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In Photos: Urban Search and Rescue Team Deploying to Japan

Yesterday, one of our updates about the Japan earthquake and tsunami highlighted the two Urban Search and Rescue teams deploying to support search and rescue operations. The teams are deploying at the request of the Japanese government, under the direction of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

See more about the Virginia Task Force 1 team (VA-TF1) as they make final preparations on Facebook or their website.

Celebrating Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities


Today's earthquake and the resulting tsunami are another reminder of the need to plan for the entire community and not just plan for the easy scenarios following a disaster, as Administrator Fugate often says. Along with the National Disability Rights Network and other leaders and advocates from across the disability community, we signed a memorandum of agreement today at the White House.  This agreement solidifies a partnership in working together to make sure we are planning for and meeting the needs of people with disabilities before, during, and after disasters strike.

Here's an excerpt from the White House Blog:

Under the leadership of President Obama and Administrator Fugate, we are changing all of this. We have taken several concrete steps already. And as Administrator Fugate said at today’s MOA signing – we must plan for the whole of community up front, with FEMA as just one part of the emergency management team.

Today’s agreement helps strengthen the relationship that Administrator Fugate and his team have already developed with the National Disability Rights Network and other key stakeholders. It will help FEMA do two critical things:

  • First, it helps us plan for the needs of the entire community, for any disaster. That means planning for the needs of people with disabilities, young children, seniors, and all members of the “real” community.
  • Second, it’s another step toward bringing the collective resources of the entire community to the table to help meet those needs.

Read the full blog post at

Tsunami Update 4: Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) deploying to Japan

At the request of the Japanese government, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying two Urban Search and Rescue teams to assist in search and rescue efforts in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.

As you may have seen in the news, the California Task Force 2 (CA-TF2) and Virginia Task Force 1 (VA-TF1) teams are deploying due to their direct agreement with USAID.  The teams consist of 70 multi-faceted, cross-trained personnel who serve in six major functional areas, including search, rescue, medical, hazardous materials, logistics and planning. In addition, they are supported by canines that are specially trained and qualified to be able to conduct physical search and heavy rescue operations in damaged or collapsed reinforced concrete buildings.

So how does FEMA fit into the picture? Here's part of our blog post when the CA-TF2 was deployed to New Zealand in response to the Christchurch earthquake:

You often hear US&R and FEMA in the same sentence, and the reason is because FEMA has developed disaster response agreements with 28 urban search and rescue teams located in various cities throughout the United States.   The teams are locally managed, but FEMA provides funding and program development support for the teams.

Other links
- CA-TF2 website, Facebook and Twitter
- VA-TF1 website

Tsunami Update 3: Helping those affected by the earthquake in Japan

As Administrator Fugate said this morning, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier today. If you would like to help the survivors, or families of the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, please visit for information on how to donate.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) remains the lead Federal agency when it comes to responding to international disasters, and we stand ready to assist if called upon. Within the U.S., we're working closely with other members of the emergency management team to support State and local response operations from the tsunami if needed.

Other links
- If you're looking for a friend, relative, or loved one in Japan, visit the Google Person Finder on the Google Crisis Response page.

Tsunami Update 2: Federal Response

FEMA and Federal Partners Support States, Territories in Tsunami Response

Alongside our federal partners, we are closely monitoring the effects of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan early this morning and stand ready to support state and local response operations if needed. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued Tsunami Warnings and Watches for a number of countries, including parts of U.S. territories in the Pacific as well as coastal areas along California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

At the President’s direction, FEMA is leaning forward to assist our state and territory partners. And as we often say, FEMA is not the team, FEMA is part of the team, a team that includes the entire federal family, state, local and tribal officials, the faith-based and non-profit communities, the private sector and most importantly the public. Individuals living in the affected areas need to take precautions and to continue to heed the information and warnings coming from their state and local officials.

Earlier this morning, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Administrator Craig Fugate briefed President Obama on the Department’s ongoing coordination activities with potentially affected states and territories.

Under the direction of the President, we are in close coordination with state and local officials, through regional offices in Oakland, California and Bothell, Washington, and the pacific area office in Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition, we have commodities, such as water, meals, blankets and cots, prepositioned in Hawaii, Guam, and the Bay area of California should a request be made.

There have been no requests for federal assistance from U.S. states or territories at this time, however, we and our federal partners stand ready to provide support if a request is made by a Governor. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) remains the lead federal agency when it comes to responding to international disasters.

Personnel from FEMA and other federal agencies work side-by-side in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center.

Washington DC, March 11, 2011 - Personnel from FEMA and other federal agencies work side-by-side in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center.

Here is additional information on the coordination efforts from our Federal partners:

U.S. Coast Guard rescue crews are making preparations through the main Hawaiian Islands to provide post-tsunami support following any potential impacts.

The Department of Defense has positioned National Guard personnel in county emergency operation centers in Hawaii, additional aircraft and personnel have been placed on standby if needed.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is deploying a Disaster Medical Assistance Team of more than 35 healthcare professionals and an Incident Response Coordination Team to Travis Air Force Base in California, as well as caches of medical equipment and supplies. From the Air Force base, the teams and equipment can deploy quickly wherever they are needed if requested by states or territories in the region or by the government of Japan.

The HHS Administration on Aging is monitoring the situation through its state, tribal and local Agencies on Aging, in impacted areas, to ensure safety of older adults in potentially impacted areas.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is closely monitoring conditions near the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located near San Luis Obispo, CA. The NRC is working closely with its resident inspectors who are on site to ensure safe operating.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its Pacific Tsunami Warning Center are monitoring conditions and issuing warnings and advisory updates as available.

The U.S. Department of State has a call center established for Americans seeking information about family members in Japan. The number is 1-888-407-4747.

While tsunami watches and warning remain in effect, we urge the public to listen to the instructions of state and local officials, and if told to evacuate – evacuate. We urge everyone in the regions who could be impacted to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for updates and directions provided by their local officials.

Personnel from FEMA and other federal agencies work side-by-side in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center.

Washington, DC, March 11, 2011 – Personnel from FEMA and other federal agencies work side-by-side in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center.

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Update 1


(Updated with a video, 8am EST)

FEMA is closely monitoring the effects of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan early this morning, and through our regional offices in the West Coast and in the pacific area, we are in close contact and coordination with state and local officials and stand ready to support them in any way needed.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy.

Tsunami warnings and watches have been issued for the U.S. territories of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, as well as portions of coastal areas in Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington.

Our immediate priority is the safety of the people and communities in the affected areas.  We remind everyone who lives in the region to monitor their local news for instructions from their state and local officials and if told to evacuate - evacuate.

News of the Day: Kids Fire Safety

For the last few weeks, we’ve worked with our partners to raise awareness of children’s fire safety. We wanted to highlight this story on (Mississippi), showing how one community is helping to spread the word.

Have you shared fire safety tips with your children, or those that you come into contact with? has some great tips on getting children prepared so they know what to do in case of a fire. And if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #kidsfiresafety to share how you’ve been getting children engaged.

Also, check out some of our recent blog posts on kids fire safety:

Using Your Cell Phone Before, During and After a Disaster

Mobile phones set on a table displaying the FEMA mobile site homepage.

Cell phones are becoming more and more valuable to our lives – providing internet access, the latest weather forecast, and access to our favorite social networking sites.  While cell phones can be a great convenience, they can also be a lifeline after an emergency.

As Administrator Fugate often says, a cell phone is a data center, with the ability to store and access a large amount of information quickly.  So why not tap into the power of your cell phone, whether it's the latest-and-greatest model, or a phone that’s been around a while, and be ready to use it in case a disaster strikes?

In recent disasters, like the aftermath of the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010, cell phones have been an invaluable resource for disaster survivors.  I sincerely hope no one finds themselves in the dire situation that many Haitians did following the earthquake, but we can all take steps to make our cell phones a handy resource before, during, and after an emergency.
Here are some tips to making your cell phone an emergency resource:

  • Store useful phone numbers – Check the numbers for your emergency contacts to make sure they’re up to date.  Be sure to save the contact information for your local police and fire departments, as well as your utility companies.  That way, you’ll be able to quickly report any service or power outages following an emergency.
  • Create a group for your emergency contacts – Some cell phones allow you to create contact groups or lists, making it easy to send a single text message to a group to let them know your status after an emergency.  Many social networking sites allow you to create a list or group of contacts as well, making it easy to share your status with your emergency contacts following a disaster.
  • Stay up to date via Twitter without an account – Twitter is becoming an important vehicle for information before, during and after a disaster.  One of the common misconceptions is that people need a Twitter account to receive updates. 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).

    I encourage you to receive updates from the local/state emergency management agencies in your area, along with any other accounts that could provide you with meaningful information before, during, and after a disaster.
  • Bookmark useful mobile sites – If your cell phone has internet access, take advantage of mobile websites that are formatted to display information within a mobile browser.  The National Weather Service (, Center for Disease Control (, and FEMA ( are mobile sites you can bookmark today.
  • Backup your battery – This may not be a tip for using your cell phone, but having an extra battery for your phone (or a solar charger) in your emergency kit will ensure you can use your device if the power stays out for an extended period of time.

The items outlined above are a great place to start, but let me know if you have other tips for using your cell phone or other mobile sites that you have found useful.

- Shayne

Other links
- For information on creating your emergency plan, getting an emergency kit, or becoming informed about potential disasters in your area, visit

Have questions? I've got answers


When the blog started a few months ago, I encouraged everyone to use it as a place to have conversations about the current and important topics in emergency management.

Since my first blog, we've featured posts from leaders within FEMA, as well as insights from other members across the emergency management team.  Now with the spring season upon us, which has already brought flooding, wildfires and tornadoes, I wanted to jump back into the blogosphere and give another opportunity for you to directly ask me some ask questions.

So what would you like to know - either about FEMA or emergency management in general?

You can leave your question on the blog, or send it via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail.  I'll provide video answers to some of the questions next week.  For those I can't get to myself, look for future blog posts from other FEMA leadership if the question falls within their area.

I'm looking forward to keeping the conversation going.

- Craig

Flood Insurance Provides Lifeline For Business Owners


Getting prepared for spring flooding is one of the topics driving our attention this time of year.  In previous blog posts, we’ve highlighted two approaches to getting prepared - learning from past disasters and sharing your preparedness tips with your neighbor.

While many preparedness tips focus on individuals taking action, businesses also play a vital role in helping an affected community come back to full strength after a disaster. 

One way businesses (as well as residents) can protect their property from the financial damages of flooding is by purchasing flood insurance.  See this couple’s story to learn how flood insurance helped their business come back faster after a flood:

Protecting your business’s assets with flood insurance is one part of getting prepared - employees can use tips on to make their family emergency plan and build their emergency kit, so they can return to normalcy faster as well.

Has your business seen the benefit of flood insurance? Share your story below.

- Dan

Other links
- For more information on commercial and residential flood insurance, visit
- For more information on getting your business prepared before a disaster strikes, visit


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