(WASHINGTON) — President Obama called the governors of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky on Saturday regarding the deadly tornados that have claimed at least 35 lives across a wide swath of the United States since Friday.
A White House release says Obama was briefed by FEMA director Craig Fugate before the call, and pledged the emergency response agency is poised to provide assistance to state recovery efforts if necessary. The president offered condolences to the victims of the storms and acknowledged it may be days before the full extent of damage is known.
Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky bore the overwhelming majority of casualties from the last day’s storms, which were only the latest waves of extreme weather to hit the Midwest and South in the last week. All three have declared a state of emergency.
FEMA says the federal government has already deployed surveyors to Illinois and Missouri for damage assessment at the request of those states. The officials are there to help governors determine if additional help is required from Washington. The administration also says it is in the process of stocking a Kentucky staging area with 98,000 meals and other commodities to be released if requested by governors.
“Our priority, as always, is to make sure that we are here to support local efforts to keep residents and communities safe,” Fugate said in a written statement. “FEMA has teams on the ground in hard hit areas and is prepared to deploy additional teams and resources if needed by the state.”
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Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Holly Yan, CNN