WASHINGTON – With a major winter storm approaching the Midwest today and expected to impact many states throughout the week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging all residents in the areas that could be impacted to get prepared. Starting this weekend, FEMA has been closely monitoring the storm, which forecasters expect to bring heavy snow and ice to the Midwest and as far south as Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas early this week, and to the Northeast later in the week. Families and individuals can visit http://www.ready.gov or http://www.listo.gov for tips on how to prepare for snowstorms, dangerous driving conditions and other types of winter emergencies.
“A storm of this size and scope needs to be taken seriously,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “As we continue to do our part to watch the storm and work closely with our state and local partners as they get ready, it’s critical that the public does its part to get ready. Already this winter we’ve seen how snow and ice can knock out power and affect transportation. If you haven’t already, take steps now to get your homes and families ready, and be sure to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and young children – those who can be most vulnerable during emergencies.”
Through its regional offices in Kansas City, Mo.; Denton, Texas; Chicago; Atlanta; Philadelphia; New York City and Boston, FEMA is closely coordinating with state and local officials in the affected areas. There have not been any requests for federal assistance yet, but FEMA stands ready to assist state and local emergency response efforts if needed.
At the request of the state of Oklahoma, FEMA has deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to the state, in order to help with coordination, should emergency response assistance be needed. In addition, FEMA liaison officers have been deployed to Kansas, Missouri, and Indiana, at the request of the respective states, to help coordinate if additional support is needed. FEMA has also pre-positioned emergency commodities, including water, generators, meals, cots and blankets across the United States should they be needed to support state and local emergency response operations.
The storm’s first impact, in the Midwest, could include heavy snow, destructive ice, tornadoes and bitter cold. The storm is expected to move to the Northeast later this week. The National Weather Service remains the source for official severe weather information, and FEMA encourages all individuals in the region to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for severe weather updates, and to follow the directions provided by their local officials.