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Flood Safety Awareness Week Wrap-Up

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Today marks the close of Flood Safety Awareness Week -- during which, FEMA has worked to bring awareness of the risks flooding poses to many of our homes and communities. Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States and no two flooding disasters are alike.

Some flooding events develop slowly, while others such as flash floods can develop in just a few minutes with little notice and without any visible signs of rain. Many disasters and emergencies share this characteristic – appearing dramatically with no warning signs much like tornadoes and earthquakes.

But there are meaningful and practical steps that you and your family can take to be prepared for all hazards, not just flooding, to stay safe and mitigate damage to property.

The first thing you can do is to be informed and know your risk; familiarize yourself with potential risk where you live and work. Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.

Here are some additional steps you can take now to ensure you’re prepared for potential future flooding:


  • Making a Plan: Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance and create an emergency communications plan. Know how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together.
  • Building a Kit: Assemble the items you will need in advance of an emergency. You may be instructed to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Think about what you may need immediately after an emergency. This should include food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity.
  • Get Involved: There are many ways to get involved especially before a disaster occurs. Your whole community can participate in programs and activities to make your families, homes and communities safer from risks and threats. 

To learn more about flood risks in your area, visit www.floodsmart.gov.

For more information on all hazard preparedness and ways you can protect your family before, during and after an emergency or disaster visit www.ready.gov.

Flood Safety: Be Aware, Be Prepared

Flood Safety Awareness Week is an excellent opportunity for all Americans to become more educated about the dangers that flooding can cause and what steps to take to be prepared for the risk of flooding.

All floods are not alike, though. Some develop slowly during an extended period of rain or during a warming trend after a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods and severe weather, can occur very rapidly, without warning or even any visible signs of rain. That’s why it’s critical to be prepared for flooding no matter where you live.

Don’t be caught off guard. Get the facts. Know the risks. Take action to protect yourself, your family, your business, and your finances—before a weather event occurs and it’s too late.

One of the most critical ways you can protect your home or business and its contents from flooding – the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster - is to purchase flood insurance. It only takes a few inches of water in a home or business to cause thousands of dollars of damage. The time to get protected is now. Between 2006 and 2010, the average flood claim was nearly $34,000. Take a moment to think about that -- it’s more than many survivors can afford to pay out of pocket for damages due to flooding. While no one wants a flood to impact them, with federally backed flood insurance, you have an important financial safety net to help cover costs to repair or rebuild if a flood should strike.
Most standard homeowner policies do not cover flood insurance. Remember, it typically takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to go into effect, so get your policy now. An average flood policy costs around $600 a year, and rates start at just $129 a year for homes in moderate-to-low-risk areas.

The National Weather Service may not be forecasting severe Spring flooding this year, but don’t wait until a flood is happening to make sure you are protected. Take time now to learn more about flood risk and your options for insurance coverage by visiting www.floodsmart.gov, or by calling 1-800-427-2419.

For more information about flood safety, visit www.Ready.gov/floods.

Things You Can Do To Mitigate Against Flooding

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Flooding is the nation’s number one natural disaster, and it can occur inland, along the coast, and across every region of the country. Even though you may think your community has little or no risk of flooding, the reality is that anywhere it rains, it can flood. In fact, roughly 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in low-to-moderate flood-risk areas. It is important to keep in mind that the risk of flooding isn’t based only on your community’s history, but on a variety of factors like rainfall, topography, river-flow and tidal-surge data, and changes resulting from new construction in your community. Those all play a part in what actual flood risk you face.

There are steps that you can take to prepare yourself and mitigate against damages. The first thing you can do is know your risk, and we have information on risk, including a One-Step Flood Risk Profile. Next, you should create an emergency communications plan and build an emergency kit to ensure you and your family are prepared for a flood. As part of having a plan, we also encourage you to consider your coverage. A flood insurance policy can protect your home, property, or business from the financial damages of flooding. Most homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from flooding, so visit FloodSmart.gov to learn more.

In addition to these steps, there are also small flood proofing measures that you can take to help prevent, or minimize the impact of flooding to your home and its contents. A few examples include:

  • Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home, if you live in a high flood risk area.
  • Install "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • When practical, homeowners can construct barriers (such as sandbagging) to stop floodwater from entering your home.
  • Seal walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds.

Homeowners around the nation have taken proactive measures, like these, to reduce their risk of damage from flooding. Proactive communities work on mitigating strategies through a combination of flood control projects and good floodplain management activities. In addition, FEMA hazard mitigation grants across the country have helped homeowners and communities affected by flooding, prevent future damages. Here are a few examples of how grants have helped protect properties from subsequent flooding.

In New Jersey, a homeowner elevated her home after flooding from severe storms in Spring 2007, protecting her from flooding during the storm surge resulting from Hurricane Irene in August 2011.

In Washington, a homeowner elevated his home after flooding in 2006 with the help of federal and county funding, and was able to avoid damages from flooding that occurred in 2009 when a nearby river surged and floodwaters went under the elevated home.

An inland community in North Carolina that was affected by storms in 1996 used state and federal funding to improve the town’s stormwater management system, which included piping improvements and installation of floodgates and retention ponds. In 2011, when Hurricane Irene brought massive downpours and strong winds, town officials were able to open the floodgates and allow the water to flow as it rushed through the town.

The photo below shows how a hospital in Binghamton, New York, averted major storm damage from flooding in 2011 because of a floodwall and other mitigation measures that were implemented with hazard mitigation grants following 2006 flooding.

Binghamton, Ny., September 8, 2011 -- A floodwall, built with hazard mitigation funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and New York State protected this vital property from flood waters that devastated other parts of the city, even as rising water from the Susquehanna River engulfed the hospital’s parking lot during Tropical Storm Lee.

Binghamton, Ny., September 8, 2011 -- A floodwall, built with hazard mitigation funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and New York State protected this vital property from flood waters that devastated other parts of the city, even as rising water from the Susquehanna River engulfed the hospital’s parking lot during Tropical Storm Lee.

To learn about flood risks in your area and for information on flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov. For more information on flood preparedness tips and ways you can protect your family before, during and after a flood visit www.ready.gov/floods.

Turn Around Don’t Drown

Flooding is the leading cause of severe weather-related deaths in the U.S. claiming on average nearly 100 lives a year. Most of these deaths occur in motor vehicles when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways. Many other lives are lost when people walk into or near flood waters. This happens because people underestimate the force and power of water, especially when it’s moving. The good news is it is preventable with the right knowledge and tools.

A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. And it only takes 12 to 18 inches of flowing water to carry away most vehicles including large SUVs. If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will likely not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. This is especially true at night, when your vision is more limited. Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, follow this simple advice: Turn Around Don't Drown.

Here are a few more tips to keep you safe during flooding:

  • Always plan ahead and know the risks before flooding happens. Monitor NOAA’s All-Hazards Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information before, during and even after a disaster.
  • If flooding is expected or is occurring, get to higher ground FAST! Leave typical flood areas such as ditches, ravines, dips or low spots, and canyons.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don't Drown.
  • NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. Turn Around Don't Drown.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Never cross any barriers that are put in place by local emergency officials. Not only is this dangerous, but many states and communities levy steep fines for people that ignore barricades or other road closure indications.
  • Play it safe, Turn Around Don't Drown.

Visit noaa.gov for more Turn Around Don't Drown resources and visit www.weather.gov for the latest weather forecast information.

The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services


This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and FEMA are once again partnering for National Flood Safety Awareness Week.  Each day of National Flood Safety Awareness week, we will provide key information related to flood hazards, and ways to protect yourself and your property.

The influences of weather, water and climate on our daily lives and economic well being are manifold, and at times profound. A fact highlighted by the devastating and heartrending events of the past few years.

NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, water, and climate forecasts and warnings to protect life and property and enhance the national economy.  To fulfill this important mission, skilled NWS meteorologists and hydrologists use state-of-the-art science and technology to monitor and predict weather, water and climate impacts for our nation and its citizens 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Floods are our nation’s most costly natural disaster and, on average, is the leading cause of severe weather-related deaths.  Floods have claimed an average of 94 lives a year and $10.2 billion in economic damages in the decade 2001-2010 alone. Watch The Water’s Fury (Quicktime file) to see the power of water.

While floods are not preventable, the loss of life and property can be reduced significantly with more timely and accurate forecasts and warnings.  An important means by which the NWS produces and distributes flood and water resource forecasts and information is through the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, known as AHPS (pronounced A-Haps).

AHPS is an ongoing effort by the NWS to continue modernizing its hydrologic services and provides new information and products through the infusion of new science and technology.  It is a web-based suite of accurate and information-rich forecast products in graphical form that enables government agencies, private institutions, and individuals to make more informed, risk-based decisions to mitigate the dangers posed by floods and droughts.

Some examples of the products and information from AHPS include: hydrographs combining current water level observations from the U.S. Geological Survey with NWS river forecasts; extended range (i.e., 90-day) probabilistic forecasts conveying the chance a river will exceed minor, moderate, or major flood levels; inundation maps for water levels from flood stage through the flood of record, depicting where and how deep the flood waters will be in a neighborhood or community thereby enabling emergency managers and other decision makers to preposition people and resources to most effectively mitigate the impacts of a flood; historical floods impacts, and much more.

The broad reach of AHPS extends the range of forecasts from short-term (up to 6 hours) to long-term (out to weeks and months) and provides the public with more detailed and accurate answers to the following questions:



  • How high will the river rise?
  • When will the river reach its peak?
  • Where will the flooding occur?
  • How long will the flood last?
  • How long will the drought continue? and
  • How certain is the forecast?

AHPS forecast products and information support decisions regarding the operation and management of flood-control structures.  Emergency management officials at the Federal, state, territorial, tribal and local and state levels use these forecasts to fight floods, evacuate residents, and to take other measures to mitigate the impact of flooding.  Also, these products are used by a wide range of people, such as barge and dam operators, power companies and municipal water supply officials, recreational users, farmers, households, businesses, and environmentalists. Anyone and everyone who makes water-based decisions benefits from AHPS.

Get ready, be prepared and be FloodSmart before the flood starts.

Stay current with flood risk in your area with the latest official watches and warnings at weather.gov. For detailed hydrologic conditions and forecasts, click the "water" tab.

Seeking Input on a New and Improved Approach for Mapping Flood Risk

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As part of our ongoing efforts to reform and strengthen the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA has been working with members of Congress and other stakeholders to revise our process for mapping the flood risk of communities and families living behind levees. Our goal is to improve the way we map that risk – so families have more precise information when making decisions about how to protect their homes and properties.

In recent months, we have explored multiple approaches by seeking extensive input from stakeholders, including independent technical experts and the public.

Based on this input, we now are proposing a new mapping process for levees that will help us compile more precise technical data and allow us to more effectively assess the actual flood risk faced by citizens in communities throughout the country. Specifically, our proposed approach would strengthen our current process by helping communities demonstrate the degree of protection that a levee may provide to the surrounding communities. Currently, our maps don’t recognize any level of protection if a levee has not been certified to meet FEMA standards.

And as we have throughout this effort, we will continue to seek comments from stakeholders and the public on this proposal to help us finalize this new process. This public comment period will be open until January 30, 2012. Anyone can get more information on this approach and provide comments by visiting the federal register.

As with other recently-adopted tools that have increased our mapping accuracy, such as digital mapping technology, these new methods will help us continue to improve our flood mapping and analysis efforts.

Flood mapping remains a team effort that requires close coordination between our agency, our federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners and communities – and of course, the public. As we continue to work to improve our flood mapping process, families and businesses can better understand the flood risk they face within their own communities and take steps to protect themselves and their homes against a potential flood. These steps can include flood proofing techniques to mitigate flood risk to their own homes, supporting good land use and building codes in their communities, developing a family communications plan, putting an emergency kit together, and investing in flood insurance. We encourage families and businesses to learn more by checking out http://www.floodsmart.gov/.

North Dakota Partnerships Pave the Way for Recovery, Safer Future

Posted by: Public Affairs

Officials look over a map of Minot, North Dakota.
Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- David Miller (right), Associate Administrator of the FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple (second from right), FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Deanne Criswell (center), FEMA Associate Administrator of Response and Recovery William Carwile (left), and FEMA Region VIII Flood Insurance and Mitigation Division Director Jeanine Petterson discuss flood recovery concerns with engineers and other state and local officials at Minot's City Hall.

Recently, David Miller, Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance & Mitigation Administration, and Bill Carwile, Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, visited North Dakota. During their visit, they met with top state and local officials, toured flood damaged areas from the air and the ground, and saw first-hand the impacts of flooding along the Souris and Missouri Rivers and in the Devils Lake Basin, including the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe. They came to look, listen and learn about the challenges and the hopes of area leadership.

Their goal was to look for ways to improve the local, state, tribal, private sector and federal partnerships needed for ongoing recovery and future mitigation.

David Miller shared his thoughts on the trip:



Bill and I toured areas of Bismarck and Mandan, Minot/Ward County and Devils Lake. We visited with FEMA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff and met with state and local leaders, including Governor Dalrymple, Adjutant General Sprynczynatyk, State Flood Recovery Coordinator Major General Sagsveen, and representatives from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services. On Friday morning, I also met with Senators Conrad and Hoeven and Representative Berg, and locals leaders representing the Souris River Basin, including Mayors Curt Zimbelman and Jerome Gruenberg.

Throughout our visit we engaged in a discussion of the recovery efforts for each of the affected areas. I listened to the passionate and well articulated concerns of state and local leaders and heard about their commitment to the future. It is apparent that while each area has unique challenges, the foundation for a safer future rest with building a sustainable, well-coordinated and comprehensive approach to their ongoing flooding risks.

Strategic Long Term Recovery
I returned from the visit to the Souris River Basin impressed that state and local officials are taking the lead to develop a strategy and program for recovery that will include floodplain management, control projects, and acquisitions along with plans for the environment, historical considerations and future development. These plans may include both structural and non-structural solutions. While flood protection needs to be driven at the state and local level, I see an opportunity for federal support and participation as their concepts are flushed out, goals further defined and specific projects indentified.

It was extremely valuable for me to visit the Devils Lake Basin, especially from the air – for which I thank the North Dakota National Guard. This is an area I have long heard about but this was my first visit. I want to thank the local leaders who took the time to brief me on the situation, and for their straightforward and clear summary of how this flood event (that began in 1993) has impacted their infrastructure, their communities and most importantly their citizens. I know we will have continued involvement as part of the state and Army Corps of Engineers-led efforts and I am committed to exploring ways our programs, can be used to support the Corps’ recovery and mitigation strategies.

David Miller, Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration and William Carwile, Associate Administrator, FEMA Response and Recovery survey ongoing recovery efforts in Minot.
Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- David Miller, Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration and William Carwile, Associate Administrator, FEMA Response and Recovery survey ongoing recovery efforts in Minot following historic flooding from the Souris River this Spring. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those who were affected by the flooding.

Bill Carwile emphasized the importance of seeing a disaster first-hand, and the importance of partnerships:



Let me add that I too benefited from seeing first-hand the complexities surrounding long-term recovery challenges in North Dakota. Seeing a disaster from the ground is always beneficial, but this trip proved especially valuable thanks to the time we were able to spend with the governor, state officials, and community leaders. I focused my time in the Souris River Basin and the surrounding areas.

Like David, I found both the aerial perspective and the ground tours extremely valuable. But nothing impacted me more than driving through flood damaged neighborhoods and then walking through a home that was destroyed. While state and local leaders, with supplemental support from FEMA, the private sector, other federal agencies, and the volunteer organizations have made progress, good progress, it is clear that there is still a long way to go. And while the challenges are great, so are the opportunities. One of my specific recommendations is that we coordinate with the State to evaluate the need to exercise components for the National Disaster Recovery Framework to help support the ongoing recovery efforts.

My message to the local community is to continue to build your local, state, federal and private sector team. As I told FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate when I returned from North Dakota, we need to do all we can within FEMA to support the state, flood-impacted communities, and individuals as they continue the efforts to rebuild, and define projects and strategies for future flood protection.

North Dakota: Flood Recovery & Faith-Based Groups

David Myers (left), Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan, at a flood-damaged home.
Minot, ND, October 13, 2011 -- David Myers (left), Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan, at a flood-damaged home. Myers and Finegan were in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

Robin Finegan, Administrator, FEMA Region VIII (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming) and David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships were in Minot recently and wanted to provide their perspective on the recovery efforts and vital role of faith-based and community groups.

Below is an update from Robin on the ongoing recovery in Minot:



Historic flooding of the Souris River damaged thousands of homes, businesses, farms, and public facilities across North Dakota, most notably in the town of Minot and in Ward County. FEMA continues to provide assistance to disaster survivors and local governments affected by the flooding and its aftermath.

As winter approaches, FEMA’s main focus is to ensure that residents have a safe, warm place to stay. With housing resources limited in the Minot area, FEMA has brought in more than 2,000 mobile homes for eligible survivors to live in as they restore their homes or identify permanent housing. Work continues to get these units in place, and to move families in as soon as possible.

In addition to providing temporary living arrangements for survivors, we’re also working with Minot residents on winterization of flood damaged homes. Strong partnerships between FEMA and faith-based and community groups are critical as we continue to reach out to all survivors. These community groups are valuable partners before, during and after disasters as they support survivors and communities.

With more specifics on the steps Minot homeowners are taking and the role of faith-based and community organizations, here’s David Myers:
 

The “winterize-ing” that Robin is referring to is a process called “cut and muck” and “button up”. “Cut and muck” means removing the sludge and mud from the basements of damaged homes to minimize freezing during the winter months and cause stress on the home’s foundations. Many -- if not most – of the damaged homes cannot be repaired until spring; that’s where “button up” comes in. This means putting heaters and insulation in basements to prevent freezing and further damage to the structure.

During our visit to North Dakota, Robin and I met with leaders of the voluntary agency community, as well as local leaders from Minot. As with any disaster, the contributions of faith-based and community groups are having a tremendous impact. During the response phase, local National VOAD agencies, along with faith-based groups, stepped up to the many challenges: sheltering, mass feeding, working to ensure the safety of pets, and numerous other response-phase activities. Now these and other groups are taking on the tasks of long-term recovery. The response and recovery even went “international,” with Mennonite Disaster Service teams coming from Canada (beginning a two-year commitment to help), Christian Reform World Relief Committee, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and others.

Here’s some of their work in photos...

Minot, ND, October 13, 2011 -- FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan and David Myers (center), Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, visit with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster President Mickey Caison (left)
Minot, ND, October 13, 2011 -- FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan and David Myers (center), Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, visit with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster President Mickey Caison (left) during a meeting with volunteers from the Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota who are helping prepare or "button up" a flooded Minot home before winter. Finegan and Myers were in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan visits with Dale, a Wisconsin-based volunteer.
Minot, ND, October 12, 2011 -- FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan visits with Dale, a Wisconsin-based volunteer helping the Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota clean and "muck out" a flooded Minot home. Finegan was in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, addresses a Minot Community Organization Active in Disaster meeting.
Minot, ND, October 12, 2011 -- David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, addresses a Minot Community Organization Active in Disaster meeting about recovery efforts at Minot's Vincent United Methodist Church. Myers was in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, stands by the steps and door front remains of a flooded Minot home.
Minot, ND, October 13, 2011 -- David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, stands by the steps and door front remains of a flooded Minot home as a Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota volunteer helps prepare or "button up" a home before winter. Myers was in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

(Accompanying Robin and David were National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) President, Mickey Caison; Erin Coryell, from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation; Region VIII VAL, Art Storey; and others. Federal Coordinating Officer Deanne Criswell, joined the team, as well as staff members from the North Dakota Senators’ and Representative’s offices who participated in many of the meetings. Several members of the team also met with the Minot Area Community Foundation to discuss aspects of the recovery. )

Connecticut: Simple techniques can reduce damage to your home

In my last blog post, I talked about how FEMA is reaching out in the community to help survivors of Tropical Storm Irene rebuild smarter. Since the response to sharing these rebuilding tips in Connecticut has been positive, I’d like to share how one Connecticut couple benefited from using some of these techniques.

Tropical Storm Irene’s fierce winds collapsed houses into the Long Island Sound along the Connecticut coast, and rocked some homes off their foundations. In many cases, second floors of houses along the coast were destroyed. Some residents said the storm was the worst they had experienced in 50 years.

One couple, John and Regina, even found seashells strongly embedded into the second floor deck of their house in East Haven. However, their home suffered significantly less damage than neighboring homes because of some smart building techniques that had implemented long before the storm.

A seawall, which helped deflect the force of the waves, was in place when John & Regina bought their nearly 100-year-old house in 2003.

The couple then implemented a few other techniques to protect their home against flooding, most of which were relatively simple to accomplish. Below are photos of these techniques in action – to learn more about protecting your home from flooding, visit Ready.gov/floods.

Elevate Critical Appliances & Outlets


They installed their hot water heater and furnace in their attic and elevated their house in 2006 – raising their deck to 14.5 feet above the surface of the beach.

Two air conditioning units and an electrical box are stored on a platform that fits them alongside the house, on the second floor level. The platform can be reached by service technicians and meter readers by a service staircase built especially for such access.

This staircase was built specifically to lead to a platform on the exterior of a home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.
Above: This staircase was built specifically to lead to a platform on the exterior of a home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. where two air conditioning units and an electrical box are stored. The equipment, elevated to the second floor of the home, was not damaged during Tropical Storm Irene.

Electrical outlets have been elevated at least four feet higher than normal.

Moisture-resistant cement board is being installed in this home.
Above: Moisture-resistant cement board is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.; Electric outlets have been elevated to minimize damage during future flooding.

Protect the Exterior of the Structure

Breakaway walls were installed on the ground level of the house.

Breakaway walls (just above the sidewalk) helped reduce damages to this home.
Above: Breakaway walls (just above the sidewalk) helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.

Permanent storm shutters frame the front windows of John & Regina’s house; rolling shutters protect the back windows of the house, which faces the rugged waters of the Long Island Sound.

Above: Permanent rolling shutters helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.
Above: Permanent rolling shutters helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.

Four feet of sheetrock and insulation, damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, was removed and will be replaced by moisture-resistant insulation. The moisture resistant insulation will be installed behind a panel of cement board.

Moisture-resistant insulation is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.
Above: Moisture-resistant insulation is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.

CDP Training Vital to North Dakota Flood Response

As National Preparedness Month winds down, I’d like to share another story about how preparing before a disaster can make a difference. I already shared the story of how St. John’s Regional Medical Center used their training at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) to respond to the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo. This preparedness story takes us to North Dakota, where in June 2011 the community of Minot was preparing for its worst flooding in more than 130 years.

As the ominous flood forecasts came in Bill Brown, a retired captain with the Minot Police Department and now the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, was making arrangements to staff the city's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and coordinate state resources to assist in the flood response.

Aerial view showing the severe flooding in Minot. The city of Minot, N.D. experienced the worst flooding in over 130 years in June 2011. FEMA is working to provide assistance to those that were affected by the flooding.
Minot, ND, June 24, 2011 -- Aerial view showing the severe flooding in Minot. The city of Minot, N.D. experienced the worst flooding in over 130 years in June 2011. FEMA is working to provide assistance to those that were affected by the flooding.

Brown, a veteran of 19 courses at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, has trained in a variety of subjects to include law enforcement protective measures and response to a mass casualty event involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). However, during this event, it was not terrorists or domestic criminals threatening the streets of Minot, it was water. More than 10 feet of water from rivers surrounding Minot and other North Dakota communities poured through the streets, sweeping homes and store fronts away and forcing the evacuation of more than 12,000 people. Brown said a large scale evacuation always experiences problems, but added, his training "kicked in" and provided a sense of calm to a turbulent situation.

Combined with his experiences as a law enforcement officer and Regional Response Coordinator, Brown told us his Incident Command training at the CDP played a large role in the EOC response, coordination, and decision making. In particular, the Incident Command: Capabilities, Planning, and Response Actions for All Hazards (IC) course provided a solid foundation for planning and response.

Bill Brown, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, attributes his CDP training to his successful response serving in the logistics department of the Minot, N.D. Emergency Operations Center. FEMA is providing assistance to residents who were affected by flooding.

Minot, ND, June 24, 2011 -- Bill Brown, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, attributes his CDP training to his successful response serving in the logistics department of the Minot, N.D. Emergency Operations Center. FEMA is providing assistance to residents who were affected by flooding.

Here is how Mr. Brown described some of the training and how it prepared him for some of the worst flooding in Minot’s history:

I found the course of instruction at the CDP to be more of a real-world scenario allowing me to better retain the information. The IC class gave me the opportunity to better understand the roles of each division within the incident command structure as well as understanding the diverse perspectives of different responder disciplines. Having had this training allowed me to have a more effective understanding and better line of communication with the private, local, state, and federal organizations.

As far as decisions, when we were first assigned to the EOC, requests for resources were made to anyone who was available to take a note or a call. I decided early on to implement the use of the ICS request for resource form and advise all personnel that request for resources would be made at one central location. By doing so, resources and assignments were better assigned and tracked, status of existing personnel and equipment was monitored, and written documentation of all requests was available in the event federal reimbursement was approved.

Having been a police officer for over 30 years, I never really truly embraced or utilized the ICS concept until this flood. I was very surprised and pleased to see that it does work and it can make things run more smoothly and reduce your workload. I think all management staff including first line supervisors from every first responder organization as well as public works, highway department, city hall, finance and elected officials should attend the IC class.

Even though National Preparedness Month is winding down, it’s never too late to start preparing. I encourage local, state and tribal responders to take advantage of the unique, hands-on training that’s available at the CDP in Anniston, Ala.
 

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