Blog

Main Content

News of the Day: Administrator Fugate Reflects on Year So Far

Author: 

Published by: Brad Carroll, Press Secretary

As we continue ongoing response and recovery efforts in many areas across the country, we wanted to share a recent interview featuring Administrator Fugate reflecting on the work that FEMA has done to support our state, tribal and local partners this year, so far. From historic flooding in many areas to deadly tornadoes, droughts and an earthquake and torrential rain from several tropical storms and hurricanes, this year has shown the importance of getting prepared.

This year has also demonstrated the importance of the team approach in emergency management. Administrator Fugate talked about this during the question and answer session, when he was asked if he had any criticisms of the way disasters are covered in the media:

I think the over emphasis on what FEMA does as opposed to what local and state officials, volunteers, what the private sector does, what people do to help each other. Oftentimes, particularly in the national media, because they are trying to tell a national story, the logical place that you come to is the federal government. But in disasters its very much the opposite: It's the local officials, the first responders, the community of impact, the states supporting that.

Check out the rest of the interview for insight into our emphasis on quickly providing resources to affected states after a disaster, so we can continue getting prepared for the next disaster. This year’s been an example that disasters can strike practically anytime and anywhere. As always, we also encourage you to visit Ready.gov and learn about the simple steps you can take to get you and your family better prepared before a disaster strikes.

Texas Wildfires Update 7: Continuing To Support Survivors

Author: 

Federal and state experts answer questions and help Bastrop County residents get registered for federal disaster assistance.
Bastrop County, TX, September 13, 2011 -- Federal and state experts answer questions and help Bastrop County residents get registered for federal disaster assistance.

We’ve been keeping you updated on what’s happening with the historic and devastating wildfires in Bastrop County, Texas. Now, FEMA and the state of Texas have opened a center to provide survivors a place to come to receive information and get their questions answered.

A Disaster Recovery Center opened Tuesday in Bastrop, hosting experts from FEMA, the state of Texas and the U.S. Small Business Administration. It’s a place where Bastrop County residents can talk to face to face with those experts and get their questions answered about disaster assistance, as well as get the registration process started.

FEMA and state community relations staff continue to blanket Bastrop County, spreading the word about applying for assistance through face to face contact. They have been visiting churches, businesses and public meeting places. They’ve even handed residents a phone to help them register on the spot.

In addition to opening the disaster recovery center and community relations outreach, we’ve also activated the Transitional Sheltering Assistance, at the request of the state. This allows Bastrop County wildfire evacuees, who cannot return to their homes, to stay in hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available.

We also want to re-emphasize one more message – register, register, register. If you are a resident of Bastrop County, we want you to register for federal disaster assistance. That’s the only way you are going to know if you qualify for federal aid. There are three easy ways to do that: 

  • Online at Disasterassistance.gov,
  • Via your smartphone’s internet browser at m.fema.gov or
  • By calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time seven days a week until further notice.

Again, we’ll be here as long as it takes – working hand in hand with the state of Texas – to make sure the people who have been impacted by this disaster get what they need to rebuild their homes and communities.

Video: Vermont Disaster Shows Flood Dangers & Importance of Evacuation Orders

Author: 

We continue to support the recovery efforts of our state, local and tribal partners from the effects of Irene and the remnants of tropical storm Lee and the historic flooding that affected not just those in the Northeast, but millions up and down the eastern seaboard.

I wanted to share a video highlighting how dangerous and devastating flooding and flash flooding can be. Tragically, flooding and flash flooding claim lives every year, and this video reinforces the importance of listening to local officials if they give evacuation orders. Listen as survivors and first responders share their experiences and lessons learned:
 

I encourage you to visit Ready.gov/floods to learn how you can create a family emergency plan. And for more on our ongoing support in the state of Vermont, visit the disaster page.

CDP Training Affects Tornado Response in Joplin

In May 2011, as tornado sirens sounded, hospital workers at St. John's Regional Medical Center rushed to pull 183 patients to safety as one of the largest tornadoes on record bared down on their southwestern Missouri city. Breaking glass and the roar of the powerful storm deafened the dark hospital as power was lost.

Dennis Manley, the hospital's director of quality and risk management, played a critical role as the hospital's incident commander following the deadly tornado. Guiding his hospital through a chaotic disaster was challenging but not completely unfamiliar territory thanks to training he received two years prior at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Ala.

He attended the CDP's Healthcare Leadership for All-Hazards Incidents training in 2009, followed by Hospital Emergency Response Training for Mass-Casualty Incidents later that year. The course places emergency response providers in a realistic mass-casualty training scenario – a situation no one hopes to face, but Mr. Manley was faced with a similar situation as the tornado was bearing down on Joplin.

The CDP had a chance to catch up with Mr. Manley after the tornado, and he stressed the benefits of the CDP’s hands-on training and the advantage of training in an actual hospital at the CDP’s Noble Training Facility. He also stressed the fact that the training not only enhanced his ability to respond to a mass casualty incident, but also provided an example of the many emergency roles his staff would take on because of the tornado.

Mr. Manley also commented:
 

The CDP training is about as close as you can get to the real thing. I wanted realistic training and the CDP delivered. There is no substitute to real-life experience, but the CDP training mimicked it very closely.

By training in a hospital, the experience is more life-like and real. You feel like you are actually participating in a disaster, not just pretending. That makes it easier to apply what you have learned to the real thing. The CDP training helped me fulfill my role with more confidence.

While the positive feedback from past trainees is great, I’d really like to encourage emergency responders to come to the CDP and check it out for themselves. It’s National Preparedness Month, so why not make a point to schedule training to ensure you and your staff have the skills needed for the next disaster. Whether you’re an experienced professional or a freshly minted emergency responder, having hands-on training before an emergency can provide positive outcomes if disaster strikes.

And if you’re looking for some more information, here are some other blog posts about CDP training:

Deputy Administrator Serino Honors 9/11 Victims

Yesterday, on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, millions around the world remembered those that were killed, their families, the first responders and members of the military who valiantly serve America every day. Our own Deputy Administrator Rich Serino went back to his hometown of Boston, Mass. to attend a memorial service with Secretary Napolitano, where hundreds gathered at the Massachusetts State House as the names were read aloud of the 206 Massachusetts residents that were killed on that day.

And as part of the Day of Remembrance and Service, Deputy Administrator Serino donated blood at a local American Red Cross blood drive, as he does every year on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Below are a few photos from the service; and in case you missed it, Secretary Napolitano posted a blog yesterday on “Ten Years Later: A Stronger, Safer America”.


FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino joined several hundred others during September 11, 2001 memorial ceremonies in Boston.
Boston, MA, September 11, 2011 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino joined several hundred others during September 11, 2001 memorial ceremonies in Boston. The names of 206 Massachusetts residents who died in the terrorist attacks were read on the steps of the Massachusetts State House.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino (right) talks with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano moments before attending September 11, 2001 memorial ceremonies in Boston.
Boston, MA, September 11, 2011 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino (right) talks with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano moments before attending September 11, 2001 memorial ceremonies in Boston. The names of 206 Massachusetts residents who died in the terrorist attacks were read on the steps of the Massachusetts State House.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino donates blood at a local American Red Cross blood drive honoring those who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Boston, MA, September 11, 2011 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino donates blood at a local American Red Cross blood drive honoring those who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino talks with Christie Coombs at the September 11, 2001 memorial in Boston.
Boston, MA, September 11, 2011 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino talks with Christie Coombs at the September 11, 2001 memorial in Boston. Coombs husband, Jeff, was one of the passengers on American Airlines flight 11 that crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center ten years ago.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino pays respect at the September 11, 2001 memorial in Boston.
Boston, MA, September 11, 2011 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino pays respect at the September 11, 2001 memorial in Boston. Serino participated in 9/11 memorials remembering the victims of the terrorist attacks 10 years ago.

Texas Wildfires Update 6: Helping Survivors Register For Assistance

Author: 

Yesterday, I posted an update about our community relations teams that are reaching out to wildfire survivors in Bastrop County, Texas about the importance of applying for federal assistance. This past weekend, a mobile unit was brought in to support wildfire survivors in hard-hit Bastrop County, Texas, where they can get help when registering for disaster assistance.

Wildfire survivors from Bastrop, Texas visit the FEMA Mobile Disaster Registration Intake Center
Bastrop County, TX, September 11, 2011 -- Wildfire survivors from Bastrop, Texas visit the FEMA Mobile Disaster Registration Intake Center that was set up to help people register for federal aid.

Representatives from the state and FEMA are using the intake center for the next few days to help get the ball rolling in the registration process and answer any and all questions about FEMA’s programs and the registration process. To date, more than 1,200 survivors in Bastrop County have applied for federal assistance. The Mobile Disaster Registration Intake Center has been temporarily set up in the town of Bastrop at the Grady Tuck Building at 104 Loop 150 West, until a longer-term Disaster Recovery Center opens.

State and FEMA staff work to open a Mobile Disaster Registration Intake Center in Bastrop County, Texas.
Bastrop County, TX, September 11, 2011 -- State and FEMA staff work to open a Mobile Disaster Registration Intake Center in Bastrop County, Texas. The temporary site is being used to help wildfire survivors register for federal aid.

In addition to helping applicants apply for assistance, applicants in Bastrop County are eligible for transitional sheltering assistance. Under this assistance, FEMA will pay for hotel rooms for disaster survivors in Bastrop County who are displaced and unable to return home, so that they can move out of shelters. As these survivors begin to receive federal assistance, they can start to look at longer term housing needs, such as apartment rentals, rebuilding their homes, etc.

I also want to remind everybody affected by these wildfires in Bastrop County – register for federal disaster assistance as soon as possible, because once you’re registered, we can begin to determine what type of federal assistance you are eligible to receive. The sooner you apply, the faster you will receive a reply and keep the recovery moving forward.

It’s a message we’ll keep on spreading in Bastrop County, as we continue to support those individuals and communities affected by these devastating fires. And if you were not affected by the wildfires in Bastrop County but know someone who was, please help us spread the message and encourage survivors to apply for assistance.

Update 5: Community Relations Teams in Bastrop County, Texas

Posted by: Kevin L. Hannes, Federal Coordinating Officer

FEMA Community Relations Specialist Althea Fontenot shares registration information with people in Bastrop County, Texas.
Bastrop, TX, September 10, 2011 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialist Debbie Morales shares registration information with people in Bastrop County, Texas, which received a major disaster declaration for wildfires beginning on Aug. 30.

Just hours after Texas received a major disaster declaration for wildfires in Bastrop County, FEMA community relations teams were out in full force on the ground in the affected area, joining the other FEMA staff already on the ground helping the state assess damage. A 10-person community relations team spent Saturday at the Bastrop Civic Center handing out informational fliers, encouraging people to register right away for federal assistance. They also lent a sympathetic ear, listening to the stories of loss and sometimes, miracles in the midst of such devastation.

I encourage everyone in Bastrop County who was affected by the wildfires to apply for assistance: register online at www.disasterassistance.gov, via smart phone at m.fema.gov < m=""> or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.

As Administrator Fugate always says, FEMA is part of the team, and we continue to work with our state partners from the Texas Division of Emergency Management to help the individuals and families who have been impacted by this disaster.

The pace is often intense and the days are long, but we are here in Bastrop to help those who have survived this disaster, and we will be here as long as it takes to help individuals and families rebuild their homes, lives and communities. The community relations team will be visiting our parts of the county to share information, answer questions, and continue to support the survivors of the wildfires.

We’ll post continued updates on the blog and on the Texas wildfires disaster page.

FEMA Community Relations Specialist Althea Fontenot shares registration information with people in Bastrop County, Texas.
Bastrop, TX, September 10, 2011 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialist Althea Fontenot shares registration information with people in Bastrop County, Texas, which received a major disaster declaration for wildfires beginning on Aug. 30.

< />

Update 4: Federal Support for Texas Wildfires

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and communities being impacted by the wildfires in Texas. We continue to work closely with the Texas Department of Emergency Management, Texas Forest Service and the Small Business Administration throughout the duration of these fires, and we are supporting the firefighting efforts.

Last night, the President signed a major disaster declaration for Texas, making federal aid available to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by wildfires that began on August 30, 2011. The President’s action makes federal assistance available to affected individuals in Bastrop County, which can include grants for:

  • temporary housing and home repairs,
  • low-cost loans to cover uninsured or underinsured property losses, and
  • other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Damage assessments are continuing in other affected areas, and additional counties may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in Bastrop county can apply for assistance by registering online at Disasterassistance.gov, on your smartphone at m.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 1-800-462-7585).

Other Federal Support
In addition to the President’s major disaster declaration yesterday, FEMA has also approved 55 fire management assistance grants requested by Governor Perry during this fire season, providing support to first responders and fire fighters in immediate response efforts. (Check out our previous blog post for details on fire management assistance grants.)

To date, more than 1,900 U.S. Forest Service firefighters and support personnel are assigned to the Texas fires that have burned more than 100,000 acres. For more information on additional federal support from the U.S. forest service visit their website.

And to learn more about federal support before, during and after wildfires, visit the National Interagency Fire Center website.

Wildfires, Floods & Tropical Weather: Update on Our Role

Between wildfires in Texas, remnants of tropical storm Lee causing heavy rains and flooding in the northeast, and developing tropical storm systems in the Atlantic, here’s an overview of what we’re doing to continue supporting states – whether they are responding to current disasters or preparing for the next one.

Texas Wildfires

  • We continue to closely monitor and work with states affected by recent wildfires. Last night, we approved an additional Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) for the state of Texas, raising the total to nine for this series of wildfires. As we said in previous updates, the Administration has multiple Fire Management Assistance Grants for Texas in the last several days, and 54 so far in 2011, making federal funds available to reimburse eligible costs associated with efforts to combat the fires. Two FMAGs were approved yesterday to support the firefighting efforts of first responders and firefighters in California as well.
  • In Texas, we are actively working with state and local officials to conduct damage assessments and to identify areas where additional federal assistance may be warranted. FEMA and the state have been operating an open Joint Field Office in Austin since the major disaster declaration was announced this past July. Our Incident Management Assistance Team continues to work with state officials in Austin to further assist with coordination.

For more information on our role, visit yesterday’s wildfire update and to get prepared for wildfires, visit Ready.gov/wildfires.


Remnants of Tropical Storm Lee


FEMA Applicant Services Program Specialist, Mandy McNatt, right, works on a computer with Disaster Recovery Center lead, Doug Kohler, at a center set up to assist local residents impacted by Tropical Storm Irene.
Orange, CT, September 8, 2011 -- FEMA Applicant Services Program Specialist, Mandy McNatt, right, works on a computer with Disaster Recovery Center lead, Doug Kohler, at a center set up to assist local residents impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. Disaster Recovery Centers have been opened up in areas throughout the state to offer information about programs available to local residents.

As we continue working closely to support states’ recovery efforts from the effects of Irene, we are also supporting state, tribal and local response operations from the remnants of tropical storm Lee. Through our regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, we continue to be in constant contact and coordination with our federal, state and tribal emergency management partners to support states that are being affected by the ongoing flooding.
 

  • Last night, President Obama signed emergency declarations for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the state of New York as a result of the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, making federal assistance available to save lives and protect property and public health and safety. (We recently posted a blog with details on federal assistance before, during and after severe tropical weather.)
  • We currently have emergency response personnel on the ground in Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and other Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, that were mobilized in response to Hurricane Irene and earlier disasters, who are actively supporting state and local response efforts.
  • We also have liaison officers in Mid-Atlantic state emergency operations centers and continues to be in constant coordination with the National Weather Service, other federal partners and state emergency management agency partners across the Mid-Atlantic states and the Northeast.

There are areas from the Mid-Atlantic, into upstate New York and southern New England where flooding, or flash flooding may occur or continue. As we continue to monitor the flooding in along the east coast we urge residents to follow the instructions of local officials. For more flood safety tips, see this past blog post.

Tropical Storm Maria

We continue to monitor Tropical Storm Maria’s path and activity in the east Atlantic. In coordination with local officials, we have pre-positioned resources including personnel, in several locations to help with emergency response coordination and other needs. We have deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist territory and local authorities in coordination efforts; and we already have a Joint Field Office open in Puerto Rico due to our ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Irene.

While it’s too soon to know if Maria will bring additional impacts to portions of the U.S. mainland, we are closely monitoring the storm through our regional office in Atlanta and in touch with all of the states up and down the East Coast.

Going into this weekend, we urge residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to take steps now in case Tropical Storm Maria has an effect in the islands. Tropical storms can bring high winds and heavy rains, so listen to local officials and follow their instructions, which could include sheltering in place.

For additional information, tools and resources to prepare for any type of disaster, visit Ready.gov (or in Spanish at Listo.gov).

Celebrating the Faces of Homeland Security

Earlier this summer, Secretary Napolitano launched Faces of Homeland Security: Heroes on the Front Lines to tell the stories of some of the inspiring DHS employees who have gone above and beyond to prevent terrorism, secure our borders, enforce our immigration laws, safeguard cyberspace and prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

Since then, more stories have been added, including two FEMA employees:

  • Fred Endrikat, Branch Chief, Urban Search and Rescue, who works with federal search and rescue components to strengthen response to emergencies and disasters, and helps establish policy to ensure quick and effective response
  • Don Normand, Individual Assistance Direct Housing Supervisor, who worked quickly to identify and secure sites for FEMA temporary housing units following the deadly F-5 tornado in Alabama this spring. He licensed and housed the first disaster survivors into the housing units, and continued to support survivors in Franklin and Marion counties.

Here’s an excerpt from Secretary Napolitano’s blog post:

Every day thousands of men and women come to work at DHS dedicated to securing our country. Together, with our federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, we work to protect America, along our borders, over our skies, and in the interior of our country.

I hope you will take some time to read the stories of these dedicated individuals who embody the ideals of service and sacrifice. They are just a few examples of the many Faces of Homeland Security, working on the front lines every day, at home and abroad, to protect America.

We wholeheartedly commend the efforts of federal servants across the federal family and encourage you to share these stories with your friends and family.

Pages

Back to Top