Blog

Main Content

Fiscal year 2013 Budget Announced

Author: 

Today, following the release of President Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2013, Secretary Napolitano outlined a balanced approach of reductions and investments for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes FEMA.


 

FEMA’s budget request amplifies the Secretary’s intent, and lays out our plans to manage existing resources, reduce redundancies, enhance efficiencies, and focus on the programs that help us to fulfill our crucial emergency management mission. We have worked diligently, in recent years, to apply innovative approaches to how we do business, to streamline our processes, and to create greater program efficiencies. Here are a few examples of how these actions have influenced our fiscal 2013 budget request:

  • The FY13 budget request reflects approximately $6.1B in funding for the Disaster Relief Fund, which supports a significant portion of the total Federal response to presidentially declared major disasters and emergencies.  
  • We have consolidated multiple, individuals grants into a new, unified grant program that fosters our agency’s whole community approach to prepare our state, local community and tribal partners for all hazards in support of the recently announced National Preparedness Goal;
  • We are making strategic investments to our workforce that establishes new training programs and a national employee credentialing program so that our employees are well equipped to provide the best possible customer service; and
  • We have combined duplicative programs, such as the pre-disaster mitigation grant program, to create greater efficiency. 

We are confident that this budget will allow us to continue to fulfill our most important mission to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Two Additional Seats Available for the Think Tank in San Francisco

Deputy Administrator Serino is hosting the next Think Tank conference call from San Francisco on Friday, February 17 and there are two additional seats available – and he would like you to participate in person.

The topics that he will be discussing are:

  1. How to communicate with disaster survivors and distribute information to mass audiences if cellular and on-line communications are unavailable immediately following a catastrophic disaster. In particular, we will discuss how existing communications tools, such as amateur (ham) radio operators, can be leveraged and linked to other forms of mass communications following a disaster. We’d also like to hear your ideas on how we can ensure these communications are accessible to the whole community.
  2. How mobile applications can help emergency managers and individuals prepare for, respond to, and quickly recover from disasters. We will talk about two specific ideas for mobile apps that were submitted to the online forum, and then open the discussion to other ideas for apps related to emergency management and preparedness.

I know I’m excited about the topics that will be discussed and the opportunity for two more people to participate in person, and I hope you are too.

In order to be considered, all you have to do is “throw your name in the proverbial hat” by emailing us at fema-new-media [at] dhs [dot] gov (with February Think Tank in the subject line) by Wednesday 12 Noon EST and we’ll randomly pick two people.

A short note from the agency lawyers: FEMA will not pay for any costs or expenses related to attendance at this event, including travel to or from the event, and any member of the public can participate.

Here are the other details about the event:

  • Time: 1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. Eastern (10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. Pacific)
  • Call in number: 800-369-1986
  • Passcode: Think Tank February
  • Hashtag: #femathinktank

Help us spread the word via email, word of mouth, and your social media sites. Thanks!

What We’re Watching: 2/10/12

At the end of each week, we post a "What We're Watching" blog as we look ahead to the weekend and recap events from the week. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, and have a safe weekend.

Weather Outlook
This weekend, our friends at the National Weather Service predict heavy snowfall in the Great Plains and parts of the Northeast. Severe drought conditions are expected to continue throughout parts of the South and Southeast.

Although there are no other significant weather threats, we encourage you to monitor your area’s local forecast. Stay up-to-date on your local forecast by visiting weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device.

New Training Course: Integrating Emergency Management Education into Your Institution
We wanted to highlight a new training course being offered by our Emergency Management Institute in partnership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. EMI will be hosting the new course aimed at creating a more diverse population of emergency management professionals.

The E390 Integrating Emergency Management Education into Your Institution is a two-day course targeted for Hispanic-Serving Institutions, department chairs of emergency management -related disciplines such as sociology, geography, public administration, or psychology.

For more information on the training and application form on-line, visit our website.

FEMA Think Tank
Deputy Administrator Serino will host the second Think Tank conference call next Friday, Feb. 17 at 1:00 p.m. EST (10:00 a.m. PDT) from San Francisco, CA. The Deputy Administrator will be in Silicon Valley (the Mecca of technology) to discuss the use of technology and social media in emergency management.

The call is open to the public, so anyone interested can join the call. The call in number is 800-369-1986 and password is Think Tank February. You can access the captioning for the event and follow the discussion and ask questions on Twitter by searching and using #femathinktank.

Tech @ State Recap
Here are a few photos from “Tech @ State” of Administrator Fugate speaking about the role of social media in disaster response and the many challenges emergency managers face when trying to create real-time awareness.

Washington, D.C., Jan. 30, 2010 -- Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, discusses the range of challenges that exist when trying to create real-time awareness, especially in the context of breaking news or events, crisis response and citizen engagement at Tech @ State. The event was hosted by the U.S. Department of State.


Washington, D.C., Jan. 30, 2010 -- Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, discusses the range of challenges that exist when trying to create real-time awareness, especially in the context of breaking news or events, crisis response and citizen engagement at Tech @ State. The event was hosted by the U.S. Department of State.

Washington, D.C., Jan. 30, 2010 -- Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, discusses the range of challenges that exist when trying to create real-time awareness, especially in the context of breaking news or events, crisis response and citizen engagement at Tech @ State. The event was hosted by the U.S. Department of State.


Washington, D.C., Jan. 30, 2010 -- Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, discusses the range of challenges that exist when trying to create real-time awareness, especially in the context of breaking news or events, crisis response and citizen engagement at Tech @ State. The event was hosted by the U.S. Department of State.

Preparedness Makes Sense for Indian Country
We wanted to share a video with information specific to Indian Country with tips on how to prepare for emergency situations. No matter where you live, it is important to prepare for an emergency.

Drop, Cover and Hold on: The Great ShakeOut in Alabama

Author: 

Three days into the new Joint Field Office for Alabama tornado recovery, Federal Coordinating Officer Joe Girot and his team joined the largest earthquake drill in Region IV’s history -- the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. Safety officers Hal Pashon and Rob Dahlman briefed the team in advance on what to expect. Hal explained that when the alarm sounded, all staff should be ready to drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture, and hold on to something to gain stability.

Pelham, Ala., Feb. 7, 2012 -- Hal Pashon, FEMA Safety Officer, leads the "ShakeOut" in the Joint Field Office in Pelham, Alabama. During the statewide earthquake drill, employees drop to the ground, take cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on until the shaking stops. The drill aims to promote earthquake preparedness.


Pelham, Ala., Feb. 7, 2012 -- Hal Pashon, FEMA Safety Officer, leads the "ShakeOut" in the Joint Field Office in Pelham, Alabama. During the statewide earthquake drill, employees drop to the ground, take cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on until the shaking stops. The drill aims to promote earthquake preparedness.

Approximately 70 people were in the JFO during the drill and all participated in what Pashon called, “a great learning experience.” For some, especially employees living in Alabama and local hires, it was their first experience with an earthquake exercise. According to the National Geological Survey, living far from the West Coast of the United States doesn’t ensure safety from earthquakes. While the West Coast does have a high probability of earthquakes, a potentially hazardous area also fans out from the “New Madrid” fault line that straddles Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky. Repercussions from earthquakes along this fault line could affect more than 15 million people in eight states – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

Pelham, Ala., Feb. 7, 2012 -- Abraham Mercado, IT specialist, participates in the "ShakeOut" earthquake drill in the Joint Field Office in Pelham, Ala. During the drill, employees dropped to the ground, took cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and held on to a heavy object for stability. The drill aims to promote earthquake preparedness.

Pelham, Ala., Feb. 7, 2012 -- Abraham Mercado, IT specialist, participates in the "ShakeOut" earthquake drill in the Joint Field Office in Pelham, Ala. During the drill, employees dropped to the ground, took cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and held on to a heavy object for stability. The drill aims to promote earthquake preparedness.

Following the drill, Hal distributed additional information on how one should respond to a quake under different circumstances, including being indoors vs. outdoors, in a downtown area, in a moving vehicle and trapped under debris.

Joe said he was pleased with the response from his team:

As emergency responders, we aren’t able to help other people after a disaster if we don’t know how to take care of ourselves during one. This exercise was a great learning opportunity for us and gave us better perspective on the real-life preparation and vigilance required to survive an earthquake.

Supporting Residents in Alabama After January 22 Tornadoes

Author: 

I’m back in Alabama again, leading FEMA’s response to another set of tornadoes that hit Alabama Jan. 22-23. Every disaster is equally important, because each disaster is such a tragedy for each survivor. For me, knowing we can help even one disaster survivor makes the work worthwhile and makes me glad to be able to help the people of Alabama who have been affected by these storms.

Trussville, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- Damage in the city of Trussville during the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Trussville, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- Damage in the city of Trussville during the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Since President Obama made the disaster declaration for Alabama on the afternoon of Feb. 1, I’ve been going full-throttle. The next morning I met with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in Montgomery for the formal signing of the federal-state agreement. I told the Governor that returning to Alabama felt like coming home to family, and he said that over the last year, he couldn’t have asked for more cooperation from FEMA.

Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 2, 2012 -- Joe Girot (L), FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) signs the Federal - State agreement for assistance with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (c) and the Director of Alabama Emergency Management Art Faulkner (r). FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 2, 2012 -- Joe Girot (L), FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) signs the Federal - State agreement for assistance with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (c) and the Director of Alabama Emergency Management Art Faulkner (r). FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Within 72 hours, my team set up five disaster recovery centers (DRC’s) in Chilton and Jefferson counties. Community Relations staff fanned out into the hardest-hit areas and distributed information on the new disaster recovery center locations and guidelines on FEMA registration.

Center Point, Ala., Feb. 3, 2012 -- Duane Marusa, Community Relations Specialist, explains the registration process to a storm survivor in Center Point, Alabama. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Center Point, Ala., Feb. 3, 2012 -- Duane Marusa, Community Relations Specialist, explains the registration process to a storm survivor in Center Point, Alabama. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Center Point, Ala., Feb. 3, 2012 -- Mary Smith, Community Relations Specialist, explains the registration process to a storm survivor in Center Point, Alabama. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.


Center Point, Ala., Feb. 3, 2012 -- Mary Smith, Community Relations Specialist, explains the registration process to a storm survivor in Center Point, Alabama. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

As of today, FEMA has more than $592,000 in funding ready to assist individuals and families whose registrations have already been approved. We have 378 property inspections completed and more than 500 visits have been made to the five DRC’s. The Small Business Association has staff at all the DRC’s and has already distributed 559 loan applications for homeowners and 75 for businesses.

On Sunday I got to speak (in Spanish!) about FEMA’s Individual Assistance programs during a Spanish-language service at the First Methodist Church of Clanton. About 80 people were there, and I was able to be sure they could spread the word about the DRC’s located in Clanton and Maplesville in Chilton County.

Clanton, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- Joe Girot, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) encourages the congregation of Iglesia Metodista San Juan during their service to register for assistance with FEMA. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Clanton, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- Joe Girot, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) encourages the congregation of Iglesia Metodista San Juan during their service to register for assistance with FEMA. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

Clanton, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialists hand out information translated in Spanish to assist non-english speaking survivors. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.


Clanton, Ala., Feb. 5, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations Specialists hand out information translated in Spanish to assist non-english speaking survivors. FEMA is supporting the recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that damaged or destroyed parts of Alabama during the period of January 22-23, 2012.

We’ve just moved into our Joint Field Office in Pelham, Ala., which is more centrally located to the affected areas. All of us working this disaster (DR-4052) are proud to be part of Alabama’s emergency management team, and working with human services agencies, local government officials, and tireless volunteers to get Alabama – once again – back on the road to recovery.

An Important Update on Our Recoupment Process – Part Two

As we mentioned in December, Congress passed a law providing FEMA discretion to waive certain debts for disaster survivors. Since December, we have been working diligently to finalize a process to implement this law, and to offer a fair resolution to survivors who received improper payments through no fault of their own. In order to be eligible for a waiver, the following requirements need to be met under the December law:


  1. The improper payment was received from disasters declared between August 28, 2005 and the end of 2010. (NOTE: the law does not apply to recoupment efforts for disasters declared after Jan. 1, 2011);
  2.  The improper payment was a result of an error solely on FEMA’s part – not on the part of a survivor;
  3. The improper payment cannot have involved fraud, presentation of false claim or misrepresentation;
  4. The survivor household’s adjusted gross income on their most recent Federal tax return was less than $90,000 (a survivor with an income of greater than $90,000 whose case meets the other qualifying criteria could be eligible for a partial waiver); and
  5. The collection of the debt would be against “equity and good conscience,” meaning that it would be unfair under the circumstances of the case to collect the debt.

To the disaster survivors who are affected by the recoupment efforts, we appreciate your patience as we worked to finalize a process that allows us to implement this law to the fullest extent possible. We are now making efforts to notify you of the process that is now available. There are steps that you will need to take once you receive a waiver notice from FEMA before we can decide if your debt can be waived.

So once you receive a Waiver Notice from FEMA, what should you do?

You will have 60 days to respond to the Notice of Waiver you receive in the mail.

Your written letter request must provide certain information that explains:

  • Why collecting the debt would cause you serious financial hardship;
  • What you have spent the money on and why you are unable to return funds to FEMA. If you happen to have any receipts showing the disaster-related expenses, please provide those to FEMA as well;
  • Any other personal circumstances that would make collecting the debt burdensome and unfair.

Although you may have already provided FEMA information in the past to request an appeal, a payment plan or a compromise on your debt, the standards FEMA must consider for waiver are different and it is important that you provide FEMA with as much information as you can to support your request to waive your debt.

This includes completing a form that provides a certification to FEMA of your household “Adjusted Gross Income” from your most recent federal tax return for either 2010 or 2011. This is a requirement under the new law.

As we work through this process, FEMA will not send any new debts to Treasury for collection so that survivors will have the opportunity to respond to the Notice of Waiver sent by FEMA.

It is important to note that Congress wrote this law to apply only to recoupment efforts for specific past disasters. In recent years, we have taken significant steps to put strong controls in place to cut down on the percentage of improper payments disbursed after disasters. We will continue to do everything we can to reduce the need for any potential recoupments for current and future disasters.

If you have questions about the process to request a waiver, you may visit www.fema.gov/debtwaiver or contact

FEMA’s Recoupment Helpline
1-800-816-1122
Monday through Friday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM EST,

If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly.

If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-816-1122.

Practice Makes Perfect: ShakeOut Today

Today at 10:15 a.m. CST (11:15 a.m. EST) -- millions of people across the U.S. will participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. The drill is the largest earthquake preparedness event in central U.S. history. And don’t worry, even if you don’t live in the central U.S. you can still participate. Earthquakes can strike without warning, and you will only have seconds to react - so it’s important that everyone participates in the drill to ensure you know what to do should an earthquake strike.

It only takes a couple of minutes to participate in the drill and practice these three simple steps:

  • DROP to the ground
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops

So, this morning, wherever you are, take a few minutes to practice these simple steps to make sure you’re prepared for an earthquake. Remember, everyone plays a critical role in helping our nation become prepared. While we don’t know when or where the next earthquake will strike, preparing for them now will help our entire country during an emergency.

A Challenge to All Businesses: ShakeOut on Tuesday

Author: 

I work with people from global corporations based in Chicago, to sole proprietorships based out of a home office. One thing they both have in common? Both of them -- and anyone in between -- can participate in The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill this Tuesday, February 7.

For a small investment of your time, you could learn, teach, and exercise life saving actions to take during an earthquake:

  • DROP to the ground
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops

The drill is organized and coordinated by the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and its Member and Associate States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Geological Survey, and dozens of other partners. More than two million participants have registered to participate at government offices, businesses, schools, place of worship, libraries, and other community based organizations.

I am an earthquake survivor, I was in Haiti for a major “aftershock.” Having survived an earthquake, I can attest to the idea that practicing an earthquake drill is extremely critical in surviving these disasters. I have done this drill. I have trained. And I am still here.

Last year I conducted a surprise ShakeOut drill with my team, even though we “never” have earthquakes in the DC area. It was the first time that one member of the team learned about earthquake safety procedures. Five months later she was teleworking at home when an earthquake shook Virginia and was felt by many states to the north and south. She immediately responded with the correct actions; she dropped, covered, and held on. She is a survivor too. We are drilling again this Tuesday morning, and I ask you to join us by conducting your own drill.

Here’s a video from the Administrator encouraging citizens to participate in the Great Central ShakeOut:



Participation in the drill can take as little time as a couple minutes, or can be more involved and include exercising your earthquake preparedness to your emergency preparedness plan.

So if you haven’t done so already, register and join us now and explore the information and resources to make your drill great and improve your earthquake and overall preparedness. Also checkout FEMA’s Quakesmart Mitigation Toolkit for Businesses and visit Ready Business for important information on preparedness planning for your business.

“Every Employee is an Emergency Manager” and FEMA’s Workforce Transformation

Last Thursday, February 1, Deputy Administrator Rich Serino announced the Employee Workforce Transformation -- a new disaster workforce-centric program aimed at ensuring we at FEMA, are the most prepared, well trained, informed, and engaged emergency management team possible.

Under the theme, every employee is an emergency manager, the re-organization aims to harness the dedication and expertise of every employee. Throughout 2012, FEMA will be placing significant emphasis on developing and implementing a number of key initiatives to improve and enhance the work experience of the total disaster workforce.

In his memo to staff, Deputy Administrator Serino noted:

FEMA’s fundamental goal, and the inspiration and motivation for many FEMA employees, is to serve the Nation by helping its people and first responders, especially when they are most in need. Employees from all parts of the agency have expressed a desire to provide support to our response and recovery activities during disasters.

Whether you are a part-time, full-time, permanent or temporary employee, this Disaster Workforce Transformation will benefit the agency in many significant ways to include: 
  • Focusing on training and certifying the entire workforce for incident management and incident support positions in the field—to ensure we are all prepared to conduct and support FEMA’s emergency management missions;
  • Preparing and planning for expected disaster work so that employees will be aware of their role and contribution when activated to assist field operations, headquarters or regional command centers;
  • Ensuring that there is ongoing, two-way communication with all employees, including the reserve workforce, even when not deployed. This includes weekly email communication on agency activities and a dedicated employee focused web-site that is accessible to everyone; and
  • Providing defined career paths within FEMA and fostering a talented, trained pool of emergency management professionals to meet our Nation’s needs for the future.

Starting today and continuing over the next several weeks, town hall meetings will be held at the regional offices, joint field offices and other FEMA facilities for employees to learn more about the initiative and, more importantly, so they can their thoughts and suggestions.

On behalf of FEMA leadership, I want to encourage all FEMA employees to participate, either in person or by conference call in the town hall meetings. Visit the Employee Information & Resource Center for more information about the town hall meetings and the Workforce Transformation initiative, as well as other employee-related updates.

Private Sector Representatives Keep Rolling In!

Author: 

I’m really excited about the momentum our program is gaining. Please join me welcoming Joseph Heckman, our new Private Sector Representative who will be helping us coordinate with the private sector during a 90-day stint here in Washington, D.C. Joe is an emergency preparedness and planning manager for Walmart Stores at their headquarters office in Bentonville, Ark. Like Hollis Stambaugh from System Planning Corporation, our current representative, Joe began his career in local government. At Western Illinois University, his alma mater, Joe participated in emergency exercises, and trained over 200 volunteers on campus. Hollis and Joe both “get it.”

While we look forward to Joe coming on board, I want to thank System Planning Corporation for all the great work Hollis has done during her tenure. While she has been with us, she has conducted research on the impact of disasters on small businesses as background for a targeted small business outreach effort. She has jump started development of a website which will be devoted to small businesses and represented their perspective in policy and program matters at FEMA.

So, what’s cool about this particular transition? We have small business. We have big business. And they are working together right now to give us an honest gut-check on how we can serve communities better. With each private sector representative we have gained different perspectives and broad input into our programs and policies. Hollis and Joe are helping us to connect the dots and build bridges between all levels of business in emergency management.

And since we are always looking ahead, we are excited to bring aboard candidates in new areas of interest. While we welcome any and all interested candidates, it would be particularly exciting to have individuals whose backgrounds include finance, cyber security, pharmaceuticals, transportation, or the food and beverage industry. If you or someone you know is interested in being a candidate, learn more about the program (PDF) (Text).

Meanwhile, look for a new small business section on our website soon. There we will be information and tips devoted to small business owners at the local level. Their resilience in times of disaster is critical to a community’s economic and emotional recovery.

Pages

Back to Top