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What We’re Watching: 8/30/13

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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

According to our friends at the National Weather Service, there are currently no severe weather threats impacting the U.S.  Heavy rain is expected for parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic going into Labor Day presenting the potential for flooding over portions of the Southeast.  Folks in the Northern Rockies and Northern and Central Plains can expect higher than normal temperatures over the next couple of days. 

We encourage everyone to monitor weather conditions in your area as the weather can quickly change. Visit www.weather.gov on your computer or http://mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device.

#NATLPREP Month is Here!

As you may know, September is National preparedness Month and all month long we’ll be sharing different preparedness information and events as well as stories of people and organizations that have taken the necessary steps to get prepared. We’ll also be encouraging residents, family, organizations and businesses to get prepared and encourage those in your community to get prepared too!

Just in time for National Preparedness Month, the Ready campaign recently redesigned the kids section on Ready.gov.  The redesigned site features a section for parents, educators and even kids where you’ll find easy to read information on preparing for an emergency, and soon you’ll be able to find fun games and tests to see if you know what to put in an emergency kit.

In addition to the new enhancements on the website, the campaign released these short videos encouraging parents to have a serious discussion with their kids about what to do and whom to call during an emergency. Check them out below:

As we head into the peak of hurricane season, I want to encourage everyone to take a moment to think about how prepared you are? What about your family and friends?  If you’re like the families in the videos above, then I encourage you to head over to Ready.gov and take the first step in preparing for an emergency by completing one simple step: making a family emergency plan.  Remember, disasters don’t discriminate, take action today!

Prepare-A-thon Next Week

Join us for a Preparedness Twitter Chat next Thursday, September 5 at 10:15 a.m. EDT.  The chat will focus on dispelling popular preparedness myths! If you’re on Twitter, follow @PrepareAthon for more information on the chat, and be sure to use #PrepareAthon to participate in the conversation. To submit a myth or question, tweet @PrepareAthon or email FEMA-prepareathon@fema.dhs.gov.

Check out our New Channels

We’ve recently launched a few new social channels and want to make sure you’re following or Like these accounts.

  • Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) Twitter  – The Center for Domestic Preparedness recently launched a Twitter account. For updates related to emergency responder training, be sure to follow them online.
  • Ready Facebook – Our Ready campaign has finally joined Facebook. Make sure you “Like” their page for more information and updates on preparing your friends and loved ones for an emergency.

Photos of the Week

Here are a few of our favorite photos from the week. For more photos, visit the FEMA Photo Library.

Edison, N.J., Aug. 27, 2013 -- A business owner signs up and speaks with New Jersey Small Business Development Center representatives at the Sam’s Club Emergency Preparedness Expo. Through this event, home and business owners can network with federal and local emergency managers about responding and recovering from disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Edison, N.J., Aug. 27, 2013 -- A business owner signs up and speaks with New Jersey Small Business Development Center representatives at the Sam’s Club Emergency Preparedness Expo. Through this event, home and business owners can network with federal and local emergency managers about responding and recovering from disasters like Hurricane Sandy.

Edison, N.J., Aug. 27, 2013 -- Federal Emergency Management Agency Private Sector Specialists, Pamela Mason and Art Goetz, speak with business owners and the public about preparedness techniques to mitigate disasters like Hurricane Sandy at the Sam’s Club Emergency Preparedness Expo.Edison, N.J., Aug. 27, 2013 -- Federal Emergency Management Agency Private Sector Specialists, Pamela Mason and Art Goetz, speak with business owners and the public about preparedness techniques to mitigate disasters like Hurricane Sandy at the Sam’s Club Emergency Preparedness Expo.

Fairbanks, Alaska, Aug. 24, 2013 -- FEMA Public Information Officer Victor Inge (L) is interviewed by staff writer Sam Friedman (R) from The Daily News-Miner regarding the end of the FEMA Individual Assistance (IA) registration period. FEMA is distributing IA disaster assistance grant information to news organizations in an attempt to register individuals that may be eligible for assistance before the registration period closes.Fairbanks, Alaska, Aug. 24, 2013 -- FEMA Public Information Officer Victor Inge (L) is interviewed by staff writer Sam Friedman (R) from The Daily News-Miner regarding the end of the FEMA Individual Assistance (IA) registration period. FEMA is distributing IA disaster assistance grant information to news organizations in an attempt to register individuals that may be eligible for assistance before the registration period closes.

Enjoy your labor day and the extended weekend!

Alaska’s Spring Floods 100 Days Later: Positive Signs of Recovery

Five days ago, Alaska reached the one-hundred-day mark since the Yukon River broke in mid-May and swallowed its first riverside community.

Disaster recovery has demanded that responders adapt to Alaska’s unique environment. Many of the villages affected by this spring’s flooding are so remote, recovery cannot be delivered via road-based means. Hard-hit communities continue to come together to discuss plans for the future and strategies for building back stronger and more resilient.

Below are 10 milestones reached in the 100 days of Alaska’s response and recovery:

$3.3 million in Disaster Loans

Galena, Alaska, July 1, 2013 -- Dave Walker, a Small Business Administration (SBA) expert, works with Marlene Marshal a business owner with major damage. The SBA works closely with FEMA to assist disaster survivors.Galena, Alaska, July 1, 2013 -- Dave Walker, a Small Business Administration (SBA) expert, works with Marlene Marshal a business owner with major damage. The SBA works closely with FEMA to assist disaster survivors.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $3.3 million in low-interest disaster loans.

$2.6 million in Disaster Assistance

Alaska, July 15, 2013 -- At the local municipal building, FEMA Tribal Liason talks with disaster survivor Olivia Moses after severe flooding impacted the lower Yukon Bourough. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA. Alaska, July 15, 2013 -- At the local municipal building, FEMA Tribal Liason talks with disaster survivor Olivia Moses after severe flooding impacted the lower Yukon Bourough. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

More than $2.6 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved for individuals and families who were affected by Alaska’s spring floods.

$1 million in Mitigation Assistance

Eagle, Alaska, Aug. 8, 2013 -- Nick Turner (R) discusses his elevation effort with FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph A. Diemont (L) and state State Coordinating Officer Bryan Fisher (C) after he raised his home above the base level elevation. As a result of his participation in the mitigation program, the Turner family did not have recent flood waters into their residenceEagle, Alaska, Aug. 8, 2013 -- Nick Turner (R) discusses his elevation effort with FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph A. Diemont (L) and state State Coordinating Officer Bryan Fisher (C) after he raised his home above the base level elevation. As a result of his participation in the mitigation program, the Turner family did not have recent flood waters into their residence.

More than $369,000 in federal mitigation assistance has been approved to harden infrastructure to better meet environmental hazards. These funds have a projected future benefit of more than $1 million saved.

$631,900 for Debris Clean-Up

Emmonak, Alaska, July 15, 2013 -- The Deputy State Coordinating Officer Sam Walton (L) and Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph A. Diemont (R) meet to discuss the FEMA programs which will assist in the recovery efforts after severe flooding cripples the entire infrastructure. Federal funding in the form of Public Assistance (PA) is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain nonprofit organizations on a cost sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the flooding in the Alaska Gateway Regional Educational Attendance Area (REAA), Copper River REAA, Lower Yukon REAA, Yukon Flats REAA, and the Yukon-Koyukuk REAA.Emmonak, Alaska, July 15, 2013 -- The Deputy State Coordinating Officer Sam Walton (L) and Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph A. Diemont (R) meet to discuss the FEMA programs which will assist in the recovery efforts after severe flooding cripples the entire infrastructure. Federal funding in the form of Public Assistance (PA) is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain nonprofit organizations on a cost sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the flooding in the Alaska Gateway Regional Educational Attendance Area (REAA), Copper River REAA, Lower Yukon REAA, Yukon Flats REAA, and the Yukon-Koyukuk REAA.

FEMA has now obligated more than $631,900 to pay for cleaning up debris and emergency measures.

200,674 Pounds of Building Materials

Nenana, Alaska, Aug. 23, 2013 -- FEMA logistics specialists inventory housing materials at a distribution yard along the Tanana river. The supplies are being barged up river to Galena, Fort Yukon and Circle by FEMA to the individuals that were affected by recent flooding.Nenana, Alaska, Aug. 23, 2013 -- FEMA logistics specialists inventory housing materials at a distribution yard along the Tanana river. The supplies are being barged up river to Galena, Fort Yukon and Circle by FEMA to the individuals that were affected by recent flooding.

Forty-four shipments of sheltering supplies and donated items weighing 200,674 have been delivered to Galena, Alaska.

8,060 Meals

Galena, Alaska, Aug. 18, 2013 -- The Bureau of Land Management provides home cooked meals for the disaster survivors, emergency managers and those volunteers who will be providing recovery support to individuals who were affected by the severe flooding. FEMA funds the cost of the meals, while the Bureau of Land Management provides skilled labor, which feeds the emergency managers, volunteers and the disaster survivors. Galena, Alaska, Aug. 18, 2013 -- The Bureau of Land Management provides home cooked meals for the disaster survivors, emergency managers and those volunteers who will be providing recovery support to individuals who were affected by the severe flooding. FEMA funds the cost of the meals, while the Bureau of Land Management provides skilled labor, which feeds the emergency managers, volunteers and the disaster survivors.

The feeding task force has prepared and served 8,060 meals to flood survivors.

4,931 Pounds of Pet Food

 Galena, Alaska, Aug. 27, 2013 -- Alyson Esmailka helps organize pet food donated to spring flood survivors at the donation center in Galena, Alaska. Galena, Alaska, Aug. 27, 2013 -- Alyson Esmailka helps organize pet food donated to spring flood survivors at the donation center in Galena, Alaska.

About 4,931 pounds of donated cat and dog food has been distributed for pet survivors in the affected riverside communities.

1,500 Postcards Mailed

United Methodist Volunteers in Mission member attaches new drywall to a kitchen damaged by flooding in Galana, Alaska in the spring of 2013. Galena, Alaska, Aug. 24, 2013 -- United Methodists Volunteer in Mission member Bruce Russell of Idaho attaches drywall in a kitchen damaged spring floods. Water poured into the home, requiring volunteers and homeowner to gut much of the interior, replacing insulation, rewiring electrical and installing new drywall.

The multidenominational Galena Bible Church sent out 1,500 postcards explaining what help they needed. One hundred fifty volunteers from across the nation came to Galena responded showed up to help.

159 Work Orders Requested

Galena, Alaska, July 24, 2013 -- Not just insulation and wall board, but occasionally some heavy lifting is required, as when these AmeriCorps members move a damaged freezer. AmeriCorps teams often provide much needed expertise as well as manual labor. Galena, Alaska, July 24, 2013 -- Not just insulation and wall board, but occasionally some heavy lifting is required, as when these AmeriCorps members move a damaged freezer. AmeriCorps teams often provide much needed expertise as well as manual labor.

AmeriCorps members and staff have completed nearly 75% of the 159 homeowner work-order requests for AmeriCorps assistance.

12 New Jobs

Anchorage, Alaska, July 28, 2013 -- FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) Dolph A. Diemont officially swears in the first local hire for the recovery mission. FEMA is hiring local specialists to transition the permanent full time staff and reservists with locally hired human capital. Anchorage, Alaska, July 28, 2013 -- FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) Dolph A. Diemont officially swears in the first local hire for the recovery mission. FEMA is hiring local specialists to transition the permanent full time staff and reservists with locally hired human capital.

FEMA has added 12 Alaskans to its workforce in Anchorage.

For more information about the recovery in Alaska, visit the disaster page Alaska Flood 2013.

National Night Out Shows How Community Preparedness is a Team Effort

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After I left the office on August 6, 2013, I went to the annual “Crime Prevention and National Night Out” celebration sponsored by the Springfield Police Department, Delaware County, PA, the Target Corporation, along with local businesses. National Night Out's goal is to “heighten crime and drug prevention, gain support for local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit, and let criminals know that Springfield residents are committed to keeps Springfield Township safe.”

National Night Out was successful in Delaware County because it represented the diversity of the community.  It also demonstrated that while communities are made up of many organizations, businesses, and individuals – we can all come together to support a common goal.  I’m both a Springfield resident and a volunteer firefighter with the Springfield Fire Department; and I represented FEMA Region III at the event by hosting a table. At my table I encouraged, educated, and talked to people about individual and family preparedness.

kids at national night out

It gave me a unique opportunity to educate my neighbors and fellow Springfield residents about being prepared as an individual and about why it’s important to make a plan, have a kit, and be informed. It was a lot of fun for me because I brought my family with me (see the photo above); plus I was able to meet with friends, Springfield residents, and fellow firemen; while promoting FEMA’s ”Whole Community” approach to emergency management. If you haven’t heard “Whole Community” before, it’s the idea that it takes everyone in the community (elected officials, residents, businesses, etc.) to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a disaster. 

national night out booth

Next to my table was the Delaware County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Ed Kline is the Delaware County Volunteer Management Coordinator and was there with his local Delaware County CERT members in support of Ready Pennsylvania.  Ed and his team were there handing out Pennsylvania Emergency Preparedness Guides, Family and Pet Emergency Planning Guides and Ready Pennsylvania bags that had suggested items for a basic disaster supply kit. It was also a great chance to network with some of the local vendors that supported the event.

As I mentioned before, the event was successful because so many partners in the community were there.  In addition to FEMA and the Delaware County CERT team, other groups were there, like:

Events like National Night Out demonstrate the diversity of every community - and that it takes everyone working together to make our neighborhoods and cities more resilient.  Looking back at the event now, I’m amazed at how well my town came together, shared ideas, and got involved.

Sharing preparedness in your community doesn’t mean you need to wait for a formal event like National Night Out.  There are lots of events happening across the country and community.fema.gov is a great place to see the list.  And with National Preparedness Month coming up in September, now’s a great time to get inspired and host an event of your own!

I encourage all of you to get involved in your community to help everyone become better prepared for a disaster.

Editor’s Note: We are providing the following links to third party sites and organizations for your reference. FEMA does not endorse any non-government entities, ogranziations or services.

What We’re Watching: 8/23/13

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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.

Photos of the week

secretary napolitano shakes hands with fema employeesQueens, N.Y., Aug. 23, 2013 -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met with staff from FEMA and other agencies during a visit to the New York Joint Field Office, thanking them for their efforts in helping New York recover from Hurricane Sandy.

fema employee talks with community memberLong Beach Island, N.J., Aug. 18, 2013 -- Hazard Mitigation Community Education Outreach Task Force Crew Leader, Paul David Lear, speaks with Long Beach Island residents about techniques that can help minimize property damage in the event of severe weather like Hurricane Sandy at the Long Beach Island Arts Festival.

Summer weather continues

The severe weather over the last week shows what summer tends to bring – wildfires in the west, tropical storm and hurricane threats around the Atlantic, and severe storms across the country.  No matter where you live, make sure you’re staying current on the latest conditions:

  • For wildfires - InciWeb is where you can find the latest updates on wildfires happening across the U.S. It’s a site where interagency partners provide their updates, so it’s a great source for the latest on the ground information.  And for wildfire safety tips, visit www.Ready.gov/wildfires
  • For tropical storms and hurricanes - While there are currently no tropical storms or hurricanes threatening the U.S. or our territories, the National Hurricane Center website and mobile site are worth bookmarking on your computer and phone.  For what to do before, during, and after a tropical storm or hurricane, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes.
  • For severe storms & other weather – Visit the National Weather Service website or mobile site for the latest on severe weather advisories, watches, or warnings.  Ready.gov/severe-weather has details for staying safe, so check it out before severe weather threatens.

Adding “disaster reporting” into the FEMA app

For those of you that already have the FEMA app on your phone or tablet, you may have noticed an update over the last few weeks.  The team has been working hard to incorporate several new features and improvements, especially one feature called Disaster Reporter.  Disaster Reporter allows people to upload a photo of what they’re seeing during or after a disaster and submit it to a public map.

The updated FEMA app is currently available for Android and Apple devices – the updated Blackberry version is under development.

With that, have a safe weekend!

What we’re watching: 8/16/13

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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.

To round out the week, here are a few of the updates from around our digital channels that showcase what’s at the top of our list this week:

From Facebook: Peak hurricane season is here

Earlier this week, the FEMA Facebook page posted this graphic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  It shows the number of hurricanes and tropical storms over the last 100 years, and as you can see, we’re entering the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season:


hurricane historic data

And in line with this time of year, we’re currently monitoring a tropical depression in the Atlantic.  It’s still too early to tell whether it will have an impact on the U.S., but now’s the time to make sure you and your family are prepared for the rest of the hurricane season.  Two easy ways are to have a plan, should a hurricane threaten your community, and have emergency supplies standing ready at home, in your car, and at your workplace.   

Ready.gov/hurricanes is a great place to start your planning, or at http://m.fema.gov/hurricanes on your phone.

From the blog: AARP partnership

Earlier this week, I shared my thoughts about a new partnership between FEMA and the AARP.  Partnerships are critical to successful emergency management – as this video reinforces from Administrator Fugate and AARP CEO, Barry Rand:

So check out the blog post and let us know your thoughts!

From Twitter: National Preparedness Month

In case you didn’t know, September is National Preparedness Month.  It’s a time when FEMA and our partners make an extra effort to share the importance of people being prepared before a disaster strikes.  FEMA’s Ready campaign is a key player in National Preparedness Month, and this year they’ve made it easy to host your own preparedness event during September:

I encourage you to join the preparedness community at community.fema.gov and share how you’re planning on getting your family, business, or neighborhood better prepared for emergencies.

With that, have a great and safe weekend!

Relating Preparedness to Kids at a Home Improvement Store

home depot workshopBensalem, Pa., Aug. 1, 2013 -- FEMA staff joins with Home Depot to educate people on the importance of preparedness during a Hurricane Preparedness Workshop.

Great weather has a way of getting people outside – and in this case, it helped share the message of being prepared for emergencies.  On Saturday, July 27, the warm temperatures brought out hundreds of residents to their local Home Depot store for new tools and supplies so they could work on home improvement projects. In Downingtown, PA, people that arrived at their local Home Depot, saw various private sector, local, and state representatives who came together to encourage preparedness in the community.

We were there from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., talking to customers and answering questions about preparedness.  It gave us the opportunity to teach them about being prepared as an individual and the importance of making a plan, having a kit, and being informed. While interacting with people and answering questions was great, what really amazed me though was how interested kids are in talking about being better prepared.

After we all came back to the office on Monday, a coworker, Corey Rigby, told me about someone she spoke with at the Bensalem, PA store and the story really stuck with me. Grace is an 8 year old girl who went to the FEMA table with her dad. Grace kept talking preparedness and answered Corey’s questions to see if she was ready for a disaster. As Corey asked her about what to do in a hurricane, she knew right away to find a flashlight and stay inside.  After giving her a Ready Kids coloring book, her dad pulled her away to continue their day.

An hour later, Grace reappeared, dragging her dad back to the booth as she told Corey with excitement, “I want to learn more, ask me another question!” As she stood ready to prove that she knew what to do, Corey asked her several questions about how she would take care of her pets, where they would go if they need to evacuate, and what she would take with her. She proudly said that she’d take her stuffed animals, her parents, and their dog, but she wasn’t sure what else she would need.  Corey explained that her family needed to make an emergency supply kit, which they can take with them when evacuating.  Grace then turned to her dad and said, “I want to make one when we get home!” Her dad agreed that an emergency kit is important and thanked Corey as they walked away.  Corey’s story, just one of many that the Region III team had, stood out to me because it showed how a child can improve preparedness for the whole family and make a difference.

fema booth at home depotBensalem, Pa., Aug. 1, 2013 -- FEMA staff joins with Home Depot to educate people on the importance of preparedness during a Hurricane Preparedness Workshop.

I was able to speak with children and their families and a number of other stakeholders; including representatives from SERVPRO, Allstate Insurance, Generac Power Systems, Chester County Emergency Services, the Pennsylvania National Guard, Downingtown Fire Department, Downingtown Police Department, and Phoenixville Dive Rescue Team. I talked to them about FEMA’s upcoming National Preparedness Month and where they can find the new 2013 toolkit for sharing preparedness in their community.

I want to commend Home Depot on their Hurricane Preparedness Workshop; it was an excellent event and extremely well organized. The fine people from Home Depot were wonderful hosts who did a great job of bringing the Whole Community together – and the great weather didn’t hurt either.

AARP & FEMA: Building resilience through partnerships

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signing ceremony

Effectively responding to disasters requires a team, but not just any team.  This team needs to be as diverse, multi-faceted, and as talented as the fabric of America itself.  Because of this, FEMA is always looking for opportunities to strengthen the team that prepares for, responds to, and recovers from emergencies.   

I’m proud that last week FEMA took a step in bolstering this collection of partners by signing a partnership agreement with the AARP.  Here’s Administrator Fugate and AARP CEO Barry Rand at the signing ceremony:

As Administrator Fugate and Mr. Rand said, the partnership between FEMA and AARP is all about building resilience in homes, neighborhoods, and communities around the U.S.  That could mean providing information so people understand the disaster risks in their area, ensuring Americans are aware of assistance and services that are available after a disaster, or sharing best practices so people rebuild their homes and communities to make more resilient after a disaster strikes.

I hope the partnership inspires you to take action to make your family, home, business, or neighborhood better prepared for a disaster.  Since we’re in the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, now is a great time to review your family’s emergency plan and ensure your emergency supply kit is stocked and ready, just in case.   In addition to FEMA’s Ready.gov/hurricanes page, another great place for information on preparing for hurricanes or tropical storms is the AARP “Operation Hurricane Prepare”. It has a handy checklist and videos that put preparedness actions at the forefront.

Finally, check out the the AARP blog for their take on the partnership and details on how AARP members are already lending a helping hand in disaster response. One way is through Createthegood.org, which pulls together volunteering opportunities and stories on how volunteering is making a positive impact in communities around the country.

Partnerships are so critical to emergency management – I’m glad to welcome AARP as FEMA’s newest formal partner!

Law Enforcement’s Role in Responding to Disasters

If you have ever had the chance to speak with Administrator Fugate or listen to him discuss the role of first responders in disasters… you will know he views their work with a revered appreciation.  They are an intricate part of the emergency/disaster response team.  As a former Police Chief, I can attest to their hard work and dedication and agree whole heartedly with Administrator Fugate.

In my 30 year career I have witnessed heroic efforts by my officers and colleagues, including during times of disasters.  While serving Prince George’s County, we responded to 9/11, Hurricane Isabel, snowstorms, and multiple tornadoes.  Specifically, I recall one of the tornadoes that impacted my county.  An EF-3 tornado impacted the nearby college campus and devastated neighborhoods and infrastructure.  Emergency services were stretched to the max.  Our officers worked relentless hours, 48 hours straight in some cases, setting up and supporting emergency response and rescue operations.  The scene was chaotic with debris and terrified college students, but the right training helped officers maintain public safety and conduct lifesaving missions. 

Over the last two years I have had the distinct privilege of sharing the Administrator’s views with the law enforcement community and recently, he reflected on Law Enforcement’s Role in Responding to Disasters in an article in Police Chief Magazine

We ask a tremendous amount of our first responders during disasters and emergencies. They are the first line of defense; they are the first helping hand extended to survivors. Every police officer knows emergencies can happen without notice. Our ability to respond to and recover from disasters is directly influenced by how well prepared our first responders are and how well we all work together as a team before, during, and after a crisis. 

The role of law enforcement in responding to a disaster is very similar to the day-to-day role of public safety and supporting the community. In preparing for a disaster, police officers trust in their training and capitalize on their knowledge of a community. Exercises portraying the situations (large- and small-scale events) help better prepare officers and allow them to fully understand the resources needed for each event and apply that information to each community’s needs. Law enforcement officials know their communities best and interact with residents on a daily basis. This knowledge gives them the ability to provide valuable situational awareness to response and recovery groups coming in to help. For example, where will there be language barriers? Does the community have unique challenges? Law enforcement can help communicate this information to the emergency management team and can offer support to other members of the team by simply being a presence in the neighborhoods.

During a disaster, police officers play a key role in many operations including: search and rescue, evacuations, door-to-door checks, and maintaining overall public safety within the community. These are critical actions that support not only their own communities but neighboring towns as well. 

As the Administrator explained in the article, the law enforcement community has two vital roles in responding to disasters:

  • As first responders during times of crisis, and
  • Providing for the safety and security of the community. 

Responding to disasters is a shared responsibility, and those in law enforcement are aware that emergency management planning is for all hazards and that it takes a team effort to keep our communities safe.  I’m proud to represent the law enforcement community at FEMA as we continue to strengthen the coordination among the entire emergency management team.

Editor’s Note: Police Chief Magazine is a publication from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and serves as the professional voice of law enforcement and supports programs and research, as well as training and other professional services for the law enforcement community.

What We’re Watching: 8/9/13

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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

According to our friends at the National Weather Service, heavy rainfall with the potential for flooding is expected to continue across Northern Oklahoma and Arkansas.  Additionally, some rainfall with thunderstorms is possible from the Mid-Mississippi valley across the Mid-South, Carolinas, and Virginia. For folks in these areas here are some flood safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous. Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.  Remember – turn around, don’t drown.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Severe weather watches and warnings may happen quickly, so be familiar with flood terminology, like:

  • Flood Watch - Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information. 
  • Flood Warning - Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately. 
  • Flash Flood Watch - Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information. 
  • Flash Flood Warning - A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately. 

We encourage everyone to monitor weather conditions in your area as the weather can quickly change. Visit www.weather.gov on your computer or http://mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device.

In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it, last week our digital team launched a few new tools to help the public prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.  Shayne Adamski, FEMA’s Senior Manager for Digital Engagement blogged about these new digital tools to help better connect people with the tools and resources you may need before, during and after a disaster. Here’s a short video from Administrator Fugate explaining how the new tools work:

It’s Almost National Preparedness Month

September is right around the corner, so you know what that means – it’s National Preparedness Month. 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. And we’re doing just that, take some time this weekend to pledge to prepare your family and neighbors for emergencies by joining the National Preparedness Community!

As a Community Member, you’ll have access to exclusive resources and be able to collaborate with thousands of other members across the country on ways to participate and get your community involved.  There’s no cost in signing up and it’s a great first step in preparing your home and family from an emergency.

We hope you’ll join us and participate this September!

Photos of the Week

And to wrap things up, here are a few of our favorite photos of the week. For more photos visit our Photo Library.

construction men working on a boardwalkOrtley Beach, N.J., Aug. 5, 2013 -- Damages are still visible nine months after Hurricane Sandy touched the coast last fall as workers rebuild Ortley Beach's boardwalk.

Anniston, Ala., Aug. 1, 2013 -- Healthcare workers, representing 23 Native American tribes respond to an emergency at the Center for Domestic Prep...Anniston, Ala., Aug. 1, 2013 -- Healthcare workers, representing 23 Native American tribes respond to an emergency at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) Noble Training Facility. More than 50 tribal members, representing 10 states came together at the CDP for the Healthcare Leadership for Mass Casualty Incidents course. During the four-day class the tribal members trained to provide a realistic medical response in an actual treatment facility.

contractors assemble tubingHarvey Cedars, N.J., July 31, 2013 -- Pipes are assembled as part of the dredging operation is underway to replenish the beaches and the dunes of Long Beach Island after Hurricane Sandy eroded them last fall. The project is part of the Army Corps of Engineers' Flood and Coastal Damage Reduction Program, funded by the Sandy Relief Act.

Have a great and safe weekend!

Crowdsourcing Disasters and Social Engagement Multiplied

Crowdsourcing disasters. New social media sites. Centralized places to get info. Our digital team at FEMA has been busy launching a number of new tools to help the public and our partners to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Here’s a quick rundown of the new resources:

  1. FEMA App with the Disaster Reporter feature
  2. FEMA’s Social Hub
  3. FEMA LinkedIn
  4. U.S. Fire Administration Facebook

How does this help you be a part of the emergency management team? Watch this demo from Administrator Fugate as he walks through all the new tools and resources you can take advantage of:

Before a disaster, you can download the FEMA App and use the interactive emergency kit checklist and learn what to do during specific hazards. And if you find yourself in a situation, where you need a refresher, you can still pull up the safety info in the app, even if you don’t have a cellular or wifi connection.

After a disaster, if you’re not placing yourself in harm’s way, you can use the Disaster Reporter feature in the FEMA App and take a photo of the disaster area and upload it to us (just make sure the GPS function is turned on).  This includes all types of disasters, not just Federal disasters.

We’ll review the photo submissions to ensure: (1) it is disaster-related, (2) not spam, and (3) there are no privacy issues.  And then all approved content is posted on a public map. It’s pretty simple.

We’re really excited about this new feature, because it gives all stakeholders in a disaster area the ability to upload information to a centralized place, allowing all emergency managers to view the information.  Since we’re using the FEMA GeoPlatform for our mapping interface the content can be shared on other maps and sites, using what techies refer to as an API (Application Programming Interface).

Speaking of centralized places to view information, the Social Hub is where all stakeholders can go to view tweets from trusted emergency managers.  The great thing about the Social Hub is we can change the information we’re displaying on the fly.  When we launched the Social Hub on Monday, July 29, we were displaying tweets from accounts in Hawaii, because we were monitoring Tropical Storm Flossie. 

When the storm dissipated, we transitioned to displaying local National Weather Service tweets, both in a scrolling format and on a map.  As we know, more and more people are going mobile with their devices (phones and tablets), so we also created a Social Hub on our mobile site.

Finally, we recently launched two new channels to better engage FEMA’s digital audience: the FEMA LinkedIn page and the U.S. Fire Administration Facebook page.  On LinkedIn, look for job listings, stories about what a “day in the life” looks like at FEMA, and other training resources.  And if you “Like” the U.S. Fire Administration Facebook page, you’ll receive lots of stories, resources, and tips for assisting fire departments or firefighters.

When I testified on Capitol Hill on Social Media and Emergency Management last month, I said that we’re always looking at how we can expand our existing digital and social products. As you can imagine, we’re excited about these new tools and we’re looking forward to feedback.

Kick the tires as they say and let us know what you think.

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