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Midwest Storms Recap 5: Overview of Federal Family's Support For States' Response Efforts

Since the deadly tornadoes first struck parts of the country last week, the federal government has been in constant contact with all of the impacted states as they responded to and began recovery efforts from these devastating storms.

The administration, through FEMA, is committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear to support Missouri and the other states devastated by the deadly tornadoes and storms this weekend.

Through our regional offices in Kansas City, MO and Chicago, IL, has been in close contact and coordination with the states since the storms first struck, and has already deployed staff and resources to the impacted areas in Missouri to help with response needs.

Here is a recap of the support efforts of the federal family today:

Friday, May 27

  • As of 7 am on May 27, more than 2,500 Missourians affected by the Sunday tornadoes in the Joplin area, in Jasper and Newton counties, have applied for assistance, and more than $2.8 million in assistance has been approved. Tornado survivors in those counties can apply for federal disaster aid, either by phone, online, or on their mobile phones. To register, survivors can call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585, apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov or apply on their smartphones at m.fema.gov.
  • FEMA has a second Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) open in the Joplin area. The center is staffed by state, voluntary agency and federal personnel to help those whose homes or businesses were affected by recent storms and tornadoes. At a DRC, representatives from FEMA, state and other agencies meet one on one with disaster survivors, explain assistance programs and help survivors apply for disaster aid. For locations and hours log onto www.fema.gov/drclocator.
  • As a result of collaboration with members of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, areas near Joplin are displaying a FEMA disaster assistance message that includes the FEMA teleregistration number, the disaster assistance website, a TTY number and a reference to multilingual operators. Similar digital billboards are also displayed in parts of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, in areas affected by severe storms last month.
  • FEMA personnel join state and local officials to begin joint preliminary damage assessments in Oklahoma.
  • FEMA personnel join state and local officials to begin joint preliminary damage assessments in Franklin County, Arkansas.

See yesterday's recap of federal support efforts on the blog.

Trends & Info: Preparing for the Future of Emergency Management

Author: 

It’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week, so as we get prepared for the present, the emergency management community is also planning for the future and looking at nine different factors (or what we call drivers) that will affect the future of emergency management.

The Strategic Foresight Initiative was launched so the emergency management community can seek to understand how the world is changing, and how those changes may affect the future of emergency management. Over 550 members of the emergency management community, including Federal, state, local, and tribal first responders and emergency management professionals, as well as individuals from the private sector and academia, have been engaged in the Initiative through a variety of forums.

The Initiative developed papers to provide some discussion about what the world might look like over the next 15 years, specifically as it relates to the emergency management community to support long-term planning and decision making.

Today I want to highlight two of the nine factors we are analyzing: (1) trends in American demographics and (2) how individuals and government use and access information. Here’s an excerpt from our findings:

(U.S. Demographic Shifts)

For example, where the larger population settles could affect what and how many resources emergency managers will need. Additionally, the implications of internal migration due to major disasters could significantly impact the future emergency management environment.

…The growth in metropolitan America has a number of implications for emergency management, including buildings possibly be putting in more vulnerable areas (e.g. the coast), evacuations becoming more difficult (which could be compounded by aging infrastructure), access to medical resources could become strained, the consequences of microclimate changes could be magnified, infrastructure could become more vulnerable, and community structure and culture changes may occur as population increases.

(Access to and Use of Information)

The explosion of social media and personal communications technology will continue to increase real-time access and delivery of information. We already see a significant amount of “spontaneous reporting” where individuals at or near the scene of an incident instantly post video, images, text messages, etc. from their personal communications device. This, combined with the 24/7 news cycle and the growth non-traditional sources of news such as social media, has created an environment of constant information flow that presents both with great opportunities (e.g., crisis mapping of the Haiti Earthquake) and challenges (information overload). The new patterns of information flow have changed the role of the mainstream/traditional media while making it increasingly difficult for emergency management to break through the cluttered information market.

For more information, read the full summary of findings for these two drivers and visit the Strategic Foresight Initiative web page.

Over the next few months, I’ll write additional blog posts about the other key drivers. In the mean time, I invite you to post any comments, thoughts, or suggestions about these drivers and how they may impact emergency management, or any other thoughts you have about the future of emergency management.

Alabama: Supporting Recovery Efforts & Reaching Survivors

Author: 

Birmingham, AL, May 20, 2011 -- At the FEMA/State Joint Field Office, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Bryne and State Coordinating Officer Jeff Byard refer to a map showing damage areas from the deadly April tornado. FEMA and the state are partners in disaster response.
Birmingham, AL, May 20, 2011 -- At the FEMA/State Joint Field Office, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Bryne and State Coordinating Officer Jeff Byard refer to a map showing damage areas from the deadly April tornado. FEMA and the state are partners in disaster response.

One month after the devastating tornado outbreak in Alabama, our goal remains the same: helping the state, its communities and its people recover from the damage and dislocation caused by the storms.

Our priorities are a livable home, removal of debris and rebuilding of homes, businesses and public facilities. This effort is guided by commitment and compassion.

The tornadoes killed 238 people. The memory of these losses compels us to make sure a rebuilt
Alabama is stronger and safer.

It’s been truly inspiring to see the outpouring of support from Alabamians and those around the country – whether it’s sending a monetary donation to a voluntary agency, donating time to pitch in with the cleanup efforts or praying for disaster survivors.

As the massive debris cleanup continues, we are encouraging those in Alabama affected by the
tornadoes and severe storms that struck on April 27 to register for disaster assistance.
To date, FEMA has approved $44.1 million in disaster relief for individuals and households. There have been more than 21,000 visits to disaster recovery centers, where survivors can get more information on the recovery process.

And through the hard work of our community relations specialists, we’ve been getting the word out to residents in both densely populated and rural areas about applying for assistance.

Pleasant Grove, AL, May 21, 2011 -- A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) opens in the community of Pleasant Grove after tornadoes struck the area. FEMA is present at the DRC for in person assistance with registration and has many programs and support available to the individuals and business owners who were in the impacted areas.
Pleasant Grove, AL, May 21, 2011 -- A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) opens in the community of Pleasant Grove after tornadoes struck the area. FEMA is present at the DRC for in person assistance with registration and has many programs and support available to the individuals and business owners who were in the impacted areas.

Steele, AL, May 21, 2011 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialists Dianne McKinnis and Patty Wiedmer encourage FEMA registration to attendees of a Bluegrass festival at Horsepens 40. This was a great venue to meet a lot of people in a very rural area.
Steele, AL, May 21, 2011 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialists Dianne McKinnis and Patty Wiedmer encourage FEMA registration to attendees of a Bluegrass festival at Horsepens 40. This was a great venue to meet a lot of people in a very rural area.

So if you’re a disaster survivor, or know someone who sustained damages as a result of the April 27 tornadoes, please share the following ways to apply for assistance:

  • Call 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., local time. Assistance is available in many languages. TTY 800-462-7585 is available for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,
  • Visit a disaster recovery center,
  • Use a smartphone or tablet go to m.fema.gov, or
  • Apply online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
     

And I wanted to share more photos of the emergency management team:


Pratt City, AL, May 24, 2011 -- Randy Luster of the Small Business Administration (SBA) encourages a survivor of the April 27th tornado to register with FEMA and the SBA to help with his recovery. Many people do not realize the SBA offers loan assistance to individuals as well as businesses after disasters.
Pratt City, AL, May 24, 2011 -- Randy Luster of the Small Business Administration (SBA) encourages a survivor of the April 27th tornado to register with FEMA and the SBA to help with his recovery. Many people do not realize the SBA offers loan assistance to individuals as well as businesses after disasters.


Pratt City, AL, May 24, 2011 -- Randy Luster of the Small Business Administration (SBA) encourages a survivor of the April 27th tornado to register with FEMA and the SBA to help with his recovery. Many people do not realize the SBA offers loan assistance to individuals as well as businesses after disasters.
Pratt City, AL, May 24, 2011 -- Randy Luster of the Small Business Administration (SBA) encourages a survivor of the April 27th tornado to register with FEMA and the SBA to help with his recovery. Many people do not realize the SBA offers loan assistance to individuals as well as businesses after disasters.


Sipsey, AL, May 24, 2011 -- Members of the Florida Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Association are helping a homeowner cut and pull debris to the street for county pickup. Faith-based volunteers are important partners with FEMA in helping survivors recover from the deadly April tornado.
Sipsey, AL, May 24, 2011 -- Members of the Florida Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Association are helping a homeowner cut and pull debris to the street for county pickup. Faith-based volunteers are important partners with FEMA in helping survivors recover from the deadly April tornado.


Jasper, AL, May 24, 2011 -- Salvation Army workers Terry NeSmith, Deb Wilcutt, and Myrtle Whitcomb distribute food and household goods to storm survivors at the Salvation Army disaster relief distribution center which opened today. Recipients can receive a voucher for $300 which can then be redeemed at the center for emergency supplies. FEMA and the Salvation Army are partners in helping survivors recover from the deadly April tornado.
Jasper, AL, May 24, 2011 -- Salvation Army workers Terry NeSmith, Deb Wilcutt, and Myrtle Whitcomb distribute food and household goods to storm survivors at the Salvation Army disaster relief distribution center which opened today. Recipients can receive a voucher for $300 which can then be redeemed at the center for emergency supplies. FEMA and the Salvation Army are partners in helping survivors recover from the deadly April tornado.


Phil Campbell, AL, May 14, 2011 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialists Laura Philpot and Tom Violette speak with Mike Yoder of the Christian Aide Ministries Disaster Service Rapid Response Team of Tennessee. Faith based organizations like this provide critical immediate services to storm survivors and are FEMA partners in recovery efforts for those affected by the April tornado.
Phil Campbell, AL, May 14, 2011 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialists Laura Philpot and Tom Violette speak with Mike Yoder of the Christian Aide Ministries Disaster Service Rapid Response Team of Tennessee. Faith based organizations like this provide critical immediate services to storm survivors and are FEMA partners in recovery efforts for those affected by the April tornado.


Tuscaloosa, AL, May 12, 2011 -- Red Cross workers are present at today's Hispanic community meeting. Red Cross and FEMA are partners in responding to disasters such as the April storms and tornado here.
Tuscaloosa, AL, May 12, 2011 -- Red Cross workers are present at today's Hispanic community meeting. Red Cross and FEMA are partners in responding to disasters such as the April storms and tornado here.

From Admin. Fugate: How to Help Joplin

The Administrator just returned from Joplin, Mo. and recorded this video to talk about the best ways to help the people of Joplin.




Resources:

Alabama: FEMA Housing Provides Much-Needed Shelter

Author: 

One month ago, much of the town of Phil Campbell in Franklin County was destroyed and many residents tragically lost their lives from a series of tornadoes that swept through Alabama, leaving many residents in the community homeless. As each day passes, we continue to admire the strength of these communities as they work together to help their neighbors recover.

Since the tornadoes struck, we’ve been working closely with our federal, state and local partners to meet the needs of disaster survivors. One way FEMA helps survivors after a disaster is by working with our state and local partners to help them find temporary housing for those who have lost their homes, like many in Phil Campbell.

This temporary housing assistance comes in many forms depending on the needs in the community:

  • We maintain a list of available properties at the FEMA Housing Portal to help individuals and families, who have been displaced by a disaster, find a place to live.
  • Money is available to rent a different place to live or a government-provided temporary housing unit may be available when there are no rental properties.
  • In rural areas where no rental properties are available, such as Phil Campbell, we deploy temporary housing units to disaster survivors. These are available to survivors for up to 18 months as they transition to more permanent housing.

Just one example in Phil Campbell is Savannah Swinney and her daughter. They recently moved into their fully furnished unit. In addition to furniture, each unit came with “living kits” donated by organizations such as the American Red Cross, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mr. Coffee , and the People of Saudi Arabia (see a photo below).

Shown below are a few photos that explain some of our Individual Assistance Housing procedures. For more information, see this page on disaster assistance.

Inspectors look at housing units.
Once a unit is installed, state law requires an Alabama Manufactured Home Commission inspector certify it is suitable for living. A final inspection is done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure all health and safety requirements are met.

FEMA officials meet with disaster survivors.
The first resident of this FEMA temporary housing unit in Phil Campbell signed a lease on May 14. Present are from left; Howard Hutcheson, Franklin County Commissioner; the new tenant and daughter; Johnny Morrow, Alabama Legislator, District 18; FEMA Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist Jim Woodard; and Mayor Jerry Mays.

interior of a housing unit.
Interior view of FEMA temporary housing unit. Eligible residents sign agreements for up to 18 months as they find more permanent housing.

items from a living kit are shown.
Items from a “living kit” before they are unpacked. The kits contain basic items donated from Mr. Coffee, American Red Cross, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and bedding from the People of Saudi Arabia to help new residents settle in.

orientation of a new resident.
As part of orientation for the new tenant of this temporary housing unit, FEMA Individual Assistance Housing Specialist Don Norman points out appliance information.

orientation of a new resident.
As part of orientation for the new tenant of this temporary housing unit, FEMA Individual Assistance Housing Specialist Don Norman points out NOAA weather radio information, provided with each unit.

Day 6 – Hurricane Preparedness Week: Make A Plan

This week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, so we’re continuing to share ways you can get prepared before hurricane season, beginning June 1. Today, we’re sharing tips you and your family can use to create an emergency plan, so you can stay in touch, stay informed, and reduce the stress of a hurricane or tropical storm.

There are several essential steps that should be a part of your hurricane safety plan, or any family emergency plan:

  • Identify an out-of town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.
  • Have a battery-powered radio, like a NOAA Weather Radio in the event that you lose power.
  • Have an evacuation plan. If you are told to evacuate due to a hurricane, have a map to ensure you take the safest and quickest route/exit towards safety.
  • Have a go-kit! A go-kit is an emergency supply kit that includes items like non-perishable food, water, a hand held battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. Also have an extra pair of clothes available. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car in case you are told to evacuate.

Check out this video of FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate’s tips on getting a plan and visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for information on getting ready for severe tropical weather.
While we can’t predict where the next hurricane or tropical storm may hit, we can all take steps now to make sure we’re prepared.

Other blog posts for National Hurricane Awareness Week
- Day 1: What we’re doing to prepare
- Day 2: Storm surge
- Day 3: Wind danger
- Day 4: Inland flooding
- Day 5: The team effort

Day 5 – Hurricane Preparedness Week: The Full Team Effort

Administrator Craig Fugate sits in a hurricane hunter aircraft.
Biloxi, MS, April 29, 2010 -- Administrator Fugate sits in the co-pilot seat in a Hurricane Hunter aircraft alongside Major Jeff Ragusa during his visit with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Hurricane Hunters) at Keesler Air Force Base. The Hurricane Hunters provide valuable weather data used by FEMA and other partners to evaluate active weather situations.

This week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and we’ve been teaming up with our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to emphasize getting prepared for hurricane season, which starts June 1.

We’ve looked back at various hazards that hurricanes cause, such as storm surge, inland flooding and wind damage. Today, we wanted talk about the full team effort that’s involved in keeping the public informed as severe tropical weather develops or threatens the U.S.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC), in Miami Florida, is the official source for the latest updates on severe tropical weather, and works closely with several office across NOAA. Here’s a quick view of the center’s role, according to Daniel Brown, National Hurricane Center senior hurricane specialist:

The NHC mission is to save lives, mitigate property loss, and improve economic efficiency by issuing the best watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous tropical weather and by increasing understanding of these hazards. The NHC vision is to be America's calm, clear, and trusted voice in the eye of the storm and, with its partners, enable communities to be safe from tropical weather threats.

By using advanced technology such as fully equipped hurricane hunter aircraft, satellites, computer models, and Doppler radar, the NHC works to have most accurate forecast available.

At FEMA, we coordinate closely with NOAA and the NHC to make sure we have the most up to date information so we can be prepared to support American citizens and the rest of the emergency management team. Should a hurricane or tropical storm approach the U.S. or one of its territories, we will take the necessary steps to ensure we’re ready.

FEMA and the NHC are just two members of the team that help citizens, state and local governments, businesses, and faith-based and community groups get prepared for severe tropical weather. As hurricane season progresses, be sure to check back on this blog for more stories about this team in action.

For more information on NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, check out this video, or visit their website. You can stay up to date with the latest forecast from the NHC at http://www.hurricanes.gov/ or on your phone at http://hurricanes.gov/mobile.

Midwest Storms Recap 4: Overview of Federal Family's Support For States' Response Efforts

Administrator Fugate meets with a firefighter.
Joplin, MO, May 26, 2011 -- Administrator Craig Fugate surveys a damaged fire station with a Joplin firefighter.

Since the deadly tornadoes first struck parts of the country last week, the federal government has been in constant contact with all of the impacted states as they responded to and began recovery efforts from these devastating storms.

The administration, through FEMA, is committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear to support Missouri and the other states devastated by the deadly tornadoes and storms this weekend.

Through our regional offices in Kansas City, MO and Chicago, IL, has been in close contact and coordination with the states since the storms first struck, and has already deployed staff and resources to the impacted areas in Missouri to help with response needs.

Here is a recap of the support efforts of the federal family today:

Thursday, May 26

  • At the President's direction, White House National Security Staff Senior Director for Response Policy Dabney Kern, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute, Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Bill Corr, Small Business Administration Associate Administrator James Rivera and Department of Commerce DOC/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Assistant Secretary of Commerce Dr. Kathy Sullivan join Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, in Joplin to tour the damage and meet with state and local officials.
  • The NFL Players Association sends current and former St. Louis Rams football players to Joplin to participate in community outreach activities with FEMA and the American Red Cross. 
  • In coordination with LodgeNet hotel video network, FEMA disaster assistance videos begin to air on hotel room welcome channels across Missouri.
  • As of 7 a.m., more than 1,900 Missourians affected by the Sunday tornadoes in the Joplin area, in Jasper and Newton counties, have applied for assistance, and more than $1.3 million in assistance has been approved. Tornado survivors in those counties can apply for federal disaster aid, either by phone, online, or on their mobile phones. To register, survivors can call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585, apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov or apply on their smartphones at m.fema.gov
  • Community relations teams remain on the ground meeting with disaster survivors in the Joplin area, canvassing neighborhoods, visiting shelters and supporting the operation of disaster recovery centers.
  • FEMA personnel join state and local officials to begin joint preliminary damage assessments in Hennepin County, Minnesota. These damage assessments are the first step in helping a governor determine whether the scope of the damages are beyond what the state is capable of handling and if additional federal assistance is needed.
  • FEMA personnel join state and local officials to begin joint preliminary damage assessments in Johnson County, Arkansas. 

See yesterday's recap of federal support efforts on the blog.

Deputy Admin. Serino From Missouri: Riding Out A Storm

Author: 

One of the best parts of my job at FEMA is getting to talk with people all over the country about how they can – and do – prepare themselves, their families, and their communities for disaster. There are so many grass-roots, community-driven preparedness and resilience efforts underway in our country – it’s a topic I never get tired of listening to or sharing ideas about. What I have been lucky that I have not had to do very often, though, is follow my own advice about taking specific steps to stay safe during the moments when disaster strikes.

Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri changed that.

I had just spent two days in Joplin, Missouri supporting response and recovery in the wake of one of the nation’s deadliest tornadoes. I’d seen first-hand the horrendous devastation and talked with countless everyday heroes. I found myself wanting to stay longer, but I also looked forward to fulfilling a previous commitment I’d made to speak in Kansas City at a national conference of the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) – some of the most important members of the nation’s emergency management team.

I stopped at our FEMA Region VII office to talk with staff and to catch up on some work before joining the conference. Turns out, Mother Nature had different ideas.

I’d only been there a couple of hours when the weather suddenly became very unstable. The next thing I knew, FEMA staff alerted me that there were possible tornadoes nearby and I needed to move with them to a safe area within the building. Outdoor warning sirens began to sound. I thought to myself,

Tornadoes?? What???? I’m from Boston. I know hurricanes. I know blizzards. But we don’t have tornadoes there too often. This is going to be interesting.

Despite the potential perils, I felt surprisingly calm. At FEMA, we’re in the business of disasters. Many of our staff are disaster survivors themselves. We preach preparedness. But are we really ready?

I quickly learned that in this case, we were. As an agency, we’re always telling others to prepare, plan, and stay informed. That includes understanding weather terminology, monitoring media in times of potentially bad weather, using a NOAA weather radio, having a safe place to take shelter and practicing an emergency plan.

When the real pressure was on us, it was heartening to see members of the FEMA team practice what we preach. The region’s emergency watch officers detected the dangerous weather. As I moved with more than 100 of our employees to the safe area on a lower floor, I heard the sounds of weather radios. The team was orderly and calm. I was proud and humbled.

We sheltered together for more than an hour as several reported funnels in the area dipped down and back up. One possible tornado was reported a mere six blocks away. We used the time to informally catch up as a group on our agency’s activities and goals, and to check on our families. One staffer even took advantage of the ‘captive audience’ and delivered a Continuity of Operations refresher course as we waited for the ‘all clear.’ Hmm … very creative.

We were fortunate enough to get through the situation without harm. Sadly, some Missouri communities were not. If FEMA is needed, we’ll be there to help.

As for me, I will forever remember this as a day that our passion for preparedness counted – again.

First there were Zombies; then came Hurricanes!

With June 1 only days away, FEMA, CDC and the rest of the team are busy preparing for the upcoming hurricane season. And now that you’ve taken the necessary precautions to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, you can start preparing for hurricane season, too. In recognition of Hurricane Preparedness Week, we want to remind you of some simple steps you can take.  The same steps that we described in our zombie post (get a kit, make a plan, be informed) are key to getting prepared for a hurricane as well.

Get a Kit and Stock Up

Emergency kit.
Some useful items for your family emergency kit.

After a hurricane strikes, you may not have the convenience of your local supermarket or other supply stores that you visit on a regular basis.  Therefore, it’s critical that you have the supplies you need to survive for at least 72 hours, like non-perishable food, water, prescription medications, batteries, baby supplies, phone chargers and inverters, and a first-aid kit. While you are gathering supplies, make sure that you also place an emergency kit in your car. Learn more about supplies you’ll need on CDC.gov or Ready.gov.

Make a Plan With Your Family
It’s important to identify ahead of time where you and your family will go if you have to evacuate. If local officials order a mandatory evacuation in your area, you should follow this request and make plans for you and your family to leave. Sit down with your family now and decide whether you will evacuate to an out-of-town friend or relatives’ house, or if you will stay at a hotel in a safe place.

Hurricane evacuation route signs show motorists where to go.
Be sure to know your evacuation route ahead of time.

And when making your evacuation plan, don’t forget about your precious pets!  You should make alternate housing arrangements for your pets in advance, since pet-friendly shelters may not be available during the emergency period. Identifying pet boarding facilities that are located along your evacuation route and outside of the danger zone are important steps to ensuring your pets will have a safe place to go.  When evacuation orders are issued, you should call the boarder to ensure that they have availability. Here’s a useful checklist for your pets on Ready.gov, FEMA’s website for emergency preparedness.

Now that you have a plan for your family (including four-legged members), consider the following precautions before you evacuate:Fill your car's gas tank. If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.

  • Prepare an emergency kit for your car with food, water, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc. 
  • Secure any items outside which may damage property in a storm, such as bicycles, grills, propane tanks, etc. 
  • Cover windows and doors with plywood or boards or place large strips of masking tape or adhesive tape on the windows to reduce the risk of breakage and flying glass. 
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.
  • Be sure to take your phone charger with you.

Tune In And Stay Informed

While the path of a hurricane is forecasted before it hits land, the situation can often change from one minute to the next.  It’s important to be informed with a NOAA weather radio and educate yourself on hurricane-related terms that will be used throughout the season, such as:

  • Tropical storm watch - tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.
  • Tropical storm warning - tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.
  • Hurricane watch - hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area.  This is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
  • Hurricane warning - hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area.  This is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

The National Hurricane Center provides a glossary on its Web site, so take some time and familiarize yourself with their Glossary of National Hurricane Center Terms.

While Hurricane Preparedness is a top priority and responsibility for FEMA and CDC, as well as other emergency management and public health agencies, it’s also each individual’s responsibility to ensure that they take the necessary steps to be prepared.  You can learn more about Hurricane Preparedness at emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/ and www.Ready.gov/hurricanes.

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