FEMA Urges Residents Across the South and Southeast to Prepare for Severe Winter Weather

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Intergovernmental Affairs Division
Telephone 202-646-3444

Intergovernmental Affairs Advisory

February 11, 2014

FEMA Urges Residents Across the South and Southeast to Prepare for Severe Winter Weather
Residents Should Follow the Direction of Local Officials

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is closely coordinating with states potentially impacted by severe winter weather across the southern United States. FEMA, through its regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Denton TX, and its National Watch Center in Washington, D.C. as well as its federal partners, including the National Weather Service, continues to closely monitor the severe winter weather currently impacting the South and Southeast, and forecasted to move up the Eastern Seaboard.

Today, President Obama declared an emergency for 45 counties in the State of Georgia, at the request of Georgia Governor Nathan Neal, authorizing FEMA to support the state in its efforts to respond to the storm. FEMA has deployed a Federal Coordinating Officer and a liaison to support the state emergency operations center in Atlanta.

FEMA continues to be in close, continuing contact with state, tribal and local partners in potentially impacted areas and stands ready to support its partners, if requested and needed. FEMA has also enhanced staffing at its Regional Watch Center in Atlanta and at its National Watch Center in Washington D.C.

According to the National Weather Service, a major winter storm will impact locations from Texas to the Southeast today before it moves up the Eastern Seaboard on Wednesday. Residents along the path of the storm can find their local forecast at www.weather.gov.

When natural disasters like severe weather strike, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and private organizations who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public’s health and safety and to meet immediate human needs.

FEMA encourages residents and visitors in the track of the storms to follow the instructions of state, local and tribal officials, and monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by local officials. Residents can find trusted sources for weather and preparedness information via Twitter on FEMA’s Social Hub here: http://www.fema.gov/social-hub

Wireless Emergency Alerts are currently being sent directly to many cell phones on participating wireless carrier networks. These alerts are sent by public safety officials such as the National Weather Service about imminent threats like severe weather. They look like a text message and show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. More information on Wireless Emergency Alerts is available at http://www.ready.gov/alerts.  Individuals can check with their cellular carrier to determine if their phone or wireless device is WEA-enabled.

Preparing for Severe Winter Weather

FEMA encourages all Americans to visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn more about how to be better prepared and how to protect your family during emergencies.

Get to know the terms that are used to identify winter storm hazards and discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued.

• A Blizzard Warning is issued for winter storms when the following conditions are expected to last for at least three hours: winds of at least 35 miles per hour with considerable snowfall that reduces visibility to ¼ of a mile or less.

• A Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.

• A Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.

• A Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.

• An Ice Storm Warning is when freezing rain produces a significant and possibly damaging accumulation of ice.

Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.

Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.

Avoid traveling by car, but if you must, make sure you have an emergency supply kit in the trunk of your car. FEMA encourages families to maintain an emergency supply kit both at home and in the car to help prepare for winter power outages and icy or impassable roads.

An emergency supply kit should include a three-day supply of food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra flashlights and batteries.  Thoroughly check and update your family’s emergency supply kit and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:

• Rock salt to melt ice on walkways;

• Sand to improve traction;

• Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment; and

• Adequate clothing and blankets to help keep you warm.

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 and local government, and ensure your home and car are prepared for the winter weather.

If you have any questions, please contact FEMA’s Intergovernmental Affairs Division at (202) 646-3444 or at FEMA-IGA@fema.dhs.gov.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.