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Community Preparedness Starts with YOU!

It’s the beginning of a New Year and we are excited so many of you have taken part in our January activities. Two weeks ago we honored the Individual and Community Preparedness Award winners as Champions of Change at the White House and last week we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Citizen Corps Program. As we continue to promote what you do, we also want to provide you with new resources, so I am proud to say the Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) hosted one of the most highly attended Community Preparedness Webinar Series webinars on record.

More than 1,800 individuals registered for the FREE Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) webinar. Every state within the U.S. was represented and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate even stopped by to say a few words. He talked about the importance of these new CERT tools and resources for CERT volunteers, local program managers and those wishing to start a CERT program in their own locality.

The webinar highlighted new, accessible versions of the CERT Basic Training Course, recently made available in Spanish, low vision and in screen reader. These materials serve to expand the reach of CERT into the Whole Community in terms of preparedness.

CERT National Office Director Rachel Jacky, presented on the new CERT Program Manager and CERT Train-the-Trainer Courses. The program manager course helps prepare current and prospective CERT managers/coordinators to create and sustain an active CERT program, while the train-the-trainer course provides a standard curriculum for states, regions and the Emergency Management Institute to train CERT instructors.

For all of those who participated, thank you for your continued support. For those who were not able to participate, you can view the webinar and find the recording here.

Remember, Community Preparedness Starts with YOU!

Find us on twitter and make sure to sign up for our FREE weekly news digest. Stay in touch and receive updates such as the ones below:

  • Join us for the next monthly Ready call on Tuesday, February 7, at 3:00 ET/2:00 CT/1:00 MT/Noon PT.
  • Join your colleagues in viewing, contributing, and commenting on conversations about emergency preparedness, disaster response and recovery, and other emergency management topics. Don’t miss out – check out FEMA’s online community today -- it’s where ideas come to life!

Visit the CERT website to find your nearest CERT program.

National Disaster Recovery Framework Stakeholder Forums Continue in Kansas & Utah

To kick off the New Year, we hosted the second and third National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) Stakeholder Forums in Kansas and Utah. Both NDRF Stakeholder Forums received excellent participation and continued the development, collaboration, and implementation of the key concepts of the NDRF, which was launched in September 2010. The first forum was held in New Orleans in December 2011.

Nearly 300 stakeholders participated in the forum in Kansas and more than 250 leaders attended the forum in Utah. In Salt Lake City, UT we partnered with the Utah Emergency Management Association's annual conference and the participation of such a broad audience furthered the discussion on how the key concepts of the NDRF can be used to not only drive recovery efforts in a community after a disaster, but also through pre-disaster recovery planning.

The NDRF is a tool that outlines how disaster recovery is supported and organized across the nation, and builds on scalable, flexible, and adaptable coordinating structures to align key roles and responsibilities, linking state, local, tribal and territorial governments, the federal government, private sector, individuals, and voluntary, faith-based, disability and community organizations – all who play vital roles in community-based recovery.

The NDRF Stakeholder Forums provide a valuable opportunity for us to engage communities and to listen to our partners in their home states and home towns. In every forum we affirm the principles of the NDRF and use input from the community and stakeholders to find innovative ways to support successful recovery, and to increase community resiliency and sustainability.

Additional forums are scheduled in Harrisburg, PA on January 31st and in Boston, MA on February 2nd. Visit our NDRF web page for further information and a list of the remaining upcoming NDRF Stakeholder Forums.

White House Honors Champions of Change in Emergency Preparedness


Today, along with Secretary Janet Napolitano and Special Assistant to the President on Homeland Security Richard Reed, I had the pleasure of participating in the White House Champions of Change Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.  We honored 17 exceptional leaders in local communities across the nation who have excelled in helping to build a more resilient nation by preparing their communities for disasters. These men and women have demonstrated significant innovation and creativity in getting their communities ready for unexpected emergencies.

I had the opportunity to hear from the honorees about their experiences, ideas, and solutions, as well as their advice on how other citizens and organizations can emulate their success.  I was truly inspired by their innovative ideas on how to make their community stronger and more prepared for disasters.

For example, one of these remarkable honorees is Venus Majeski, the Director of Development & Community Relations for the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities.   She spearheaded the Alianza Emergency Preparedness Project Plus, a project designed to address the disaster readiness of people with access and functional needs, and who also live in underserved areas.  She works to ensure that all individuals are integrated into their community’s overall disaster readiness preparations.   Others took an innovative approach, such as Michael Smith, the fire chief for the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians. Chief Smith helped San Manuel develop a "Send Word Now" system which provides text messages, email and voice alerts to tribal members during emergencies.

Several of this year's honorees also distinguished themselves by involving their entire community in emergency preparedness. Herman Schaeffer, the Director of Community Outreach for the New York City Office of Emergency Management, helps oversee the New York City Citizen Corps program, which collaborated with more than 60 community organizations, government agencies, private sector organizations, and volunteer programs to promote emergency preparedness.  And Jodi Simpson, a Homeland Security Planner for the St. Clair County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, who created a robust new public preparedness campaign called, “Be Ready St. Clair County.”  They played public service announcements at local movie theaters, hosted video contests, and launched a Facebook page where residents ended up sharing information with one another during and after storms.

These are just a few outstanding examples of how any person or organization can make a different in their community’s emergency preparedness and response. And there are many more like them. Check out the full list of awardees.   The initiative and involvement of these honorees represents the role that each one of us plays in making sure that together, as a nation, we are better prepared for disasters.  And this serves as a reminder to all of us that we can make a difference in our community, whether we are in a faith-based, tribal, non-profit, private sector, or community-based organization – or even just one individual.

I hope these awardees have inspired you to take action within your own community.   Here are some easy ways to get started and get involved:

  • Contact your local emergency management agency or Citizen Corps Council to get involved in your community’s planning process.
  • Join a local Community Emergency Response Team to train you in basic disaster response skills so that you can help your neighbors immediately after an emergency.  
  • Start a preparedness project.  Identify a need, build a team, set goals, and serve your community.  
  • Know your risk, develop a disaster communications plan, and build a kit.  

For more information and ideas, visit  And maybe you will be the next Champion of Change.

Share Your Ideas on the Future of Emergency Management


Throughout last year I blogged about the Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI) and the work all of the SFI participants have done around exploring the forces of change (i.e. drivers), plausible future operating conditions, challenges, and opportunities. The initiative was designed to identify what the emergency management community would need to be successful regardless of what the future holds.

Today, I’m pleased to announce the release of the Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030 report which includes insights on the future role of emergency and disaster management; strategic needs and gaps the community will have to address; and a look into the emergency management community of 2030. This report presents the following SFI findings to date:

  • An examination of the forces of change shaping the emergency management worlds;
  • An identification of vital and compelling strategic needs as identified during the SFI workshop as participants explored the five alternative emergency management scenarios; and
  • An image of the future emergency management capacities and capabilities.

The strategic needs in particular – focused around essential capabilities, innovative models and tools, and dynamic partnerships – are intended to be a catalyst for leadership discussion throughout the emergency management community, and to prepare us, and the nation, for whatever challenges and opportunities the future holds.

This report is intended to provide planners and managers with insights that can shape a range of critical decisions, starting today. Such decisions—which can be made in advance of disasters—include improving prioritization of resources and investments, managing new and unfamiliar risks, forging new partnerships, and understanding emerging legal and regulatory hurdles.

FEMA's role in SFI is to coordinate and support the advancement of research and dialogue around these findings and engagement of the emergency management community. Understanding the future is essential; taking action to improve resilience and adaptability throughout our community is imperative. I hope you will join us in further discussion regarding the Strategic Foresight Initiative and future findings by leaving a comment below.

FEMA invites its partners to make full use of this report within their own organizations, and to make it available to their membership and constituency groups, as appropriate.

For more information on the SFI, you can contact the SFI Project Team via email at and you can visit the SFI web page to read the relevant research papers.

In Chicago - Strengthening Relationships Across The Entire Team


Craig Fugate speaking at conference.

Chicago, Ill., Jan. 12, 2012 --Administrator Fugate addresses a collection of federal, state and local officials, as well as private sector partners, regarding working together during a complex disaster response.

For our FEMA regional offices across the country, engaging internal and external stakeholders in planning for future emergencies is a top priority. This means building relationships throughout the whole community to find opportunities to prepare both man-made and natural hazards.

FEMA Region V, which covers Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, is currently engaged in several planning projects to ensure that all levels of government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations are ready for future events. As a part of this, Region V has been engaged in a collaborative effort with the state of Illinois, Cook County and the City of Chicago to develop a comprehensive and integrated operational plan with the goal of a more effective and coordinated response to a detonation of an improvised nuclear device. The planning project, which was initiated by Regional Administrator Andrew Velasquez III has been ongoing since the fall of 2010.

Since the formal kickoff in October 2010, efforts have included well-attended planning workshops and summits with first responders, elected officials, the private sector and government agencies at the local, state and federal level. Yesterday, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Regional Administrator Velasquez addressed attendees at a summit near Chicago to discuss the important role the private sector plays in planning for a large scale, complex incident. Business leaders were challenged to think about how a catastrophe would affect their facilities, their employees, the infrastructure needed to sustain their operation, the vendors they depend on for materials, and the potential demand for services could potentially overwhelm their capabilities. Additional workshops and exercises are planned throughout 2012.

In any large disaster, it is not possible for a single organization to stand alone; instead, a network of private and governmental organizations must work together to help communities respond and recover.

For more information on how to make your family, your business and your community more resilient, go to

A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management


At FEMA and in the emergency management community, we often talk about the importance of engaging the whole community in how we prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate against disasters. Experience has taught us that we must do a better job of providing services for the entire community. This means planning for the actual makeup of a community and meeting their needs, regardless of demographics, such as age, economics, or accessibility requirements.

Over the last eighteen months, we engaged many of our partners, including tribal, state, territorial, local, and Federal representatives, the academic sector, the private sector, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, the disability community and the public in a national dialogue on a Whole Community approach to emergency management. The recently released document, A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management: Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action synthesizes what we heard through research, conferences, listening sessions, and direct feedback from our partners about how this Whole Community approach is successfully working around the country.

Woven throughout the document and supported by several examples are three key Whole Community principles that emerged through the national dialogue: understand and meet the actual needs of the whole community; engage and empower all parts of the community to define their needs and provide ways to meet them; and strengthen what already works well in communities on a daily basis to improve resiliency and emergency management outcomes. Below are just a couple of the examples collected in this document that show the Whole Community approach being driven from community identified needs.

  • Support Alliance for Emergency Readiness Santa Rosa (SAFER) was developed in order to bring together local businesses, faith-based, and nonprofit organizations to provide a more efficient service to disaster survivors after Hurricane Ivan devastated northwest Florida. The relationships SAFER formed while serving community residents provided the foundation for collective action when disaster strikes. During non-emergency periods, SAFER worked closely with other agencies to address the needs of the county’s impoverished and vulnerable populations.
  • Days after the devastating series of tornadoes and severe storms that swept through Alabama this past spring, various agencies, organizations, and volunteers came together to form the Alabama Interagency Emergency Response Coordinating Committee. Understanding the community’s capabilities and needs, the committee united to locate recovery resources and communicate information about available resources to individuals. The committee also worked to ensure that individuals with disabilities received important recovery and assistance information. Conference calls were held daily to provide critical information to individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Additionally, volunteers continuously scanned broadcast media, print and electronic newspapers to obtain the most accurate information on resources for disaster recovery. The committee worked together with many organizations including FEMA, American Red Cross, Alabama’s Governor’s Office and numerous others to ensure that all members of the community received information on disaster recovery and assistance resources available.

We hope you find this document useful as we continue working to strengthen the resiliency and security of our nation through a Whole Community approach. And as we continue our national dialogue, we encourage you to exchange ideas, recommendations, and success stories. If you have a good idea or example to support the Whole Community approach, let us know. Leave a comment below or submit your idea to the FEMA Think Tank or email

You can learn more about the Whole Community approach by visiting /wholecommunity

2011: The Year in Photos

As 2012 approaches, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on the past year. 2011 has by far been one of the most active in disaster years in recent history. From the historic spring flooding in the Midwest and the deadly tornadoes that struck Alabama and Joplin, Mo., to the East Coast Earthquake in August – this year has certainly been busy for the entire team.

Before we ring in the new year, we wanted to share some photo’s from this year. Take a look at the slideshow below to see 2011: The Year in Photos.

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Preparing New Employees for the FEMA Mission


A few weeks ago, I was honored with an opportunity to spend four days serving as an executive mentor to some of FEMA’s newest employees through FEMA’s Mission Readiness course. It was a great opportunity to work with a small group of men and women who’ve accepted the challenge and committed themselves to helping Americans prepare for and recover from disasters.

The goal of the executive mentor is to help set the tone for new hires, and help them acclimate and excel in their new roles and their FEMA careers.

The course, hosted by the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Md., was developed as part of the organization’s Employee Readiness Program, which aims to help acclimate new employees into the FEMA workforce. The course describe opportunities and responsibilities to manage personal career paths, and helps students understand what the emergency management mission means to them both personally and professionally. As FEMA continually recognizes that well-trained employees are our number one asset, this course serves as the first of many training opportunities new workers will receive.

Along with a better understanding of the structure and functions of FEMA, I believe the students take with them an understanding that they have the power to determine the quality of their experience within our organization. And I hope they will remember that our jobs rely heavily on relationships like the ones they formed during last week’s training.

In truth, I may have gained the most from having a week with these energized, new members of the FEMA team. Even if you aren’t a FEMA employee, I encourage you can take advantage of training offered by FEMA – visit to learn how.

A New Year, A New Course to Help Strengthen Public-Private Partnerships in Emergency Management


It has been a long and productive year working together with the private sector and we’re excited to continue to build on this progress in 2012. As we get ready to head into a new year, I am pleased to announce the release of a free, web-based training course that will help the entire team continue to build and strengthen public-private partnerships in emergency management – FEMA IS-660: Introduction to Public-Private Partnerships.

What makes this course particularly exciting is that it was designed in collaboration with both the public and private sector, and anyone can enroll in the coursefor free! The target audience for this training includes emergency management and community planners, senior-level personnel from response agencies, representatives from private-sector organizations, and federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government agencies that may participate in collaborative continuity planning efforts.

To whet your appetite, this new training will:

  • Provide learners with an overview of the importance of public-private partnerships to emergency preparedness, response, and planning;
  • Highlight best practices on identifying roles, and establishing and sustaining public-private partnerships;
  • Require only two hours of your time.

So if you have an interest in how the private and public sectors can continue to work more closely together in emergency management, I strongly encourage you to take the course. It’s available through the Emergency Management Institute’s Independent Study Program, so check it out today.

This training is another great example of what we can achieve by working together. Many thanks to all of you who contributed to this dynamic tool, and thanks in advance to all of you who will enroll.

Other resources
More information on EMI ISP courses is available at:

Our Blog Turns One – With the Help of the Team


One year ago today, we launched our first-ever blog here at FEMA and added a long overdue communications channel to our toolbox. As I explained in our inaugural blog post:

This won’t be another way to put out our press releases - this is a way to communicate directly with you…we will provide information before, during and after disaster strikes and we will highlight best practices, innovative ideas, and insights that are being used across emergency management and across the country.

Like many one-year-olds, our blog learned a lot during its first year of life about how to better serve our communities and disaster survivors.

For one, our blog turned out to be an effective tool for sharing critical information about what the entire team was doing to support communities before, during and after disasters. For example, during the tornadoes that swept across the southeast last spring and during Hurricane Irene, we used the blog to share what many federal agencies, state and local officials, private sector organizations, volunteer groups and other partners were doing across many states at once to help survivors and communities respond and recover.

We also used the blog to open up our doors to give an inside look at FEMA, highlight more experienced bloggers in sharing their message, and share the work of the entire emergency management team. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve found time and again that our best, most powerful blogs haven’t come from us – but from all of you. Such as:

And this is just the beginning – we will continue to find ways to improve this tool. So instead of a party or gifts for the FEMA blog’s one-year birthday, we’re asking that you continue to give your input, feedback and ideas. Keep pushing us to do better, keep letting us know what works well and what doesn’t.

Year two begins today – let’s get going. Let us know what you’d like to see in the comments below.


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