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What We’re Watching: 4/22/11

Editor's Note: On May 16, we removed an image of the National Weather Service Hazards Assessment map.

North Carolina disaster
Earlier this week, the President declared a major disaster for areas affected by the deadly tornadoes, severe storms, and flooding on April 16. Federal disaster assistance is available to individuals and eligible state and local partners as they work to recover from the disaster. (If you are in one of the 18 declared counties you can apply for disaster assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov, or on your mobile device at m.fema.gov).

Volunteers assist a homeowner clean up branches after a tornado near Raleigh, North Carolina.
Raleigh, NC, April 20, 2011 -- Volunteer workers band together to help survivors clean up debris and complete temporary repairs following the severe storms and deadly tornadoes that damaged or destroyed homes and businesses across North Carolina on April 16, 2011.

Potential severe weather
Over the past few weeks, volatile spring weather has been in full force, and forecasts from the National Weather Service are calling for more of the same in the next week. Here are some of the severe weather highlights:

  • Southern U.S. – Drought conditions are expected to continue in Texas, New Mexico, Florida and several surrounding states. Weather conditions are favorable for wildfire outbreaks in Texas and New Mexico going into next week as well.
  • Midwest – Heavy rains are expected in the middle of the country, where flooding is taking place in many states. (See how we’re supporting the emergency management team in the Red River Valley flood fight.)
  • Northeast – While no spring storms are expected in the next few days, forecasters are calling for high winds in Massachusetts, Connecticut this weekend.
  • West – Over the next few days, be prepared for colder temperatures, especially in Idaho, Utah and Montana. 

For more details, see the full hazards assessment from the National Weather Service and view your local forecast. If severe weather is in your area, remember to listen to local officials and follow local news reports for the latest information. For tips on getting prepared for the hazards in your area, visit Ready.gov.

Texas wildfires
Through our regional office in Denton, TX we continue to closely partner with the State of Texas and provide financial support for efforts to fight and mitigate the volatile wildfire conditions that have affected the state this season. We are in constant communication with Texas Forest Service and Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and will continue to support firefighting efforts, as needed.

During this fire season, the federal government has been supporting the State of Texas with 21 Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) declarations, including 15 FMAGs since the beginning of April.

An FMAG authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.

Earth Day
April 22 is Earth Day – check out this blog post from Ed Connor, Acting Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration about some of the ways we’re implementing sustainable practices and encouraging the emergency management team to do the same when preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters.

For tips on how you can “go green” at home, work, or in your community, visit the Department of Energy’s Earth Day page.

Sign up to shake out next Thursday
As several of our bloggers have mentioned, the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is fast approaching. Join over 2.6 million participants in 11 states as they practice earthquake safety on April 28 at 10:15 CDT.

What We’re Watching: 4/15/11

Editor's Note: On May 16, 2011, we removed an image of the National Weather Service Hazards Assessment map.

Severe weather outlook
FEMA continues to closely monitor a severe weather pattern as the threat of tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds emerges over many parts of Alabama and Mississippi, and continued red flag warnings in Texas.  Severe storms could also affect parts of Eastern Missouri, central and southern Illinois, southwest Indiana, western Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and the Florida panhandle through Saturday.

Stay connected to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center for severe weather warnings in your part of the country.

Red River Valley flood update
Meanwhile officials in Grand Forks, North Dakota, still expect widespread flooding across the Red River Valley but have downgraded their expectations for the high water mark. The 2011 flooding will be on par with the 2009 flood, and could even surpass it as the second-worst flood in 150 years.  And in case you missed, Robin Finegan, Region 8 Administrator, provided an update on her three-day visit to North Dakota to get an up close look at the flood fighting efforts going on in the Red River Valley

2011 National Hurricane Conference
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate will be speaking at the 2011 National Hurricane Conference scheduled for next week in Atlanta GA. As the nation’s forum for education and professional training, the primary goal of the National Hurricane Conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific. In addition, the conference serves as a national forum for federal, state and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve Emergency Management. More than 2,000 attendees from around the country are expected to attend.

What We’re Watching: 4/8/11

Editor's Note: On May 16, 2011, we removed an image of the National Weather Service Hazards Assessment map.

Severe weather outlook
Over the next few days, the National Weather Service is calling for severe weather in many parts of the U.S.  The Pacific Northwest is expected to see periods of heavy precipitation, along with parts of the Midwest.  In the South, drought conditions should continue, setting the stage for possible wildfire outbreaks in parts of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

Red River Valley flood fight
In addition to severe weather, the Upper Midwest is also combating localized river flooding, specifically in the Red River Valley.  Through our regional offices in Denver, Chicago and Kansas City, we remain in close contact with our state and local partners in all areas that could be impacted, as well as our partners at the National Weather Service Forecast Offices.

At the request of states, we have established a national Incident Support Base in Arden Hills, Minnesota and have been pre-planning with states to designate staging areas for use, if needed.  In addition, Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) deployed Minnesota and North Dakota as well as a Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) vehicle to support North Dakota coordination efforts in Fargo-Moorhead.

Yesterday, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for North Dakota, providing federal support to state and local flood fighting efforts.  Check out the “Floods” category to learn more about how we’re supporting the emergency management team in the Upper Midwest.

California search-and-rescue team in the news
A story in the Orange County Register highlighted training by the California Task Force 5 urban search and rescue team in an earthquake drill.  They are one of the 28 locally-managed urban search and rescue teams located in various cities throughout the U.S., who are frequently training and going through similar exercises.  In the event of a major disaster, FEMA can activate the teams to assist in rescuing victims of structural collapse incidents or to assist in other search and rescue missions – read more about the teams in this post.

Great Central U.S. ShakeOut
In just over two weeks, on April 28, 10 states will participate in the Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill (Indiana will hold their ShakeOut on April 19).  To date, 1.7 million participants have signed up to learn and practice how to respond if an earthquake strikes.  Visit the ShakeOut website for more information, and be sure to take advantage of the resources available once you sign up.

What We’re Watching: 4/1/11

Midwest flood fight

As spring moves on, the combination of melting snow and rain showers often brings an elevated risk of flooding for many parts of the country. Preparing for and combating flooding in the upper Midwest has been a focus of this blog, and members of the emergency management team are continuing to do their part in the affected areas.


We currently have an incident support base in the upper Midwest to further enhance our ability to quickly move needed supplies throughout the states affected by spring flooding, should they be needed and requested. We are closely monitoring the situation through our Regional offices in Chicago, Denver, and Kansas City, and stand ready to assist our partners if called upon.

 
For those in the upper Midwest, or other areas susceptible to flooding, check out this story from the Cherokee Chronicle Times (Iowa) about the dangers of driving through flood waters, even if they appear to be shallow.
 

Severe weather outlook

For the next few days, the National Weather Service is calling for heavy precipitation for nearly the entire eastern half of the U.S., along with parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. In the south, drought conditions continue while conditions in the southwest are favorable for wildfires.

You can view your local forecast at weather.gov, or see this map for the nationwide forecast.

 

Emergency managers share best practices

Whatever your profession may be, it’s always helpful when peers and colleagues have a venue to share lessons they have learned while performing their craft. If you are an emergency responder, there’s a place to do just that -- share your expertise and learn from others. The Lessons Learned & Information Sharing portal serves as the national, online network of lessons learned, best practices, and innovative ideas for the emergency management and homeland security communities. Check it out for front-line expertise on effective planning, training, and operational practices, including their latest additions:

What We're Watching: 3/25/11


Information on the Japan earthquake and tsunami for U.S. citizens
Over the past few weeks, this blog featured several posts about the tragic Japan earthquake and tsunami, specifically referencing the U.S. government’s role in supporting the ongoing response and recovery, being led by the U.S. Agency for International Development.   We wanted to draw your attention to a new page on USA.gov with information on air quality, food safety, Americans in Japan, disaster preparedness, and donations.  

Also knowing that a lot of our blog readers live and work around Washington, DC we thought it was worth mentioning that the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC also starts today. 

In response to the recent earthquake and tsunami disasters, the Festival activities will kick off with a fundraising event, Stand With Japan.  People are asked to meet at the Washington Monument to walk around the Tidal Basin in the spirit of hope and rebuilding.  For more information on how to help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, visit Interaction.org.

Severe weather outlook
Keeping with the pattern of active weather this past week, snow is expected to hit parts of the East coast this weekend.  Looking ahead to next week, National Weather Service forecasts are calling for heavy precipitation in the Southeast, along with colder temperatures and localized river flooding for the Upper Midwest.

Be sure to visit Ready.gov for information on getting prepared for the hazardous weather that Spring can bring, and stay up to date on your local forecast at weather.gov.

National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) conference wraps up
This past week, hundreds of emergency management professionals, State and local officials, private sector representatives, and concerned citizens participated in the NEMA conference held in Washington D.C.  Bringing together so many members of the emergency management team is an important step in strengthening relationships that can help communities and individuals prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.  For more information on the 2011 NEMA Mid-Year conference, visit their website.

What We're Watching: 3/18/11

Editor's Note: On May 16, 2011, we removed an image of the National Weather Service Hazards Assessment map.

Japan earthquake and tsunami
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan as they recover from the tragic earthquake and tsunami that struck last week. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) remains the lead federal agency when it comes to responding to international disasters, so visit USAID.gov for additional information on the Federal response.

Check out this blog post to see you how can help those affected by the disasters.

Potential severe weather
In the U.S., severe weather is forecasted to affect much of the country, from high winds on the west coast to heavy rain and possible flooding in the Midwest. In the south and southeast, drought conditions are expected to continue, and weather conditions are favorable for wildfires for parts of the southwest through the weekend.

For your local forecast and the National Weather Service (NWS) hazards outlook (pictured below), visit weather.gov.

The outlook for spring
In case you missed it, the NWS released its Spring Outlook yesterday. This year's outlook predicted major flooding for the Red River of the North, along with an above average risk of flooding across portions of the Northeast. For information on what we have been doing to prepare and what you can do, see our blog posts:

What We're Watching: 3/4/11

Stormy, wet weekend for many
Forecasts from the National Weather Service are calling for rain and thunderstorms across much of the Midwest for the next few days.  Large portions of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee are under flood watches or warnings due to rapidly melting snow and rainfall, so make sure you’re aware of local conditions.  We’re closely monitoring the severe weather through our regional offices in Chicago and Atlanta, and working closely with our state partners, as well as the National Weather Service.

The Northeast is also expected to experience rainy, stormy conditions through the weekend, so make sure you're taking steps to get prepared.  To view your local forecast and outlook on severe weather, visit www.weather.gov.

Wildfires around the U.S.
Parts of Florida have been fighting a round of wildfires this week.   Our Regional office in Atlanta is in close coordination with State, local and first response agencies as they respond to the wildfires.  We stand ready to support them if assistance is requested.

Planning for real, not easy
We came across this article with some great emergency preparedness tips for persons with disabilities and their service animals.  As Federal, State, and local agencies, businesses and individuals plan for emergencies, it is imperative we plan for every member of the community, not just some. For more on emergency planning for people with disabilities, visit Ready.gov.

Red Cross Month
March also marks Red Cross Month, as proclaimed by President Obama.  As a valuable part of the emergency management team, we’d like to recognize this special month.  Even if you aren’t an active Red Cross supporter, donor, or volunteer, we encourage you to look for opportunities to volunteer in your community, especially with a member of the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters (NVOAD).  This collection of organizations, which includes the American Red Cross, shares knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle - preparation, response and recovery - to help disaster survivors and their communities.

What We're Watching: 2/25/11

Posted by: Public Affairs

Severe weather outlook
Looking ahead to the weekend and the next few days, the National Weather Service is forecasting another round of severe weather for much of the U.S.  Much of the Pacific Northwest, along with parts of the Northeast, are expected to experience rain, freezing rain, or snow (depending on elevation).  For those in the California and Arizona, predictions call for colder temperatures than normal.  And a common occurrence for this time of the year, parts of the Midwest should be prepared for increased risk of flooding. 

Get your latest local forecast at www.weather.gov and make sure you’re taking steps to get prepared for any severe weather that could come your way.

Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake
We had several blog posts this week about the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) leading the U.S. effort to support the response and recovery to the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.  In case you missed any of them, here’s a quick recap:



Children in disasters
Also related to the Christchurch earthquake, we wanted to share this op-ed from Mark Shriver, Chair of the National Commission on Children and Disasters, on the Huffington Post website.  Mark points out (and we whole-heartedly agree) that emergency planning must consider the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities, the elderly, and children. 

We’re proud to partner with Mark, who chairs the National Commission on Children and Disaster and our many other partners who share this goal.  Learn more about our Children’s Working Group, which is working to ensure that the needs of children are considered and integrated into all disaster planning, preparedness, response and recovery efforts initiated at the Federal level.

What We're Watching: 2/18/11

Potential severe weather
Winter weather will continue to impact the western U.S. for much of the weekend, bringing colder temperatures and snow in areas of high elevation.  For those on the east coast, the unusually warmer temperatures of the past few days will rush out over the weekend, bringing the potential for high winds. 

And as the National Weather Service Hazards Assessment map shows, residents in the Midwest and Great Lakes should be prepared for heavy snow and potential flooding.  Through our regional offices in Chicago and Kansas City (MO), we're closely monitoring potential flooding in the region.  Forecasters continue to predict a busy flood season as snow melts and spring rains come, so make sure you’re prepared.

(See the updated flooding forecast for the North Central U.S. from NOAA)

Kids fire safety
On Monday, we launched a campaign to raise awareness about the threat of home fires and how families can keep their homes and loved ones safe.  With the weekend upon us, we encourage you to practice your family’s fire escape plan when they’re all home this weekend.  Visit Ready.gov/kidsfiresafety for tips on keeping your family safe from a home fire.

And if you’re a Twitter user, use the #kidsfiresafety hashtag and share how you're getting prepared.

What We're Watching: 2/11/2011

Severe weather departs

The winter storm that impacted the eastern two-thirds of the country moved out Thursday, bringing precipitation to an end and beginning a warming trend for this weekend.

As temperatures across the nation are expected to rise above freezing, there’s no better time than now to begin steps to protect your property from snowmelt flooding. Be prepared.


The National Advisory Council needs you!

This week we announced available opportunities to serve on the National Advisory Council.  Congress established the NAC in the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006, to ensure effective and ongoing coordination of Federal preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation for both natural and man-made disasters. The NAC consists of 35 members appointed by the FEMA Administrator.  Applications and nominations will be accepted through Friday, March 4, 2011.

Since its creation in 2007, the NAC’s accomplishments include:

  • Supplying key input on the development, implementation, and revision of the National Response Framework, the National Incident Management System, and the National Disaster Housing Strategy; 
  • Providing valuable feedback on the revised National Exercise Program, including recommendations on how to successfully implement the revised program;
  • Maintaining open lines of communication to help engage the private sector in emergency management;
  • Recommending the creation of a Regional Disability Coordinator position within each of the 10 FEMA regions; and
  • Reviewing and providing input on regulatory and policy Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act issues that might help ease administrative burdens on jurisdictions.

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