January 30, 2009
President Obama issues Disaster Declaration for Missouri at request of Gov. Nixon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that President Barack Obama has approved the Governor's request for a Disaster Declaration for Missouri, as a result of the severe Jan. 26-28 winter storm. As of this afternoon, the storm has left more than 88,000 homes and businesses in southeast and southern Missouri without power and is blamed for the deaths of six people.
The Governor personally spoke today with President Obama and with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano about the disaster declaration.
"In visiting Sikeston on Thursday, I saw firsthand the destructive effects of this disaster," Gov. Nixon said. "I appreciate the President issuing this disaster declaration so Missourians will have more resources to recover from this devastating storm. This federal assistance will be very helpful in addition to the many state actions we have taken since the beginning of this week. The President assured me this afternoon that the federal government will act swiftly to aid Missourians.
"We will continue to work around the clock to bring in state resources to help local officials," Gov. Nixon said. "My thanks go out to those Missourians who have working tirelessly to help their fellow citizens."
Gov. Nixon and Brig. Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, received a briefing Thursday afternoon in Sikeston from local emergency response officials. They also visited a shelter in Sikeston housing hundreds of people displaced by the power outage. Gov. Nixon has mobilized 200 Citizen-Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard to assist local officials in responding to the storm; those members of the Guard are in addition to hundreds of full-time Guard members from around Missouri who have been working on disaster response.
As of this afternoon, more than 2,000 Missourians were staying in 35 shelters managed by the Department of Social Services and volunteer organizations. The Governor said state agencies have delivered dozens of generators to support local sheltering or public utility operations, and that state officials are also accommodating local requests for help augmenting local law enforcement efforts.
On Monday, the Governor activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which allowed state agencies to assist local jurisdictions. The State Emergency Operations Center continues to coordinate state resources to assist local governments with their emergency protection actions, which include emergency power, water, food, mass care and sheltering operations; monitoring road closures; security and transportation missions; and assisting local governments with helping their vulnerable populations, including the elderly and disabled.
The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct damage assessments in those counties directly affected by the storm to determine which communities are able to receive federal assistance. Those agencies will coordinate assessment schedules with the affected communities.