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Day 3 – Hurricane Preparedness Week: Wind Danger

Hurricane season is fast approaching (beginning June 1), and we are encouraging those in hurricane-prone areas to get prepared as part of National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Yesterday, we focused on getting prepared for the storm surge often caused by hurricanes– today’s theme is keeping your family and home safe from tropical storm- and hurricane-force winds.

While hurricane-force winds often make the news, there’s no such thing as “just a tropical storm”. Hurricane- and tropical storm-force winds can send debris through the air, causing damage to homes and businesses. Also, hurricanes can also produce tornadoes that add to the storm's destructive power, so it’s important to get prepared for the high winds of severe tropical weather.

Here are some tips on getting your home or business prepared for high winds. For more information on getting prepared for a hurricane, visit www.Ready.gov/hurricanes

  • Reinforce garage doors. If wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous & expensive structural damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.

For more information on the dangers of high winds, see this video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or visit their website.

Day 2 – Hurricane Preparedness Week: Storm Surge

As we work to support Missouri and other states impacted by the tornadoes that devastated the Midwest this weekend, and as disaster response and recovery efforts continue for the recent tornadoes and flooding in many parts of the U.S., we’re also observing National Hurricane Preparedness Week.  Hurricane season begins June 1, so now is a great time to get prepared before a hurricane strikes.

Today’s focus is on storm surge, a lesser-known but very dangerous by-product from the power of hurricanes.  Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm.  What makes storm surge so dangerous is that it combines with the tides and creates a rise in the water level that can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides.

Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website for more information on storm surge, and check out this video from Robber Berg, National Hurricane Center hurricane specialist, talking about storm surge.

For tips on getting prepared for hurricanes, visit www.Ready.gov/hurricanes.

Other Links
- Purchasing flood insurance is a great way to protect your home or business from the financial damages of flooding.  Visit www.FloodSmart.gov for more information.


 

Day 1 - Hurricane Preparedness Week: What We’re Doing to Prepare

Today marks the start of National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2011. President Obama recently designated May 22-28, 2011, as National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and called upon all Americans, especially those in hurricane prone areas as well as inland areas, to learn more about how to protect themselves against hurricanes and to work together, as a whole community, to respond to and recover from them.

FEMA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are partnering once again to get the message out about the importance of preparedness for hurricanes and other possible disasters. We are aggressively preparing and wanted to share a recap of the things we’re doing to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season:

Maintaining Robust Readiness Assets

FEMA has multiple disaster response teams, emergency communications capabilities, current and future operational planning capabilities, and operations centers that play a key part in coordinating and providing support to state and local governments in need.

  • FEMA has three National-level Incident Management Assistance Teams that can deploy within two hours and arrive on scene within 12 hours to support the state, territory, local and/or tribal emergency managers. Each of FEMA’s Regional offices also have at least one IMAT. Regions IV, VI and IX having two teams.
  • Mobile Emergency Response Support provides mobile communications, logistics, and operations capabilities required for the on-scene management of all-hazard disaster response activities. FEMA can rapidly deploy any of its six MERS detachments to provide voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to response operations, and joint federal and state response teams in resource-constrained environments.
  • 28 National US&R Task Forces, and three Incident Support Teams, comprise the National US&R Response System. The Task Forces can deploy within six hours of activation, are self-sufficient for 72 hours, and are sponsored by state emergency management and/or local fire and rescue departments through cooperative agreements with FEMA. Teams are staffed, trained and equipped to assist state and local governments with the organization, skills, tools and equipment required to respond to structural collapse incidents and other search and rescue response operations.
  • The Hurricane Liaison Team supports hurricane response operations through the rapid exchange of critical information among the National Hurricane Center and emergency managers at all levels of government, and responds to emergency management questions and concerns.
  • FEMA’s Disaster Emergency Communications Division has significantly enhanced state and local government’s communications capabilities, supporting the development of communications plans. DEC has provided support in the establishment of 36 state specific plans to improve the nation’s interoperability capabilities. An additional six state plans will be completed in FY2011.
  • Enhancements to the National and Regional Response Coordination Systems, which provide overall federal support coordination for emergencies, information technology has improved FEMA’s capacity to support and provide needed resource and guidance to affected states and communities during incident response.
  • FEMA established a Movement Coordination Center to plan, coordinate, schedule, and track transport of resources (supplies, equipment, teams and personnel) necessary for timely support to incident operations.

Building new and strengthening existing partnerships

The variety of challenges posed by hurricanes, such as inland flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes requires a whole community preparedness effort, built upon strong partnerships with federal, tribal, state, and local governments, non-profit and voluntary organizations, the private sector, and the public. Over the past year, FEMA has established and renewed partnerships to better serve states and their residents who may be affected by hurricanes or other hazards.

  • The National Disability Rights Network provides technical expertise to ensure that the access and functional needs of people with disabilities are incorporated into all aspects of planning for, responding to and recovering from disasters.
  • Operation HOPE provides greater access to free financial counseling and information for disaster survivors, including: debt counseling, case management services, workshops, seminars and manuals for those seeking help at disaster recovery centers.
  • The National Council on Independent Living will have access to Disaster Recovery Centers, to provide disaster assistance services to disaster survivors with disabilities.
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can deploy assets to assist in the search for children missing as a result of a declared emergency or disaster.
  • The American Red Cross will jointly lead the planning and coordination of mass care services, which will strengthen and expand the resources available to help shelter, feed, provide emergency first aid and deliver supplies to survivors of a disaster.
  • Internal Revenue Service can support FEMA during large events with surge staffing support by activiating call center agents at pre-identified IRS facilities.
  • The Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response, within the Department of Health and Human Servicess Administration for Children and Families, supports state and local disaster case management services through the Disaster Case Management Program.
  • FEMA coordinated with 29 federal departments and agencies to finalize and update 263 Pre-Scripted Mission Assignments to ensure a rapid and responsive delivery of federal resources and capabilities such as heavy-lift helicopters from the Department of Defense, generators from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from the Department of Health and Human Services, and Emergency Road Clearing Teams from the U.S. Forest Service.
  • FEMA has established a Private Sector Representative position to engage in information sharing and resolve private sector issues impeding the private sector from reopening during major disasters.
  • FEMA tested a National Business Emergency Operations Center which was highly successful in incorporating private sector expertise and capabilities into national response efforts.
  • FEMA hired Stakeholder Relations Specialists in each of the 10 regions to communicate, coordinate and collaborate with the private sector during disasters.

Training and Planning

  • FEMA strives to achieve a Nation prepared through a comprehensive planning cycle that includes our federal, state and local partners, the private sector and citizens. While much work has been done in training, exercising and planning, several key training and planning initiatives have been undertaken going in to the 2011 hurricane season.
  • FEMA offered its Hurricane Preparedness Course (L324) at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. One was targeted for the northeast states, one for the southeast states, and one for the gulf coast states.
  • FEMA offered courses at the National Hurricane Conference in Atlanta, GA that included Debris Management; Planning for the Whole Community- Integrating and Coordinating the Access and Functional Needs of Children and Adults with Disabilities; Mitigation Planning Workshop for Local Government; Hurricane Readiness Course for Coastal Communities; and Hurricane Readiness for Inland Communities.
  • FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute offers online and classroom courses. For more information, visit /training.
  • FEMA is co-sponsoring an Interagency Logistics Course, in collaboration with the United States Army Logistics University. The course provides a strategic and operational overview of interagency disaster logistics. The first official course was held last year and three additional courses will have been completed for this year by May 2011.
  • In September 2010, FEMA held its first ever National "Getting Real" Conference. The three day forum, hosted by FEMA in Baltimore, brought together leaders from the emergency management and disability communities to discuss strategies to integrate the entire community into planning for emergencies.
  • FEMA developed a Disaster Case Management Program manual and application guidance to assist states in how to implement disaster case management. The application guidance will soon be released.
  • FEMA completed Guidance on Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters. This guidance was developed by representatives from federal, state and local agencies, voluntary organizations and the private sector to assist agencies and organizations engaged in sheltering, to enable individuals with access and functional needs to maintain their independence in general population shelters.
  • Hurricane preparedness information and a hurricane preparedness webinar “Preparing Your Community for Hurricane Season” is available to Citizen Corps groups. For more information, visit www.citizencorps.gov.

Expanding Access to Information

As advancements in technology continue to become more accessible across populations and governments, it has become increasingly more important for FEMA and our partners to have plans and platforms in place for the timely delivery and access of information. FEMA has undertaken several initiatives and enhancements to make information more accessible.

  • Last year, FEMA announced a new feature to the m.fema.gov mobile platform to make it easier for disaster survivors to apply for assistance. The platform was further enhanced, this year, to include information on locations of open disaster recovery centers, and we’re working to provide open emergency shelters as well.
  • National Disaster Recovery Program Database allows tribal, state and local governments, and emergency managers to view housing and recovery programs.
  • The recently developed National Mass Evacuation Tracking Systems can help states track the movement of transportation-assisted evacuees, along with their household pets, luggage and durable medical equipment.
  • FEMA completed enhancements to the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System that will enable federal, state or local law enforcement officials assigned to missing person cases to access records entered into the system.
  • FEMA’s new web-based action tracking tool will allow users access to information to adequately manage requests and to identify the status of requests for commodities and other resources.
  • FEMA added Geospatial Information Systems mapping capabilities to the National Shelter System and expanded data fields to assist emergency managers at all levels to plan evacuation routes, identify shelters that are outside hazard areas and close to needed services.
  • This year, FEMA upgraded its Hazards U.S.- Multi-Hazard risk assessment computer software program. The software program can help state and local emergency managers anticipate potential infrastructure and building damage, amounts of debris and the potential injuries that could occur from hurricanes and other natural disasters.

This hurricane season, stay connected with FEMA on Facebook and Twitter and by embedding our hurricane preparedness widget on your website.

You can also visit http://www.hurricanes.gov/ and check out this YouTube video from the National Weather Service for information about the upcoming hurricane season.

Another Busy Hurricane Season Ahead - Get Ready

Administrator addresses a crowd at NOAA headquarters.
Silver Spring, MD, May 19, 2011 -- Administrator Craig Fugate addresses reporters gathered for a press conference to release the 2011 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane outlook.

With the official start of hurricane season just 13 days away, today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual hurricane outlook, which predicts how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes we can expect to see in the coming months.

So what can we expect this year?

An above-normal season, according to NOAA scientists. Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1 and runs through November 30, we could see:

  • 12-18 named storms, which means storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher;
  • 6 to 10 of these storms could become hurricanes, which means winds of 74 mph or higher;
  • And 3 to 6 of these hurricanes could become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5), which means winds of 111 mph or higher.

Each of these ranges has a 70 percent likelihood, and indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

So what does this mean for you, the public?

Well, despite also experiencing an active hurricane season last year, the U.S. has been lucky for the past few years – with no major hurricanes making landfall. But we know we can’t count on luck to get us through this season.

We all need to be prepared. Now is the time, if you haven’t already, to get your plan together for what you and your family would do if a hurricane or other disaster strikes.

Visit ready.gov to learn how to get a kit, make a plan, and be informed. And if you’re a small business owner, visit ready.gov/business to ensure that your business is prepared for a disaster.

The tornadoes that devastated the South and the large amount of flooding we’ve seen this spring should serve as a reminder to all of us that disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. As we move into this hurricane season it’s important to remember that the federal government is just part of an emergency management team that includes the entire federal family, state, local and tribal governments, the private sector and most importantly the public.

You’ll hear more from FEMA and NOAA over the coming days and weeks as we continue doing our part to get ready for hurricane season. And remember – next week, May 22-28, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

So do your part to help the rest of the team by getting ready. And help us spread the word.

 

Great Hurricane Blowout: Get Engaged in Hurricane Preparedness

Author: 

Streets flood and power is out in Hidalgo County as Hurricane Dolly moves through Texas.
Welasco,TX, July 23, 2008 -- Streets flood and power is out in Hidalgo County as Hurricane Dolly moves through Texas.

As you probably know, we’re big on personal preparedness and with only a few weeks until the start of hurricane season, we’ve been using our blog to encourage those in hurricane prone areas to get ready for this season. We wanted to share another place for you and your family to find information on hurricane preparedness – the Great Hurricane Blowout.

An exciting part of this year’s Blowout are corresponding events to promote getting prepared throughout the season. One such event is the “National Hurricane Emergency Kit Party Day” on June 18, where individuals and groups pledge to host “kit parties” where hurricane emergency kits are built for neighbors in need. Act now! You can pledge to donate a kit by visiting the Great Hurricane Blowout website.

Check out the Blowout on the web, Facebook or Twitter for updates on Kit Party Day and other preparedness events. For a full list of items to include in a hurricane emergency kit (and other tips on getting prepared for hurricanes), we encourage you to visit Ready.gov. And if you have a smartphone, check out http://m.fema.gov for tips on your phone.

While we don’t know what the season may hold, we can take steps today to reduce the negative impacts of a hurricane.

Note:
The Blowout is sponsored by a collection of partners and presented by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.

Get FloodSmart: One Month until Hurricane Season Starts

As we’ve seen from the damage caused by the recent tornadoes and severe storms that hit the Southeast, as well as flooding all across the country, natural disasters can be devastating.  They can happen anytime, anywhere, and often without much warning.

While we can’t prevent natural disasters, there are steps we can take to get ready for them, and as we head into the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season next month (June 1st), now is the time to get ready.  Flood insurance policies typically take 30 days before they take effect, so now is the time to invest in preparing your homes and businesses for the heightened flood risks associated with hurricane season.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Past hurricane seasons have illustrated how seasonal flooding can be devastating and costly.  In fact, flooding is both the most common and the most expensive type of natural disaster in the U.S., but many people still lack adequate insurance protection, and homeowners insurance doesn’t typically cover flood damage.

You may not realize that flooding from hurricanes and tropical storms can extend beyond the Gulf and Southeastern coasts as well.  The largest amounts of rainfall from hurricanes are often produced by slow moving storms that stall out miles from a shoreline.  As these storms move inland, high winds and torrential rains increase the likelihood of flooding.  The bottom line is, floodwaters don’t stop at coastlines or floodplain boundaries; everyone is at risk.  It’s important to insure your property no matter where you live.  Check out this blog post from earlier this year if you have questions about flood insurance.

Flood insurance is available through more than 85 insurance companies in nearly 21,000 participating communities nationwide.  Most everyone can purchase flood insurance – including renters, business owners, and homeowners.  Flood insurance is also affordable.  The average flood insurance policy is around $600 a year.  And in moderate- to low- risk areas, homeowners can protect their properties with low-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at just $129 a year.  Individuals can learn more about their flood risk by visiting FloodSmart.gov or calling 1-800-427-2419.

Recognizing Contributions to Emergency Management: Improving HAZUS

Author: 

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.


 

Video: Admin. Fugate from the National Hurricane Conference

Author: 

Administrator Fugate addressed members of the emergency management team at the 2011 National Hurricane Conference today, and talked about some steps to continue getting prepared for hurricane season (June 1 - November 30).



What do you think?  Share some of the ways you're getting prepared for hurricane season.

- Brad

News of the Day: Forecasts Point To A Busy Hurricane Season

Waters of the Rio Grande flooded parts of the city of Roma after Hurricane Alex. More than three feet of water flooded this house.
Roma, TX, July 24, 2010 -- Waters of the Rio Grande flooded parts of the city of Roma after Hurricane Alex. More than three feet of water flooded this house.

With hurricane season less than two months away (the season runs from June 1 – November 30), forecasters are already predicting an active season for Atlantic storms. Yesterday, researchers at Colorado State released their annual forecast, calling for 16 named storms and five major hurricanes*.  This is one of several forecasts that will come out in the next few months, but it further underscores the need for all of to get ready now for hurricanes and other hazards.

At FEMA we're doing our part to prepare for this season, but as we always say, the public plays a critical role as well.  If you live in an area at risk for hurricanes, the time to get prepared is before the storm season begins.  Ready.gov, our preparedness website, outlines three simple steps to getting prepared for hurricanes, or any disaster:

* A hurricane is considered a major storm if it has sustained winds of greater than 110 miles per hour (Category 3 and above).

 

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