Technology Officer (ITO) were also scheduled strategically to ensure any problems with communications or computer systems could be addressed and resolved as quickly as possible.

As a result, prior to the most intense activity on the afternoon of April 27th, key decision makers and the general public alike were alerted to the potential for a significant severe weather outbreak.  Based on information and forecasts provided by our office, numerous schools across the County Warning Area were either closed for the day or closed early, and Government agencies and businesses closed early.  By mid-morning, Governor Bentley signed a declaration of emergency in anticipation of the expected outbreak, and the Alabama State Emergency Operations Center was activated at the same level as a landfalling hurricane.

Shortly after midnight on the 27th, the first of three waves of tornadic storms occurred.  Another wave around noon.  Then the final wave during the late afternoon into the late evening.  Almost 20 straight hours of severe weather with 62 tornadoes.  Over 250 souls lost, with hundreds more injured.  Incredible, widespread damage.  109 total tornadoes in April alone, which exceeded the all-time record for an entire year!

At the NWS Birmingham office, everyone knew the stakes on April 27th.   We were focused and driven to put out the best warning and additional information to everyone.  As the third wave unfolded and it became apparent that multiple tornadoes were on the ground and people were dying because of them, some of the staff were overwhelmed with emotion and needed to be relieved for a few minutes to regain composure.  And, they did.  We became even more focused until the entire event ended.

For months after April 2011, before every severe weather event, numerous people would ask how the upcoming event would compare to the 27th.  I told them that comparisons were impossible, but just one straight line wind event, one tornado or one flash flood causing death and destruction is their and your April 27th.

You see, we at the National Weather take our role of providing life-saving information very seriously.  I get great satisfaction knowing I helped someone, and am greatly saddened when people don’t bother or care to know about impending danger. Our best forecasts and warnings mean nothing if YOU don’t do something with this information.  So, please join us.  Take this week to learn about the threats.  Learn how to receive hazardous weather alerts and updates.  Finally, develop a plan to protect yourself and others before hazardous weather strikes.  The life you save may be your own!

Responding to extreme climate even though establishing tomorrow’s leaders

Posted by: Scott Hart, Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, Rowlett, Texas

Early last April, North Texas was hit by serious thunderstorms and tornadoes. A single line of storm cells with tornadoes triggered extreme damage across at least 4 counties. In Lancaster, in southern Dallas County, far more than 300 houses have been broken by the tornadoes.&nbsp Regional resources were rapidly overwhelmed. Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams (CERT) from the North Central Texas Region responded to the contact for added aid.

Rowlett sent a team that consisted of both CERT volunteers and youth members of Rowlett Explorer Post A single (Post One includes members of a youth program chartered by way of Boy Scouts of America’s Finding out for Life Applications). The team went door to door, operating with residents to identify debris that required to be moved. Right after they identified the debris, the teams assisted in moving the debris to the street, which permitted City crews to promptly eliminate it.

volunteers pick up debris
CAPTION: Rowlett, Texas, April five, 2011 — Volunteers from the Rowlett Neighborhood Emergency Response Group and Explorer Post One get rid of tornado debris.&nbsp Explorer Post One particular is a youth system chartered via Boy Scouts of America’s Understanding for Life Applications that receives disaster response instruction.

Rowlett CERT and Explorer Post A single contributed around 345 service hours in help of the Rockwall County and City of Lancaster tornado responses.

The City of Lancaster expressed their appreciation stating,

The success of this CERT callout validates the value of our CERT programs and regional partnerships. Please pass along this appreciation to your CERT members.&nbsp

Responding to a community’s want is nothing at all new for Rowlett’s Explorer Post One. The post is closely aligned with FEMA’s new direction to develop upon the Teen CERT program. Members have been trained to help offer vital help by giving immediate help to survivors, supplying damage assessment information and organizing other volunteers at a disaster internet site. Even so, in contrast to most Teen CERT programs, the Rowlett Explorer system training goes far beyond the college atmosphere and standard education. Member education consists of CERT, Amateur Radio, CPR/AED/First Aid, climbing, rappelling, ropes/knots, National Association of Search and Rescue coaching, National Incident Management System courses, Incident Command, and other skills.

More than the past three years, the Post has contributed practically three,900 service hours in education, meetings and help.&nbsp But much more essential than the quantity of hours is the good instance of emergency preparedness the Post sets day in and day out.&nbsp The Explorer Post develops character, self-self-confidence and leadership that is central to the objective of the program. In addition to supporting emergency responders during a disaster, the Explorer system builds strong functioning relationships between emergency responders and the communities they serve. These relationships are crucial simply because effectively responding to emergencies and severe climate needs a group work – created up of the individuals, families, neighborhood leaders, organizations and businesses in each and every regional neighborhood.

The more we train our youth in these critical locations, the much better prepared our neighborhood becomes with dealing with uncommon conditions. We are not only instruction our youth in disaster preparedness, we are preparing tomorrow’s leaders. There is no greater instance of that than Rowlett Explorer Post A single, and I encourage your neighborhood to look at how you can get youth involved in disaster preparedness.

Thanks for reading and letting me share how we are a force of nature in Rowlett!

Preparing Communities for Severe Climate

Posted by: Rachel Little, FEMA Youth Council Member

Along with the advantages of witnessing the changing of New England’s beautiful seasons, residents must be ready to face a variety of severe weather conditions. My name is Rachel Little, a member of the FEMA Youth Preparedness Council, and a resident of Massachusetts. My favorite part of living in New England is the variety of activities to do like skiing and snowboarding in the winter, swimming and visiting the beach in the summer and all within just a couple hours of where I live.

While I love to enjoy the great outdoors, nor’easters, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes and flash floods are all dangerous hazards New Englanders have faced within the past two years. Preparing for severe weather is critically important when living here. Preparedness is imperative when a storm is approaching, though some don’t always know how to prepare for something severe. When I heard about the February blizzard approaching, I knew it was going to be a big one. One measure that our area took to prepare for the blizzard was putting a driving ban after four o’clock on the evening the storm was set to hit. All motor vehicles had to evacuate the roads or face large fines. As far as preparedness goes, I thought this was an extremely brilliant precaution and would keep many people safe. It would also make the job easier for emergency personnel working through the night. The type of snow that a storm brings makes all the difference in the world. If it’s light snow, it’s easier to deal with, less dangerous, and easier for snow removal. If it’s thick, wet, heavy snow, it makes it more difficult for all residents. It’s harder to remove, can cause severe damage to personal property and is a nightmare for men and women working for the power company. Thankfully the snow was light, but there was just a lot of it!

CAPTION: South Kingstown, R.I., Feb. 19, 2013 — Damage in South Kingstown following the Northeastern Blizzard.

This situation was very similar to the October snowstorm in 2011. We knew there was a possibility of snow around Halloween, but it was not forecasted to be as bad as it turned out to be. A major problem with the October 2011 snowstorm were the remaining leaves on the trees, which gave the heavy snow more of an opportunity to break branches and limbs. Trees snapped all through the night and took out power lines, leaving so many without power. My father works for National Grid, and I didn’t see him for several weeks after the storm because the power outages were so widespread.

CAPTION: Narragansett, R.I., Feb. 19, 2013 — Utility workers repair downed power lines following the Northeast Blizzard. 

By far the most disastrous and destructive disaster to hit our community was the 2011 tornado that cut through Massachusetts. No one ever thought a tornado could possibly make its way to us, as we have large mountains all around us and live in a valley. I think that it is an important fact to be made known across the country, that any place is vulnerable to the attack of a vicious natural disaster at any time.

These experiences have only made disaster preparedness more important to me and make me want to be ready for anything in the years ahead. After our last blizzard in February, I have continued to spread three key factors to being prepared: know your risk, take action, and be an example for your family and community. Taking action is not only readying yourself and family members for a disastrous situation, but spreading the word to your neighborhood and throughout the community. By knowing our risk, we can greatly reduce the amount of fatalities and injuries during a disaster because we took steps to prepare beforehand. I also continue to be a champion of preparedness for all the people I care so much about. I have encouraged my family, school and community to talk about emergency plans and build a preparedness kit before severe weather hits. If we all take part in spreading the word about disaster preparedness and sharing tips, many people will be much safer if they have to go through a severe storm.

Editor’s Note: FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council is a unique opportunity for a nominated group of youth leaders to serve on a highly distinguished national council and to voice their opinions, experiences, ideas and solutions to help strengthen the nation’s resiliency for all types of disasters.