Ed O’Keefe
The Washington Post
February 2, 2011

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.

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