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Honoring Our Nation’s Veterans

Posted by: Michael Widomski, Deputy Director, Public Affairs

I wanted to share with you a short video Administrator Fugate recorded to show his appreciation of our nation’s veterans:




At FEMA we are fortunate to have veterans from all five branches of our nation’s military working at headquarters, in our regional offices and on the ground. We appreciate all that they have done by serving in the armed forces and all that they continue to do with their public service here at FEMA. They bring extensive experience and expertise to every phase of the disaster cycle – preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.

This nation continues to benefit from their selfless service and we cannot thank our veterans enough for all they have done. Throughout the year, we look for ways to honor our veterans. One such example took place in the Region III office in Philadelphia on Monday, November 7, when Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney held a ceremony recognizing the distinguished members of her team who have served in the armed forces.
 

MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region III Administrator, addresses employees at a celebration for Veterans Day.
Philadelphia, Pa., November 6, 2011 -- MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region III Administrator, addresses employees at a celebration for Veterans Day. Tierney celebrated those in the FEMA Regional office who have served in the military with a cake containing the seals representing the five branches of the military.

To the veterans in the FEMA family and to all of our nation’s veterans, thank you for your services and your sacrifices. And a special thank you to the families of military members for their shared support and sacrifices. On behalf of everyone here at FEMA, we wish you a pleasant Veterans Day. And if you would like to continue to show your support for veterans in your community, visit www.serve.gov to find an event near you.

What We’re Watching: 11/10/11

Published by: Public Affairs

At the end of each week, 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.

Veterans Day
Tomorrow, November 11, is Veterans Day. Join us in honoring our nation’s veterans, especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms:



Alaska Storm Update
A dangerous, and potentially deadly, storm is currently bringing high winds, coastal flooding, and heavy snow to the west coast of Alaska. Forecasts from the National Weather Service predict that sustained winds and elevated water levels will continue to affect a large portion of the western Alaska coast today, before beginning to subside, from south to north, this evening. We encourage Alaskans to monitor weather conditions closely and to follow the direction provided by their local officials.

Over the past several days, we’ve provided updates on our role, and we continue to closely monitor the situation. As the storm progresses, we will remain in constant contact with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and our other federal and local partners.

For updates from the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, you can visit their website or find them on Facebook or Twitter.


Emergency Alert System Test
Yesterday, along with the FCC and NOAA, we tested the national Emergency Alert System at 2 p.m. EST through TV and radio stations. There has been a lot of feedback after the test, and we’re currently collecting data about the initial results.

It will take the test’s participants several weeks to send us and the FCC the full results, but this feedback will be used as we plan to test the other newer technologies and communications tools that are also going to be part of our public alert and warning networks. Check out yesterday’s blog post for information on the next steps and today’s blog post about some of the reviews that are coming in.


New Ready.gov
And in case you missed it earlier this week, Administrator Fugate announced the fully redesigned Ready.gov. Ready.gov is all about getting prepared and helping people know how to stay safe before, during and after disasters. The new site helps you find this invaluable information faster, and puts it in an easy to understand format. But don’t take our word for it – here’s Administrator Fugate to go over some of the changes.

And as a reminder, we recently released the FEMA app for Apple-powered mobile devices (also available for Android), and many of our safety tips are also on the FEMA mobile website, http://m.fema.gov, which is designed to display quickly on your smartphone.

Remembering Hal Bruno

Author: 

Posted by: Craig Fugate, Administrator

Sheree and I, along with the employees of FEMA, were saddened to hear about the passing of Hal Bruno. Hal was a national icon serving for more than 60 years as an active member of the fire service community, as well as a dedicated national journalist for ABC News and Newsweek. As an active member of the fire service community, Hal served as a dedicated volunteer firefighter, advocate, commentator and leader and was selflessly committed to fire safety initiatives. As the Chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, he displayed a commitment to expanding services and resources for the survivors of fallen firefighters. Our sincere condolences go out to Hal’s family, friends, and colleagues in the fire service and in journalism. He will be greatly missed. And please share this tribute page and video of Hal.

Reviews are Coming In – The Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System

Posted By: Rachel Racusen, Director of Public Affairs

As FEMA and the FCC continue to collect feedback about yesterday’s nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, we’re getting a lot of questions about how the test was received. Yesterday’s test served its intended purpose – to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies.

We have already begun to receive information indicating that while the test was received by thousands of test participants across the country, there were some instances in which the test apparently was not received by some participants and/or not re-broadcast to the public. In addition, we have received some feedback regarding audio quality. We take these shortcomings seriously and intend to work closely with all participants over the next several weeks as we assess the nature of problems with the nationwide test and how best to address them effectively.

While we will continue to get more data and test results back from participants over the coming days and weeks, we thought we’d share some of the reviews we’re seeing about where the test worked, where it didn’t – and where we can make improvements.

And remember, FEMA is also interested in hearing from all our stakeholders who want to share feedback about how the test was or wasn’t received in your area. We encourage you to email us at ipaws@dhs.gov.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the reviews I mentioned:



Today’s test is a major step forward toward a better system. What we’ve got today is not by any means a perfect warning system. Our alerting capacity is definitely going up at a national level with this test, but our warning capacity – that is, the ability to motivate the public to take protective action – needs a lot more work.” -- Dennis Mileti, Former Director of the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder [Emergency Alert System: Why US Is Doing First National Test Now, Christian Science Monitor, November 9]

At FOX6 Wednesday, the test worked just as it should. John Workman, FOX6’s engineering vice-president says testing the system is very important. ‘I fully expect the FCC and FEMA will release some kind of report, analyzing the results of this, and what they found, and what they see as areas that may need to be fixed,’ he said. [Nationwide EAS Test: Challenges Experienced During Wednesday’s Nationwide Emergency Alert Test, WITI-TV (WI), Nov. 9]

Indiana Homeland Security Emergency Response Director Arvin Copeland says it’s crucial that Hoosiers are aware of the tests. Copeland says the goal is to remind people that the emergency alert system exists to alert people about true emergencies.” Indiana Homeland Security Emergency Response Director [Feds Test Emergency Alert System, WIBC-FM (IN), Nov. 9]

The purpose of the Emergency Alert test, is to see how prepared the United States is in the event of a natural disaster, or terrorist attack. The test was not without flaws. Most states got the alert at the scheduled time, but others did not. After all, the purpose of the test is to find out how well the system would work in an actual emergency.[Nationwide Emergency Alert Test Has Some Glitches, WDBJ-TV Roanoke (VA), November 9]

There were no calls to 911. It seemed like people were well aware and watching the local media. It seemed like it was well-explained. We’ve seen no issue.-- Randy Gockley, Lancaster County’s Emergency Management Coordinator [Emergency System Tested, Lancaster (PA) New Era, November 9, 2011]

Here in Florida, officials at our local Emergency Operations centers watched to make sure it worked the way it should. The Brevard County EOC has been in touch with national authorities like FEMA and the FCC to help spread the word about the 30 second NAS test. Past national disasters proved the lack of communication on the federal, state and local levels. But officials say with this new method, important information can be relayed to the masses quickly and concisely. ‘It’s critical we share in information both up the chain and down the chain,’” – Kimberly Prosser, Brevard County Spokesperson (FL)
[Government Conducts First Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test, Central Florida News 13, November 9]

It’s important in emergency management and communication to the public that we test our systems to ensure that they do operate as designed so when we need them they are there and we can count on them.” – Bryan Koon, Florida State Emergency Management Director [Did Emergency Alert System Test Work? FEMA Not Sure Yet, WTSP-TV St. Petersburg (FL), November 9]

Alaska Storm Update 3: Storm Continues for West Coast

Posted by: Public Affairs

As a dangerous storm continues to make landfall along the west coast of Alaska, we continue to be in close contact with our federal, state and local partners in monitoring the storm. As of 9 a.m. Alaska standard time (1 p.m. EST) the National Weather Service has issued winter storm, blizzard and coastal flood warnings along the Bering Sea and West Coast of Alaska and predicts that sustained winds and elevated water levels will continue to affect a large portion of the western Alaska coast today, before beginning to subside, from south to north, this evening.

Local officials in several small, tribal villages located along the coast of the Bering Sea have initiated evacuations for coastal and low-lying sections of their communities. We encourage Alaskans to monitor weather conditions closely and to follow the direction provided by their local officials.

And if you’re in the potentially affected area, familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a winter storm hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued.

Terms used to describe a winter storm hazard include the following:



  • Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
  • Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.

What We’re Doing
As we mentioned in yesterday’s update, we placed liaison officers and a regional Incident Management Assistance Team in Alaska in advance of the storm to coordinate with the state if federal support is needed. Through these teams, we continue to coordinate closely with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, National Weather Service, U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Defense as the situation develops.

In addition to the Incident Management Assistance Team, other federal activities include:



  • The Department of Defense has regional liaisons at the Alaska Area Office in Anchorage that are also providing support to the state for any coordination of federal resources that may be needed.
  • Yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a flyover along the Bering Sea coast to gain an aerial and photographic assessment of the area, with additional flyovers planned today.

Since Monday, the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. and the Regional Response Coordination Center in Bothell, Washington have been monitoring the storm and supporting on a 24-hour basis. Finally, we have additional teams standing by, including preliminary damage assessment teams, should their assistance be required.

For those not in Alaska, the severe winter storm serves as a reminder to get prepared for the cold weather months. Ready.gov/winter has tips on getting your family, home or workplace prepared for severe winter weather, or visit http://m.fema.gov for tips on your phone. (And in case you haven’t heard, you can download the FEMA app in the Android market and Apple store – packed full of safety tips and a place to record the items in your family’s emergency kit.)

The Emergency Alert System Has Been Tested – What Next?

Author: 

By: Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs

(Editor's note: updated 6:30pm EST)

After years of hard work with all of our partners, and months of providing updates on this blog, today, FEMA, the FCC, NOAA and communications service providers, and many others administered our first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. We are currently collecting data about the initial results, and it will take the test’s participants several weeks to send us the full results of their tests.

As we have been explaining throughout this process, this initial test was the first time we have gotten a sense of the reach and scope of this technology. It was our opportunity to get a sense of what worked, what didn’t and additional improvements that need to be made to the system as we move forward. It’s only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies that we can ensure the most effective and reliable emergency alert and warning systems available at a moment’s notice in a time of real national emergency.

This nationwide test served the purpose for which it was intended – to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies. Based on preliminary data, media outlets in large portions of the country successfully received the test message, but it wasn’t received by some viewers or listeners.

As we often say here at FEMA, we’re just one part of a much, much larger team. To prepare for this test FEMA worked closely with state and local officials, the broadcast community, as well as nongovernmental organizations including the disability and faith-based communities.

So now that the test has occurred, we know many of you may be wondering…what next?

Well, first, we’ll be spending the next few weeks gathering test result data from the test’s participants, and feedback from all of our stakeholders. Under the FCC’s rules, test participants have 45 days from the date of the test to analyze their data and provide a full report to the FCC on the scope and reach of the test. In the meantime, FEMA is also interested in hearing from any stakeholders who want to share feedback about how the test worked and ways we can continue to improve it. We encourage you to email us at ipaws@dhs.gov with any tips, suggestions or input you may have.

And looking ahead, this test was just the beginning of our much larger efforts to strengthen and upgrade our nation’s public alert and warning system.

As we work to build a more modern system, we will continue to test the other newer technologies and communications tools that are also going to be part of our public alert and warning networks, such as cell phones, smart phones, the internet and social media networks.

So to all of our partners, including the public, we want to thank you for your role in helping make this test happen. We look forward to working with all of you to incorporate the lessons learned from this test as we keep working a robust, resilient, and fully accessible next generation alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the American people.

Alaska Storm Update 2: Continuing to Work With the State

Posted by: Public Affairs

We continue to closely monitor a dangerous winter storm system forecasted to affect the west coast of Alaska today and tomorrow. According to the National Weather Service, the storm may bring extremely strong winds to all of the Alaska west coast, accompanied by widespread major coastal flooding and severe beach erosion over the coastline.

To date, the National Weather Service has issued winter storm, blizzard, coastal and inland flood warnings along the Bering Sea and West Coast of Alaska and predicts that conditions will worsen and may become life-threatening for a portion of the western Alaska coast. (For your local weather forecast, visit weather.gov or http://mobile.weather.gov on your smartphone.)

Our Role
Through our regional office in Bothell, Washington, our area office in Anchorage, Alaska and the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. we remain in constant contact with our state, local, tribal and federal partners including Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, National Weather Service, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Defense.

In advance of the storm, we placed liaisons in the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center in Anchorage, Alaska to support and assist to coordinate federal support as needed. We have also deployed a regional Incident Management Assistance Team to Alaska to also support the state.

We also have additional teams standing by, including preliminary damage assessment teams, should their assistance be required. In addition, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard have air assets available to support the state, should they be needed.

Follow Direction of Local Officials
We encourage all those in the potentially affected areas to follow the direction of local officials and keep informed of local conditions. If local authorities order an evacuation, leave immediately; follow evacuation routes announced by officials, and stay away from coastal areas, river banks and streams. As forecasts call for the potential of coastal flooding, tidal surges and related flash flooding, remember that it can take only a few minutes to a few hours to develop.

For more information and winter preparedness tips, please visit: Ready.gov/winter or http://m.fema.gov on your smartphone.

Stay Connected
Follow the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management:

Closely Monitoring Severe Storm in Alaska

According to National Weather Service forecasts, a rapidly developing significant winter storm system is anticipated to affect the west coast of Alaska today and tomorrow. We are closely monitoring the situation through our regional office in Bothell, Wash., our area office in Anchorage, Alaska, and the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C.

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm, blizzard, coastal and inland flood warnings along the Bering Sea and west coast of Alaska and forecasts that this system will intensify as it moves northward.

Staying Safe
We encourage Alaskans to monitor weather conditions closely and to follow the direction provided by their local officials. If local authorities order an evacuation, leave immediately, follow evacuation routes announced by officials, and stay away from coastal areas, river banks and streams.

As forecasts call for the potential for coastal flooding, remember that it can take only a few minutes to a few hours for flooding to develop. Be prepared to take detours and adjust your route due to road closures if there is standing water. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous, so when in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. Remember that as little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Make sure your emergency supply kit is ready. It should include at least a three-day supply of food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, and other items specific to your family’s needs. (Power outages can often occur during severe winter storms, so check out yesterday’s blog post with power outage tips.)

Finally, familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a winter storm hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe a winter storm hazard include the following:

  • Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
  • Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.

What We’re Doing
In preparation for the storm:

  • We have been in constant communication with our state and federal partners including Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, National Weather Service, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Defense,
  • We have placed liaisons at the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center in Anchorage, Alaska to coordinate federal support as needed and deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to support state efforts at the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center, and
  • We have also activated the Regional Response Coordination Center in Bothell, Wash. and the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. to continue to monitor conditions and coordinate federal support to the state, as needed.

As this storm system develops, we will continue to closely coordinate with our federal, state and local partners. For more information and winter preparedness tips, please visit: www.Ready.gov/winter to find out how you can prepare your family for winter storms and other disasters.

Stay Connected

Oklahoma Quake Shows Importance of Being Prepared

Author: 

Posted by: Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator, Protection and National Preparedness

Through our regional office in Denton, Texas, we continue to closely monitor the aftermath of a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Oklahoma late Saturday night -- the largest earthquake in the state's history, according to the U.S. Geological Survey -- along with other severe weather that has continued to impact the state. We have reached out to our state and local partners in Oklahoma and will remain in close contact with them as local authorities continue to assess the damage.

Back in April, I was at Jones Elementary School in Jones, Okla., participating in an earthquake safety drill called the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. In the drill, the students joined millions of others around the country and practiced the steps of “Drop. Cover. Hold On.” – the best way to stay safe during an earthquake.

And I know from experience that practicing for an earthquake can make a world of difference when the real thing happens. Last winter, I happened to be visiting Christchurch, New Zealand when the city was struck by a deadly earthquake.

As both my experience in Christchurch and the recent events in Oklahoma show, earthquakes can happen unexpectedly, and in places that the public doesn’t usually associate with earthquake activity. It’s critical that we all do our part to be prepared both for earthquakes and for aftershocks that can accompany them. We encourage everyone, if you haven't already, to learn how to protect your homes, businesses and loved ones from earthquakes. Visit www.Ready.gov/earthquakes for more information.

To get you started, here are some reminders on staying safe during an earthquake:



  • 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.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.

Announcing the Redesigned Ready.gov

Author: 

Posted by: Darryl Madden, Director of the Ready Campaign

I'm proud to introduce Administrator Fugate, with a video message about the completely redesigned Ready.gov:




As the Administrator said, Ready.gov is where you can learn how to prepare your home, family or business before a disaster strikes. Being prepared can mean the difference between life and death if an emergency happens, and we continually encourage Americans to take the simple steps of being informed, making a plan and getting a kit – three main areas on the site.

While the new site is our latest development, I'd like to remind you that you can get our safety tips in the palm of your hand, too. We recently released the FEMA app for Apple-powered mobile devices (it’s available for Android, too), and many of our safety tips are on the FEMA mobile website, http://m.fema.gov, which is designed to display quickly on your smartphone.

So I encourage you to check out the new Ready.gov, download the FEMA app, and take steps to prepare your family, home, business, and community before a disaster strikes.

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