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Posted at 1:06 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

FEMA mobilized as winter storms hit U.S.

By Ed O'Keefe

The federal government is sending workers and equipment to at least 11 states as a winter storm bears down on a wide swath of the country, the White House said Tuesday.

With storm watches and blizzard warnings up over most of the continental U.S., the Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending its disaster response specialists in advance to Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The agency is also positioning supplies in advance, including water, meals, blankets, cots and generators.

Sending people and supplies into the field in advance of a storm -- regardless of whether it's expected to make a severe impact -- is one of the major operational changes made by FEMA in the wake of its botched response to Hurricane Katrina. Such deployments are made without formal disaster requests by governors, but state officials must agree to allow federal personnel to join them at state emergency operation centers.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate briefed President Obama by telephone about the federal government's coordination with local and state governments, the White House said.

Fugate, an avid social media user, regularly reminds Americans to use his agency's Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels for tips and to stay tuned to local news outlets for storm updates.

Meanwhile, the government's main weather Web site appears to be suffering from an influx of traffic., operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has slowed, according to a spokesman. No further details were immediately available, but some users reported difficulty in calling up forecasts for certain cities.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 1, 2011; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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They really are mobilizing FEMA resources? This, while I hope and pray it will benefit the people in the affected areas, is nothing more than a PR stunt by the administration to garner votes for 2012.

Yes, I am praying for the folks in the affected areas. Unfortunately, there are already areas where FEMA will not be able to access and help - that's why it's a big ploy for votes.

Posted by: apdseal | February 1, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

No it isn't a "ploy" for votes. This is how FEMA tries it's best to get resouces to areas likely to be affected by a natural disaster. It is not an exact science. If FEMA decided to take a winter holiday would you have been any happier? Why is doing your job all of a sudden a ploy for votes? Isn't that what the taxpayers are actually paying for? Too bad people don't have the reasoning skills to give credit where credit is due. Oh, did you happen to come up with some canned food or a blanket for your fellow citizens while you were criticising the good work of others? I can take it to the bank you probably didn't.

Posted by: jacquie1 | February 1, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

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