OKLAHOMA CITY - A member of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Command Staff was sent to assist those affected by the devastating tornado in Oklahoma City.
On May 20, at 3:56 pm EDT, a tornado developed near Newcastle, OK (pop. 7,847) and swiftly moved ENE across Moore (pop. 56,315) before dissipating at 4:36 pm EDT. The tornado was reported to be a mile wide with winds of at least 166 mph creating widespread damage and casualties.
In support of the national response to the events that occurred in the Oklahoma City Metropolitan areas of Moore and Newcastle, one member of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Command Staff has been activated and is being sent to Oklahoma as a member of FEMA’s overhead command team. California Task Force One (CA-TF1) has not been activated. However, LAFD Urban Search and Rescue Teams are standing by.
For more than two decades, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has helped organize and support a system of regional Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Forces available for mobilization by State and Federal government on an as-needed basis.
Comprised of specially trained and equipped local firefighters and other certified responders, this nationwide network of 28 FEMA USAR Task Forces includes eight in the Golden State, two of which are maintained here in Los Angeles County (CA-TF1: Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) & CA-TF2: Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), similar sounding but separate organizations).
The LAFD along with FEMA urge residents in impacted areas to listen carefully to instructions from their local officials and take the recommended protective measures to safeguard life and property while response efforts continue. Listen to state, local and tribal officials who ask you to remain in shelters, homes or safe places until they give the “all clear” to travel. Roads are very likely to be damaged or blocked by debris, and traffic jams slow emergency managers and first responders as they attempt to reach hard-hit areas.
We encourage individuals in the affected areas following a disaster to monitor local radio, TV stations, the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov or a NOAA weather radio for the latest weather and emergency information.
We strongly remind all that NOW is the time to get prepared for tornadoes and other disasters such as earthquakes that threaten the Los Angeles area.
There are tools and resources available online to help you prepare for, respond to and recover from any type of disaster. Visit www.ready.gov to learn more. The Spanish language site – listo.gov. Those with a Blackberry, Android or Apple device can download the FEMA app to access safety tips, shelter locations, and more.
Member's of the Los Angeles Fire Department hearts go out to those affected by the devastating tornado and we tip our helmets to all First Responders, particularly those bravely assisting in Oklahoma this week, which is National Emergency Medical Services Week (May 19-25, 2013).
Members of the Media are welcome to visit Fire Station 88 today, May 21, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM to view members of CA-TF1 practice.
UPDATE (May 21, 2013 1:43 PM): Federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Oklahoma in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes since May 18, 2013. Individuals and families impacted can apply for assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
1) How will you locate loved ones during an emergency? After a disaster, phone lines may get congested. To get in contact with friends and family, use text messaging services and update social media networks. Try American Red Cross Safe and Well website.
2) How can you help children cope with disasters? Disasters can leave children feeling frightened, confused and insecure. Whether a child has personally experienced trauma, or has seen the event on television or has heard it discussed by adults, it is important for parents and teachers to be informed and ready to help if reactions to stress begin to occur. Click here for more information.
3) How to clean up and return home after a disaster? After a disaster strikes, use extreme caution when returning home. You may be anxious to see your property but do not return to your home before the area is declared to be safe by local officials. Click here to learn what to do before entering your home.
If you feel moved to help the disaster victims, the State of Oklahoma has donation information available at OKStrong.