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How can communities build resiliency? We want to hear from you

Feeling creative and interested in emergency preparedness?  Want to participate in our ongoing challenge?  We’ve got just the thing for you. 

As part of Administrator Fugate's challenge, we're looking for ideas on how your family, school, workplace or community can be better prepared before a disaster strikes.  Maybe your idea is about the best way to start a Community Emergency Response Team in your community.  Or perhaps you’d like to see preparedness information passed out in your local school system.

If you have an idea on preparedness, we’d love to hear about it.  And while you have your thinking cap on, we wanted to provide a few of the 100+ submissions that we’ve received so far (in no particular order):

I encourage you to submit your idea on or send it in an e-mail.  All the submissions will be judged by FEMA leadership and the winning idea will be featured on

So be creative, and best of luck!

And even though our Challenge is still open, maybe someone submitted an idea that you think can be implemented in your community today, so I encourage you to look at all of the submissions and share them with others.

- Shayne

About the Challenge
The deadline is January 29, 2010 and all submissions will be judged based on originality, level of community engagement, and ease of implementation.  Challenge submissions are moderated before posting to the site.

Severe weather moves its way up the east coast

As winter weather moves out of the Southeast, those along the east coast should take precautions for potentially severe weather.  As the storm system moves through, we’re continuing to stay in close touch with all of the affected states through our regional offices. 

Many businesses, government offices, schools and roads have been closed in many of the affected states.  Flights coming in and out of Atlanta have continued to be canceled and there have been a number of weather-related traffic accidents, including reports of several deaths.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family members of those who have died as a result of the winter weather. 

The dangerous effects of snow and ice storms demonstrate the importance of being prepared.  If you live in an affected area:

  • follow the direction of local officials
  • keep travel to a minimum during severe winter weather (if you need to travel, be sure to have an emergency kit in your vehicle)
  • follow local news and weather reports on conditions in your area (visit the National Weather Service for official severe weather updates)

Stay safe.

- Rachel

Other links
- Find your state emergency management agency online for localized information
- National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center

Training and building relationships in Texas


I started my year by addressing participants at a tabletop exercise last week at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.  The exercise brought together federal agencies, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to focus on two main areas:

  • Managing the capabilities of the Emergency Operations Center management
  • The transition from crisis management to consequence management

This exercise helped us refine our procedures and allowed all the players to strengthen our working relationships before an emergency. We were also able to take a look at “best practices” revealed during the exercise and to network with our federal and state partners. Pre-disaster exercises like this are ongoing events across the FEMA Regions.

In emergency management, there is a constant focus on improving preparedness so we can respond better during an emergency.  Tabletop exercises, like the one hosted last week, are a great way to form relationships with other members of the emergency management team as we work to identify and solve issues before a disaster strikes.

It was an honor to address the participants of the training and meet newly elected officials across all levels of government.  What training experiences have made an impression on you?  Table top exercises are only “a piece of the whole pie” of emergency management training.  Leave a comment and share some of your memorable preparedness training moments.

- Tony

Strengthening emergency management through public-private partnerships


Our team has the great fortune to work with many private sector partners in the field of emergency management. It has been an enriching experience to listen to and learn from those partners as they have helped us to promote public-private partnerships and open new doors that will help all of us – at all levels of government and in the private sector – better serve disaster survivors and communities.  Most recently, we created a private sector seat in FEMA's National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), the monitoring and operations center we use to coordinate all of our emergency response efforts, with all of our partners, during a disaster.

This new position is a big deal for several reasons – it’s the first time we have had a member of the private sector embedded directly with our staff and it is another critical step that will help improve communication and coordination with the private sector before, during, and after emergencies. This position will be staffed with different representatives from the private sector, on a rotating basis. Katie Dempsey from Target Corporation is serving as our inaugural representative. Thank you Katie and Target for leading the way.

Katie has achieved much in her short time here. She has a "seat at the table" working with governmental officials to enhance information sharing and collaboration with the private sector.  She has worked with FEMA on numerous major initiatives to include the "National Level Exercise 2011".  In addition, Katie has received valuable emergency management training which will benefit her, her team members and Target.

We hope that Katie's experience as a private sector representative here at FEMA is the first of many to come in 2011. We already have candidates lined up for the next few rotations and are working to get more representatives in place for the rest of this calendar year. Like much of our work at FEMA, this new NRCC seat will continue to be successful if we work together as a team, leveraging the resources of our many private sector partners and bringing more to the table.  Let’s make it work and do amazing things!

If you or someone you know is interested in being a candidate, please click here. Our private sector team is available 24/7 and ready to work with you.

We understand not all private sector entities have the latitude to dedicate an employee for 90 days. For those who cannot, there are other ways to take action. Let’s all work together to be part of the emergency management team.

- Dan

If you are a member of the private sector, and want more information on how we can partner together, please visit

Webinar on Collaborative Planning and Engaging the Whole Community

On behalf of FEMA, I’d like to invite emergency managers, community leaders and the public to participate in a live webinar on the topic of collaborative emergency planning. My colleague Doc Lumpkins and I would love to share newly revised guidance from FEMA's Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101 and explain how this planning guidance can enhance your community’s ability to respond to and recover from disasters. We hope this webinar will provide the information you need to help build more inclusive, collaborative, and comprehensive plans that strengthen and prepare your community.  If you’d like to learn more about how emergency management agencies can build a collaborative preparedness team in their community, please join the webinar:

Date: January 11, 2011
Time: 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Join: Signup for the webinar

The Community Preparedness Webinar Series is hosted by FEMA's Citizen Corps Program and offers up-to-date information on community preparedness topics and resources available to emergency managers, community organizations, and the general public.

The webinar will accept the first 500 participants that log in so we hope you’ll join us. If you’re unable to join, each webinar will be recorded and posted on for your viewing at any time.

We look forward to your participation!

- Paulette

It's Never Too Late to Resolve to Be Ready


As we move into 2011 and start trying to make progress on our various new year’s resolutions, we at FEMA will continue encouraging all of our partners – and that includes you – to take steps now to be prepared for emergencies. As many of you know, throughout the holiday season, we urged folks to join us in making a resolution to be ready for disasters. But as we said then, disasters aren’t limited to one time of year – and neither is our need to be prepared for them. It’s never too late to Resolve to be Ready for disasters. 

On this blog, we’ve written a lot about the three simple steps you can take to make good on a pledge to prepare for emergencies in this New Year. But for those of you who want to go the extra mile, you can also sign up to participate in preparedness training.  Consider linking up with a Community Response Team in your local area, or visit to learn about other opportunities in your community.

When more people are able to take care of themselves after a disaster strikes, emergency responders can concentrate on helping those who are most vulnerable in our communities, whether it's infants and children, seniors, or people with disabilities, to name a few.  Visit to learn about creating an emergency plan that fits the needs of you and your family.

- Tony

"Ready"-made content for public officials


The start of 2011 means newly-elected lawmakers, appointed officials and staff are beginning their terms, both in Washington D.C., in our state capitals and communities across the country. These new officials are another important member of our nation’s emergency management team.

A great way elected officials can help their constituents is to make sure individuals and communities have the resources they need to be prepared for the hazards in their communities. Back when newly-elected members of Congress went through orientation in November, we encouraged them to share emergency preparedness tips back home.

At FEMA, we look forward to working with these newly elected and appointed officials. Below are some resources they can use and easily share to encourage emergency preparedness:

  • – Getting prepared is broken down into three simple steps: get a kit, make a plan and be informed.
  • FEMA Widgets – Web tools that can be added to your website that explain how constituents can apply for disaster assistance.
  • FEMA Mobile site – Encourage constituents to bookmark FEMA’s mobile site, packed with preparedness and disaster information. Those eligible for assistance after a disaster strikes can also apply via the mobile site.

- Brent


Video from Northeast blizzard


When a blizzard reared its ugly head across the Northeast U.S. at the end of December, much of the area came to a virtual standstill.  Airports and roads were closed, and several governors declared a state of emergency to mobilize their state’s resources to respond.  Our Regional offices were in touch with our state and local partners throughout the storm.

While the Northeast blizzard was a newsworthy storm, it won’t be the last severe storm this winter.  At FEMA, we encourage everyone to get prepared for winter weather before the next storm hits.  You can get started today at, where you can find tips on getting an emergency kit, making a family emergency plan, and being informed about the risks in your area.

If you’re looking for a little extra motivation to get prepared this winter, check out this video of the Northeast blizzard, taken near Boston, Massachusetts:

- Don

Resolve to Be Ready: Be Informed

By Rachel Racusen, Director, Public Affairs

All week we have been sharing tips with you on the simple steps you can take to Resolve to be Ready in 2011. Earlier in the week, we went over how you can take the first two steps – getting an emergency supply kit for your home and you car and making a family communications plan. Now, with New Year’s Eve just a day away, it’s time to share our tips for the third and final step: being informed of the potential hazards in your community.

This past week was proof that no matter where we live, we all face risks posed by severe weather and other types of emergencies. In the Northwest, heavy rains and winds are continuing to cause significant flooding and mudslides. Residents in the Northeast are continuing to dig out from the massive blizzard that hit New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and other states over the weekend. And in the Midwest, an earthquake hit Indianapolis, Indiana this morning. Luckily, there have been no reports of injuries or damages – but it’s another reminder that disasters can happen anytime, anywhere.

Like so many other things in life, when it comes to emergencies, knowledge is power. Knowing what emergencies could happen in your neighborhood or community, and knowing what resources you can turn to for the latest updates when those emergencies do occur can make a huge difference when an incident happens.

Click here for more information on how you can be informed about the various hazards in your community, from earthquakes to winter storms to wildfires and much more. You can also find contact information for your state and local emergency management agencies, local citizen emergency response teams, and other helpful resources.

And for those of you who have already taken this step, let us know your tips for staying informed. Leave a comment and start the discussion.

Be Ready in 2011: Make a Plan

Posted By: Rachel Racusen, Director, Public Affairs

We make plans for almost anything.  In a typical day, you might plan for how you’ll make your morning commute, what you will have for lunch, how you will accomplish projects at work, and what meal you will have upon returning home. 

As the New Year approaches, we’re encouraging Americans to take three simple steps to get prepared before a disaster strikes: get a kit, make a plan, and be informed.  Planning for a potential emergency can ease the stress of an emergency situation, and can ultimately save your life, or the life of someone you love.

We hope you will take this opportunity to Resolve to be Ready in 2011 and create your emergency plan today.  Here are a few tips from, FEMA’s preparedness website, to get you started:

  • Write down your family’s plan, and store it in a safe place (preferably with your emergency kit).
  • Decide on a safe meeting place in your home, in your community, and in a nearby town.  In case your home or community is damaged, family members will know where to go.
  • Review (and practice!) your family emergency plan at least two times per year.
  • Decide how family members will communicate after a disaster. Text messaging often works despite phone network disruptions, so teach family members how to use text messaging.  
  • Subscribe to alert services in your area. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Sign up by visiting your local Office of Emergency Management web site.

What creative ways does your family, or workplace, practice its emergency plan?  Leave a comment and start the discussion.


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