12 States and Territories with the Most Disaster Declarations in 2011

President Obama is close to breaking his own record.

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So, which states have gotten the most declarations so far in 2011? Using FEMA data U.S. News compiled a list of the 12 U.S. states and territories with the most major disasters and/or emergencies (not including fires) declared this year to date. Emergencies, according to FEMA, are generally declared before or during a disaster in order to provide federal assistance to state and local governments for immediate relief efforts, whereas a major disaster is usually declared after FEMA has time to conduct an assessment. Major disaster declarations allow the federal government to help with continued recovery. So, it's possible that both an emergency and major disaster could be declared for the same event, as was the case in many states this year. [Check out what Republicans think of Obama's handling of Irene.]

Though Irene is the most recent disaster to sweep through the country, only three eastern states and Puerto Rico make it on the list. Tornadoes and severe flooding throughout the South and Midwest earlier this year led to most of the declarations. It is important to note that since the size and scope of FEMA actions and federal funding that comes with each declaration differs considerably, this list may not fully represent which states suffered most, nor where the federal government devoted the most attention.


Disaster Declarations: 5

Emergency Declarations: 1

The state's first major disaster declaration of the year came on March 31, opening federal funding to the state and 13 counties in response to tornadoes, severe storms, winds, and flooding that hit a month before. Three more major declarations and an emergency declaration followed after Tennesseans across the state suffered a string of damaging weather and flooding in April. The latest declaration came in July to help the state recover from similarly severe tornadoes and storms that occurred from June 18 to June 24.


Disaster Declarations: 4

Emergency Declarations: 1

A severe snowstorm hit Oklahoma and other states in the Midwest starting January 31, which led to both an emergency declaration, and after a continued recovery period, a major disaster declaration. On April 14, severe storms, tornadoes, and straight-line winds in Atoka county were deemed the state's second major disaster in 2011, and similarly dangerous weather affecting several Oklahoma counties between April 22 and April 28 earned the state its third major disaster declaration of the year. The state's most recent disaster declaration was in response to a series of storms, tornadoes, and flooding in late May. Also, while not accounted for in its rank, Oklahoma also experienced 21 fires for which federal assistance was granted.


Disaster Declarations: 3

Emergency Declarations: 2

A severe snowstorm in Missouri starting January 31 spurred the president to declare both an emergency and, later, a major disaster, to aid the state in repair and recovery efforts. Moving into the spring, Missouri also suffered severe storms and tornadoes starting April 19, for which a disaster was declared in early May. FEMA later extended that major disaster declaration to include a number of additional counties, including Jasper, where a catastrophic tornado later hit Joplin, Mo., on May 22. Flooding, which began in June and continued through the summer, prompted yet another emergency declaration that month. And that same flooding earned the state a third major disaster declaration, to help with ongoing recovery efforts, for 2011 on Aug. 12.


Disaster Declarations: 3

Emergency Declarations: 0

Close to a month after "severe storms, tornadoes, and straight-line winds" struck Iowa on April 9 and 10, the president declared the state's first major disaster on May 5. Then, later in May, flooding hit several counties, prompting another disaster declaration at the end of June. And while the East Coast began to brace for Hurricane Irene, on Aug. 24, the president declared the state's third disaster of the year in response to severe weather around the state starting July 9.