Disaster Relief

Bob Gale speaks into a radio Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 at the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center. He's been involved with ham radio for 40 years.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

If a major disaster were to strike the St. Louis area, odds are the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center near Ballwin would be swarming with personnel.

On Saturday, a handful of ham radio operators reported to the center to practice their role in an emergency: getting the word out.

Meds and Food For Kids

On a typical day in 2010, Joseph Volcy found himself sitting outside of his church after choir practice when he felt a great tremble, “like a bulldozer on the road.” He looked up, and from his seat on a bench, he saw half of a mountain come down behind his church. Then came the dust.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Volcy said. “No one could see where they were going. When I left the church to go home, I couldn’t. I saw a lot of people on the back of taxis and people being brought to the hospital, where some of them died. But I still couldn’t tell what was going on.”

Disaster preparedness exercise in Olivette in 2006
Photo provided by STARRS

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After only a week on the job, new SLU College of Public Health faculty member Alexander Garza was already the local go-to guy on the subject of chemical weapons.

The former Homeland Security official and St. Louis native landed here in August just as news broke about Syria’s chemical weapons attack. Garza’s unpacked boxes waited as he visited TV newsrooms to shed light on the assault against Syrian residents and the prospect of a similar strike in the U.S.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) is criticizing Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) administration for not taking part in a disaster recovery hearing Tuesday at the State Capitol.

A House interim committee appointed to examine the state’s response to last year’s flooding and tornadoes held what was supposed to be its final hearing – but it ended early when no one from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) or the Department of Public Safety showed up.  Kinder, who chairs the committee, says they will now send a letter to the Nixon Administration asking for written testimony.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied the state's appeal for assistance after a deadly tornado and severe storms.

Quinn said in a Wednesday news release that he is disappointed with the decision and doesn't believe "it reflects the reality and devastation on the ground."

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll appeal the Federal Emergency Management Agency's denial of assistance to homeowners affected by the southern Illinois tornado.

Quinn issued a statement Monday saying he informed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano of his decision.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dick Durbin and other lawmakers plan to meet with FEMA Director Craig Fugate on Wednesday to challenge the decision.

Joseph Leahy

A year after one of the worst winters in decades, emergency officials say St. Louis is prepared for more severe weather. City and county officials were briefed Thursday on the American Red Cross's preparations at its national disaster warehouse in north St. Louis.

Mary Anderson, the Red Cross' regional director of disaster services says since last year's devastating tornados that struck Missouri, the Red Cross is making space in the 100,000 square-foot facility for more supplies.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A Missouri House committee that’s been looking into natural disaster response has released a list of recommendations for lawmakers to take up next year.

One of them would create a joint House-Senate committee that would have oversight into the use of the state’s Rainy Day fund for disaster expenses.   Speaker Pro-tem Shane Schoeller (R, Willard) supports the idea.

(via Facebook)

Services set for Tyler Dasher

Services are set for early next week for a 13-month-old suburban St. Louis boy who authorities say was fatally beaten by his mother.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

As the six-month anniversary of the presidential disaster declaration for Missouri approaches, federal disaster grants and loans have reached over $3.5 million in St. Louis County.

Grants and loans have been distributed by FEMA’s Individuals and Household Programs, their Public Assistance Program and the Small Business Administration disaster loan program.

The money has been providing for those affected by disasters in St. Louis County.

(via Flickr/Dodo-Bird)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a disaster declaration for farmers in 23 Missouri counties, including several in the St. Louis area, hit by floods and heavy rain since May 1.

Friday's declaration allows farmers in those counties and 26 neighboring counties to seek federal assistance for losses caused by the severe weather. Gov. Jay Nixon had requested the declaration last month.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 4:31 p.m. with bill passing in the Senate

The Senate has approved a $7 billion bill to replenish nearly empty federal disaster aid accounts. The vote was 62-37.

The legislation still faces opposition from Republicans controlling the House. They promise action on a competing plan in the House next week that would provide $3.7 billion in disaster aid.

The House measure is attached to a bill needed to avert a government shutdown, and that may give Republicans an edge in the partisan dispute.

(via Flickr/Dodo-Bird)

Gov. Jay Nixon is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers whose crops wilted this summer amid high temperatures and a lack of rain in much of the state.

On Thursday, Nixon asked Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to designate 101 Missouri counties (full list of counties below) as primary disaster areas. That would allow eligible farmers to get emergency loans and other federal help.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Mo. state senators meet today to examine natural disasters

A special Senate committee that was created this summer is scheduled to meet today in the state Capitol building. So far in 2011, Missouri has been hit by a historic blizzard, powerful tornadoes in Joplin, St. Louis and Sedalia and heavy flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The Senate committee was created to recommend ways the Legislature can help with local recovery efforts.

(Missouri Senate)

As Democratic Governor Jay Nixon prepares to call lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a special session, the top Republican in the Missouri Senate wants disaster relief to be one of the issues included in the call.

(via Flickr/xpda)

A Missouri Senate subcommittee heard testimony at the Capitol today from state officials who handle disaster response.

Andrea Spillars, Deputy Director of the Department of Public Safety, told the Subcommittee on Emergency Response that state and local officials coordinated their response efforts very well following the Joplin tornado.

(via Flickr/USACEpublicaffairs)

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon is asking President Barack Obama to issue a major disaster declaration for 23 northern counties hit by severe storms and flooding along the Missouri River. He announced the request Monday.

The disaster request would cover events since June 1. If approved, it would allow government aid to flow to families and public agencies that have suffered losses. The counties included in the request are:

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

Missouri is getting more money to put people who have lost their jobs to natural disasters back to work helping with the cleanup.

The Disaster Recovery Jobs Program was created last month with funding from the federal Workforce Investment Act. The state used an initial allocation of nearly $6 million to hire 400 people for recovery work from the May 22 tornado in Joplin.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday that Missouri now has an additional $13.9 million for the program.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 3:42 p.m.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has pledged an additional $100 million in state disaster aid following the deadly tornado in Joplin and continued flooding across the state.

Nixon's announcement Friday raises Missouri's total financial commitment to $150 million for a particularly devastating few months of natural disasters.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Missouri House committee formed to look into how the state handles natural disasters conducted its first public hearing today in Sedalia, nearly a month after a tornado there destroyed several mobile homes and damaged numerous businesses.

Several local officials and business leaders testified before the House Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A newly created House committee will examine whether a special legislative session is needed to assist in the recovery from a deadly tornado in Joplin and flooding in southeastern Missouri.

The House Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery was to make its recommendation by the end of July. The committee also was tasked with examining long-term recovery strategies and ways for Missouri to be better prepared for future natural disasters.

A report with those findings was to be submitted by the end of the year.

(via Flickr/Cliff1066tm)

Republicans controlling the House are preparing a $1 billion aid package to make sure federal disaster relief accounts don't run out.

Rep. Robert Aderholt said the move would ensure that there's enough money for victims of the devastating tornado that leveled Joplin, Mo., on Sunday, as well as those suffering from flooding in the Mississippi Basin and from tornadoes that swept across Alabama last month.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has asked the president to issue a disaster declaration for areas hit by tornadoes and severe storms on Dec. 31.

Nixon on Friday requested federal individual assistance for people living in Carter, Christian, Dent, Franklin, Phelps, Polk, St. Louis, Stone and Webster counties as well as the city of St. Louis.

Five Missouri residents were killed by the severe weather.

(Flickr Creative Commons User The National Guard)

Asking "what if?" is usually pretty benign, but when a new report asks the same question, the answers are about preparedness for disasters, diseases and bioterrorism.

Illinois scores a 6 out of 10 on the Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report.  The score is unchanged from last year's study.