Today, Governor Mike Parson announced he has begun the process to obtain federal disaster assistance for Missouri in response to severe storms and tornadoes that swept across the state on May 3 and 4, leaving behind a trail of destruction and extensive damage to electric power systems. Governor Parson is requesting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to review damage reports and documentation from 19 Missouri counties. The Governor has requested FEMA to review damage reports in preparation for a Public Assistance disaster declaration request for Bates, Butler, Carter, Dallas, Douglas, Dunklin, Henry, Hickory, Howell, Laclede, New Madrid, Oregon, Pemiscot, Polk, Ripley, Shannon, Stoddard, Wayne, and Wright counties. Additional assessments may be requested as damage information is received from more county officials. Due to COVID-19, the normal local-state-federal damage assessment process will have to be modified. Instead of operating jointly in-person, the teams will operate virtually to review images and detailed descriptions of damage to roads, bridges, electrical systems, and other infrastructure, along with estimated repair costs.The local-state-federal damage documentation review process is part of the required FEMA process in preparation for a request from the Governor for a federal disaster declaration.The National Weather Service has confirmed the storms resulted in two tornadoes – an EF-1 tornado in Marston (New Madrid County) on May 3, and an EF-0 tornado in southwest Carter County on May 4. A 71-year-old woman in Bates County was killed when a tree fell into a home near Butler, trapping the woman on May 4. Strong winds in Dunklin County on May 4 derailed 25 rail cars. The heaviest damage to buildings occurred in Lebanon (Laclede County) on May 4. Power outages from the storms peaked on May 4, leaving more than 37,000 customers without power.
On April 24, Governor Parson extended Missouri’s state of emergency in response to COVID-19 through June 15. With the state of emergency in place, SEMA was already activated at a Level 3 during the severe weather event. As of today, more than 700 local jurisdictions in Missouri have registered to seek federal disaster assistance for the disaster declaration President Donald Trump approved for Missouri on March 26 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Parson has repeatedly emphasized the necessity for Missouri to be prepared for other crises or emergencies, including natural disasters, as the state continues to respond to COVID-19.