Obama directs FEMA to aid recovery in states hit by severe storms

President Obama on Saturday spoke with governors from four states ravaged by severe storms to help coordinate federal assistance for the recovery efforts.

Obama made calls to Govs. John Kasich (R-Ohio), Bob McDonnell (R-Va.), Martin O’Malley (D-Md.), and Earl Ray Tomblin (D) to “receive an update on the severe storms... and to express his condolences for the loss of life and his concern for individuals and first responders still confronting the destruction and loss of power that is impacting communities as a result,” the White House said in a readout.

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The administration said the president informed the governors that he had “directed FEMA to ensure they continue to provide necessary support to state and local officials in impacted areas as they respond to these events, especially considering the power outages and the high temperatures many of the impacted areas are currently experiencing.”

The mid-Atlantic region was hit by violent thunderstorms Friday night which killed at least nine people and have knocked out power to nearly 2 million, the Associated Press reports. 

Compounding the problem, the region is in the midst of a stifling heat wave, with temperatures in Washington D.C. reaching a record high of 104 degrees on Friday.


Officials said they expected it will take days to restore power to all those affected in the region.

Earlier Saturday, Obama declared a state of emergency in West Virginia and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts,” according to a statement from the White House.  Five-hundred thousand residents in the states are believed to be without power. 

Obama also spoke with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, the White House said, and asked him to ensure that “federal partners are providing all available support, and to keep him updated as the response and recovery continues.”

FEMA is also active in Colorado, where the agency is providing federal assistance to local authorities battling a series of wildfires which have raged for over a week and forced over 30,000 to be evacuated. 

Obama visited a neighborhood in Colorado Springs devastated by the fires on Friday and signed a disaster declaration for Colorado to make federal funding available.

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