WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give Alabama the "A Plus treatment" on Monday after the state was hit with a devastating tornado that left at least 23 people dead.
It was not immediately clear what that treatment would entail, but FEMA spokesman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan told USA TODAY that the agency is working in close contact with Alabama and Georgia's emergency management units.
In response to requests from both states, FEMA will deploy liaison officers and Incident Management Assistance Teams to join the states' emergency management centers, Paulk-Buchanan said. The liaison officers coordinate the requests for resources and technical assistance between the states and the federal government.
The Incident Management Teams are generally composed of 10 people who are quickly deployed to the affected region and tasked with determining the best use of federal resources, according to FEMA's website.
"FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes," Trump said in a tweet on Monday. The president said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey had been informed of his order and is "working closely with FEMA (and me!)."
FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes. @GovIvey, one of the best in our Country, has been so informed. She is working closely with FEMA (and me!).— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2019
Ivey said in a tweet that Trump called her on Monday to "express his sympathy for all affected in our state by yesterday's devastating storms. We appreciate his support as we deal with the tragedy."
The Republican governor said she had also spoken with FEMA administrator Brock Long "about potential resources we'll be needing as we continue to further evaluate local needs." She noted that FEMA was sending a response team to the area.
"Right now the primary focus is on search & rescue efforts, as there are many people unaccounted for," Ivey tweeted.
I’ve also talked with @FEMA_Brock about potential resources we’ll be needing as we continue to further evaluate local needs. They’re sending a team to assist. Right now the primary focus is on search & rescue efforts, as there are many people unaccounted for. @AlabamaEMA— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) March 4, 2019
On Sunday night, Trump cautioned people in the path of the deadly storms that spawned the tornado to be "careful and safe."
"Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming. To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!" Trump tweeted.
To the great people of Alabama and surrounding areas: Please be careful and safe. Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming. To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement on Monday that the "hearts of all Americans break for the families and victims of the catastrophic tornadoes in Alabama that have destroyed homes and devastated lives."
"In the wake of these deadly tornadoes, federal, state and local authorities must do everything in their power to assist the rescue effort and provide all necessary resources to help those impacted by this disaster now and on the long road to recovery," Pelosi said. "All Americans deserve to know that their government will be there for them when disaster strikes, without question and without hesitation."
The deadly tornado was part of a large storm that also hit parts of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. The National Weather Service in Tallahassee confirmed the system also spawned tornadoes in Florida and Georgia.
It was the nation's deadliest tornado outbreak in six years, since May 20, 2013, when a tornado killed 24 people in Oklahoma, the Storm Prediction Center said. Officials have cautioned that the death toll may rise as the search for the missing continues.
Contributing: Josh Vitale, Doyle Rice John Bacon and Kristin Lam, USA TODAY; Grace Pateras, Tallahassee Democrat; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump directs FEMA to give Alabama the 'A Plus treatment' after deadly tornado