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Severe Weather Update: Florida severe storms and tornadoes

A series of severe storms and tornadoes are moving through central and southwest Florida.  Our regional office in Atlanta continues to be in constant contact with Florida’s Emergency Operations Center, as well as our partners at the National Weather Service.

When natural disasters, such as severe storms and tornadoes, strike the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet immediate human needs.  We stand ready to support State and local responders if Federal assistance is needed.

If you are in the path of the storm, seek shelter immediately.  Monitor your local forecast on your NOAA severe weather radio or through local news, and be sure to follow the direction of local officials.


Other links
- Get prepared for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes at Ready.gov

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.

Daily Preparedness Tips via Digital Channels

What's the best advice you've ever received?  Often times, the best nuggets of wisdom motivate us to action, or inspire us to be better at what we do. We wanted to highlight a few places where you can find preparedness tips on a daily basis to keep you and your family safe.

Every weekday, we will publish a safety tip on Twitter and Facebook (in English and Spanish) with information on what to do before, during and after various natural or man-made disasters. Our primary method of publishing the daily tips will be through our Twitter and Facebook channels, however, that's not the only way you can find potentially life-saving advice:
 

Mobile Site (http://m.fema.gov)
Our mobile site is designed to load fast on mobile internet browsers, providing preparedness tips and disaster information on the go. Make it easier to access by bookmarking it on your phone.

Ready.gov
Our preparedness website, Ready.gov, is packed with information on how to get prepared before a disaster strikes. It breaks down getting prepared into three simple steps: getting a kit, making a plan, and being informed.

Twitter "Fast Follow"
One of the common misconceptions is that people need a Twitter account to receive updates from accounts you are interested in. In fact, you can receive updates from Twitter simply by utilizing your phone's text messaging capability (normal text message rates apply). For example, if you wanted to follow Administrator Fugate, text follow craigatfema to 40404 (Twitter’s text message number). To follow FEMA, text follow fema to 40404.

And in case you missed our safety tips the past few days, here is a sample:
 

  • Flood safety: Do not walk through moving water. 6 inches of moving water can make you fall. Tips on your phone: http://m.fema.gov
  • Seguridad contra inundaciones: No camine sobre agua en movimiento. Consejos de teléfono: http://m.fema.gov
  • Earthquake safety: If indoors during an earthquake - drop, cover, and hold on. More tips at http://go.usa.gov/239
  • Seguridad de terremotos: Si está adentro durante terremoto, échese al piso, cúbrase y agárrese. Más consejos en http://go.usa.gov/2YP
  • Flood safety: After a flood, assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged, including cable TV feeds.
  • Seguridad contra inundaciones: después de una inundación, asuma que todos los cables en el suelo están cargados, incluso el cable de TV.

Register your Citizen Corps Council and CERT Program today! (Deadline is tomorrow)

As we’ve highlighted several times on the blog, Citizen Corps Councils and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are a great way to get involved in preparing your community before disasters strike. If you’re involved with a local Citizen Corps Council or CERT Program please be sure to add your information to the Council Registration and CERT Program Registration pages today.

Registering will help individuals interested in Citizen Corps and CERT from your area get in touch with you. In addition, being listed in the national registry will allow you to share relevant information with other programs around the country.

Registering by March 30, 2011 ensures your Council or CERT Program will be included in reports to senior DHS leadership and Congress, which will feature all the great work that is going on in the field. You may still register after the March 30th deadline, but your information will not be a part of initial reporting.

Administrator Fugate is encouraging Citizen Corps Council and CERT Program registration, too – here’s why:



- Paulette

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

Planning for your pets

Disasters can happen in a flash, so it's important to think about your entire family's safety - including your pet's - before an emergency occurs.  Deputy Administrator Serino said it best in this video (along with his cute canine friend), originally done to highlight Pet Preparedness Day 2010:



As a pet owner, one of the easiest things you can do is to put together a kit that includes food, water, medications, treats and other necessary items for your pet's disaster kit.

And since pets are considered members of our families, be sure to include your pet in your family's emergency plan.  This may include having an emergency contact that could take your pet in for a short period of time and knowing what pet-friendly shelters are available if you and your pets have to evacuate.

Visit Ready.gov for more tips on keeping your pets safe before, during, and after a disaster, including:

  • Talking to your pet's veterinarian about emergency planning,
  • Locating hotels and motels that are pet friendly,
  • Having enough basic supplies for every individual and pet to survive for at least three days, and
  • Creating a evacuation plan for you, your family, and your pet.

Other links
- A great place to locate shelters for pets is at Go Pet Friendly.

Posted on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 13:20

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Getting Prepared

On a daily basis, we work very closely with our partners at the National Weather Service (NWS) as it provides invaluable information on severe weather conditions across the country. Earlier this month, during flood awareness week, Dr. Jack Hayes, National Weather Service Director, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate blogged about three steps to flood safety.

In the aftermath of the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami, Director Hayes and Administrator Fugate are reminding Americans that we are not immune from either earthquakes or tsunamis.  While new systems and technology have improved our detection and early warning capabilities, the bottom line is that all of us should take steps to prepare for disasters to lessen their impact on ourselves and our communities.

Today Dr. Hayes and Administrator Fugate’s published a joint op-ed -- check out what they have to say (courtesy of the Sacramento Bee).

Photo Recap: Deputy Administrator Manning in American Samoa

As many of you know, last week Tim Manning, our Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness, traveled to Hawaii and American Samoa, as part of a previously scheduled trip to meet with our state, territory and local partners and to get an update on how the recovery efforts are going in American Samoa, 18 months after the island was struck by an earthquake and resulting tsunami.

Tim covered a lot of ground during his time there and got to meet with many members of the emergency management team, from the governor, to the territory's emergency medical services team, to village leaders - and we wanted to share some pictures from his trip.

Deputy Administrator Manning meets with the Chief Fuapopo Avegalio of American Samoa EMS and EMS staff.
Caption: Deputy Administrator Manning meets with the Chief Fuapopo Avegalio of American Samoa EMS and EMS staff. Chief Avegalio reinforced how critical volunteers are to their work and that they focus on supporting emergency preparedness efforts in their different villages on the island.

Deputy Administrator Manning talks with the Chief Fuapopo Avegalio of American Samoa EMS.
Caption: Deputy Administrator Manning talks with the Chief Fuapopo Avegalio of American Samoa EMS. (Courtesy of Bill Thomas, NOAA)


Deputy Administrator Manning and American Samoa Governor Tulafono after meeting to discuss the ongoing recovery efforts on the island.
Caption: Deputy Administrator Manning and American Samoa Governor Tulafono after meeting to discuss the ongoing recovery efforts on the island. Among other things, the governor spoke about the territory’s experiences on Friday, March 11, when they and other Pacific islands were at risk of potential impacts from the tsunami. (Courtesy of Bill Thomas, NOAA)


Deputy Administrator Manning and staff from FEMA’s Recovery Office in American Samoa tour homes being rebuilt for disaster survivors in American Samoa.
Caption: Deputy Administrator Manning and staff from FEMA’s Recovery Office in American Samoa tour homes being rebuilt for disaster survivors in American Samoa. As part of our work to support the territory’s recovery, FEMA has been building homes, in several stages, for disaster survivors whose houses were destroyed by the tsunami.


Deputy Administrator Manning speaks to other federal, state and local members of the emergency management team at the PRiMO conference.
Caption: Deputy Administrator Manning speaks to other federal, state and local members of the emergency management team at the PRiMO conference. (Courtsey of Bill Thomas, NOAA)


Deputy Administrator Manning and PRiMO partners meet with Pago Pago leadership.
Caption: Deputy Administrator Manning and PRiMO partners meet with Pago Pago leadership. From left to right: Dr. Jeffrey Payne, Chair of the Pacific Risk Management ‘Ohana (PRiMO); Representative Henry Sesepasara; Pago Pago Council member Pulu Ae Ae, Jr.; Senator Mauga T. Asuaga; Tim; Dr. Karl Kim, Executive Director of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at the University of Hawaii; Jim Fernandez, NDPC Chair. (Courtesy of Bill Thomas, NOAA)

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.

Mayors & First Responder Training

Editor’s Note: Mr. Hildreth is the Mayor of Pacific, Wash., a town in Western Washington between Seattle and Tacoma.

Mayor Richard Hildreth of Pacific, Wash., prepares for emergency responder training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness.


Mayor Richard Hildreth of Pacific, Wash., prepares for emergency responder training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

I recently completed the Hazard Assessment and Response Management (HARM) course, at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), in Anniston, Alabama, which trains students to conduct a multi-disciplined response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or Explosive  incident. As a mayor charged with making key decisions that impact my local response teams during a major incident, advanced, hands-on training makes me an informed member of the emergency management team in my community.

The HARM course is one of a handful I’ve taken at the CDP.  Some people may wonder why an elected official would attend training at FEMA’s CDP. I return to the CDP because of the unique training and because there is no other place civilian responders can go to validate their skills in an actual toxic chemical environment.

Specifically, the training helped me understand the challenges a first responder might face, the steps needed to ensure public and responder safety, and the working conditions within which first responders must operate.

But how does my experience at CDP training relate to you?

As Americans, we cannot afford to be caught off guard when a disaster occurs. No matter what your role is in your community, getting prepared for emergencies can ease the initial burden on our first responders immediately following a disaster, allowing them to focus on those that have been most affected.

It is often difficult to take time out of our busy schedules to attend training, or take the simple steps needed to get prepared.  In my own experience, it is easy to push disaster preparedness to the back burner and deal with the everyday issues that come with being a local elected official.

However, I encourage you to look into emergency preparedness training opportunities offered in your local community. If you are an emergency responder, visit the CDP Web site to find out more about the specialized, all-hazards training offered.

Both my community and I are better prepared after taking courses like those offered at the CDP. That’s why officials with roles in emergency response and thousands of concerned citizens from around the country participate in training each year. Our communities and businesses are worth it.  But more importantly, our citizens are worth it.

- Richard Hildreth

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.

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