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Update on Reservist Hiring Process

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More than 7,000 welcome packets were mailed this week to our Disaster Assistance Employees who successfully applied to become members of our new Reservist Program. These packets contained each reservist’s appointment letter assigning their position and cadre; and a “Conditions of Employment” form that must be signed and returned by Sept. 23, 2012.

During the transition of our disaster workforce this summer, we implemented a three-level review process for all applicants.  The process consisted of a preliminary review of applications to determine basic qualifications; applicants were then reviewed by recommendation panels with in-depth knowledge of the FQS job requirements by cadre; and final selection decisions by the selection panel. This Phase 1 hiring process for the Reservist Program ensured that all DAEs who applied to the Reservist Program were offered a position within the limitations of force structure.

Each new member of the Reservist Program will be certified as either a “trainee” or a “qualified” employee within the cadre they are assigned. This was done to ensure that during future disaster deployments, a trainee can always be paired with more qualified employees so that adequate training and experience can be gained. This of course benefits the employee, as well as the disaster survivors and impacted communities as they begin their recovery process.

If an employee is deployed to a disaster area and unable to receive the welcome packet, they may contact the call center at 855-FQS-FEMA (377-3362) or send an email to FEMA-FQS-Program@fema.dhs.gov.

It is our hope that through this transition, we are better equipped to fulfill our mission to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from and mitigate all hazards.

Learning How to Register for Disaster Assistance

Since Hurricane Isaac, FEMA has been busy helping survivors get the help they need. We learned that there are several places kids and their families can visit if they need help or have questions. First, we visited a Disaster Recovery Center in Louisiana.

A Disaster Recovery Center is where people can meet face to face with friendly FEMA staff. The people you meet at the center can teach people how they can get help after a disaster. So whether you are looking to learn who may be able to help fix your home or simply looking for information about how the recovery process works, we learned that a Disaster Recovery Center is a great place for people to visit. FEMA and other organizations are standing by ready to assist.

disaster recovery center


Even though we only visited one center, FEMA has set up many other Disaster Recovery Centers in both Louisiana and Mississippi. You can check out the Disaster Recovery Center Locator to find one near you!

If a survivor cannot visit a Disaster Recovery Center, we learned that there are three other ways to register for disaster assistance:

1. We visited www.disasterassistance.gov, where families can apply online:

applying online
 

2. We also downloaded the FEMA App, where people can apply on their smartphone:

stella and fema app


3. Finally, people can apply for assistance on the telephone by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

disaster help line


It is not just FEMA helping disaster survivors - so many groups are working hard to provide survivors with the help they need. We hope you can help us spread the word about all the ways Hurricane Isaac survivors can apply for assistance!

Welcome to the FEMA Corps Inaugural Class

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Today, we welcomed 231 energetic members into the first ever FEMA Corps class.  The members just finished off their first month of training with our partners at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and are one step closer to working in the field on disaster response and recovery.  They will now head to FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness to spend the next two weeks training in their FEMA position-specific roles.  Once they complete both the CNCS and FEMA training, these 231 dedicated FEMA Corps members will be qualified to work in one of a variety of disaster related roles, ranging from Community Relations to Disaster Recovery Center support.

Vicksburg, Miss., Sep. 13, 2012 -- Deputy Administrator Rich Serino gives the keynote address at the Induction Ceremony for the inaugural class of FEMA Corps members. FEMA Corps members assist with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery activities, providing support in areas ranging from working directly with disaster survivors to supporting disaster recovering centers to sharing valuable disaster preparedness and mitigation information with the public.

Vicksburg, Miss., Sep. 13, 2012 -- Deputy Administrator Rich Serino gives the keynote address at the Induction Ceremony for the inaugural class of FEMA Corps members. FEMA Corps members assist with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery activities, providing support in areas ranging from working directly with disaster survivors to supporting disaster recovering centers to sharing valuable disaster preparedness and mitigation information with the public.

FEMA Corps builds on the great work of AmeriCorps to establish a service cadre dedicated to disaster response and recovery.  To be sure, responding to disasters is nothing new for Americorps.  In fact, the great work that AmeriCorps already does during disasters was the inspiration for FEMA Corps.  When I visited communities all over the country that were devastated by disasters, from Joplin, MO to Bastrop, Texas, I always encountered the incredible members of AmeriCorps lending a helping hand to survivors.  I was continually struck by the level of compassion, dedication, and skill these members brought to the table. 

Today’s inductees are pioneers, combining the exceptional record of citizen service at AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps with FEMA’s specialized mission of supporting survivors with their recovery after a disaster.  The new members, who range in age from 18-24 years old, will contribute to a dedicated, trained, and reliable disaster workforce by working full-time for ten months on federal disaster response and recovery efforts.  As we announced in March, FEMA Corps sets the foundation for a new generation of emergency managers; it promotes civic engagement and offers an educational and financial opportunity for young people; and is designed to strengthen the nation’s disaster response by supplementing FEMA’s existing Reservist workforce.

I commend and thank every member of the inaugural class of FEMA Corps for their dedication to helping communities in need. Welcome to FEMA Corps!

To learn more about the new program, visit the AmeriCorps website or our FEMA Corps page.

Training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness

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As we often say at FEMA, emergencies can strike at any moment, anywhere which is why it’s so important to be prepared for an emergency.  The Center for Domestic Preparedness provides responders with knowledge to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from chemical, biological, explosive, radiological, or other hazardous materials incidents. This training has proven to be a critical investment in ensuring responders, individuals, and communities are prepared for an emergency.

We wanted to share the recent experiences of Sutter Health employees that completed the Healthcare Leadership for Mass Casualty Incidents last month.  Here's a quick recap from Robin Montgomery of Sutter Health on their training at the CDP:

The week-long emergency response training for natural disasters, terrorism and hazardous material accidents, covered a variety of disciplines including nursing, ancillary services, administration and support services. As with many of the classes at the CDP, the training combined classroom instruction, table-top discussions and exercises, followed with hands-on simulation drills.

Sutter Health spokesman Sy Neilson described his impression of the training, “they push your critical thinking abilities to the limit by overloading the system, withholding the resources you need and then watching how you respond. After the drills you discuss what worked well, what didn’t and what you plan to implement when you go back home. It’s a very worthwhile training for anyone who might respond to a disaster situation.”

Read more about this training at the CDP.

Visit the Center for Domestic Preparedness website for more information on available courses.

Isaac Survivors Go Mobile for Assistance

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If anyone questions the value of smartphone devices, point them to Hurricane Isaac survivors. The disaster has helped us learn how survivors request and access assistance online during times of need. Fortunately, FEMA’s efforts prior to the storm, to put digital preparedness, response and recovery resources in the palms of peoples’ hands, have proven to be invaluable.

From August 31 to September 9, a record number of disaster survivors—primarily from Hurricane Isaac—used DisasterAssistance.gov to apply for assistance, update their information, and check the status of their application online. On September 4 alone, we received 55,752 visits to the site—the greatest volume of single-day traffic to the site since its launch in 2008, far surpassing the previous single-day high of 33,434 visitors from Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011. Also during this timeframe, 86,847 Hurricane Isaac survivors (combined total from web and mobile registrations) applied for assistance on DisasterAssistance.gov, 17,471 of whom applied using their smartphones. In addition, 57,480 status inquiries were made with the new mobile application inquiry feature, rolled-out in August, which gives survivors the ability to use their smartphones to check the status of their disaster assistance application.

DisasterAssistance.gov Hurricane Isaac Stats at a Glance: August 31 - September 9

  • 328,222 total web visits, 49,596 (18%) via a smartphone
  • 86,847 total online applications submitted, 17,471 (20%) via a smartphone
  • 160,637 total application inquiries, 57,480 (36%) via a smartphone

Not only can users submit and check the status of their application on a mobile device, they can also add or update contact information should they move or become displaced, as is common following disasters. On-the-go survivors can also add or update insurance and bank information, as well as find information and referrals on 72 forms of disaster assistance from the 17 federal agencies that participate in DisasterAssistance.gov, which the site makes easier through a new mobile questionnaire.

The questionnaire serves as a tool to help survivors quickly and anonymously get a personalized list of possible assistance. Recently upgraded on both the full and mobile versions of DisasterAssistance.gov, the questionnaire is now dynamic, meaning it tailors recommendations based on how survivors answer questions as they answer them. More than 8,500 Isaac survivors have used the questionnaire, which also enables users to sort, tag, and find more information on specific forms of assistance, as well as to print and email their results.

The mobile outreach effort is part of a much larger, ongoing initiative to simplify the process of identifying and applying for disaster assistance for survivors using DisasterAssistance.gov as the first stop for disaster relief. A product of the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program, the website enables survivors to apply for FEMA Individual Assistance and refers them to other forms of assistance, like loan applications from the Small Business Administration. The site also provides community resource information and disaster news feeds to help individuals, families and businesses prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

DisasterAssistance.gov reduces the time needed to apply for aid and check the status of claims while decreasing redundancy in application forms and processes. For more information, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov on your computer or m.fema.gov on your smartphone device.

How We Prepared for Isaac

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It’s been three weeks since Tropical Depression #9 became “Isaac” in the central Atlantic.  Over that time, we saw a slowly growing and changing storm and a closely coordinated emergency management team that was ready to respond to it. The team included local, state, tribal and federal government, the private sector, faith-based organizations and volunteer agencies– and FEMA was proud to be part of it.

I traveled across the Gulf Coast, before, during and after the storm, and witnessed years of advanced planning become a smart response. Investments in mitigation paid off, preventing the storm from being more destructive. Emergency managers didn’t wait for the storm to hit, and FEMA worked with state and local authorities to prepare and get supplies in place. Finally, we had an eye on recovery before the storm arrived, which aided communities in accelerating the recovery process. The bottom line – everyone worked together to prepare for this storm and it saved lives.

Isaac was initially a threat to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where FEMA deployed Incident Management Assessment Teams (IMATs) to assist local officials and prepare to distribute federal resources that are staged year-round in the Caribbean.  As the storm passed to the south of the islands, residents experienced some flash flooding, but thankfully avoided a direct hit from the storm.

As the storm proceeded towards Florida, I was on the ground in my home state to ensure that the federal government was in full support of local efforts.  With an unclear path for the storm, officials from the east coast of Florida through the Gulf Coast started preparing for Isaac.  FEMA staged resources in Jacksonville, Florida and Montgomery, Alabama, ready to move them closer to the impacted region as the path became clearer.  While the storm was still in the Gulf of Mexico, I traveled along the I-10 highway, visiting with the governors and/or emergency managers in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana as the storm approached.

Gulfport, Miss., Aug. 28, 2012 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate meeting with MEMA Director Robert Latham (left) and Mississippi Gov. Bryant (center) to discuss Hurricane Isaac preparations.

Gulfport, Miss., Aug. 28, 2012 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate meeting with MEMA Director Robert Latham (left) and Mississippi Gov. Bryant (center) to discuss Hurricane Isaac preparations.

We made sure we were working closely together before the storm made landfall and on Tuesday, President Obama signed emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi in advance of the onset of the storm, making aid available for federal support to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety in designated counties and parishes. First responders could get to work knowing that the federal government had their back.

I’ve waited for a lot of storms to make landfall and the anticipation never gets easier.  The close coordination the federal government had with the states beforehand left me more confident than ever that our team was prepared.

The preparedness measures were in the making longer than two weeks—  they went back years.  Smart investments in mitigation projects protected people and property across the impacted region.  On average, every $1 invested in mitigation saves $4 that would have been expended on a disaster.  After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provided grants to communities and state agencies for projects designed to save lives and protect property.

Bay St. Louis, Miss., Sep. 4, 2012 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate visits the Bay St. Louis Fire Department in Mississippi following Hurricane Isaac.

Bay St. Louis, Miss., Sep. 4, 2012 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate visits the Bay St. Louis Fire Department in Mississippi following Hurricane Isaac.

In Mississippi, I visited the Bay St. Louis Fire House which was heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  In August, 2010, the community cut the ribbon on a new Fire House that doubles as a safe room for up to 68 first responders, protecting them from winds in excess of 200 miles per hours for a period of 36 hours.  When Hurricane Isaac made landfall, slowly drenching the Gulf Coast in rain, first responders were able to respond and save lives because they had prepared.

In Louisiana, the Plaquemines Parish Faculty Housing project opened just last month, replacing housing destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. This time, the new housing was elevated to protect it from flooding.  With the support of FEMA, the Plaquemines Parish School Board also rebuilt many of its schools over the last few years, following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. Reports from the school board indicate that damage from Hurricane Isaac is minimal and none of the facilities flooded, thanks to smart investments in mitigation. As a result, all Plaquemines Parish schools were open yesterday, helping kids in the community to move beyond the storm.

Plaquemines Parish, La., Aug. 6, 2012 -- Photo of the Plaquemines Parish Faculty Housing project which celebrated its opening on August 6, 2012. FEMA obligated $8 million to this project which replaced housing destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The project was elevated to comply with the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map elevation for the area, which is in south Plaquemines Parish. FEMA has obligated a total of $206 million to the Plaquemines Parish School Board to rebuild its schools following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.

Plaquemines Parish, La., Aug. 6, 2012 -- Photo of the Plaquemines Parish Faculty Housing project which celebrated its opening on August 6, 2012. FEMA obligated $8 million to this project which replaced housing destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Inevitably after a disaster, the national spotlight moves on to something else, but FEMA isn’t going anywhere.  This is a team effort and we are on the Gulf Coast to assist the local authorities and support the recovery effort. Also supporting that effort are dozens of voluntary agencies.  Their work is far reaching and has a real impact on Isaac survivors. If you are interested in a way to help, visit the National VOAD website at www.nvoad.org.  An individual’s support goes a long way to aiding affected communities recover.

 

Hurricane Preparedness and Continued Recovery Efforts in the Gulf Coast

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September is National Preparedness Month, and FEMA is encouraging individuals, organizations, and communities to promote emergency preparedness by taking the Pledge to Prepare for natural disasters.  Now is the perfect time for those living in coastal states, as well as inland areas to consider the hazards that hurricanes and tropical storms bring, making areas vulnerable to risks such as flooding, high winds, tornadoes and storm surge.

According to the National Hurricane Center, August through October are the peak months for the Atlantic hurricane season, which continues until November 30.  It is important to take steps now to be prepared to ensure that your family and property are safe.  Visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov for more information.  As of today, there are two hurricanes located in the central Atlantic Ocean, and although these storms are not forecast to pose any threat to the United States mainland or its territories, there is a probability additional storms may form later during the remainder of hurricane season.  Earlier this hurricane season, Tropical Storm Debby affected parts of Florida, and most recently Hurricane Isaac impacted parts of the Gulf Coast. FEMA continues to work with federal, state, local and tribal officials to coordinate the ongoing response and recovery efforts in affected states. 

In Louisiana and Mississippi, more than 150,000 Louisiana and Mississippi residents have applied for federal assistance, and more than $28 million has been approved for housing assistance and other needs.  Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and households recover from the effects of the disaster.  More than 1,900 housing inspectors are visiting neighborhoods to assess damages. More than 40,000 inspections have been completed.  Disaster survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi in need of assistance should visit www.disasterassistance.gov for more information on the assistance available in their area.  Survivors without access to the internet can call 1-800-621-3362, and survivors who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) should call 1-800-621-3362.

Disaster recovery centers are open in many disaster affected areas in Louisiana and Mississippi.  These centers are the place for disaster survivors to meet one-on-one with officials from voluntary and non-profit agencies, local communities, and state and federal agencies such as FEMA and the Small Business Administration to learn more about the various types of assistance available to disaster survivors. More information about disaster recovery centers is available at www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov.

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) members including voluntary, non-profit and faith-based organizations also are working closely with the affected states and communities to assist with debris removal and supporting with temporary roofing for disaster survivors. 

Joint federal, state and local disaster assessments continue in Louisiana and Mississippi.  These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested.  We encourage you to visit the disaster-specific web pages for Mississippi and Louisiana at fema.gov for more information.

Hurricane Isaac and Tropical Storm Debby serve as important reminders that natural disasters can happen anytime and anywhere.  By taking steps now to prepare for emergencies, you can ensure that your family and community are prepared to respond and recover from all types of potential disasters and hazards.  We encourage everyone to make the pledge to prepare this month and help themselves, their neighbors and their communities be Ready.  You can start by visiting www.Ready.gov/today and download a family emergency plan, emergency kit checklists, and additional information on how to get involved locally. Together, our efforts will build a stronger and more resilient nation.

You can keep up to date on the latest tropical systems in the Atlantic and Pacific by visiting www.hurricanes.gov or hurricanes.gov/mobile on your phone. 

Recent Updates on the Isaac Recovery:

  • Thursday, Sept. 6, FEMA amended the Major Disaster Declaration for Hurricane Isaac for Louisiana, making Individual Assistance available in five additional Louisiana parishes — Assumption, St. Helena, St. James, Terrebonne and Washington. Individuals in areas in Louisiana and Mississippi that have been designated for individual assistance can apply for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov on a web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. Disaster survivors who not have access to the Internet can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Survivors who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY may call 1-800-462-7585. Individuals who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing, home repairs, rental assistance, uninsured property losses, and other programs that help individuals and households recover from the effects of the disaster.  Federal disaster assistance will not duplicate insurance benefits, but may provide for uncovered losses.
  • FEMA, in coordination with the state of Louisiana launched the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program for Hurricane Isaac evacuees.  This program allows eligible evacuees to stay in hotels or motels if their homes are inaccessible or unlivable due to the disaster. The initiative is designed to provide temporary lodging for eligible disaster survivors who have a continuing need for shelter after the congregate shelters have closed.  The state has prioritized those with the most critical needs for emergency lodging in hotels and motels, especially the elderly and those with illnesses exacerbated by the heat who are staying in shelters.  Registering with FEMA is the first step to potential federal disaster assistance, including the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program.
  • FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRCs) have opened in disaster affected areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. At these centers, disaster survivors can meet one-on-one with officials from voluntary and non-profit agencies, local communities, the state, and federal agencies such as FEMA and the Small Business Administration to learn more about the various types of assistance available to disaster survivors.  To find a disaster recovery center location, go to www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers  or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the Department of Energy and as per the requests of the states affected by Hurricane Isaac has exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive certain federal clean gasoline requirements for gasoline sold and distributed in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. The disruption and delays in production and delivery of gasoline resulted from effects of Hurricane Isaac. The federal waiver will help ensure an adequate supply of gasoline in the impacted states until normal supply to the region can be restored.
  • U.S. Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues to work with state and federal partners to ensure a coordinated federal response to Isaac.  USACE reported the status at the Pearl River Lock is stable. At the time of potential failure and threat of flooding, the lock was under caretaker status and not actively operated or maintained by the federal government. USACE is operating the Greater New Orleans District Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS), and all major structures are now open.
  • U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration announced $3.5 million in quick Release Emergency Relief Funds for Hurricane Isaac Damage in Louisiana.  The announcement builds up on the major disaster declaration approved by President Barack Obama.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will be used to pay for debris removal and the repair of traffic signals and signs, highway shoulders and movable bridges.
  • U.S. Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service provided tax relief to individuals and business affected by Hurricane Isaac.  Affected tax payers in Louisiana (Ascension, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John The Baptist, St. Tammany parishes and Mississippi (Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl counties) will receive tax relief that postpones tax filling and payment deadlines that occurred on or after August 26, 2012.  As a result, affected individuals and business will have until January 11, 2012 to file returns and pay any taxes due.  The tax relief includes corporations and business that received similar extension until October 15, 2012.  More details are available on www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Relief-in-Disaster-Situations.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 4, FEMA granted the state of Louisiana’s request to designate St. Charles Parish for Individual Assistance, opening the way for state and federal assistance to eligible homeowners, renters and business owners affected by Hurricane Isaac.

Previous recaps:

What We’re Watching: 9/7/12

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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

Our partners at the National Weather Service continue to monitor tropical weather activity, specifically a low pressure system that is producing overcast and some rain along the Gulf Coast.  Although this system has a low chance of becoming a tropical cyclone, we will also continue to monitor weather conditions.

We are also monitoring Tropical Storm Leslie and Hurricane Michael in the Atlantic, although both of these storms are not expected to impact the U.S at this time.

Stay up to date with the latest forecast from the NOAA National Hurricane Center at hurricanes.gov or on your phone at hurricanes.gov/mobile. For updates on the local weather in your area, visit weather.gov or m.weather.gov on your phone.

Hurricane Isaac Photo Recap

As we continue our recovery efforts following the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, we wanted to share some photos from the past couple of days highlighting the great work being done by federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies, community and faith-based organizations, non-profit organizations, and the private sector to assist survivors as they recover from the storm. 

LaPlace, La., Sep. 5, 2012 -- Jamaal Johnson, an AmeriCorp volunteer teaches a child sign language at the St. John's Baptist Community Center where a temporary shelter has been set up for Hurricane Isaac survivors. FEMA is working with local, state and federal agencies to provide services for residents affected by Hurricane Isaac.

LaPlace, La., Sep. 5, 2012 -- Jamaal Johnson, an AmeriCorp volunteer teaches a child sign language at the St. John's Baptist Community Center where a temporary shelter has been set up for Hurricane Isaac survivors. FEMA is working with local, state and federal agencies to provide services for residents affected by Hurricane Isaac.

LaPlace, La., Sep. 5, 2012 -- A family of Hurricane Isaac survivors from LaPlace, La. grab a meal from the Red Cross at a distribution center. This group of volunteers came from Houston to help those affected by Hurricane Isaac.

LaPlace, La., Sep. 5, 2012 -- A family of Hurricane Isaac survivors from LaPlace, La. grab a meal from the Red Cross at a distribution center. This group of volunteers came from Houston to help those affected by Hurricane Isaac.


LaPlace, La., Sep. 4, 2012 -- Roger Bostic, left, and Raynell Parker McNeil bag laundry for washing, drying, and folding for a family affected by Hurricane Isaac. Hundreds in LaPlace, La affected by Hurricane Isaac have taken advantage of the service provided by Tide at no charge.

LaPlace, La., Sep. 4, 2012 -- Roger Bostic, left, and Raynell Parker McNeil bag laundry for washing, drying, and folding for a family affected by Hurricane Isaac. Hundreds in LaPlace, La affected by Hurricane Isaac have taken advantage of the service provided by Tide at no charge.

Pascagoula, Miss., Sep. 5, 2012 -- A survivor of Hurricane Isaac completes the application for disaster assistance with a representative of the Small Business Administration. Disaster Recovery Centers have all the representatives of state and federal agencies to assist applicants.

Pascagoula, Miss., Sep. 5, 2012 -- A survivor of Hurricane Isaac completes the application for disaster assistance with a representative of the Small Business Administration. Disaster Recovery Centers have all the representatives of state and federal agencies to assist applicants.

French Settlement, La., Sep. 5, 2012 -- Applicant Services Specialists, Teia Beaulieu, left, and U.S. Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D., Sixth District of Louisiana, compare signal strength on their cell phone while helping a woman affect by Hurricane Isaac call to register for assistance. Congressman Cassidy requested that FEMA representatives attend the town hall meeting in French Settlement, La. to take questions and provided information to the community.

French Settlement, La., Sep. 5, 2012 -- Applicant Services Specialists, Teia Beaulieu, left, and U.S. Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D., Sixth District of Louisiana, compare signal strength on their cell phone while helping a woman affect by Hurricane Isaac call to register for assistance. Congressman Cassidy requested that FEMA representatives attend the town hall meeting in French Settlement, La. to take questions and provided information to the community.

La Place, La., Sep. 3, 2012 -- Community Relations Specialist, Patricia "Alley" West, (left) goes door to door in neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Isaac handing out flyers and providing information to assist residents who may qualify for FEMA assistance. Areas in La Place flooded when the slow moving storm passed through.

La Place, La., Sep. 3, 2012 -- Community Relations Specialist, Patricia "Alley" West, (left) goes door to door in neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Isaac handing out flyers and providing information to assist residents who may qualify for FEMA assistance. Areas in La Place flooded when the slow moving storm passed through.

Orleans Parish, La., Sep. 3, 2012 -- Volunteers are working to remove debris from neighborhoods which impacted by during Hurricane Isaac movement through the area.

Orleans Parish, La., Sep. 3, 2012 -- Volunteers are working to remove debris from neighborhoods which impacted by during Hurricane Isaac movement through the area.

For more information on how you can assist survivors of Hurricane Isaac, visit www.fema.gov/volunteer-donate-responsibly.

National Preparedness Month

We are officially one week into National Preparedness Month -- but it’s not too late to pledge to prepare and take the necessary steps to get yourself, family, friends, coworkers, and community prepared for an emergency.  The goal of National Preparedness Month is to encourage individuals, businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to learn about the local hazards in your community, make a family communication plan, build an emergency kit, then get involved in your local community preparedness efforts.

The first step to getting involved in National Preparedness Month is registering as a coalition member at Ready.gov/pledge.  There you will join a community of thousands of individuals, emergency management professionals, businesses, and voluntary and faith-based groups, sharing emergency preparedness information and events, resources, and tools available to help get you prepared for an emergency and spreading preparedness in your own community.

We hope that you will join us and help promote a culture of preparedness by becoming a coalition member and pledging to prepare this September for NPM.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Serving people with disabilities during and after Isaac

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Even before Tropical Storm Isaac hit the Gulf coast, FEMA disability integration specialists from across the nation were preparing to travel to the areas that would be hardest hit. There, they would join other FEMA personnel and countless others from voluntary and community organizations, local, state, federal and tribal government, and the private sector who would answer the call to help the survivors of Isaac’s lingering and widespread deluge of rain and wind.

Right now, FEMA has seven Disability Integration Advisors serving in Louisiana and Mississippi. Their expertise is guiding the actions of the officials who lead FEMA’s response in areas hardest hit by Isaac. They are experts in disability inclusive emergency management who use their knowledge to prevent, address or solve problems for individuals with access and functional needs and their communities. 

Our Disability Integration Advisors work with state and local government officials to coordinate and advise on issues such as:

  • The availability of accessible transportation,
  • Evacuations from nursing homes, group homes, assisted living facilities, and people served under state programs, such as mental health and developmental disability programs,
  • Access to prescription medication,
  • Access to medical, personal assistance services and durable medical equipment in shelters. 

On a daily basis, they also address the need for access to effective communication such as remote and in-person sign language interpreting, captioning services, public lines in support of video phones and caption phones.  In addition, they reach out specifically to the disability community in the affected area and facilitate collaboration with federal, state, local and Tribal government concerning evacuation, application for FEMA assistance, accessible messaging, and cleanup tips. 

Often, advisors have the opportunity to talk with disaster survivors and help them firsthand.  Linda Landers, one of our Disability Integration Specialists, is working in Louisiana where she recently helped a mother and her adult son who has a spinal cord injury. After several days without power, they were forced to make a decision to shelter in place or travel from Jefferson Parish to a shelter in Baton Rouge. When the family decided to shelter in place, Linda made sure that local emergency responders and emergency management were aware of their decision and knew how to contact them. Throughout the night and next day, Linda checked in with them to be sure they were not in danger.  The power has since been restored and all are doing well. 

Ongoing support for recovery

As FEMA and the states began setting up Disaster Recovery Centers, FEMA disability integration advisors assessed conditions to determine potential issues, such as physical accessibility so people using wheelchairs can easily enter a building or area. They also looked for equipment that ensures effective communication by people who have low vision or are blind and others who are hard of hearing or deaf when filing assistance claims in Disaster Recovery Centers.

Here's an example of some of the equipment that is available at a center:

FEMA’s Disability Integration Advisors will continue to ensure those with access and functional needs have equal access to the assistance and services available after Isaac. Visit our webpage to learn more.

 

Our visit to the American Red Cross

Even though Hurricane Isaac is gone, there is a lot of work to do!  We’ve been here at FEMA watching all the activity that happens after a disaster to get families back on their feet.  A lot of people in Louisiana and Mississippi need help, and we have learned that it takes teamwork to get them what they need!

FEMA isn’t the only group working to help survivors.  There are a lot of volunteers helping families who have been impacted by Hurricane Isaac.  Volunteers are people who help others for free, because they want to make a difference.  FEMA works with many groups of people who volunteer their time, services, and supplies during disasters.   There have been so many of these helping hands after the hurricane!

One of FEMA’s partners that relies on volunteers to get the job done is the American Red Cross.  Today, we stopped by the Red Cross to see what they are doing to help people after Hurricane Isaac.

stanley and stella at red cross

The Red Cross provides meals, supplies, and shelter to people during and after a disaster.  A shelter is a place where families can stay if their homes are in harm’s way or damaged during a disaster.

red cross shelter

The Red Cross also provides useful things to people after a disaster, like these:

red cross comfort kit

That’s called a “comfort kit”.  It is given out so people can have important things they need, like a toothbrush, comb for your hair, tissues, and a bar of soap. While visiting the Red Cross, we also learned they have trucks that carry food and supplies to the disaster area. 

red cross truck

 

Here is a map showing where some of the Red Cross trucks are located across the country:

map with location of red cross trucks


There are lots of ways for everyone to get involved and help survivors of Hurricane Isaac.  You can be a volunteer or raise money to give to volunteer groups (like the American Red Cross and other groups that do important work after disasters).  

If you are interested in helping, you and your family can visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website at www.nvoad.org.  We were so happy to learn about the work of one of FEMA’s partners that relies on volunteers, and we hope to visit more soon! The work of these groups goes a long way to help families and communities recover from disasters.

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Editor’s note: We are providing the following examples for your reference. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, companies or applications.

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