FEMA Urges All Residents to be Prepared

As Chicagoans prepare from the worst blizzard since 1967, the Federal Emergency Management Agency  is continuing to urge all residents to get prepared, especially for potential power outages and icy roads.

We are continuing to work with our federal partners, and state, local and tribal officials to make sure they have what they need to prepare for and respond to the storm,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  “But we also need the public’s help.  Residents should listen to their local news to monitor for severe weather updates and follow any directions from their local officials.  If a winter storm warning is issued, people should avoid driving and stay indoors.  And if you and your family are safe, do one more thing and check on your neighbor.”

President Obama was briefed Tuesday morning by phone by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Administrator Fugate on the ongoing federal efforts to support preparations for the storm.  FEMA continues monitoring the storm and working closely with state and local officials throughout Chicago and the areas affected by the blizzard warning. FEMA is also monitoring a separate, slightly weaker storm that is expected to bring snow to parts of Pennsylvania, New York and New England through this evening.

The National Weather Service remains the source for official severe weather information, and has issued winter storm watches, warning or advisories in over 30 states, and blizzard warnings have been issued for eight states, including Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Indiana.

As of this Tuesday Morning, FEMA has deployed personnel to Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island to closely coordinate with state officials should federal emergency response assistance be needed.

FEMA has pre-staged emergency commodities across the United States should they be needed to support state and local emergency response operations.  Additionally, FEMA is proactively sending additional supplies such as water, meals, blankets, cots and power generators to the areas affected.

FEMA is urging all residents to become familiar with the terms that are used to identify a winter storm hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe a winter storm hazard include:

  • 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.
  • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
  • Blizzard 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.

Remember, when a winter storm warning is issued, stay indoors during the storm.  Avoid traveling by car, but if you must, make sure you have an emergency supply kit in the trunk of your car.  FEMA urges 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.  Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov for more winter preparedness information, as well as additional information on staying safe during emergencies.

The FEMA press office contributed to this report.