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Help Us Spread the Word – On November 9, “This is Just a Test”

Editor's Note (Nov 2): Visit www.fema.gov/eastest for more information, including our new widget.


Over the past few months, we have written on this blog about the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, which is now less than two weeks away. The test will take place on Wednesday, November 9th at 2:00 pm eastern standard time, and will be the first time this system, which is often tested and used by officials at the local level, will be tested across the entire country.

The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system that can be activated by the President, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies. NOAA’s National Weather Service, governors, and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency. It is a critical communications tool that can provide alerts, warning and information rapidly across multiple television and radio platforms.

Our top priority is to make sure that all members of the public know that this test is coming up – and that it is just a test. For most of us, this test will look and sound very similar to the local tests of the Emergency Alert System that we often see on TV or hear on the radio.

But as we always say here at FEMA, we’re just part of the team – and we’re counting on all of you to help us spread the word in your communities, with your co-coworkers, neighbors, friends and loved ones.

To help do that, we have put together a couple of videos you can use to help explain what this test is and what people can expect:



Administrator Fugate and FEMA’s Neil McDevitt explain the test in American Sign language:

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FEMA's Dawn Hart provides key information about the test in Spanish:

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We've been actively engaged with our partners at the Federal Communications Commission, our state, tribal, territorial and local partners, the broadcast community, and other key stakeholders in getting ready for this test. We hope that you will help us spread the word about the Emergency Alert System test by sharing these videos on your websites – or with your communities.

Copy the above code or embed the video from our YouTube channel.

You can read our blog post when we first announced the EAS Test and visit the FCC website for more information about the test, including additional answers to some frequently asked questions.

What We’re Watching: 10/28/11

Colder weather coming for many

Some people thoroughly enjoy colder weather and the white fluffy stuff that often comes with it, while others continually look for a way to escape the cold for warmer temperatures. Regardless of your stance on cold and snow, it’s the time of year when temperatures are dropping as winter approaches.

Areas around the Rocky Mountains and the Upper Midwest have already had their first snowfall, and forecasts from the National Weather Service predict the Northeast could experience several inches of snow this weekend.

Now is the time to make sure your home and family are prepared for colder temperatures – and Ready.gov has some specific tips on how you can get ready. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Thoroughly check and update your family's emergency supply kit before winter approaches and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather.
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways,
    • Sand to improve traction on exterior walkways,
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment, and
    • Also include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Have an emergency kit in your car, in the event you are stranded by a blizzard or traffic jam. Be sure to include items you would need to stay warm and comfortable for at least 72 hours.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Know what to do if the power goes out. Winter storms can also cause power outages, so make sure you take precautions to get prepared.
  • Be familiar with severe winter weather terminology:
    • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two. Follow local news reports and be alert to changing weather conditions.
    • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon. Stay indoors during the storm and avoid traveling.
    • Blizzard Warning means heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill. (Obviously, you’ll want to stay inside and avoid traveling during a blizzard.)
    • Frost/Freeze Warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.

And in case you missed it, check out this New York Times story where our Boston native and resident winter weather expert, Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, talks about ways you can get prepared for a power outage – a possibility after a severe winter storm.

Rina Fizzling Out
According the National Hurricane Center forecasts, the remnants of Hurricane Rina are still swirling in the Caribbean, and pose little to no threat to the U.S. or its territories. We continue to closely monitor the tropics, as hurricane season lasts until November 30. If you live in an area that may be affected by hurricanes or tropical storms, take steps to get prepared today at Ready.gov/hurricanes.

North Dakota: Flood Recovery & Faith-Based Groups

David Myers (left), Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan, at a flood-damaged home.
Minot, ND, October 13, 2011 -- David Myers (left), Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan, at a flood-damaged home. Myers and Finegan were in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

Robin Finegan, Administrator, FEMA Region VIII (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming) and David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships were in Minot recently and wanted to provide their perspective on the recovery efforts and vital role of faith-based and community groups.

Below is an update from Robin on the ongoing recovery in Minot:



Historic flooding of the Souris River damaged thousands of homes, businesses, farms, and public facilities across North Dakota, most notably in the town of Minot and in Ward County. FEMA continues to provide assistance to disaster survivors and local governments affected by the flooding and its aftermath.

As winter approaches, FEMA’s main focus is to ensure that residents have a safe, warm place to stay. With housing resources limited in the Minot area, FEMA has brought in more than 2,000 mobile homes for eligible survivors to live in as they restore their homes or identify permanent housing. Work continues to get these units in place, and to move families in as soon as possible.

In addition to providing temporary living arrangements for survivors, we’re also working with Minot residents on winterization of flood damaged homes. Strong partnerships between FEMA and faith-based and community groups are critical as we continue to reach out to all survivors. These community groups are valuable partners before, during and after disasters as they support survivors and communities.

With more specifics on the steps Minot homeowners are taking and the role of faith-based and community organizations, here’s David Myers:
 

The “winterize-ing” that Robin is referring to is a process called “cut and muck” and “button up”. “Cut and muck” means removing the sludge and mud from the basements of damaged homes to minimize freezing during the winter months and cause stress on the home’s foundations. Many -- if not most – of the damaged homes cannot be repaired until spring; that’s where “button up” comes in. This means putting heaters and insulation in basements to prevent freezing and further damage to the structure.

During our visit to North Dakota, Robin and I met with leaders of the voluntary agency community, as well as local leaders from Minot. As with any disaster, the contributions of faith-based and community groups are having a tremendous impact. During the response phase, local National VOAD agencies, along with faith-based groups, stepped up to the many challenges: sheltering, mass feeding, working to ensure the safety of pets, and numerous other response-phase activities. Now these and other groups are taking on the tasks of long-term recovery. The response and recovery even went “international,” with Mennonite Disaster Service teams coming from Canada (beginning a two-year commitment to help), Christian Reform World Relief Committee, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and others.

Here’s some of their work in photos...

Minot, ND, October 13, 2011 -- FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan and David Myers (center), Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, visit with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster President Mickey Caison (left)
Minot, ND, October 13, 2011 -- FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan and David Myers (center), Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, visit with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster President Mickey Caison (left) during a meeting with volunteers from the Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota who are helping prepare or "button up" a flooded Minot home before winter. Finegan and Myers were in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan visits with Dale, a Wisconsin-based volunteer.
Minot, ND, October 12, 2011 -- FEMA Region VIII Administrator Robin Finegan visits with Dale, a Wisconsin-based volunteer helping the Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota clean and "muck out" a flooded Minot home. Finegan was in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, addresses a Minot Community Organization Active in Disaster meeting.
Minot, ND, October 12, 2011 -- David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, addresses a Minot Community Organization Active in Disaster meeting about recovery efforts at Minot's Vincent United Methodist Church. Myers was in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, stands by the steps and door front remains of a flooded Minot home.
Minot, ND, October 13, 2011 -- David Myers, Director of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, stands by the steps and door front remains of a flooded Minot home as a Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota volunteer helps prepare or "button up" a home before winter. Myers was in Minot meeting with faith-based groups and surveying the damage caused by June's Souris River flooding.

(Accompanying Robin and David were National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) President, Mickey Caison; Erin Coryell, from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation; Region VIII VAL, Art Storey; and others. Federal Coordinating Officer Deanne Criswell, joined the team, as well as staff members from the North Dakota Senators’ and Representative’s offices who participated in many of the meetings. Several members of the team also met with the Minot Area Community Foundation to discuss aspects of the recovery. )

Rina Update 3: Now a Tropical Storm

Earlier today, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Rina to a tropical storm, and their latest forecasts say the storm will have a limited impact on the U.S. mainland or territories. As Rina is losing its strength, we’re also closely watching another potentially developing storm in the south Caribbean.

While it’s good news that Rina isn’t expected to pose much of a threat, the current activity in the tropics is a reminder that the Atlantic hurricane season lasts until November 30. As we near the end of the season, hurricanes and tropical storms are likely to form in the Caribbean, and can affect both coastal and inland areas of the U.S. and its territories.

The time to get prepared is before a tropical storm or hurricane threatens your community. You and your family can get started today by visiting Ready.gov/hurricanes, and by implementing some of these simple tips:


  • Create an emergency supply kit that will sustain your family (including pets) for at least 72 hours. Your kit should include water, non-perishable food items, a flashlight, extra batteries, a hand-crank radio, any medical or prescription items you may need, and other supplies. Download the FEMA App (Apple and Android users) to check off items in your interactive emergency kit.
  • Review and practice what your family would do during an emergency. We call this an “emergency plan”, and it spells out how you and your family will stay in touch, where you would meet, and who you would contact in case disaster strikes.

There’s an App for That

Here’s a short video from Administrator Fugate announcing the FEMA App is now available for Apple devices:




After we launched the App for Android devices, we received feedback from users and have made some updates to the version for Apple devices. One of the things that people said is that the popup box in the map section was cumbersome on a phone’s small screen, so we:
 

  • Moved the disclaimer language to its own page so users can interact better with the map.
  • Gave users the opportunity to choose between the Map view and the List view, whereas before, the App took the user directly into the Map view first. We made this change, because the List view loads faster, so if you’re in an area where you don’t have a strong wireless signal, the list view option is for you.

We’re making the same changes to the Android version and we’ll be publishing an update this week.

When we launched the App for Android devices in August, we were monitoring Hurricane Irene as it threatened the East Coast and today we’re monitoring Tropical Storm Rina in the Caribbean. It’s a good reminder that we are still in hurricane season and that everyone should have an emergency kit and a family emergency plan, and I’m proud to say that Apple devices have an App to help you do just that.

So download the App today (Android; Apple) and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or in the iTunes Store or Android Marketplace.

Connecticut: Simple techniques can reduce damage to your home

In my last blog post, I talked about how FEMA is reaching out in the community to help survivors of Tropical Storm Irene rebuild smarter. Since the response to sharing these rebuilding tips in Connecticut has been positive, I’d like to share how one Connecticut couple benefited from using some of these techniques.

Tropical Storm Irene’s fierce winds collapsed houses into the Long Island Sound along the Connecticut coast, and rocked some homes off their foundations. In many cases, second floors of houses along the coast were destroyed. Some residents said the storm was the worst they had experienced in 50 years.

One couple, John and Regina, even found seashells strongly embedded into the second floor deck of their house in East Haven. However, their home suffered significantly less damage than neighboring homes because of some smart building techniques that had implemented long before the storm.

A seawall, which helped deflect the force of the waves, was in place when John & Regina bought their nearly 100-year-old house in 2003.

The couple then implemented a few other techniques to protect their home against flooding, most of which were relatively simple to accomplish. Below are photos of these techniques in action – to learn more about protecting your home from flooding, visit Ready.gov/floods.

Elevate Critical Appliances & Outlets


They installed their hot water heater and furnace in their attic and elevated their house in 2006 – raising their deck to 14.5 feet above the surface of the beach.

Two air conditioning units and an electrical box are stored on a platform that fits them alongside the house, on the second floor level. The platform can be reached by service technicians and meter readers by a service staircase built especially for such access.

This staircase was built specifically to lead to a platform on the exterior of a home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.
Above: This staircase was built specifically to lead to a platform on the exterior of a home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. where two air conditioning units and an electrical box are stored. The equipment, elevated to the second floor of the home, was not damaged during Tropical Storm Irene.

Electrical outlets have been elevated at least four feet higher than normal.

Moisture-resistant cement board is being installed in this home.
Above: Moisture-resistant cement board is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.; Electric outlets have been elevated to minimize damage during future flooding.

Protect the Exterior of the Structure

Breakaway walls were installed on the ground level of the house.

Breakaway walls (just above the sidewalk) helped reduce damages to this home.
Above: Breakaway walls (just above the sidewalk) helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.

Permanent storm shutters frame the front windows of John & Regina’s house; rolling shutters protect the back windows of the house, which faces the rugged waters of the Long Island Sound.

Above: Permanent rolling shutters helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.
Above: Permanent rolling shutters helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.

Four feet of sheetrock and insulation, damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, was removed and will be replaced by moisture-resistant insulation. The moisture resistant insulation will be installed behind a panel of cement board.

Moisture-resistant insulation is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.
Above: Moisture-resistant insulation is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.

Rina Update 2: Approaching Yucatan Peninsula

We continue to closely watch Hurricane Rina as it swirls in the Caribbean. Rina currently has maximum sustained winds of over 100 mph, and is forecast to approach the Yucatan Peninsula by Thursday morning.

While it is still too early to know whether Rina will affect the U.S. mainland or territories in the Caribbean, our regional offices in Atlanta, New York (responsible for supporting Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Denton, Texas are closely monitoring the storm. For the latest updates on Hurricane Rina or developing severe tropical weather, visit the National Hurricane Center online at hurricanes.gov (hurricanes.gov/mobile on your mobile device), or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through November 30, and late October can be an active part of the season as storms tend to develop in the Caribbean. So if you haven’t already, now is the time to be prepared if you live in a coastal area or could be affected by severe tropical weather. Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes (Listo.gov para español) to learn how to prepare your home and family for a hurricane or tropical storm.

Closely Watching Hurricane Rina

Posted by: Public Affairs

We’re closely monitoring Hurricane Rina in the western Caribbean.  According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Rina will gradually turn toward the west over the next 48 hours, remaining in the Caribbean through Friday.

While it’s still too early to know if Rina's track will affect the U.S. mainland or our territories in the Caribbean, Rina’s development serves as a reminder that we are still in a very active hurricane season.

Here are some tips for preparing for severe tropical weather:

  • Remember to include items like a flashlight, hand-crank radio, and a solar powered cell phone charger in your emergency kit to sustain your family for at least 72 hours.
  • Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another (i.e., text messaging), how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov for tips on creating your family emergency plan and putting together an emergency supply kit.

And remember to follow local TV and radio reports for the latest conditions in your area, and visit the National Weather Service at weather.gov (or http://mobile.weather.gov/ on your phone) for the latest severe weather watches/warnings in your area.

From the White House: Statement by the President on the Earthquake in Turkey

The White House released this statement from the President earlier today:



We have been following reports of the earthquake in Turkey's eastern province of Van with great concern. On behalf of the American people, I express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with the brave men and women who are working to bring assistance to this stricken region. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Turkish ally in this difficult time, and are ready to assist the Turkish authorities.

In addition to the President's statement, we also pass along our thoughts and prayers to the disaster survivors and to the families of those who have lost loved ones. As with all international emergencies, the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development are the lead agencies for coordinating with impacted countries and we'll continue to work closely with them as they monitor the situation and offer assistance.

For additional updates from the U.S. Department of State, you can follow their Twitter and Facebook pages:

On Twitter: @StateDept, @TravelGov & @USEmbassyTurkey

On Facebook: U.S. Dept. of State & U.S. Embassy Ankara, Turkey

The earthquake is also a reminder that disasters can happen at any time, so for people in the United States, now is a good time to put together a family plan and get an emergency kit. Visit Ready.gov/earthquakes and share the link with friends and family.

What We’re Watching: 10/21/11

Every Friday, we post 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.

Emergency Alert System Test

Just a friendly reminder, the Emergency Alert System Test is November 9 at 2 p.m. eastern. We’re working closely with our partners at the Federal Communications Commission and broadcasters across the country to ensure people know what to expect. Remember, it’s only a test.

Tropical Activity in Atlantic

National Hurricane Center.

We continue to closely monitor two areas of interest which have a chance of developing into a more organized tropical storm system. Hurricane season lasts until November 30, so we encourage you and your family to take the steps to get prepared for the threat of possible tropical storms and hurricanes.

Make sure you have an emergency kit to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours and an emergency plan so you know where to go and who to contact if a tropical storm or hurricane forms.

Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes to learn the steps you can take to get you and your family prepared.

Week in Photos

Below are a few photos from the past week of different preparedness and recovery efforts throughout the U.S.

Aurora, NC, October 18, 2011 -- A homeowner in the South Point neighborhood, points out to an inspector how his home was configured.  FEMA is working with the state to assist with the removal of debris from areas that sustained damages.
Aurora, NC, October 18, 2011 -- A homeowner in the South Point neighborhood, points out to an inspector how his home was configured. FEMA is working with the state to assist with the removal of debris from areas that sustained damages.

Los Angeles, CA, October 20, 2011 -- Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Mayor delivered comments after participating in ShakeOut at a Target store in Northridge, California. The Mayor is accompanied by representatives of numerous local, state, Federal, and private-sector partner agencies including Los Angeles City and County public safety departments, CalEMA, the Southern California Earthquake Center, the California Earthquake Authority, FEMA, USGS, NORTHCOM, State Farm, and the American Red Cross. Everyone at the Target store, from clerks to shoppers and the Mayor himself, practiced their “drop, cover, and hold on” technique following a storewide announcement timed to coincide with similar exercises throughout the state.
Los Angeles, CA, October 20, 2011 -- Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Mayor delivered comments after participating in ShakeOut at a Target store in Northridge, California. The Mayor is accompanied by representatives of numerous local, state, Federal, and private-sector partner agencies including Los Angeles City and County public safety departments, CalEMA, the Southern California Earthquake Center, the California Earthquake Authority, FEMA, USGS, NORTHCOM, State Farm, and the American Red Cross. Everyone at the Target store, from clerks to shoppers and the Mayor himself, practiced their “drop, cover, and hold on” technique following a storewide announcement timed to coincide with similar exercises throughout the state.

Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- David Miller (second in line), Associate Administrator of the FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, arrives in Minot with other federal and local officials.  FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those affected by June's historic Souris River flood in Minot.
Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- David Miller (second in line), Associate Administrator of the FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, arrives in Minot with other federal and local officials. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those affected by June's historic Souris River flood in Minot.

Charlotte, VT, October 16, 2011 -- A mobile hay wagon displays FEMA's disaster assistance information on Route 7 in Charlotte, Vermont. The Vermont Farm Bureau and FEMA are working together to encourage those affected by Tropical Storm Irene to register by the October 31st deadline.
Charlotte, VT, October 16, 2011 -- A mobile hay wagon displays FEMA's disaster assistance information on Route 7 in Charlotte, Vermont. The Vermont Farm Bureau and FEMA are working together to encourage those affected by Tropical Storm Irene to register by the October 31st deadline.

Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- FEMA Associate Administrator of Response and Recovery William Carwile (top right) and FEMA Senior Advisor Kristin Robinson survey a flood-damaged Minot neighborhood. The owner recently moved back into the home. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those affected by June's historic Souris River flood in Minot.
Minot, ND, October 20, 2011 -- FEMA Associate Administrator of Response and Recovery William Carwile (left) surveys a flood-damaged Minot neighborhood. The owner recently moved back into the home. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide assistance to those affected by June's historic Souris River flood in Minot.

Wall Township, NJ, October 15, 2011 -- Robert Knight and Susan Langhoff, FEMA Private Sector Specialists along with Richard Adkins, FEMA Community Relations Specialist assisted the Monmouth Council - Boy Scouts of America earn their Emergency Preparedness Badge during their Camporee held at Allaire State Park in Wall Township, NJ.
Wall Township, NJ, October 15, 2011 -- Robert Knight and Susan Langhoff, FEMA Private Sector Specialists along with Richard Adkins, FEMA Community Relations Specialist assisted the Monmouth Council - Boy Scouts of America earn their Emergency Preparedness Badge during their Camporee held at Allaire State Park in Wall Township, NJ.

Schoharie, NY, October 15, 2011 -- Dimaldy Cruz-Carlo, Mitigation Specialist speaks to a disaster survivor at the Schoharie Flood Benefit about preparing for future disasters, flood insurance and rebuilding safe and stronger homes. FEMA plays a vital role supporting State, Tribal and local governments as they respond to the impacts of Hurricane Irene.
Schoharie, NY, October 15, 2011 -- Dimaldy Cruz-Carlo, Mitigation Specialist speaks to a disaster survivor at the Schoharie Flood Benefit about preparing for future disasters, flood insurance and rebuilding safe and stronger homes. FEMA plays a vital role supporting State, Tribal and local governments as they respond to the impacts of Hurricane Irene.

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