EMMITSBURG, MD – The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has completed a review of fire service operations surrounding the challenges faced in April 2011 as fire departments in the southeastern United States responded to a significant weather event.
On April 27, 2011, a devastating series of tornados struck Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The dollar loss has been roughly tallied at $6 billion in insured losses and a total of over $10 billion for all losses. An estimated 336 lives were lost in the region’s tornados and related events, with 239 of those in Alabama. At least 10,000 homes were heavily damaged or destroyed and dozens of public facilities were rendered inoperative. Many areas that were isolated by road closures and power outages extended over two weeks in some rural areas. At least five tornados were rated at EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF Scale).
A series of meetings was held in the summer of 2011 to look at fire department and emergency medical services (EMS) organization activities in Alabama and Georgia during the tornados. Over 50 representatives of impacted departments attended and each had an opportunity to respond to specific questions as well as provide a free range of their own inputs.
The report, Fire Service Operations for the Southeastern Tornados – April 2011 (PDF,1.5 Mb), condenses those meetings and inputs and provides an insight into the routines, challenges and needs of local fire and EMS agencies during preparation for, response to and recovery from, natural disasters. It serves as a benchmark to provide USFA an opportunity for evaluation to ensure we are providing the services that the first responder community requires for success, as well as to guide directions for future activities.
A copy of the report is available on the USFA website at www.usfa.fema.gov under the Publications section.