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Reaching Out to Disaster Survivors

After a disaster, we reach out to disaster survivors in many ways. Whether it is going door to door, speaking at local events, or hosting a town hall meeting, our main goal is to make sure disaster survivors receive information on how to apply for assistance with us and our partners, as well as other organizations that provide assistance.

Working with our federal, state and local government partners, and the private sector partners, we’re better able to provide assistance to affected communities and individuals.

Take a look at this video showing how we get the word out to disaster survivors once a disaster strikes.


Visit our photo and media libraries for more photos and videos on FEMA’s role after a disaster.

National Preparedness Month is Fast Approaching – Register Today and Use Our New Web Tools

As we mentioned earlier on this blog, this September marks the eighth annual National Preparedness Month. This year we’ve launched new web tools that make it easier for you and your organizations to join the 2011 NPM coalition and pledge your support to help prepare your families, businesses and communities for emergencies of all kinds.

By simply registering to become a NPM coalition member, you’ll have access to:

a toolkit that includes suggestions for activities and events, templates, articles, banners and customizable materials,

an events calendar allowing where you can post and promote preparedness events,

discussion forums to share success stories to engage with fellow coalition members and FEMA representatives.

By hosting events, promoting volunteer programs and sharing emergency preparedness information, you can help others in your community prepare for emergencies. Becoming a coalition member is easy and free, so visit http://community.fema.gov/ to get started. Nearly 2,000 coalition members have already joined this year’s campaign!

From Atlantic to Pacific - Severe Tropical Weather

Last night, tropical storm Bret formed in the Atlantic, the second named tropical system of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. We’re closely monitoring Bret through our regional office in Atlanta as we coordinate closely with forecasters from the National Hurricane Center.

According to NHC forecasts, Bret is expected to move away from the continental U.S. over the next few days.

And in the Pacific basin, forecasters are following a well-defined low pressure area that is likely to become tropical cyclone Dora in the next 48 hours. There are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect for the U.S. at this time and based on current forecasts, the storm is not expected to be a threat to the West coast.

While the latest round of severe tropical weather appears to be steering clear of the U.S., it’s important that you get prepared for hurricanes and tropical storms before one is approaching your community. Check out Ready.gov/hurricanes for more info on getting prepared and visit www.hurricanes.gov for the latest forecasts from the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane season lasts until November 30, so now is a great time to get your home and family prepared.

What we're watching: 7/15/11

Every Friday, we do 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.

Potential Severe Weather
The National Weather Service is calling for extreme heat to continue through the weekend for much of the Central U.S., in an area stretching from Texas to North Dakota. Yesterday, we posted some safety tips for higher temperatures, so check the post out and plan to stay out of the heat.

Flooding is expected to continue along the Missouri and Souris rivers, and we continue to support the emergency management team in providing assistance to individuals and communities that continue to be affected. And in portions of the Southeast, forecasts are calling for heavy rains, so make sure you’re prepared for potential flooding or flash flooding.

And even if your community isn’t expected to have severe weather over the next few days, you can check your local forecast at www.weather.gov or on your phone at mobile.weather.gov.

Recovery Work Continues
As flood waters in the Missouri River Basin have reached a steady state, FEMA continues to work closely with our federal, state and local government partners, and the private sector meet the needs of those affected. During a July 13 visit to Minot, N.D., Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security, took a first-hand look at damage caused by recent severe flooding and reinforced the administration’s commitment to standing behind the people of Minot and all of North Dakota through every step of this recovery.

Small Business Administration: Partners in Disaster Assistance
In addition to our work supporting states currently dealing with flooding, FEMA and our partners also continue to support recovery efforts for other disasters. The Small Business Administration is urging Alabama applicants seeking assistance following April's tornadoes and severe storms to return their SBA Loan Application by the July 18th deadline.

Video: Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles in Action

On the American Red Cross Blog, they recently posted a few videos about the organization’s Emergency Response Vehicles as they deliver items to survivors in Minot, N.D. as they clean up their homes. Voluntary organizations are a valuable member of the emergency management team, and we work with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters on a daily basis, a group that includes the American Red Cross.

FY 2011 Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Award


I wanted to share a unique grant program FEMA has outside of our traditional preparedness and disaster recovery programs – the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. FEMA is provided funding each year, by Congress, to support voluntary agencies that provide food, shelter and other essential services to help the hungry and homeless individuals and families across our nation. This year, FEMA is awarding more than $119 million, through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program grant, to supplement agencies that provide food, shelter, rent, mortgage and utility assistance programs.

These funds are distributed in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which established the program and called for the creation of an Emergency Food and Shelter Program National Board. This board is comprised of representatives from agencies that include the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Salvation Army, United Way Worldwide, and FEMA. By law, FEMA serves as the chair to the national board, and the board chooses a fiscal agent and secretariat to oversee the award and compliance processes to local jurisdictions and local recipient organizations. The national board has selected United Way Worldwide to serve as this fiscal agent.

Based on the annual award from FEMA, the national board qualifies jurisdictions for funding by using a formula that takes into account factors such as the current population, unemployment, and poverty levels. Jurisdictions that qualify for funds must establish a local board that is comprised of the same agencies represented on the national board, with the highest ranking local government official or designee replacing the FEMA representative, and include at least one representative for the homeless population (i.e., currently homeless person, formerly homeless person, former recipient of service or a homeless advocate). The local boards are vested with the responsibility to administer the Emergency Food and Shelter Program at the local level and to select which agencies, both non-profit and governmental, are to receive funds. Once selected, funds are directly disbursed to these agencies by the national board.

As I shared back in March, voluntary agencies are a vital part of a community’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. However, strong partnerships are essential, not only when a disaster strikes, but year round. The Emergency Food and Shelter Program fosters public-nonprofit cooperation and partnership at the national and local levels – throughout the year - in serving those in need, and FEMA is proud to be a partner in this endeavor.

I hope you’ll learn more about this unique grant program by checking out the lists of qualifying jurisdictions and their allocation amounts.

Secretary Napolitano Visits Minot

Yesterday, Secretary Napolitano visited Minot, North Dakota to see firsthand the damage caused by the recent severe flooding. Her visit follows Deputy Administrator Serino’s visit to Minot on June 29. The Secretary encouraged Minot residents to continue to register for federal disaster assistance and reiterated the federal government's commitment to continue supporting Minot for the long haul. She also encouraged anyone  interested in helping the people of Minot and across North Dakota to send donations through organizations like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or the Minot Area Recovery Fund.

Minot, ND, July 13, 2011 -- Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks to the media and holds up a sign with the FEMA registration information. She strongly urged affected residents in eligible counties to apply for assistance.
Minot, ND, July 13, 2011 -- Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks to the media and holds up a sign with the FEMA registration information. She strongly urged affected residents in eligible counties to apply for assistance.

We wanted to provide you with a brief overview of her day -- and her thoughts on helping North Dakota in the long recovery process ahead.

An Aerial Tour
The Secretary began her visit with a helicopter tour over Minot and surrounding areas impacted. She witnessed the extensive flood damage to hundreds of homes, schools, churches, farmland, and other community areas devastated by the disaster.

Learning from Local Leaders

Minot, ND, July 13, 2011 -- Secretary Janet Napolitano listens to Minot Mayor, Curt Zimbelman, at a meeting with North Dakota Gov Jack Dalrymple and local officials after doing an aerial survey of the areas still under water in Minot and surrounding towns. Napolitano and other FEMA officials promised to continue to provide assistance to residents affected by recent floods.
Minot, ND, July 13, 2011 -- Secretary Janet Napolitano listens to Minot Mayor, Curt Zimbelman, at a meeting with North Dakota Gov Jack Dalrymple and local officials after doing an aerial survey of the areas still under water in Minot and surrounding towns. Napolitano and other FEMA officials promised to continue to provide assistance to residents affected by recent floods.

Secretary Napolitano also met with the state and local officials leading the recovery efforts, including Governor Jack Dalrymple, the mayors of Minot and Burlington, and many other local officials. They discussed some of the priorities the state and community are facing as they move forward, such as reopening schools and grocery stores. With so many homes flooded, temporary housing that can withstand the harsh winters of North Dakota is another major concern. The Secretary ensured that the government would work quickly with the state to provide temporary housing to survivors that meets their needs.

A Visit with the Media
After the meeting, the Secretary joined the governor and mayors for a press conference for local media.

Here are a few media stories about her visit:

"We are here for the duration," Fargo Forum
"Federal assistance for flood recovery," Minot Daily News
"Napolitano views flood area," KXMX CBS

Secretary Napolitano thanked the Governor and local officials for their hard work, and explained: "We are all standing behind the people of Minot, behind the people of the surrounding area, and the people of North Dakota… We will make sure that everything that can be done is being done, and is being done as quickly as possible."
Minot, ND, July 13, 2011 -- Secretary Janet Napolitano and North Dakota Governor Jack Dalyrmple appear at a press conference with local ,state and other federal officials. Napolitano and Dalyrmple did an aerial survey of the areas still under water in Minot and the surrounding towns. Napolitano and FEMA officials promised to continue to provide assistance to residents affected by recent floods.
Minot, ND, July 13, 2011 -- Secretary Janet Napolitano and North Dakota Governor Jack Dalyrmple appear at a press conference with local ,state and other federal officials. Napolitano and Dalyrmple did an aerial survey of the areas still under water in Minot and the surrounding towns. Napolitano and FEMA officials promised to continue to provide assistance to residents affected by recent floods.

At FEMA, we remain committed to supporting the survivors and local officials in recovering from the devastating floods in Minot. FEMA officials on the ground have been working hard to register survivors for temporary housing assistance, low-interest loans, and other forms of disaster assistance, and we’ll be there as long as it takes to help the Minot community recover and rebuild.

Tips for Staying Safe & Cool During Extreme Heat

A Search and Rescue dog cools off in a wading pool.
A search and rescue dog cools off in a wading pool. High temperatures continue to affect much of the U.S., so having a plan to stay cool is important for both you and your pets.

Summer is here, and much of the U.S. continues to deal with abnormally hot weather. And even if your community hasn’t experienced hotter weather yet, there are ways you can stay safe and cool when warmer temperatures arrive.

Here are some tips on staying cool and safe during extreme heat:

  • Be familiar with your local weather forecast by visiting www.weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov on your phone
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water and limit intake of alcoholic beverages. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone. Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

And hotter weather also affects pets, so remember to give them plenty of water and keep them inside. Check out Ready.gov for more tips on getting prepared, for any emergency.

Photos 2: North Dakota Flooding & Recovery

As we said last week and throughout the spring, we continue to support the emergency management team as flooding continues across the Central U.S. and northern Plains. Today, Secretary Napolitano is visiting Minot, N.D., to meet with survivors, local and state officials, and survey the damages from this year’s historic flooding.

Stay tuned to this blog for a wrap up of her trip, and in the meantime, here are some more photos of the flood-fighting and recovery efforts from our Photo Library:

Willy Dunn (right), Federal Coordinating Officer, talks with Major General Sagsveen of the North Dakota National Guard. The National Guard is one of many federal partners working to meet the needs of disaster survivors and the affected communities.
Minot, ND, July 12, 2011 -- Willy Dunn (right), Federal Coordinating Officer, talks with Major General Sagsveen of the North Dakota National Guard. The National Guard is one of many federal partners working to meet the needs of disaster survivors and the affected communities.

Flood waters reach up a mailbox in a residential area. Heavy spring rain and melting snow pack contributed to historic water levels and flooding in the area.
Bismarck, ND, July 10, 2011 -- Flood waters reach up a mailbox in a residential area. Heavy spring rain and melting snow pack contributed to historic water levels and flooding in the area.

Survivors can come to a disaster recovery center to get information on assistance programs available from both FEMA and the state.
Velva, ND, July 7, 2011 -- Survivors can come to a disaster recovery center to get information on assistance programs available from both FEMA and the state.

A FEMA community relations specialist talks to a displaced resident after a town hall meeting.
Mandan, ND, July 6, 2011 -- A FEMA community relations specialist talks to a displaced resident after a town hall meeting. FEMA conducted the town hall meeting to provide residents with information about the current response to the floods.

A FEMA employee works at a disaster recovery center.
Minot, ND, July 6, 2011 -- A FEMA employee works at a disaster recovery center. Individual Assistance is available to disaster survivors in North Dakota counties, and residents can visit a disaster recovery center to speak with a FEMA employee face-to-face and get more information on available assistance programs.

For more information on FEMA’s role in the ongoing flooding, check out the "Floods" category on the blog, and visit the disaster page for the latest on the North Dakota disaster.

News of the Day: The Many Dangers of Hurricanes

Ocean wave.

With the hurricane season more than a month underway, we’ve already seen a few tropical storms in the Atlantic and Pacific basins. And as we often say, the best time to prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm is before a storm approaches your community.

Back in May for Hurricane Preparedness Week, we posted a series of blog posts about the various hazards associated with severe tropical weather – including inland flooding, storm surge and high winds. Earlier today, USA Today posted an article reminding people that the deadliest part of a hurricane is not high winds, as many think, but the storm surge that often accompanies these storms.

We encourage you to visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for information on getting prepared today. And here are links to our posts from Hurricane Preparedness Week:

News of the Day: A Conversation With Admin. Fugate

In an article in today’s The Hill, they give an inside look into FEMA’s philosophical approach to building and strengthening the team for emergency management, an approach being driven by Administrator Fugate. Since coming to FEMA, he’s been out in front of many changes at the agency, tapping into his years of experience as an emergency medical technician and then as an emergency manager.

Here’s a section from the full article:

The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has spent the first two years of his tenure streamlining operations at the agency and shaking off deeply rooted habits to build a connected team of local, state and federal officials who are ready to move when emergencies happen.

In a major shift at FEMA, Fugate is looking beyond the information provided by professional first responders during an emergency, instead creating a two-way dialogue with the public, media and private sector to help provide quicker disaster assessments.

FEMA is looking at people in the affected communities as “a resource and not a liability”…The new message was that FEMA needed to “plan for who we serve, not who fits our plans,” Fugate said.

Read more at TheHill.com, or see Administrator Fugate’s blog posts in the “Craig’s Corner” category.

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