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What We’re Watching: 12/9/11

At the end of each week, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Weather Outlook

It looks like most of the country will enjoy relatively nice weather this weekend! According to the National Weather Service (NWS), there are not many weather hazards for the next several days. However, the NWS expects drought conditions to continue throughout parts of the South and Great Plains regions and some flooding in parts of the Midwest.

Although there are no severe weather threats, we encourage you to follow your area’s local forecast as weather conditions can change.

And while you are out this weekend thinking of creative gifts to give your family and friends this holiday season, I encourage you to consider giving the gift of preparedness.  Here are a few ideas to get you started: an extra cell phone battery or cell phone charger for a car; a first aid kit; a NOAA weather radio; an extra blanket for an emergency kit in a car; flashlight and batteries; or a carbon monoxide detector makes a great holiday gift or stocking stuffer.  Make sure your family and friends are prepared for an emergency by sharing the gift of preparedness!

What We’re Watching: 12/2/11

At the end of each week, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Weather Outlook
This weekend, the National Weather Service predicts strong winds to continue in the Southwest. Below average temperatures are expected to continue in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains, and parts of the South throughout the weekend.

Heavy rains are expected for parts of the Southern Plains, Mid-Atlantic, and East Central regions with heavy coastal rains and inland snow across Southern Alaska. Additionally, flooding is expected across the Upper Great Lakes and Northern Ohio Valley. Severe drought weather will continue throughout Central and Southern Great Plains, and throughout parts of the South.

Visit the new Ready.gov for tips on preparing your home and family for severe weather, heavy rain and floods, and wildfire conditions.

Holiday Shopping Gift Ideas
As you continue your holiday shopping this weekend and try to think of new and creative gift ideas for family and friends, we encourage you to give the gift of preparedness. Instead of buying your uncle another red tie or favorite cousin a paper weight, why not buy a more practical gift that may come in handy in an emergency - like a flashlight or hand-crank radio with extra batteries? They will definitely thank you when the power goes out and they need to put the flashlight or radio to good use.

Here's a video to help get you in the "gift of preparedness" giving mood this holiday season:



What We’re Watching: 11/18/11

Published by: Public Affairs

At the end of each week, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Severe Weather Outlook

This weekend, the National Weather Service predicts severe drought conditions to continue through the weekend in parts of the Central and Southern Great Plains. Below average temperatures with a possibility for snow are expected in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains throughout the weekend.

With the official start of winter (December 21) approaching and cold weather expected this weekend, we want to encourage you and your family to prepare for the winter months by taking some steps this weekend to get prepared:


  • Be sure to update your family's emergency supply kit and add items such as snow shovels, extra blankets, rock salt (or more environmentally safe products) to melt ice on walkways, and appropriate clothing (i.e., hat, gloves, and scarf).
  • Have an emergency kit in your car in the event you are stranded by a blizzard or traffic jam. Be sure to include items you would need to stay warm and comfortable.
  • Make a family communications plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Maintain your heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year, so if you’re overdue, schedule an appointment.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).

FEMA Think Tank

Earlier this week, Deputy Administrator Rich Serino announced the FEMA Think Tank, which is a new initiative to allow the public to offer their input on how we can improve all aspects of emergency management.

The FEMA Think Tank has two components:


  • An online forum where anyone can submit your own ideas, comment and vote on others, and participate in conversations meant to generate creative solutions.
  • Monthly conference calls. Each month, we will discuss three to four ideas generated from the online forum that address improving emergency management at the federal level. The individuals that submitted these ideas will personally brief their idea to FEMA officials.

We encourage you to utilize this tool to help improve emergency management and encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to participate.

Careers at FEMA

FEMA is always looking for highly motivated people interested in a rewarding career in emergency management. Here are a few open positions with the agency:

Visit our Careers page to watch testimonials from employees, learn more about FEMA, and browse through other opportunities that are available.

What We’re Watching: 11/10/11

Published by: Public Affairs

At the end of each week, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Veterans Day
Tomorrow, November 11, is Veterans Day. Join us in honoring our nation’s veterans, especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms:



Alaska Storm Update
A dangerous, and potentially deadly, storm is currently bringing high winds, coastal flooding, and heavy snow to the west coast of Alaska. Forecasts from the National Weather Service predict that sustained winds and elevated water levels will continue to affect a large portion of the western Alaska coast today, before beginning to subside, from south to north, this evening. We encourage Alaskans to monitor weather conditions closely and to follow the direction provided by their local officials.

Over the past several days, we’ve provided updates on our role, and we continue to closely monitor the situation. As the storm progresses, we will remain in constant contact with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and our other federal and local partners.

For updates from the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, you can visit their website or find them on Facebook or Twitter.


Emergency Alert System Test
Yesterday, along with the FCC and NOAA, we tested the national Emergency Alert System at 2 p.m. EST through TV and radio stations. There has been a lot of feedback after the test, and we’re currently collecting data about the initial results.

It will take the test’s participants several weeks to send us and the FCC the full results, but this feedback will be used as we plan to test the other newer technologies and communications tools that are also going to be part of our public alert and warning networks. Check out yesterday’s blog post for information on the next steps and today’s blog post about some of the reviews that are coming in.


New Ready.gov
And in case you missed it earlier this week, Administrator Fugate announced the fully redesigned Ready.gov. Ready.gov is all about getting prepared and helping people know how to stay safe before, during and after disasters. The new site helps you find this invaluable information faster, and puts it in an easy to understand format. But don’t take our word for it – here’s Administrator Fugate to go over some of the changes.

And as a reminder, we recently released the FEMA app for Apple-powered mobile devices (also available for Android), and many of our safety tips are also on the FEMA mobile website, http://m.fema.gov, which is designed to display quickly on your smartphone.

What We’re Watching: 11/4/11

Posted by: Public Affairs

Every Friday, we post a "What We’re Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Emergency Alert System Test Next Week
The first nationwide Emergency Alert System test is next week- Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 2 p.m. EST. As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts the test will be conducted on all TV and radio stations and will last approximately 30 seconds. During this time an audio message will run, similar to local emergency systems test that happen more frequently. After the test, your regular scheduled programming will resume.

Visit www.fema.gov/eastest for complete information about the test and to learn what to expect. Please share information about the test with family and friends and help us spread the word, including embedding this widget on your website:



What We’re Watching: 10/28/11

Colder weather coming for many

Some people thoroughly enjoy colder weather and the white fluffy stuff that often comes with it, while others continually look for a way to escape the cold for warmer temperatures. Regardless of your stance on cold and snow, it’s the time of year when temperatures are dropping as winter approaches.

Areas around the Rocky Mountains and the Upper Midwest have already had their first snowfall, and forecasts from the National Weather Service predict the Northeast could experience several inches of snow this weekend.

Now is the time to make sure your home and family are prepared for colder temperatures – and Ready.gov has some specific tips on how you can get ready. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Thoroughly check and update your family's emergency supply kit before winter approaches and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather.
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways,
    • Sand to improve traction on exterior walkways,
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment, and
    • Also include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Have an emergency kit in your car, in the event you are stranded by a blizzard or traffic jam. Be sure to include items you would need to stay warm and comfortable for at least 72 hours.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Know what to do if the power goes out. Winter storms can also cause power outages, so make sure you take precautions to get prepared.
  • Be familiar with severe winter weather terminology:
    • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two. Follow local news reports and be alert to changing weather conditions.
    • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon. Stay indoors during the storm and avoid traveling.
    • Blizzard Warning means heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill. (Obviously, you’ll want to stay inside and avoid traveling during a blizzard.)
    • Frost/Freeze Warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.

And in case you missed it, check out this New York Times story where our Boston native and resident winter weather expert, Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, talks about ways you can get prepared for a power outage – a possibility after a severe winter storm.

Rina Fizzling Out
According the National Hurricane Center forecasts, the remnants of Hurricane Rina are still swirling in the Caribbean, and pose little to no threat to the U.S. or its territories. We continue to closely monitor the tropics, as hurricane season lasts until November 30. If you live in an area that may be affected by hurricanes or tropical storms, take steps to get prepared today at Ready.gov/hurricanes.

What We’re Watching: 10/21/11

Every Friday, we post a “What We’re Watching” blog as we look ahead to the weekend. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Emergency Alert System Test

Just a friendly reminder, the Emergency Alert System Test is November 9 at 2 p.m. eastern. We’re working closely with our partners at the Federal Communications Commission and broadcasters across the country to ensure people know what to expect. Remember, it’s only a test.

Tropical Activity in Atlantic

National Hurricane Center.

We continue to closely monitor two areas of interest which have a chance of developing into a more organized tropical storm system. Hurricane season lasts until November 30, so we encourage you and your family to take the steps to get prepared for the threat of possible tropical storms and hurricanes.

Make sure you have an emergency kit to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours and an emergency plan so you know where to go and who to contact if a tropical storm or hurricane forms.

Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes to learn the steps you can take to get you and your family prepared.

Week in Photos

Below are a few photos from the past week of different preparedness and recovery efforts throughout the U.S.

Aurora, NC, October 18, 2011 -- A homeowner in the South Point neighborhood, points out to an inspector how his home was configured.  FEMA is working with the state to assist with the removal of debris from areas that sustained damages.
Aurora, NC, October 18, 2011 -- A homeowner in the South Point neighborhood, points out to an inspector how his home was configured. FEMA is working with the state to assist with the removal of debris from areas that sustained damages.

Los Angeles, CA, October 20, 2011 -- Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Mayor delivered comments after participating in ShakeOut at a Target store in Northridge, California. The Mayor is accompanied by representatives of numerous local, state, Federal, and private-sector partner agencies including Los Angeles City and County public safety departments, CalEMA, the Southern California Earthquake Center, the California Earthquake Authority, FEMA, USGS, NORTHCOM, State Farm, and the American Red Cross. Everyone at the Target store, from clerks to shoppers and the Mayor himself, practiced their “drop, cover, and hold on” technique following a storewide announcement timed to coincide with similar exercises throughout the state.
Los Angeles, CA, October 20, 2011 -- Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Mayor delivered comments after participating in ShakeOut at a Target store in Northridge, California. The Mayor is accompanied by representatives of numerous local, state, Federal, and private-sector partner agencies including Los Angeles City and County public safety departments, CalEMA, the Southern California Earthquake Center, the California Earthquake Authority, FEMA, USGS, NORTHCOM, State Farm, and the American Red Cross. Everyone at the Target store, from clerks to shoppers and the Mayor himself, practiced their “drop, cover, and hold on” technique following a storewide announcement timed to coincide with similar exercises throughout the state.

Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- David Miller (second in line), Associate Administrator of the FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, arrives in Minot with other federal and local officials.  FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those affected by June's historic Souris River flood in Minot.
Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- David Miller (second in line), Associate Administrator of the FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, arrives in Minot with other federal and local officials. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those affected by June's historic Souris River flood in Minot.

Charlotte, VT, October 16, 2011 -- A mobile hay wagon displays FEMA's disaster assistance information on Route 7 in Charlotte, Vermont. The Vermont Farm Bureau and FEMA are working together to encourage those affected by Tropical Storm Irene to register by the October 31st deadline.
Charlotte, VT, October 16, 2011 -- A mobile hay wagon displays FEMA's disaster assistance information on Route 7 in Charlotte, Vermont. The Vermont Farm Bureau and FEMA are working together to encourage those affected by Tropical Storm Irene to register by the October 31st deadline.

Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- FEMA Associate Administrator of Response and Recovery William Carwile (top right) and FEMA Senior Advisor Kristin Robinson survey a flood-damaged Minot neighborhood. The owner recently moved back into the home. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those affected by June's historic Souris River flood in Minot.
Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- FEMA Associate Administrator of Response and Recovery William Carwile (left) surveys a flood-damaged Minot neighborhood. The owner recently moved back into the home. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those affected by June's historic Souris River flood in Minot.

Wall Township, NJ, October 15, 2011 -- Robert Knight and Susan Langhoff, FEMA Private Sector Specialists along with Richard Adkins, FEMA Community Relations Specialist assisted the Monmouth Council - Boy Scouts of America earn their Emergency Preparedness Badge during their Camporee held at Allaire State Park in Wall Township, NJ.
Wall Township, NJ, October 15, 2011 -- Robert Knight and Susan Langhoff, FEMA Private Sector Specialists along with Richard Adkins, FEMA Community Relations Specialist assisted the Monmouth Council - Boy Scouts of America earn their Emergency Preparedness Badge during their Camporee held at Allaire State Park in Wall Township, NJ.

Schoharie, NY, October 15, 2011 -- Dimaldy Cruz-Carlo, Mitigation Specialist speaks to a disaster survivor at the Schoharie Flood Benefit about preparing for future disasters, flood insurance and rebuilding safe and stronger homes. FEMA plays a vital role supporting State, Tribal and local governments as they respond to the impacts of Hurricane Irene.
Schoharie, NY, October 15, 2011 -- Dimaldy Cruz-Carlo, Mitigation Specialist speaks to a disaster survivor at the Schoharie Flood Benefit about preparing for future disasters, flood insurance and rebuilding safe and stronger homes. FEMA plays a vital role supporting State, Tribal and local governments as they respond to the impacts of Hurricane Irene.

What We’re Watching: 10/14/11

Every Friday, we post a “What We’re Watching” blog as we look ahead to the weekend. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.


Possible Tropical Storm Systems

Hurricane season lasts until November 30, and we’re currently closely watching two areas of interest with a chance of developing into a more organized tropical storm system. Since hurricane season started back in June, we’ve been working on a daily basis with our partners at the National Hurricane Center as they provide the latest forecast information for both the Atlantic and Pacific basins.

The threat of tropical storms and hurricanes still persists, so those in coastal or inland areas should take steps to get prepared. Make sure you have an emergency kit to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours, and an emergency plan so you know where to go and who to contact if a tropical storm or hurricane does hit.

At Ready.gov/hurricanes (or m.fema.gov on your smartphone), learn the steps you can take today to get your family and property more prepared, and visit hurricanes.gov (hurricanes.gov/mobile on your smartphone) for the latest tropical forecast.

Fire Prevention Week Wrapping Up

This past week, Glenn Gaines, the Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator for the U.S. Fire Administration, has posted several blogs about fire safety, with a focus on preventing home fires and limiting the loss of life and property. Here are his blog posts, in case you missed them:

To conclude Fire Prevention Week, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate will attend the National Fallen Firefighters memorial service on Sunday in Emmitsburg, Maryland to honor those firefighters who have given their life on the job.

We encourage you to take steps to prevent fires in your home, workplace or school, and there are some easy steps to help: make sure all your smoke alarms are working and practice your fire escape plan. For more on getting prepared for a fire, visit Ready.gov/fires.

Coming Up…

As we look out several days, we wanted to remind you of two upcoming events:

  • Health & Human Services Facebook App Challenge ends November 4 – The Department of Health and Human Services is hosting a challenge for members of the public to develop a Facebook application that helps individuals be better prepared before a disaster strikes. Ideas should focus on designing a Facebook application that makes it easy for people to create their own emergency support network and provides users with useful tools in preparing for and responding to emergencies.
  • Emergency Alert System Test coming up November 9 – The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System is next month, and we’re working closely with our partners at the Federal Communications Commission and broadcasters across the country to ensure people know what to expect. For more, check out yesterday’s blog post from Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs.

What We’re Watching: 10/7/11

Every Friday, we post a “What We’re Watching” blog as we look ahead to the weekend. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

The Week in Photos

In many communities across the U.S., we continue to support individuals and communites as they recover from disasters. Below are a few photos from the past week that show the recovery efforts in action. For more on our role, visit our disaster pages.

FEMA Community Education Specialist Warren Kurten, left, shows local resident, Hannah Martin, 11, a mitigation activity book
Madison, CT, October 6, 2011 -- FEMA Community Education Specialist Warren Kurten, left, shows a local resident a mitigation activity book during an event held at a local hardware store. Events are being held in various locations throughout the state to inform residents of ways to prepare and prevent damage from future disasters.

FEMA Community Relations Specialist Becky Kaurup speaks to a local resident during a town forum setup to inform residents about different assistance programs.
Oxford, CT, October 3, 2011 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialist Becky Kaurup speaks to a local resident during a town forum setup to inform residents about different assistance programs. Disaster assistance programs are available from local, state and federal agencies, for those individuals and communities impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. The registration deadline for individuals to apply for federal assistance is November 3, 2011.

Booker T. Jones, the Mayor of Mesic, Nortrh Carolina points out land he has offered where Temporary Housing Units could be placed for Hurricane Irene survivors
Mesic, NC, October 3, 2011 -- Booker T. Jones, the Mayor of Mesic, Nortrh Carolina points out land he has offered where Temporary Housing Units could be placed for Hurricane Irene survivors. The North Carolina Baptist Men have just cleared trees to make this possible. FEMA's Voluntary Agency Liaisons work to bring together those in need with voluntary agencies - essential to recovery for many survivors.

A volunteer from the North Carolina Baptist Men cuts apart the shower enclosure in this flooded home.
Merritt, NC, October 3, 2011 -- A volunteer from the North Carolina Baptist Men cuts apart the shower enclosure in this flooded home. FEMA's Voluntary Agency Liaisons work to bring together those in need with voluntary agencies who are providing free services essential to recovery.


National Fire Prevention Week Coming Up


While many in the media and the public focus their attention on large-scale disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods – it’s important to remember disasters happen on a daily basis, often in the form of a home fire. Next week, October 9 - 15, is Fire Prevention Week, and we'll be sharing fire prevention tips here on the blog and on Facebook & Twitter.

Here are some simple things you can do today to protect to keep your family and home safe:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home
  • Test smoke alarms once a month
  • Be sure to change smoke alarm batteries at least once a year
  • Make and practice your family’s fire escape plan

Visit Ready.gov/fires for more information on preventing home fires, and visit the National Fire Prevention Week website for more tips and ways you can participate in Fire Prevention Week.

Practice Earthquake Safety in the ShakeOut

We also encourage you, your family, office, and community to participate in the Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill, on October 20 at 10:20 a.m. Pacific Time. The ShakeOut allows you to participate in preparedness by focusing on the potentially life-saving actions of “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” during and immediately after an earthquake.

Over 7 million people have pledged to participate, so join in at www.ShakeOut.org/register and pledge your family, school, business, or organization’s participation in the drill. It’s easy to sign up, and registered participants will receive information on how to plan their own drill and talk with others about earthquake preparedness.

What We’re Watching: 9/30/11

Every Friday, we post a “What We’re Watching” blog as we look ahead to the weekend. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Hurricane Season Continues

We continue to closely monitor Hurricane Ophelia and tropical storm Philippe in the Atlantic. While forecasts from the National Hurricane Center call for Ophelia to stay in the Atlantic, the projected path of Philippe may bring it closer to the U.S. and its territories. While neither storm posts an immediate threat, they serve as a reminder to get prepared for severe tropical weather, especially if you live in coastal or inland areas.

Hurricane season lasts until November 30, so make sure you and your loved ones have taken steps to prepare in case disaster strikes. Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for more information on preparing for tropical storms or hurricanes.

And no matter what the risks are in your area, Ready.gov has information on building your emergency kit and making your family communication plan so you can know how to stay safe if disaster strikes.


Continuing the Spirit of National Preparedness Month
Today marks the final day of National Preparedness Month, a time when many across the country share the importance of getting prepared for emergencies. And even though September has come to an end, emergency preparedness should remain a priority for everyone year round.

Next month, you can get involved and participate in the Great California ShakeOut, an earthquake drill where you can practice how to stay safe during and after an earthquake. (And you don’t need to live in California to participate.)

We encourage you to talk about emergency preparedness to others in your family and neighborhood, emphasizing the importance and potential benefits of getting a kit, having a plan, and staying informed. A great place to start is Ready.gov, where you will find information on how to keep your family and property safe if disaster strikes.

You can also receive regular preparedness tips via text message: text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA). Standard message and data rates apply.

And we’d like to extend a heartfelt “Thank You” to the thousands of National Preparedness Month Coalition members who pledged to share emergency preparedness during September. Successful emergency management takes a team, and we’re grateful for your commitment to play an important role!

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