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Become a Hero this National Preparedness Month

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Staten Island, N.Y., Sep. 4, 2013 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate joined the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for the kick-off of the 10th Annual National Preparedness Month, a month-long nationwide campaign to promote emergency preparedness and encourage volunteerism. Port Richmond Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Chief John Tidona showed Administrator Fugate the team's Mobile Command Center.Staten Island, N.Y., Sep. 4, 2013 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate joined the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for the kick-off of the 10th Annual National Preparedness Month, a month-long nationwide campaign to promote emergency preparedness and encourage volunteerism. Port Richmond Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Chief John Tidona showed Administrator Fugate the team's Mobile Command Center.

Last week marked the start of National Preparedness Month.  All across the country, communities are hosting preparedness events encouraging everyone that “You can be the hero” when it comes to emergency preparedness.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of kicking off the month with partners in the New York City area. One thing we stressed at different events is how easy getting prepared can be.  For some things – like talking through a family communication plan – just takes time.  It’s not expensive at all, and the return on your investment of time will return great dividends if you’re confronted with a disaster.  During the events, the biggest takeaway for me was seeing how enthusiastic people have become in taking the steps to become prepared and how they are engaging all members of the family, young and old.

Staten Island, N.Y., Sep. 4, 2013 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate stresses the need for families, businesses, and government agencies to have a plan for disasters, at the New York City Office of Emergency Response event for National Preparedness Month. Staten Island, N.Y., Sep. 4, 2013 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate stresses the need for families, businesses, and government agencies to have a plan for disasters, at the New York City Office of Emergency Response event for National Preparedness Month.

My hope for this National Preparedness Month and for you all is that you’ll take a serious look at how prepared you and your family are. 

Do you know what to do during a disaster? Do your children?

Do you all know how you will get in contact with each other if your cell phone doesn’t work?

Or are you like these families, where you simply just haven’t talked about what to do in the event of an emergency?

If you’re anything like the families in these videos, then I strongly encourage you to take some time this weekend to sit down with your family and simply talk. Talk to each other to see you’re really prepared for an emergency, and if not then take action. Create a family communication plan. It’s simple, just visit the Make a Plan section on Ready.gov, download the family emergency plan, fill it out then send it to your family and friends.

There are other things you can do to get prepared, like building an emergency kit or by helping others in your community get prepared, but the most important part is taking the first step

If you’re looking for some extra inspiration, you can join the National Preparedness Community where you’ll be able to share some of the things you and your family have done to get prepared, find out about preparedness events taking place in your area and have access to great resources to help you get your loved ones prepared.

You can also access preparedness info on Facebook or Twitter. Follow us, we’d love to hear from you.

It’s true that we may not know when the next disaster may strike, but we can be smart and take action today!

"Social Media? We Can Play That Game Too."

Tweeting, tagging, poking, and pinning.  This may sound like a foreign language to some, but to the FSU Alert team at Florida State University, this is everyday language.  The presence, purpose, and promise of social media can no longer be ignored, and our team has been working hard to combine the worlds of social media and emergency preparedness to help keep our campus community updated and informed.

florida state alert flyer

For the tenth annual National Preparedness Month this September, Florida State University has created FSU Emergency Preparedness Week (#FSUPrep) during the week of Sept. 9 to highlight the many preparedness resources we have on campus, including social media.

To jumpstart the event, FSU Alert’s emergency notification and warning system, including the 30-plus delivery methods utilized to warn and inform the school, are showcased.  Sharing the spotlight is our state-of-the-art "EZ Button" rapid activation system, developed with Siemens. The rest of the week will cover severe weather, crime prevention and security, fire safety, and health and wellness -- all chosen to emphasize the importance of student health, safety, and well-being. 

Most of these areas feature separate promotion weeks throughout the school year, but, through partnering with different student organizations and departments on campus, FSU Alert has combined the much needed information into one organized week of education to remind new students and upperclassmen how Florida State University, via FSU Alert, is serving them day in and day out.

Social media not only plays a large role in the production of FSU's Emergency Preparedness Week but also in the daily operations of the FSU Alert team. It’s our view that social media is more than just a means of sending out alerts and hoping students, faculty and staff pay attention. We believe in the potential for it to provide a strong platform for education, outreach, and preparedness.

Having students as our primary audience is a unique challenge, but social media allows us to talk with students rather than talk at them. Q&A-style conversations help us successfully maintain communication with students online and on campus by providing a forum for questions about emergency preparedness. Through our FSU Alert accounts, we’re also able to address specific incidents on campus (for example, a fire alarm going off in a library) in an informal, peer-to-peer fashion, like this recent exchange:

We’ve worked hard to establish our credibility on campus as a trusted source of information. We’ve made great strides in combating social media’s greatest challenge - rumor control. Regardless of a rumor’s subject – class being cancelled due to weather, a faculty member receiving a threat, etc. – FSU Alert is the center point in crisis communications on campus.

Florida state alert signageOne example of a graphic we use on our social media channels to further educate the university community about FSU Alerts

We continue to collaborate with University Communications to determine the best timing and messaging possible during in an emergency setting, and to share accurate, timely information.

We’re proud to say that the time and energy that we’ve put into growing our presence on social media has paid off, evidenced by our  5,400 Facebook likes and over 7,000 Twitter followers. We’ve also branched out to include platforms like Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Youtube to create a broad presence in the social media realm. 

Regardless of numbers and figures, possibly our greatest point of pride is the relationship we’ve built with our students. When reaching out to a generation that thrives online, the overwhelming possibilities social media platforms provide should not be overlooked.  By embracing social media and incorporating it into our communications outreach, FSU Alert is better positioned to establish a culture of safety and preparedness with our students.

Social media has become increasingly important to crisis communications both at Florida State University and elsewhere.  Social media isn’t the whole solution to creating a campus that is well prepared for emergencies. There’s no singular way to accomplish this goal.  Through our timeliness, reliability and wit, FSU Alert has garnered the attention and trust of our audience and we couldn’t be more pleased.  

FSU Alert can be found on…

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FSUAlert

Twitter: www.twitter.com/FSUAlert

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/FSUAlert

Tumblr: www.fsualert.tumblr.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/FSUAlert

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/fsu-alert/53/456/824

YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/MyFSUAlert

Florida state alert logo

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily represent the official views of FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, or the United States Government. We are providing 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: 9/6/13

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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.

PrepareAthon! Launch

prepareathon information boothWashington, D.C., Sep. 5, 2013 -- A representative from The Great ShakeOut provides information on earthquake preparedness to a participant at America's PrepareAthon!. America's PrepareAthon! is a nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase emergency preparedness and resilience.

In case you missed it, yesterday FEMA and several of our key partners launched America’s PrepareAthon!.  The PrepareAthon! is all about encouraging emergency preparedness through community engagement and simple actions. Things like practicing earthquake safety during the October 17 Great ShakeOut, or attending a preparedness fair in your area during National Preparedness Month – those are what the PreapreAthon! encourages people to participate in.


people ducking under a tableWashington, D.C., Sep. 5, 2013 -- During America's PrepareAthon!, The Great ShakeOut conducted an earthquake drill encouraging participants to Drop, Cover, and Hold On during an earthquake.

PrepareAthon! has some great momentum thanks to yesterday’s kickoff event at the National Academy of Sciences.  We had a live Twitter chat on the new @PrepareAthon handle busting a few of the “myths of preparedness” along with our partners. And senior leaders spoke about recent research from the National Academy of Sciences and FEMA about “moving the needle” of emergency preparedness across the country:

gentleman speaking at podiumWashington, D.C., Sep. 5, 2013 -- Ellis M. Stanley, Sr., Chair, Committee on Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters for the National Academy of Sciences encourages individual preparedness at the PrepareAthon!.


administrator fugate speaks at podiumWashington, D.C., Sep. 5, 2013 -- FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate urges individuals to take simple preparedness steps during America's PrepareAthon.

I hope you’ll join in the spirit of America’s PrepareAthon! and join in the upcoming Great ShakeOut earthquake drill on October 17, or by linking up with an event in your area during National Preparedness Month!

Ready Kids

And in keeping with the emergency preparedness theme, I wanted to remind you of a newly launched section of Ready.gov, specifically for getting kids prepared for emergencies.  It’s at Ready.gov/kids and has sections for parents, educators, and of course, kids.  As one example of what you’ll find on the site, here’s a kid-friendly template for making a family communication plan:

preparedness checklist

If you’re looking for continual updates from Ready, check out their Facebook and Twitter accounts!

With that, have a safe weekend!

Innovating to Improve Disaster Response and Recovery

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Editor's Note: This was originally posted on the White House blog, September 3, 2013. Todd Park is Assistant to the President and US Chief Technology Officer. Rich Serino is the Deputy Administrator of FEMA.

Last week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) jointly challenged a group of over 80 top innovators from around the country to come up with ways to improve disaster response and recovery efforts.  This diverse group of stakeholders, consisting of representatives from Zappos, Airbnb, Marriott International, the Parsons School of Design, AOL/Huffington Post’s Social Impact, The Weather Channel, Twitter, Topix.com, Twilio, New York City, Google and the Red Cross, to name a few, spent an entire day at the White House collaborating on ideas for tools, products, services, programs, and apps that can assist disaster survivors and communities.
 
This collaboration is a great example of this Administration’s commitment to convening private-sector talent and innovators to work with public servants in order to deliver better results for the American people. The event mobilized innovators from the private sector, nonprofits, artistic organizations, and Federal as well as local government agencies to develop solutions that support and integrate both public and private efforts for disaster relief.  It also comes as our Nation prepares for what is usually the peak of Hurricane Season.  In fact, the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Irene fell last week, and the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy is approaching.
 
During the “Data Jam/Think Tank,” we discussed response and recovery challenges with the participants and other Federal leaders, including Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Energy and Dr. Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.  The participants then broke into subgroups to brainstorm innovative ideas for addressing those challenges, vote on the best ideas, and commit to implementing them.

Below are some of the ideas that were developed throughout the day. In the case of the first two ideas, participants wrote code and created actual working prototypes. 

  • A real-time communications platform that allows survivors dependent on electricity-powered medical devices to text or call in their needs—such as batteries, medication, or a power generator—and connect those needs with a collaborative transportation network to make real-time deliveries. 
  • A technical schema that tags all disaster-related information from social media and news sites – enabling municipalities and first responders to better understand all of the invaluable information generated during a disaster and help identify where they can help.
  • A Disaster Relief Innovation Vendor Engine (DRIVE) which aggregates pre-approved vendors for disaster-related needs, including transportation, power, housing, and medical supplies, to make it as easy as possible to find scarce local resources.
  • A crowdfunding platform for small businesses and others to receive access to capital to help rebuild after a disaster, including a rating system that encourages rebuilding efforts that improve the community.
  • Promoting preparedness through talk shows, working closely with celebrities, musicians, and children to raise awareness.
  • A “community power-go-round” that, like a merry-go-round, can be pushed to generate electricity and additional power for battery-charged devices including cell phones or a Wi-Fi network to provide community internet access.
  • Aggregating crowdsourced imagery taken and shared through social media sites to help identify where trees have fallen, electrical lines have been toppled, and streets have been obstructed.
  • A kid-run local radio station used to educate youth about preparedness for a disaster and activated to support relief efforts during a disaster that allows youth to share their experiences.

Before ending the brainstorm, participants committed to taking responsibility for turning these ideas into tangible actions. We will be excited to see how these materialize into impactful projects that will support disaster response and recovery efforts. Our sincere thanks to all of the participants!

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.

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