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News of the Day: Community Relations Workers On The Ground In the South

As we often say, it takes the hard work of the entire emergency management team to help disaster survivors get back on their feet as soon as possible.  Since the deadly tornadoes and storms struck the southern U.S. last week, we’ve been working to support our state and local counterparts, and getting the word out that individuals in eligible counties should apply for disaster assistance.

A story in today’s Washington Post highlighted our Community Relations teams, who go door to door to share information on how individuals and businesses owners can apply for assistance, and what the steps are in the process.

This video, taken last year after Hurricane Alex, gives another example of our Community Relations teams in action.  While the video references a hurricane, the teams operate in a very similar way from disaster to disaster:



As the response and recovery efforts continue, we will continue to work closely with the emergency management team – a team that includes state, local, tribal governments; the private sector; the public; and voluntary, faith-based, and community organizations – to support the needs of disaster survivors and the affected communities.

For the latest updates on the ongoing response and recovery to the southeast tornadoes, visit the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.

News of the Day: USA Today on Social Media and Disasters

As many of you know, here at FEMA, our social media channels are a key tool in our communications toolbox. And we don’t just think about them as another way to put out a press release – social media is changing the way we do business.

Under the leadership of Administrator Fugate, FEMA has launched a mobile website to make critical information more accessible for disaster survivors, and we use Twitter @fema and @craigatfema) and Facebook, along with many other forms of communication, to better support our state and local partners, communicate with the public, and gain situational awareness of what’s happening on the ground before, during and after disasters.

In other words, it’s another way we can go out and listen, so that we can better serve our customers – the American people – by using the tools that you are all using.

Today, USA Today further explored this in an article about how Twitter, Facebook and other tools were used during the Japan disaster. As the article highlights, one of the greatest benefits of social media is that it also empowers the public to be active members of our emergency management team:

“Japan's disaster has spotlighted the critical role that social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Skype increasingly are playing in responses to crises around the world. They may have been designed largely for online socializing and fun, but such sites and others have empowered people caught up in crises and others wanting to help to share vivid, unfiltered images, audio and text reports before governments or more traditional media can do so…

"We've got to stop looking at the public as a liability and start looking at them as a resource," Fugate says. What makes social media so different than other emergency response tools, he says, is that it "allows a two-way conversation in the impact zone, so that we can link people with information, resources and ideas."

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the full story here.
And as always we want to know any creative ideas you have for how we can better use social media. Leave a comment below or Tweet us @fema.

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).

 

News of the Day: Engaging Louisiana's Private Sector in Emergency Preparedness

Author: 

As Administrator Fugate often stresses, the private sector plays a crucial role in the emergency preparedness team. Capitalizing on this philosophy, the Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LA BEOC) in Baton Rouge, La., links businesses and volunteer organizations with the state's Emergency Operations Center.  The LA BEOC works with businesses to improve their disaster preparedness and help them return to normal operations as quickly as possible following a disaster. As we have seen time and again, helping get businesses back up and running is critical to stabilizing local economies and expediting communities' recoveries.

Last week, the LA BEOC hosted a seminar focusing on the private sector's role in planning for disasters and providing services in the days following a severe storm or hurricane.  I had the privilege of speaking at the meeting, emphasizing the importance of continuing to improve communication between government and business.

You can read more about this emerging partnership in the Baton Rouge Advocate's article about the seminar. Join us by looking for ways your business can participate in emergency preparedness activities in your state.

- Tony

News of the Day: Emergency Responder Training Impacting Communities

Mayor Richard Hildreth (pictured front-left), of Pacific, Wash., assists his team of emergency responders transport a simulated survivor through the initial stage of decontamination during an exercise.

Mayor Richard Hildreth (pictured front-left), of Pacific, Wash., assists his team of emergency responders transport a simulated survivor through the initial stage of decontamination during an exercise.  A local Mayor, Hildreth attended training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness and brought the lessons learned back to his community.

Our Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) offers some of the most specialized training for emergency responders, including those in the public health, emergency management, law enforcement, public works, and fire service arenas.

We’ve written on this blog before, highlighting the value of the in-depth training that CDP offers, but we wanted to specifically call out a few recent stories that have appear in local press outlets across the country:

  • The Magic Valley Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho) discusses the take-a-ways of local medical center staff after attending CDP training.
  • The Jacksonville Daily News (Jacksonville, North Carolina) underscores the lessons learned by several members of the Carteret County Health Department.
  • The Maplewood Patch (Newark, New Jersey) draws attention to a resident who takes on an active role in preparing his community for disasters, including taking CDP training.

If you or your agency has a story about using CDP training in a real-world event, e-mail it to us or leave a comment below.

Other links
Read more on our blog about CDP training:

- Mayors and First Responder Training
- In Photos: Training for a Mass Casualty Event
- A Very Real Payoff for Preparedness Training

Bookmark the FEMA Fire Grants Page

Beginning today, the web site where first responders apply for all Assistance to Fire Fighters Grants Programs will change its current web site address from www.firegrantsupport.com to the FEMA web site at www.fema.gov/firegrants.

We have been working to transition all the information from the old fire grant site to the new site.

All applications for FEMA’s fire grant programs including the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG), the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER), Fire Prevention and Safety Grants (FP&S) and information on the Assistance to Firefighters Station Construction Grants (ARRA) will now be located at www.fema.gov/firegrants.

FEMA has been working to make all information more easily accessible and more user friendly for first responders and having two different web portals for information just didn’t make sense.

All fire grants program documents, awards announcements, grants management workshops, success stories and program application reports and statistics will now be available at www.fema.gov/firegrants.

In short, all the old info will be right there on the new site.

Please update your bookmarks for future fire grants applications.

Please visit us at www.fema.gov/firegrants.

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.

News of the Day: Flood insurance – another way to prepare

We often make the point that disasters can happen anytime, anywhere.  Sadly, natural and man-made disasters often happen with little to no advance warning, and result in significant damage to homes, businesses, and a community’s peace of mind.

We often promote three simple steps to getting prepared for disasters: making a kit, creating a plan, and being informed.  One element of creating your emergency plan includes thinking about how you and your family will recover from the financial damages that a disaster can cause.

As this story in the Wall Street Journal points out, purchasing flood insurance is one way to protect yourself financially in case disaster strikes. Read the full article, and talk to your insurance agent today to find out more.

Other links
Visit FloodSmart.gov for information on the benefits of flood insurance for home owners, renters, and businesses

News of the Day: Urban Search and Rescue Teams Return from Japan

Over a week ago, two Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams were deployed to Japan by the U.S. Agency for International Development, at the request of the Japanese government.  The teams were sent to support search and rescue efforts after the tragic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11.

Yesterday, Virginia Task Force 1 and Los Angeles Task Force 2 safely arrived home after their nine day mission.  Here are some links to local news coverage about the teams' mission and return home:

Join us in saying "thank you" to the US&R team members and their families.  For more information on US&R teams and FEMA, check out these blog posts:

News of the Day: Kids Fire Safety

For the last few weeks, we’ve worked with our partners to raise awareness of children’s fire safety. We wanted to highlight this story on ClintonNews.com (Mississippi), showing how one community is helping to spread the word.

Have you shared fire safety tips with your children, or those that you come into contact with? Ready.gov/kidsfiresafety has some great tips on getting children prepared so they know what to do in case of a fire. And if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #kidsfiresafety to share how you’ve been getting children engaged.

Also, check out some of our recent blog posts on kids fire safety:

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