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Kicking Off Fire Prevention Week

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We often say it takes a team to prepare and be ready for disasters. This week, USFA and other members of the emergency management team will be providing tips to make our families and homes safer everyday so that we are better prepared for emergencies. This week is Fire Prevention Week, and I’m proud the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is working with National Fire Protection Association and hundreds of other organizations to promote this year’s theme: It’s Fire Prevention Week! Protect Your Family from Fire!

I’d like to start by asking a simple question - do you know if your home is fire-safe? If you don’t know the answer, or don’t know where to start, a USFA partner, the Home Safety Council – part of Safe Kids Worldwide – created a home fire safety checklist that you can personalize and print out to take home and discuss with your family. Please share this information with your loved ones and take time to talk with them about how to lower the risk of home fires.

Through blog articles and outreach events across the country (including a Fire Prevention Week Education Fair that will be held in Washington, D.C.), we’ll be reaching out far and wide to share fire safety information. Look for more blog posts from me this week, and visit Ready.gov/fires to learn more about fire safety and prevention. If you’re an emergency manager, educator, parent, or community leader, visit www.usfa.fema.gov for more resources for sharing fire safety information.

PPD-8: Announcing the National Preparedness Goal

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This was originally posted on the White House blog on October 7, 2011.

As part of the implementation of Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8), we are pleased to announce the release of the first-ever National Preparedness Goal. To summarize, the goal is:

To have a secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.

You can read the full 26 page document here.

The Goal identifies the core capabilities and capability targets necessary to advance our national preparedness.  It builds extensively on the prior work of many stakeholder groups from around the nation, draws upon lessons learned from large-scale and catastrophic events, and represents input from all stakeholders.

It also recognizes what many of you have known for some time – as we work to build a more prepared nation, we cannot only look at the role that government plays, we must also work with the entire community – both the public and private sectors, faith-based and non-profit organizations, and most importantly the public.

Now that the National Preparedness Goal is complete, we will continue our work on the additional requirements of PPD-8:



  • A National Preparedness System Description;
  • A series of National Frameworks and Federal Interagency Operational Plans;
  • A |National Preparedness Report; and
  • A Campaign to Build and Sustain Preparedness
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We look forward to continuing to work with all of our stakeholders and partners as we continue to move forward on these efforts.

The National Preparedness System description is due November 24, 2011, and again, we’ll ask for your valuable input, so stay tuned for how you can participate.  Thank you for your commitment to our national preparedness.

For more information visit: www.fema.gov/ppd8.

What We’re Watching: 10/7/11

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.

The Week in Photos

In many communities across the U.S., we continue to support individuals and communites as they recover from disasters. Below are a few photos from the past week that show the recovery efforts in action. For more on our role, visit our disaster pages.

FEMA Community Education Specialist Warren Kurten, left, shows local resident, Hannah Martin, 11, a mitigation activity book
Madison, CT, October 6, 2011 -- FEMA Community Education Specialist Warren Kurten, left, shows a local resident a mitigation activity book during an event held at a local hardware store. Events are being held in various locations throughout the state to inform residents of ways to prepare and prevent damage from future disasters.

FEMA Community Relations Specialist Becky Kaurup speaks to a local resident during a town forum setup to inform residents about different assistance programs.
Oxford, CT, October 3, 2011 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialist Becky Kaurup speaks to a local resident during a town forum setup to inform residents about different assistance programs. Disaster assistance programs are available from local, state and federal agencies, for those individuals and communities impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. The registration deadline for individuals to apply for federal assistance is November 3, 2011.

Booker T. Jones, the Mayor of Mesic, Nortrh Carolina points out land he has offered where Temporary Housing Units could be placed for Hurricane Irene survivors
Mesic, NC, October 3, 2011 -- Booker T. Jones, the Mayor of Mesic, Nortrh Carolina points out land he has offered where Temporary Housing Units could be placed for Hurricane Irene survivors. The North Carolina Baptist Men have just cleared trees to make this possible. FEMA's Voluntary Agency Liaisons work to bring together those in need with voluntary agencies - essential to recovery for many survivors.

A volunteer from the North Carolina Baptist Men cuts apart the shower enclosure in this flooded home.
Merritt, NC, October 3, 2011 -- A volunteer from the North Carolina Baptist Men cuts apart the shower enclosure in this flooded home. FEMA's Voluntary Agency Liaisons work to bring together those in need with voluntary agencies who are providing free services essential to recovery.


National Fire Prevention Week Coming Up


While many in the media and the public focus their attention on large-scale disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods – it’s important to remember disasters happen on a daily basis, often in the form of a home fire. Next week, October 9 - 15, is Fire Prevention Week, and we'll be sharing fire prevention tips here on the blog and on Facebook & Twitter.

Here are some simple things you can do today to protect to keep your family and home safe:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home
  • Test smoke alarms once a month
  • Be sure to change smoke alarm batteries at least once a year
  • Make and practice your family’s fire escape plan

Visit Ready.gov/fires for more information on preventing home fires, and visit the National Fire Prevention Week website for more tips and ways you can participate in Fire Prevention Week.

Practice Earthquake Safety in the ShakeOut

We also encourage you, your family, office, and community to participate in the Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill, on October 20 at 10:20 a.m. Pacific Time. The ShakeOut allows you to participate in preparedness by focusing on the potentially life-saving actions of “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” during and immediately after an earthquake.

Over 7 million people have pledged to participate, so join in at www.ShakeOut.org/register and pledge your family, school, business, or organization’s participation in the drill. It’s easy to sign up, and registered participants will receive information on how to plan their own drill and talk with others about earthquake preparedness.

Alabama “Be Ready” Events: Consider Your Role in Disaster

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When disaster strikes, it’s the first responders right there in your local community who make the difference in effective disaster response – the firefighters, medics, utility workers, the faith and community-based groups, the crisis counselors and search and rescue teams. And these are just some of the people who serve during emergencies or disasters.

But, could you play a key role in your community during a disaster?

Folks all over Alabama asked themselves that question as communities across the state held “Be Ready” events throughout September, recognized as National Preparedness Month.

There, residents got to talk with both paid and volunteer first responders from local, state and federal agencies. Citizens asked questions about what it takes to serve the community during a crisis. They also learned about the services, plans and procedures that are put into place in advance of any disaster that may strike. They learned that being prepared for a disaster can mean more than just having a safe room and an evacuation plan.

Here’s a video from one “Be Ready” event:



Though people in Alabama have recently experienced tornadoes and severe storms, they could also be faced with other natural and man-made hazards, such as:



There are as many ways to serve during a disaster as there are different types of disasters. After Alabama’s devastating tornadoes in April 2011, volunteers worked together on everything from rebuilding homes to writing grants for safe rooms. If you’d like to volunteer in your community, you could join Citizen Corps or register with one of the many faith-based organizations that serve during times of crisis.

If you’re looking for opportunities that can make a lasting difference in your community, I encourage you to consider getting involved with helping your community prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

Troy, Ala., September 8, 2011 - Students interact with a Patient Simulator at Be Ready Day. The simulator, which speaks, cries, bleeds and moves, makes it possible for practicing patient care with real reactions to emergency situations. Be Ready Day, hosted by Troy University and sponsored by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, emphasized teaching students about safety in a number of areas, including tornado preparedness.
Troy, Ala., September 8, 2011 - Students interact with a Patient Simulator at Be Ready Day. The simulator, which speaks, cries, bleeds and moves, makes it possible for practicing patient care with real reactions to emergency situations. Be Ready Day, hosted by Troy University and sponsored by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, emphasized teaching students about safety in a number of areas, including tornado preparedness.

Thank you to National Preparedness Month Coalition Members

As September and National Preparedness Month comes to a close, we want to thank everyone who spent their time and energy educating others about emergency preparedness. Today we estimated that approximately three million individuals were informed at thousands of events and activities across the country, ranging from seminars and fairs, to community outreach events, workshops, webinars and trainings. Hundreds of great ideas came in from every part of the country, and there are more local events coming up soon!

Here are a few of the events:


  • Kailua Readiness (Kaneohe, Hawaii): The Kailua Chamber of Commerce held its first annual Emergency Readiness Fair, which occurred at the same time & location as a local Farmer's Market, allowing it to attract hundreds of people as a result. Children explored fire trucks and police cars while parents learned how to prepare their families. Organizers asked a simple question: "Where should you go when the tsunami sirens sound?" This prompting question allowed them to educate the public about the location of their local refuge centers.
     
  • Georgia (statewide): Kids Preparedness Workshop at the Home Depot. Ready Georgia teamed up with The Home Depot to help Georgia's kids learn about emergency preparedness during free Kids Workshops held throughout September at stores statewide. The workshops targeted children ages 5 to 12, and every child in attendance made a beanbag toss game, received a Ready Kids activity book, kid-sized orange apron, and an achievement pin.
     
A billboard promotes the theme of National Preparedness Month 2011.
Green Bay, WI, September 12, 2011 -- A billboard promotes the theme of National Preparedness Month 2011. The billboard space was donated as part of the community's efforts to promote emergency preparedness during September.
  • Emergency Preparedness Billboards (Green Bay, Wisconsin): Brown County Emergency Management worked in coordination with NextMedia to post three billboards advertising NPM thoughout the City of Green Bay and Brown County. The firm donated the installation, space, and design work and the billboards remained up through the end of September.
     
  • See more great ideas from around the country.

As National Preparedness Month comes to a close, we want to encourage everyone to stay involved in emergency preparedness all year long. Web tools launched for NPM 2011 will continue to be available at http://community.fema.gov. Discussion forums will continue to allow individuals and organizations to interact and talk about ideas, activities and preparedness events. Partners can continue to post and promote existing and new preparedness events through the Event Calendars throughout the year.

Join the ShakeOut on October 20, 2011.

You can also keep the momentum going by joining us and helping to spread the word about the Great California ShakeOut on October 20, an earthquake drill where you can practice how to stay safe during and after an earthquake. Even if you don’t live in California, you can register for a drill near you or register for a drill on another date. The recent earthquake in D.C. reminded us that disasters can strike anywhere and often happen without warning.

And as a reminder, here are a few tips on what to do during and after an earthquake:
 

  • If you’re indoors, DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • If you’re outdoors, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Voice data networks may be congested after the earthquake (or other disaster), so send a text message or email to friends and family to let them know you’re OK, and update your social network status to say “I’m OK.”
  • Follow the direction of local officials when making the decision to return home, and return home only when local authorities have said it’s safe.

Again, thanks for all of your work during National Preparedness Month. We still have more to do, so leave us a note on how you’re continuing to get your community prepared.

Texas Wildfire Update 10: Volunteers Playing Key Role in Recovery

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One month ago this week, drought-stricken Texas’ severe wildfire season turned tragic when fires raged through neighborhoods in Bastrop and dozens of other communities around the state. Even as the fires burned, Texans were out in full force, supporting the neighbors whose homes and lives were in peril and the firefighters who were battling the blazes.

Photo of a boy and a man cleaning up debris
Bastrop, TX, October 1, 2011 --Volunteer assists with the clean-up efforts in Bastrop, TX. Groups from various faith-based programs are removing scrape metal from burned out homes and giving the homeowners the monies from the recycling fees.

In the midst of the fires, and in the weeks since, we have witnessed enormous generosity as Texans and other Americans have donated their time, their skills and their money, as well as food, clothing and household goods, to those whose lives have been shattered.

Volunteers are often the first in and the last to leave when a disaster strikes, and the Texas wildfires have been no exception. The armies of volunteers and organizations that have turned out to assist the Texans in need were here from the start, and many of them will continue to work for the long-term recovery of their communities well into the future.

While FEMA is perhaps better known as the distributor of federal dollars to help survivors get back on their feet after a disaster, we also strongly support volunteer efforts. A partnership agreement in Texas, for example, has brought 30 AmeriCorps member organizations to Bastrop County to help match volunteers with agencies that are serving disaster survivors.

And through our Voluntary Agency Liaisons, we also are working with the Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and their partner organizations to meet survivors’ needs that remain after insurance or state, local or federal assistance options have been exhausted.

The entire community working toward recovery

Alongside the volunteers, in many instances, have been Texas businesses that have contributed to the recovery effort with donations of food and other supplies, or that have given employees paid time off to help out.

It takes the whole community to help Texans and their neighborhoods recover from the wildfires, and FEMA is just one member of the team. We do not and cannot work in a vacuum. The team begins at the state and local levels. The businesses and the volunteers who rushed in to help — and who continue to work in fire-affected communities day in and day out — are vital members of the team. They are an essential component of every disaster response and recovery effort.

As FEMA’s federal coordinating officer for the Texas recovery effort, I feel fortunate to have witnessed the generosity and kindness of spirit of the thousands of concerned Texans who are doing their part to help wildfire survivors heal.

For more information on how you can help survivors after a disaster, visit fema.gov/howtohelp. For Texas-specific information, visit TexasVOAD.org.

One Month Out, Connecticut Recovery Continues

Dayville, CT, Brooklyn, CT, September 29, 2011 -- FEMA Community Education Specialist, Steven Klein, right, shows a Mitigation activity book to local resident Dylan Lacasse, 3, during a community education outreach event at Lowe's. FEMA specialists distributed over 200 cd's that include mitigation publications for Tropical Storm Irene.

Dayville, CT, Brooklyn, CT, September 29, 2011 -- FEMA Community Education Specialist, Steven Klein, right, shows a Mitigation activity book to local resident Dylan Lacasse, 3, during a community education outreach event at Lowe's. FEMA specialists distributed over 200 cd's that include mitigation publications for Tropical Storm Irene.

It’s been a month since President Obama’s Sept. 2 major disaster declaration for the state of Connecticut following Tropical Storm Irene. FEMA and its state partners continue to make major strides in the support of the Constitution State’s recovery.

Providing assistance & getting the word out to survivors
Our community relations teams have been canvassing the state and have visited more than 5,600 homes. Working closely with faith-based and community-based organizations, we’ve met face-to-face with nearly 16,000 people to let them know about the many resources available to them for disaster recovery. To date, our community relations teams have also facilitated a dozen local forums, answering requests from towns, congressional staffs, mayors and selectmen. These efforts have led to more than 6,000 residents registering for assistance and more than $4.3 million in aid being disbursed to disaster survivors.

Keeping the pace, we have transitioned 11 Disaster Recovery Centers into seven Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Location Outreach Centers, with one disaster recovery center open through Oct. 6. These centers allow residents and business owners to meet with SBA officials to answer their questions, explain SBA’s disaster loan program and help them complete their disaster loan application.

Meanwhile, we continue to meet one-on-one with officials from local jurisdictions to provide information and assistance regarding their damage claims. We currently have more than 80 meetings scheduled with local officials in town and city governments to share information about disaster recovery programs.

Rebuilding tips for Connecticut residents

We’re also helping survivors rebuild smarter, providing the public with tips and advice at 19 home improvement stores throughout the state. While shopping, residents can stop by a mitigation outreach table and find out how to protect their homes from future storms and disasters. Here are details about some of the upcoming mitigation events in:

Together with our partners across the emergency management team, we will continue to remain focused on making the state’s recovery a speedy and thorough one.

Update on our Disaster Relief Fund: Congressional Action Enables Us to Lift Funding Restrictions

Posted by: Brad Carroll, Press Secretary

Back in August, to ensure we had the resources needed to continue to provide assistance to individual disaster survivors, as well as support our state partners in their response to future disasters, we placed some funding restrictions on longer-term repair, rebuilding and mitigation projects from previous and current disasters that are funded through our Disaster Relief Fund.

This strategy, which we call “immediate needs funding”, has been used in previous years to help preserve our Disaster Relief Fund so we can continue to meet the immediate needs of individuals and communities affected by disasters.

Today, because Congress has appropriated additional resources for our Disaster Relief Fund, we can announce that we are lifting those funding restrictions and once again providing funds for longer-term recovery projects.

This will include providing funds for projects that were placed on hold since August. We are in the process of working with our state and local partners across the country to get these projects moving again and to continue to help support their recoveries. For updates on short-term and long-term projects, visit our disaster pages.

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