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Recognizing Contributions to Emergency Management: Improving HAZUS


The National Hurricane Conference, going on this week, provides a great opportunity for members of the emergency management team to strengthen their partnerships.  It also provides an opportunity to recognize individuals in front of a group of their peers.

Earlier this week, several individuals were recognized for their contributions to emergency management and hurricane preparedness.  One award recipient was Miguel Pavon, Administrator of the Texas/Mexico Borderlands Information Center, who received an Outstanding Achievement in Mitigation Award for his contributions to HAZUS, a FEMA software program widely used by emergency managers to better understand the potential impacts of natural disasters by estimating potential losses from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.

Pavon’s contribution expands the potential of HAZUS by developing an innovative, user-friendly spreadsheet (PDF) for use with the risk assessment software.  Through geographic information systems technology, HAZUS estimates physical, economic, and social impacts of disasters, graphically illustrating characteristics of identified high-risk locations.

In addition to the unveiling of the awards, FEMA announced the upcoming release of Hazus 2.0  at the National Hurricane Conference, which will offer a new storm surge model to aid emergency managers in analyzing the effects of hurricane storm surge and predicting the physical and economic impacts of hurricane on coastal regions.

Last month, FEMA’s HAZUS Program Manager Eric Berman was among the recipients of Federal Computer Week magazine’s 22nd Annual "Federal 100 Awards" in Washington, DC, for his outstanding leadership and work on the FEMA HAZUS Program.

We congratulate both Miguel Pavon and Eric Berman on their contributions to the development of HAZUS, and encourage the emergency management community to check out the new HAZUS 2.0 features.

Other links
Learn more about how Miguel Pavon developed his innovative Hazus spreadsheet (PDF).

Learn more about the HAZUS program.


One Week Until the Great Shakeout: 2.6 Million Strong and Counting


One week from today, at 10:15 am central, millions of Americans across the central U.S. will stop what they’re doing, whether at school, in the office, or at home, to take part in the first-ever public earthquake drill in the New Madrid Seismic Zone region. And that’s not the only "first" – this Great Central U.S. Shakeout is also the first earthquake drill ever to be conducted in multiple U.S. states simultaneously.

Earlier today, I joined several of our partners, Ernie Allen, the President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Dave Maxwell, the head of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, on a conference call with reporters to discuss the Shakeout. And just minutes before our call, we learned that 2.6 million Americans have now signed up to drop, take cover, and hold on.

This is exciting news and a great start. But, with 40 million people living in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, we know we can do better. Next Thursday, members from across the entire team will be spanning out to attend Shakeout drills in all 10 states. In fact, many of us here at FEMA’s headquarters, other federal agencies, and even cabinet-level officials, will be joining the many schools, colleges, state and local government agencies, hospitals, child care organizations and countless other groups at their drills.

Will you?

If you haven’t already, sign up to participate today at

And if you already have signed up, keep spreading the word. Get your colleagues, neighbors, friends and family involved.

And if you live in California and want to get a head start on signing up for your 2011 Great California Shakeout this October, you can sign up today at

As I said earlier today, we all know preparedness is a team effort. FEMA is just one part of this team – and the most important member is you. Whether it’s preparing for earthquakes or other disasters, learning how to protect ourselves in the immediate moments of an emergency can make all the difference when the real thing happens.

Indiana "Shakes Out"

Today, the state of Indiana, through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), participated in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, a multi-state earthquake drill to teach participants the basics of earthquake safety and preparedness.

More than half a million participants throughout the state signed up for this drill. I commend the work that IDHS has done, together with the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, to recruit the participation of individuals, families, schools, and businesses for this important drill, and I applaud Indiana for including the whole community in this effort.

Recent events throughout the world, including the earthquake in Japan, the fifth largest in recorded history, as well as the devastating earthquakes in New Zealand and Haiti, serve as powerful examples of how destructive these unpredictable disasters can be. They’re also reminders that none of us – no matter where we live – are immune from disasters whether natural or manmade.

Although the state of Indiana is holding its ShakeOut drill today, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee, will hold their ShakeOut on April 28 at 10:15 a.m. More than one and half million registrants in these 10 states will exercise three simple steps:

  • DROP to the ground,
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

While we don't know when the next earthquake will strike, taking steps now to enhance our readiness will help the country become more resilient before disaster strikes. Knowing what to do before, during and after an earthquake can mean the difference between life and death.

Register for the ShakeOut at and visit for important earthquake preparedness tips so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of an earthquake.

Less than 2 Weeks to Go to Central U.S. Shakeout – What Will You Do?


For months, FEMA has been working closely with 11 of our state partners and many other members of the team to get the word out about the Great Central U.S. Shakeout – the first-ever multi-state public earthquake drill taking place next Thursday, April 28 at 10:15 am central time.

And as of today, we’re less than two weeks away – which means it’s time for all of us, across the entire team, to get involved and do our part to get the word out. Why?

The recent – and tragic - earthquakes we’ve seen from Japan, the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history, to the earthquakes that struck New Zealand, Chile, Haiti and our own U.S. territory of American Samoa, that destructive disasters can hit us anytime, anywhere, and often without any warning.

And none of us – no matter where we live – are immune. In fact, earthquake activity has been felt in all fifty states. Like it or not, we simply don’t have the luxury of thinking “this couldn’t happen here.”

While we can’t prevent earthquakes or other disasters, we can take important steps to prepare for them. One way you can prepare is to join more than two million people who are participating in The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, the largest earthquake preparedness event in central U.S. history. Eleven states are participating in the ShakeOut, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee; and so far, over 2.2 million people have signed up.

It’s a great start, but with 40 million people living in the central U.S. region, we know we can do even better.

Drills like the Shakeout are among the easiest and most cost-effective ways individuals and communities can learn how to protect themselves if an earthquake strikes. It’s easy to sign up; it’s free; and anyone can participate from anywhere – whether you are at school, at the office, at home, on the soccer field, or even visiting the doctor. All you have to do is sign-up here to get simple instructions on how to participate.

So we’re challenging all of you, our partners on the team, to join us in The Great American ShakeOut. Get involved; and be prepared!

If you’re a Member of Congress in one of the 11 central U.S. states participating in the ShakeOut, help us get the word out to your constituents. Make plans to participate in an event or do a drill with your congressional office. Post ShakeOut information, including widgets, on your website.

If you’re a school, college or university, plan a "shakeout" drill on your campus. Already, over 1,526 schools and 62 colleges and universities are participating.

If you own, manage or work at a business, get your staff and coworkers involved. Already, over 200 businesses and 290 non-profits have signed up, and that doesn’t include the many state and local government agencies that are planning to do drills.

At FEMA – we’ll be doing our part, in partnership with our regional offices in the central U.S., to participate in drills on April 28. We’ll be sharing more about our plans on the FEMA blog, so stay tuned.

Learn more about how to participate here:

And if you’re already participating, let us know what you’re planning. Leave a comment below or tweet me @craigatfema.

In Photos: One Year Ago...Earthquake Damage

Approximately one year ago on April 4, 2010, a 7.2 earthquake struck southern California, causing damage to structures in Imperial County. The President later declared a major disaster for the affected area, and Federal funds were made available to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the affected area.

We wanted to take a look back at some of the photos from the earthquake, in hopes you'll be inspired to prepare for an earthquake if you live in an area that's at risk.

Earthquake damage to a building from the 7.2 quake that struck southern California.
Calexico, CA, April 6, 2010 -- A magnitude 7.2 earthquake rocked the city on Easter leaving many facilities, roads, and public buildings closed.

An awning is damaged from the earthquake in southern California on April 4, 2010.
Calexico, CA, April 6, 2010 -- This photo shows damage to a business in the affected area.

Calexico City Building Manager explains to a business owner the structural concerns regarding the property following the earthquake.
Calexico, CA, April 6, 2010 -- A magnitude 7.2 earthquake rocked the city on Easter leaving many facilities, roads, and public buildings closed, and heavily damaged. Calexico City Building Manager Ralph Morales explains to a business owner the structural concerns regarding the property.

Many areas in the U.S. are at risk for earthquakes, including the West Coast, Midwest, and parts of the East Coast, so make sure you visit to get prepared today. And if you haven’t done so already, register to participate in the ShakeOut earthquake drill to join thousands of others in learning earthquake safety.

Engage Your Group in the ShakeOut Earthquake Drill

We've posted several times about the upcoming Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill on April 28.  As of today, there are over 1.6 million people signed up in the 11 participating states.  Whether you have already signed up, or are considering it, the Central United States Earthquake Consortium and its partners have a great list of resources to help you engage your stakeholders (or family members) in earthquake preparedness.

Check out videos demonstrating how to properly Drop, Cover, and Hold On during an earthquake, and learn why this is the recommended method for protecting yourself during an earthquake.

A guide for how your organization, school or agency can participate in the ShakeOut drill on a number of levels.  There are separate guides for schools, businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and people with disabilities.

The manuals include instructions on performing the simple Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill, and how you can step up your group’s participation by using table top exercises or earthquake simulation drills. 

Custom Flyers
Custom flyers are available to communicate the basics of the ShakeOut to your group.  These are available for free download and can be printed on site.

Web Banners
Help spread the word about the ShakeOut and encourage people to join by placing a banner or image on your website (like the one at the top of this blog post).

What are your thoughts on engaging your group or family in earthquake preparedness?  Share how you plan on engaging your stakeholders or family in the ShakeOut by leaving a comment below.

And if you live in California and want to get a head start on signing up for your 2011 Great California Shakeout this October, you can sign up today at

Other Links
- Get prepared for an earthquake at

News of the Day: Getting the U.S. prepared for earthquakes

Last night ABC's World News Tonight featured a story on how prepared the U.S. is for a catastrophic earthquake, in light of the tragic earthquake in Japan earlier this month.  As the story says, FEMA has long been planning several drills and exercises that will help the public and the entire emergency management team better prepare for earthquakes and other catastrophic events - but this isn't just a FEMA-led effort. We are continually working with our state, local and tribal partners, along with the many other members of the emergency management team (including voluntary and faith-based organizations, businesses and committed citizens) for these exercises, which many of you have read a lot about here on our blog.

Below are more details on both and how you can get involved:

The Great Central U.S. Shakeout
A multi-state earthquake drill, hosted by the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, will take place April 25 at 10:15 a.m. CDT (or April 19 for Indiana residents) to practice the proper actions to stay safe during a quake.  More than 1.5 million participants have registered, including schools, businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and families.  Visit the ShakeOut website to learn more and sign up today.

National Level Exercise 2011
In May, we will be hosting a National Level Exercise to simulate the scenario of an earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone.  The purpose of the exercise is to prepare and coordinate a multiple-jurisdictional integrated response to a national catastrophic event.  The exercise is another opportunity to strengthen relationships across emergency management team and continue to improve catastrophic earthquake planning.

We regularly promote three simple steps to get prepared for an earthquake, or any disaster: get a kit, make a plan, and be informed.  Leave us a comment and share how you're taking steps to get prepared for an earthquake.

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Getting Prepared

On a daily basis, we work very closely with our partners at the National Weather Service (NWS) as it provides invaluable information on severe weather conditions across the country. Earlier this month, during flood awareness week, Dr. Jack Hayes, National Weather Service Director, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate blogged about three steps to flood safety.

In the aftermath of the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami, Director Hayes and Administrator Fugate are reminding Americans that we are not immune from either earthquakes or tsunamis.  While new systems and technology have improved our detection and early warning capabilities, the bottom line is that all of us should take steps to prepare for disasters to lessen their impact on ourselves and our communities.

Today Dr. Hayes and Administrator Fugate’s published a joint op-ed -- check out what they have to say (courtesy of the Sacramento Bee).

Over 1 million in for the Central U.S. Shakeout Drill

As the tragic events in Japan have made clear, earthquakes can strike with no notice and cause devastating consequences.  In the U.S., many areas are at risk for an earthquake, which is why preparing is so important.

In addition to creating your family emergency plan and getting a kit, earthquake drills can enforce how to stay safe during and immediately after a quake.  One such drill is the Great Central U.S. Shakeout, a multi-state earthquake drill that focuses on the potentially life-saving actions of “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” during/after an earthquake.

The drill will only be effective if people participate and, so far, over 1 million people have signed up.  That’s great, but if you haven’t signed up for the Shakeout, do so today, and if you have already, take the time to tell a friend to sign up.

While we don’t know where or when the next earthquake will strike, we can all take steps to lessen the effects of a quake.  And wherever you live in the U.S., check out these earthquake preparedness tips from to get started.

From the White House: Ongoing Response to the Earthquakes and Tsunami in Japan

The White House released an overview of the United States' response in support of Japan:

Any U.S Citizens in need of emergency assistance should send an e-mail to with detailed information about their location and contact information, and monitor the U.S. Department of State website at

U.S. Agency for International Aid (USAID) is coordinating the overall U.S. government efforts in support of the Japanese governments response to the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami that hit Friday and are currently directing individuals to for information about response donations.

USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) set up a Response Management Team in DC and sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Tokyo, which includes people with nuclear expertise from the Departments of Energy (DOE) and Health and Human Services (HHS) as well the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Two Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Teams (LA County and Fairfax County teams) which total 144 members plus 12 search and rescue canines and up to 45 metric tons of rescue equipment are also on the ground in Misawa, Japan and will begin searching at first light March 14.

The Department of Defense has the USS Reagan on station off the coast of Japan and the USS Essex en route, and is currently using an air facility in Misawa as a forward operating base.

The American Red Cross (ARC) International Services team is supporting the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) to assess the impact, determine response efforts, and assist the people of Japan.

Officials from the Department of Energy, NRC, and other agencies have maintained contact with Japanese officials and will provide whatever assistance the Japanese government requests as they work to stabilize their damaged nuclear reactors.

With regards to the United States, the NRC has released information stating that Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.

Read the full update on


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