WASHINGTON—At 10:50 a.m. this morning, President Obama spoke via telephone with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate to discuss the continuing federal disaster relief efforts for areas affected by the devastating severe storms and tornadoes that have impacted Alabama, Mississippi and other states across the Southeast this week.
The President will travel to Alabama tomorrow to view the damage as well as meet with Governor Bentley, state and local officials and families affected by the storms. More details on the President's trip will be released as soon as they are available.
Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate briefed the President on the federal government's actions to assist U.S. states following a severe weather system that affected Texas and Arkansas on Monday and Tuesday, and devastated parts of several Southeastern states last night, including Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee – causing significant damage and loss of life.
During this morning's call, Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate detailed the actions being taken in Alabama as a result of the Alabama emergency declaration the President signed last night, which authorizes FEMA to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency in all 67 counties in the state.
They emphasized that the State of Alabama, under Governor Robert Bentley's direction, is leading a robust response effort, with FEMA playing a supporting role. FEMA has also deployed a liaison officer to the state emergency operations center to assist in coordination efforts. The President directed Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate to be aggressive and comprehensive in our efforts, and to continue to take every necessary action to support response and recovery activities, as well as to raise with him any unmet needs. President Obama asked FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to travel to Alabama today to personally work with state and local officials.
Earlier this morning, Administrator Fugate briefed the media on the federal government's continued response to tornadoes and severe storms Alabama and across the Southeast region, and updated members of public with a video message at http://blog.fema.gov.
Last night, President Obama spoke by telephone with Governor Bentley, expressing his deepest condolences for the tragic loss of life and suffering caused by severe storms and tornadoes. Secretary Napolitano is in Missouri today, and will join local officials for a tour of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, which suffered damage during the tornadoes that struck the region last weekend.
More severe weather is forecasted throughout the South and the National Weather Service remains the source of official severe weather watches and warnings. Members of the public are reminded to follow the instructions of state and local officials, and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. Individuals should also continue to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates, follow directions provided by their local officials, and visit www.ready.gov for information about how to be prepared for severe weather emergencies.