Washington, DC, August 1, 2011 -- Leaders from a variety of African American communities participate in a roundtable discussion at the African American Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., August 1-2. The summit provided an opportunity for participants to discuss some of the biggest challenges emergency managers and responders face in traditionally underserved communities.
At FEMA, we are always looking for ways that the emergency management team can work together to accomplish common objectives and better serve the whole community before, during and after a disaster. This week FEMA held the African American Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. to hear from leaders from a variety of African American communities.
At the summit, we had frank conversations about how FEMA can be a better partner and what leaders from the private sector, faith communities, professional associations and other arenas can do to work more closely with us and our state and local partners. Participants gave us concrete feedback on how we can get our messages out more clearly and widely and also helped identify some of the biggest challenges emergency managers and responders face in traditionally underserved communities.
Administrator Fugate kicked off the Summit with an hour and a half discussion to reiterate his commitment to seeking out communities that have been underserved and underutilized in the past. He told us that it’s not enough to wait for the phone to ring, but in rural and urban communities – and everything in between – we have to be out pounding the pavement, dirt or gravel to find the people who need help the most.
The African American Leadership Summit was a part of a much longer conversation that will continue all year round. We want to thank all of the leaders who participated – for your long travel hours and the time spent here, and most importantly for the wisdom and experiences you shared with us. It takes the whole team working together to make sure we’re doing the best job possible in the communities we’re charged with serving. The Summit was a great example of how collaboration makes us all better prepared to serve our citizens and disaster survivors.
Editor's Note at 4:45 p.m. EDT: The National Hurricane Center said remnants of tropical storm Emily have dissipated to an area of low pressure, and all watches/warnings have been cancelled. They will issue advisories again at www.hurricanes.gov if the storm regenerates.
We’re continuing to closely monitor tropical storm Emily through our Regional offices in Atlanta Ga., New York, N.Y. and our Caribbean Area Office located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As of 3 p.m. EDT, Emily continues to deliver heavy rains to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and may affect southern Florida on Saturday.
We continue to work closely with the National Hurricane Center, as well as our partners in the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (en espanol) and Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Those in coastal areas, especially along the eastern coast of Florida and the southeast United States, should take steps to prepare, because history teaches that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly. Tropical storms and hurricanes can bring heavy rains, flash flooding, and high winds, so if you haven’t already, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for tips on creating your family emergency plan and getting an emergency kit.
Make sure you’re staying up to date with the latest forecast at hurricanes.gov or hurricanes.gov/mobile on your phone. For the latest on our role, visit the Severe Tropical Weather category in this blog.
And if someone you know is looking for tropical storm/hurricane preparedness resources in Spanish, visit Listo.gov/huracanes. For more information, they can visit the Spanish version of the FEMA full (fema.gov/esp) and mobile site (m.fema.gov/esp).
As we mentioned earlier this week on this blog, as part of our efforts to better engage with the private sector, FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, and other partners are hosting a conference on Public Private Partnerships August 3-4.
Yesterday, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke to the attendees and reiterated the private sector’s role as an important partner in strengthening the homeland security enterprise to better defend against evolving threats, including disasters. In fact, just recently DHS released a report regarding the progress DHS has made in implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. The report outlines advancements by DHS and its partners, including the Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (PS-Prep™). Napolitano urged participants to get involved in this partnership program, which enables private entities to receive emergency preparedness certification.
Secretary Napolitano commended the work that’s been done in the last decade to strengthen the nation’s resilience to emergencies through public and private partnerships, but reminded the audience that more can be done. She challenged the participants to continue the conversation with their community partners after they leave the conference, and find ways to increase and enhance relationships between the private sector and public sector.
As we often say, the private sector is an important part of the emergency management team, so we will continue to work closely with them to strengthen our nation’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
In his video yesterday, Administrator Fugate mentioned we’re continuing to closely track tropical storm Emily as it moves through the Atlantic. Forecasts from the National Hurricane Conference are calling for 6-10 inches of rain for Puerto Rico today/tomorrow, and forecasts are calling for Emily to approach the east coast of Florida later this week. Through our Regional offices in Atlanta Ga., New York, N.Y. and our Caribbean Area Office located in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we’re in close coordination with our state and territory partners, including the Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (en espanol).
At this point, the future path and strength of Emily remains uncertain, so it’s important that those in coastal areas along the Atlantic are taking steps to get prepared. In addition to damaging high winds, tropical storms and hurricanes often cause flooding and flash flooding that can be extremely dangerous.
If you’re in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or other areas that may be affected, here are some safety tips to remember:
- Follow the direction of local officials – if the order is given to evacuate, do so immediately along your prescribed route. This direction could include sheltering in place, so know what supplies you and your family will need to sustain you for at least 72 hours,
- Stay away from low-lying, flood prone areas – these are most susceptible to flash flooding,
- Keep up to date on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center at hurricanes.gov, or on your mobile phone at hurricanes.gov/mobile (FEMA’s mobile site has tips on staying safe before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane)
Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for more information on getting prepared for severe tropical weather. Our Severe Tropical Weather category has our latest on tropical storm Emily.
Several state emergency management agencies have been posting updates about tropical storm Emily on their Twitter accounts, so here's a quick list of emergency management agencies on the east coast:
- Florida Division of Emergency Management
- Georgia Emergency Management Agency
- South Carolina Division of Emergency Management
- Virginia Division of Emergency Management
As we mentioned yesterday, we continue to closely monitor tropical storm Emily. The latest update from the National Hurricane Center includes a tropical storm warning for Puerto Rico, Haiti, Vieques and Culebera, as well as a tropical storm watch for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This video from Administrator Fugate discusses what we’ve been up to, and how you can get prepared:
Visit www.hurricanes.gov for the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center, and visit the Severe Tropical Weather category on the blog.
I’ve posted several blog articles about the importance of engaging the private sector in emergency management – and how members of the public and government agencies can benefit from better collaboration with businesses and non-governmental organizations. As part of this effort to better engage with the private sector, FEMA, Department of Homeland Security, and other partners will be hosting a conference on Public Private Partnerships on August 3-4.
I’d like to encourage you to participate in with the conference, even though the seats at the conference are filled. Here’s how you can get involved:
- Watch – we’ll have a live webcast of the conference so viewers from across the nation can see and hear what the presenters are discussing. On the webcast page, there is also a link to the full conference agenda (PDF).
- Tweet – those that are at the conference or talking about it on Twitter are encouraged to use #FEMAP3 in their message
- Learn more – for more on FEMA’s ongoing work with the private sector, visit the Private Sector Division website, or send us an e-mail.
The event will include cutting edge panelists, interactive workshops, and working groups that will explore creative ways for public private partnership collaboration before, during and after an emergency. Scheduled speakers include DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, former DHS Secretary/Governor Tom Ridge, representatives from NORTHCOM, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross, Target, Big Lots and Verizon, to name a few.
I hope you’ll be able to watch the webcast, join the larger conversation on Twitter, or learn more about FEMA’s work with the private sector. To get you started on the last point, here are some of my past blog posts:
- Resources for getting your business prepared
- Connecting the private sector to emergency response
- News of the Day: Private Sector Execs Working at FEMA
Since our update earlier today, here’s the latest:
- A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Puerto Rico and the islands of Vieques and Culebra. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours.
- In addition, a tropical storm watch has been issued for the US Virgin Islands and Haiti. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.
Through our regional offices in Atlanta, Ga., New York, N.Y. and our Caribbean Area Office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we remain in close contact with our partners at the National Hurricane Center, Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (En Espanol).
Two of our regional Incident Management Assistance Teams have been deployed to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to coordinate territory and local officials if federal response support is needed. (Check out this blog post to learn the value these teams bring to the emergency management team.)
If you’re in the potentially affected area, here are a few tips to keep you safe:
- Monitor weather conditions and listen to the direction of local and territory officials, which for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico could include sheltering in place.
- If local officials give the order to evacuate, be sure to know your evacuation route.
- Know what supplies you and your family will need to shelter in place, if that is the advice given by local officials.
Hurricanes.gov continues to be the official source for the latest tropical weather forecast from the National Hurricane Center. And if you’re on your phone, check out their mobile site for the latest information, or visit the FEMA mobile site for tips on staying safe before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane.
We’re continuing to closely monitor a developing storm system in the Atlantic, approximately 1,600 miles south east of Miami. Through our Regional offices in Atlanta, Ga. and New York, N.Y., we’re coordinating closely with the National Hurricane Center and the states and territories that may be impacted as the storm further organizes and moves toward the U.S.
Although no coastal watches or warnings have been issued yet for the U.S., current forecast tracks show the storm could impact Florida and parts of the East Coast, and will impact the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in the next few days. We encourage residents in these areas and in Puerto Rico (en Espanol) and the Virgin Islands to continue to monitor weather conditions and take steps now to get prepared for potential severe weather. Tropical waves or tropical storms can bring heavy rains and high winds, so it’s important that you take steps to prepare your property and family:
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts,
- Listen to local officials – if told to evacuate, leave immediately, following your predetermined evacuation route. If told to shelter in place, go to your designated shelter or safe area, and
- If you have a boat, determine how and where it will be secured.
Here’s a look at what we’re doing so far:
- Our regional office in New York has activated its Regional Response Coordination Center and is ready to coordinate with its other federal, state, and local partners as needed.
- We have also proactively deployed two regional Incident Management Assistance Teams to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to coordinate with territory and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery.
Ready.gov/hurricanes has more tips on getting a kit, making an emergency plan, and being informed, so check it out for more tips on keeping you and your family safe. And be sure to visit www.hurricanes.gov or (http://hurricanes.gov/mobile on your phone) for the latest forecast information from the National Hurricane Center as this storm system progresses. We will continue to use this blog and our social networking sites to provide safety tips and updates on our role as well.
- Follow the National Hurricane Center on Twitter and Facebook
- Follow the Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency on Twitter and Facebook