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What We’re Watching: 12/20/13

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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.

A Potentially Stormy Holiday

According to our friends at the National Weather Service, a storm system is set to track across the nation this weekend, impacting states in a variety of ways and potentially disrupting holiday travel. Here’s the latest forecast from the NWS:

  • Heavy rain is forecast from the lower Mississippi River Valley to the Ohio Valley this weekend with a risk for flash flooding.
  • A wintry mix, including freezing rain and snow, is possible from the central Great Plains, through the Great Lakes and to northern New England this weekend.
  • The NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has indicated a Moderate Risk of severe thunderstorms on Saturday, with possible tornadoes, for portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley.
  • Severe thunderstorms are possible from the Central Gulf Coast/Lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley Saturday.

As you travel to visit friends and loved ones for the holidays, we encourage you to exercise caution and monitor weather conditions as they change. Stay up-to-date on weather conditions in your area by visit weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device.  Also, visit Ready.gov for more winter weather safety tips and other great resources!

Be Prepared in 2014!

 who to call, where to meet and what to pack. User this image as your Facebook and Twitter cover photo graphics to get your community prepared in 2014. Resolve to be Ready campaign focuses on 'Family Connection' to reinforce the importance of parents including their children in preparedness conversations in advance of potential disasters.

With the New Year around the corner, it’s time to make our resolutions. Why not Resolve to be Ready for an emergency?

This year, we’re continuing our Resolve to be Ready campaign with an emphasis on 'Family Connections' – reinforcing the importance of getting kids involved in preparedness conversations in advance of an emergency. We’re making your emergency preparedness resolution easy to keep this year with three simple tips when making a plan: who to call, where to meet and what to pack.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Make a family communication plan that answers – who to call, where to meet and what to pack.
  • Join our Thunderclap on Facebook and Twitter and share a New Year's resolution of preparedness with your followers. How does Thunderclap work? Once you sign up, Thunderclap will sync your social media accounts to release an automatic Facebook post, Tweet or both on January, 1, 2014 at 12:30 PM reminding your friends and followers to make a family emergency plan.
  • Use #Prepared2014 in your social media messaging throughout 2014 to remind your friends and followers to be prepared for emergencies all year long.
  • Share preparedness messages from the Ready Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Visit ready.gov/prepared2014 for more information on how you can Resolve to be Ready in 2014!

Photos of the Week

Here are a few of our favorite photos that came into our Photo Library this week.

Forest Hills, N.Y., December 17, 2013 -- United States Marine Sgt. Nail, from the 6th Communications Battalion, is greeted by Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn. The Marines came to FEMA's Joint Field Office in Queens to pick up toys donated by FEMA workers for the "Toys for Tots" charity. K.C.Wilsey/FEMAForest Hills, N.Y., December 17, 2013 -- United States Marine Sgt. Nail, from the 6th Communications Battalion, is greeted by Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn. The Marines came to FEMA's Joint Field Office in Queens to pick up toys donated by FEMA workers for the "Toys for Tots" charity. K.C.Wilsey/FEMA


East Peoria, Ill., December 17, 2013 -- FEMA Public Information Officer Art Alejandre, does an interview in Spanish with Univision at a local Disaster Recovery Center to encourage local residents impacted by the November tornadoes to apply for FEMA assistance. Local residents who suffered damages or losses are encouraged to apply to FEMA for disaster assistance by calling (800) 621-3362, (TTY) (800) 462-7585, or by applying online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMAEast Peoria, Ill., December 17, 2013 -- FEMA Public Information Officer Art Alejandre, does an interview in Spanish with Univision at a local Disaster Recovery Center to encourage local residents impacted by the November tornadoes to apply for FEMA assistance. Local residents who suffered damages or losses are encouraged to apply to FEMA for disaster assistance by calling (800) 621-3362, (TTY) (800) 462-7585, or by applying online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

Santa Clara, N.M., December 16, 2013 -- Deputy Tribal Coordinating Officer Michael Chavarria is charged with a project on restoration of the Santa Clara Pueblo’s ancient tribal lands, which were damaged after recent fires. Adam DuBrowa/ FEMASanta Clara, N.M., December 16, 2013 -- Deputy Tribal Coordinating Officer Michael Chavarria is charged with a project on restoration of the Santa Clara Pueblo’s ancient tribal lands, which were damaged after recent fires. Adam DuBrowa/ FEMA

New Topics on Our Online Collaboration Tool

We’ve recently launched a few new topics on our online collaboration tool and as always, we want to hear your thoughts and ideas. Head on over and share your ideas, comment on others ideas, and vote for your favorite.

That’s it for today’s What We’re Watching. On behalf of everyone at FEMA, we wish you and your family a wonderful and safe holiday!

History is a great teacher

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meeting with tornado survivor Washington, Ill., December 5, 2013 -- Rev. David Myers, left, Senior Advisor to the FEMA Administrator/Director Center of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, speaks to First Baptist Church Pastor Joshua Monda who is helping some of his parishioners with cleanup in areas impacted by the recent tornadoes. Myers met with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster groups to discuss responses to the disaster and discuss coordination and collaboration between partners. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

History is a great teacher. 

Associate Pastor Ben Davidson of Bethany Community Church learned a valuable lesson during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that benefitted him and his congregation the morning of Nov. 17, 2013, when a powerful tornado tore through Washington IL. 

His quick thinking reminds me when disasters occur; having a plan can save lives and help pivot a community toward a strong recovery. I have learned this lesson many times through the faith leaders I’ve engaged as director of the DHS Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships.

On Sunday morning Pastor Davidson was preparing to begin his adult Sunday school class, when he received an emergency phone call.  A tornado had touched down and their church was in its path.

Immediately he and the staff worked to move the congregation --particularly the children -- to their designated shelter in the church location and they began to pray together as the storm passed through their community. 

The entire congregation comforted one another through what Pastor Davidson recalls as "the longest 45 minutes of my life." Once all congregants were accounted for and that families could leave the sheltered location Pastor Davidson immediately went home to confirm the safety of his children who were at home sick that morning.  

Immediately following the disaster, Bethany Community Church joined its fellow members of the Washington Ministerial Association, AmeriCorps and the Illinois Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to help coordinate the community’s recovery efforts. 

meeting with pastor in washington illinoisWashington, Ill., December 5, 2013 -- Associate Pastor Ben Davidson, right, of Bethany Community Church shows Rev. David Myers, Senior Advisor to the FEMA Administrator/Director Center of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, supplies that have been donated to help local residents impacted by the recent tornadoes. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

Since the devastating event, more than 4,000 community volunteers have registered with Bethany Community Church to help their loved ones and neighbors during disasters.  Their effort and commitment will help to increase the community’s resilience and ensure they are better prepared for emergencies.

The story of Washington, IL, and Bethany Community Church is a reminder of the care and compassion that faith-based organizations can provide all survivors in times of disaster. Their story reinforces the power of a whole community, “survivor centric” approach and the important role and responsibility of faith leaders in preparing their communities before disasters strike.

I encourage you to know what to do before disaster strikes by joining the thousands of faith-based and community members on the National Preparedness Coalition faith-based community of practice and connecting with faith and community leaders across the country working on preparedness.

Being prepared contributes to our national security, our nation’s resilience, and our personal readiness.

meeting volunteers around illinois tornado damageWashington, Ill., December 5, 2013 -- Rev. David Myers, Senior Advisor to the FEMA Administrator/Director Center of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, center, speaks with NECHAMA Jewish Response to Disaster operations manager Dan Hoeft, left, and All Hands Volunteers director of US Disaster Response Sherry Buresh, second from left, as well as other volunteers in a neighborhood where the groups are helping with volunteer support for cleanup. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

What We’re Watching: 12/13/13

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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.

Practicing Fire Safety this Holiday Season

The holidays are here – a time to be with family and friends. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when we see an increased chance of home fires.

Following a few simple fire safety tips can help ensure that you and your loved ones have a fire-safe holiday season:

  • Holiday Lighting -
    • Inspect you holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up.
    • Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord directly into the outlet.
  • Candle Care -
    • Consider using battery-operated, flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.
    • If you do use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders, and place them where they cannot be knocked down easily.
    • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.
  • Christmas Tree -
    • If you use a fresh tree, make sure you water it regularly.  Check the water each day.  Then, make sure you don’t dry the tree out prematurely by placing it too close to a heat source like a vent or fireplace.
    • Make sure your tree is at least 3 feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents.
    • Get rid of your tree after Christmas or when it is dry.
    • Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and no more than 50 bulbs for screw-in light sets.

Practice these few tips to ensure you have a festive, bright and safe holiday season!

Video in Focus

Volunteers from MTV University and United Way are working together to help communities in the recovery process following Hurricane Sandy. In this video, members from the partnering organizations remove damaged materials and debris for homeowners in need.

Illinois Tornado Recovery

Here are a few photos from the ongoing recovery efforts in Illinois. Individuals impacted by the November 17 tornado are encouraged to register with FEMA by calling (800)-621-3362 or (TTY) (800) 462-7585 or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.  Visit the Illinois disaster page for more information and updates.

repair to damaged homeDiamond, Ill., Dec. 10, 2013 -- Crews work to repair a wall damaged by the recent tornado that impacted the area on November 17, 2013. Residents impacted by the tornado are encouraged to call and register with FEMA by calling (800) 621-3362, (TTY) (800) 462-7585, or by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

tornado debris and homesWashington, Ill., December 7, 2013 -- Debris from the Nov. 17, 2013 tornado remain in neighborhoods throughout the city. Residents impacted by the tornado are encouraged to register for disaster assistance with FEMA. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

video interviewBrookport, Ill., Dec. 12, 2013 -- FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Donald Keldsen, right, speaks to media at a Disaster Recovery Center set up at the library. Residents impacted by the Nov. 17, 2013 tornado are encouraged to apply to FEMA for assistance by calling (800) 621-3362, (TTY) (800) 462-7585, or by applying online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

Have a safe weekend!

 

Our Poem: Making Your Season Bright & Festive… Safely

 Washington, D.C., December 12, 2013 -- Flat Stanley and Stella Prepare for a holiday party. Washington, D.C., December 12, 2013 -- Flat Stanley and Stella Prepare for a holiday party.

This holiday season, Flat Stanley and I are here,

To share safety tips as the fun draws near!

We love holiday parties, we’re the first to agree,

That there’s nothing like time with friends and family,

So remember these facts on how to have a safe time,

And join us in sharing this holiday rhyme.

 

Remind your parents as they make food each night,

To keep what they’re cooking in their sight,

Because being safe in the kitchen is always polite,

And the last thing you want is for your food to ignite!

 Bowie, Md., December 11, 2013 -- Flat Stella reminds everyone to stay in the kitchen while cooking to help reduce fire. Bowie, Md., December 11, 2013 -- Flat Stella reminds everyone to stay in the kitchen while cooking to help reduce fire.

Only keep candles lit if someone is in the room,

Otherwise they could fall and cause a fire, it is safe to assume.

Better yet you can use electric lights instead!

They come in all colors, from blue to yellow to red!

Image of electric candle.Image of an electric candle.

If your family likes to have a Christmas tree,

Make sure you water it frequently,

Otherwise it could dry out easily,

And set fire accidentally!

 

Your family may like to use plug in heaters this season,

Just make sure not to overload power outlets, and for good reason:

It could blow out a circuit or cause fires, and we ain’t teasin!

 Bowie, Md., December 12, 2013 -- Flat Stanley reminds everyone to keep furnishings at least 3 ft. away from space heaters. Bowie, Md., December 12, 2013 -- Flat Stanley reminds everyone to keep furnishings at least 3 ft. away from space heaters.

But our most important tip for any holiday get-together,

Is to have fun! And be prepared for the weather!

What We're Watching: 12/6/13

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 Photo from National Weather Service.Image of Winter Storm Forecast.

As we head into the weekend, millions of residents across portions of the southern Great Plains and into the Lower Ohio Valley are being or will be affected by a winter storm. As we’ve already seen from its impact earlier this week, this winter storm system has potential to produce moderate to heavy snow, significant ice accumulations and heavy rainfall.  Not only does this storm present hazardous travel conditions, but there is potential for major and prolonged power outages in the greatest impact areas, due to ice loading on power lines and strong wind gusts.

At this time, there have been no requests for federal assistance; however we stand ready to support our state and local partners as needed. We will continue to closely follow the winter storm and will provide updates as necessary.

We encourage all residents in potentially affected areas to follow the direction of local officials and keep informed of local conditions by monitoring local radio or TV stations for updated weather and emergency information.

For those in affected areas remember, if local officials ask residents to stay off the roads, avoid travel unless it’s an emergency. If you must travel, make sure you have an emergency supply kit in the trunk, ensure your cell phone is charged, and inform a family member or friend of where you are going and the route you plan to take.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Ensure you have some basic emergency supplies. Water, batteries, flashlights, non-perishable food are a few examples of things that should be in your emergency supply kit.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or may live alone to make sure they’re OK.
  • If you lose power, use flashlights for emergency lighting. NEVER use candles due to an increased risk of fire.
  • Have a plan to stay warm should the power go out.  Have extra blankets on hand or have an alternative place to go (if it’s safe to travel).
  • Remember, if the power goes out, banks/ATMs may be offline for some time. Have cash on hand.
  • If using a portable generator during a power outage, it should always be operated outside, away from doors and windows to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide.

Visit Ready.gov/winter for more winter weather safety tips and information.

Stay safe (and warm)!

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