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Two Projects Showing Why we Think Portland is Cool

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July 13, 2013, Portland, OR – Participants of the Portland Disaster Relief Trails load supplies on their customized bicycles. The community-based event showcases how bikes can be used to transport food, water and supplies to support their community in an emergency.July 13, 2013, Portland, OR – Participants of the Portland Disaster Relief Trails load supplies on their customized bicycles. The community-based event showcases how bikes can be used to transport food, water and supplies to support their community in an emergency.

Portland Oregon is one of the coolest prepared cities in the Pacific Northwest. They continue to find fun and innovative approaches to make themselves and their community a safer place to live. 

A bicycle friendly city, they are the creators of the Disaster Relief Trials, which is an event designed for cyclists of all levels, where through a series of challenges the participants showcase how bikes can be used to respond to a major disaster (such as an earthquake) to transport food, water and supplies to support their communities.  This event is a homegrown, community driven practice, showcasing how bikes can and will support Portland in emergencies and disasters.  That’s smart, healthy, practical, and cool.

July 13, 2013, Portland, OR - Participants of the Portland Disaster Relief Trails navigate through obstacles with a bike full of disaster supplies. The community-based event showcases how bikes can be used to transport food, water and supplies to support their community in an emergency.July 13, 2013, Portland, OR - Participants of the Portland Disaster Relief Trails navigate through obstacles with a bike full of disaster supplies. The community-based event showcases how bikes can be used to transport food, water and supplies to support their community in an emergency.

But there’s more. Leaders at the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, and Clean Energy Works dreamed up a pilot project for how to use a FEMA grant to seismically retrofit 30 homes throughout Portland.  Through a Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant of about $100,000, they will be improving the stability and safety of these homes. Leading by example and helping homeowners and neighborhoods be ready for the next big one.

This pilot project shows that community-driven mitigation strategies can have a strong benefit to cost ratio (1:3) and, more importantly, do not require millions of dollars to get done! It’s about the partnerships and finding ways to stretch grant dollars further.

February 20, Portland, OR – Local officials show reporters results of the earthquake retrofit pilot project.  The innovative project was possible thanks to a partnership between the City of Portland, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, Clean Energy Works, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management and FEMA. (Photo by Cory Grogan, Oregon Office of Emergency Management)February 20, Portland, OR – Local officials show reporters results of the earthquake retrofit pilot project. The innovative project was possible thanks to a partnership between the City of Portland, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, Clean Energy Works, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management and FEMA. (Photo by Cory Grogan, Oregon Office of Emergency Management)

This model house shows some aspects of earthquake retrofitting look like. The circle on the right shows a ceiling joist, while the left-hand circle shows another joist that can keep a home from being displaced from its concrete foundation during an earthquake.This model house shows some aspects of earthquake retrofitting look like. The circle on the right shows a ceiling joist, while the left-hand circle shows another joist that can keep a home from being displaced from its concrete foundation during an earthquake.

Portland is setting the example for what it means to have a whole community approach to preparedness and public safety. They are focusing on making neighborhoods, communities, their city and state more resilient, one innovative idea at a time.

And that’s why we think Portland is so cool.

Editor's Note: FEMA is providing this information about third party events as a reference.  FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, entities, or services.

What Goes into a Flood Map: Infographic

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FEMA's Tom Pickering discusses flood maps with one of the people who attended an Open House on flood maps in Jefferson Parish. Jacqueline Chandler/FEMA

Helping homeowners and communities know their risk of being impacted by disasters stands as one of our top priorities at FEMA. When you know your risk, you can prepare for the worst, take steps to mitigate against hazards, and protect yourself, your family and your property.

Year to year, flooding is the most costly disaster in America. Flood maps play a vital role in helping us prepare for flooding by informing communities about the local flood risk. Flood maps help communities to incorporate flood risk into their planning. They’re also the basis for flood insurance rates through the National Flood Insurance Program, which FEMA administers at the direction of Congress. By law, you may be required to get flood insurance if you live in the highest risk areas. But flooding can happen anywhere -- about 20 percent of all the flood claims come from areas with lower risk. And you don’t have to live close to water to be at risk.

The process for developing and updating flood maps is a long one – and for good reason. It allows communities and property owners at all steps of the process to incorporate the best available data into each community’s flood maps. Projects typically take from 3-5 years to complete, but sometimes they can take longer.  Through the Risk MAP program, flood maps are developed using the best available science, analyzed by some of the leading engineering firms in the field. The mapping standards are published, vetted, have been peer reviewed, and are updated continuously to ensure they are aligned with current best practices.

The infographic below gives you an overview of all that goes into a flood map from beginning to end. The more that communities and homeowners know about this process, the better we can work together to make sure that we build safely and resiliently and are prepared for flooding and other natural disasters.

For full text of the infographic below, visit our document library.

Graphic explaining what a flood map is, how they are made, who works on them, how flood risk is reviewed, and how the public can appeal a flood map decision. For full text of this image, visit http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/91087.

What We’re Watching: 2/14/14

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Germantown, MD, February 13, 2014 -- David Cavell, Sr. uses a snowblower to dig out after a winter storm dropped over a foot of snow on the Washington, DC area. FEMA/Aaron Skolnik Germantown, MD, February 13, 2014 -- David Cavell, Sr. uses a snowblower to dig out after a winter storm dropped over a foot of snow on the Washington, DC area. FEMA/Aaron Skolnik

FEMA, through its regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Denton, TX, and its National Watch Center in Washington, D.C. as well as its federal partners, including the National Weather Service continues to monitor the winter storm that made its way up the East Coast. It brought as much as 18 inches of snow to some areas and over an inch of ice.

Conditions have continued to improve as the storm moves northward into Canada; however the effects of the storm are still being felt along the coast. Earlier this week, President Obama declared emergencies for 91 counties in the State of Georgia and all counties in the State of South Carolina, at the request of the governors.  A FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team is located at the Georgia Emergency Operations Center and another team has deployed to the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center. Additional teams are on alert for deployment as needed.

Our friends at the National Weather Service forecast the potential for a new winter system to bring additional snow to parts of the East and Ohio Valley Friday into Saturday. With the potential for more snow, we want to encourage you to take time to ensure you and your family are prepared.

Your emergency supply kit should include a three-day supply of food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra flashlights and batteries.  It should also include items specific for your family’s needs such as medication, pet supplies and anything else you may need. Thoroughly check and update your family's emergency supply kit and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:

  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways;
  • Sand to improve traction;
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment; and
  • Adequate clothing and blankets to help keep you warm.

Some other winter tips to keep in mind:

  • Put a few winter supplies in your car – An extra blanket, rock salt, a shovel, and some food and water will come in handy should you have car trouble or become stranded in your vehicle.
  • Keep your phone charged – This is a good tip regardless of the type of severe weather. Cell phones can be lifelines during an emergency or a power outage, so have a plan for keeping your device charged up so you can connect with loved ones and call for help, if needed.
  • Stay up to date with your latest forecast – visit weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov on your smartphone for the latest conditions in your area.
  • Listen to local officials – stay tuned to the news and listen to directions from local officials.
  • Limit travel during a storm – only venture out on the roads if it’s absolutely necessary. If you must travel, let someone know your destination, the route you plan to take and when you expect to arrive.

For more winter tips, check out Ready.gov/winter on your computer or phone.

Opportunities to Serve on National Councils

National Advisory Council

Earlier this week, we announced pportunities to serve on the National Advisory Council.  The NAC was established by the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006, to ensure effective and ongoing coordination of federal preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation for both natural and man-made disasters. The NAC consists of up to 35 members, all of whom are experts and leaders in their respective fields.  Appointments are for three-year terms, unless otherwise noted.  The Administrator may also appoint additional candidates to serve as a FEMA Administrator Selection for three-year terms.   Applications and nominations will be accepted through March 14, 2014.

Visit the National Advisory Council page for more information on the NAC or for instructions on how to submit an application.

 

National Youth Preparedness Council

FEMA is also accepting applications from young leaders dedicated to public service and interested in making a difference in their communities to serve on FEMA’s National Youth Preparedness Council.  The Youth Preparedness Council is a unique opportunity for young leaders to serve on a highly distinguished national council and participate in the Youth Preparedness Council Summit.

These young leaders have the opportunity to complete a self-selected preparedness project and to share their opinions, experiences, ideas, solutions and questions regarding youth disaster preparedness with the leadership of FEMA and other national youth preparedness organizations.

Individuals aged 12 to 17 who are engaged in individual and community preparedness or who have experienced a disaster motivating them to help their community, are encouraged to apply to serve on the Youth Preparedness Council.

All applicants must submit a completed application form and two letters of recommendation. All applications and supporting materials must be received no later than February 24, 2014.

Visit the National Youth Preparedness Council page for more information on the National Youth Preparedness Council or to download the application.

Have a great and safe weekend!

What We’re Watching: 2/7/14

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generator on truckHorsham Township, Pa., February 6, 2014 -- FEMA generators arrive in Pennsylvania after President Obama made emergency federal aid available to support the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in response to this week’s extreme winter.

Pennsylvania emergency assistance

Yesterday, President Obama made emergency federal aid available to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in response to conditions from the extreme winter weather earlier this week.  We’re working closely with our partners at the state to meet any needs, such as powering critical facilities that protect life and property.  To that end, we’ve moved and readied generators to support the Commonwealth as needed.  

Winter Comes Out West

The Rockies and Pacific Northwest must have felt left out.  Not to be outdone by all the snow we’ve seen in the Midwest and East Coast, many portions of the western U.S. will be dealing with snow and cold temperatures this weekend. 

If your area typically doesn’t deal with a wintry mix falling from the sky, here are a few simple things to remember:

  • Put a few winter supplies in your car – An extra blanket, rock salt, a shovel, and some food and water will come in handy should you have car trouble or become stranded in your vehicle.
  • Keep your phone – This is a good tip regardless of the type of severe weather. Cell phones can be lifelines during an emergency or a power outage, so have a plan for keeping your device charged up so you can connect with loved ones and call for help, if needed.
  • Drive slowly and carefully – If you’re not used to driving on snowy or icy roads, take extra caution when traveling.  If local officials advise you to stay home and not travel, it’s best to heed their advice and stay off the roads.   

For more winter tips, check out Ready.gov/winter on your computer or phone.

With that, have a great and safe weekend!

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