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Preparing for the Weather with the Flats

There has been some wacky weather in our neighborhood lately! One day it is cold and snowy, and the next day the weather is warm and stormy!   If you have seen our other blogs, you already know we’ve learned a lot about getting prepared for emergencies since coming to FEMA. Because the weather has been so unpredictable lately, we wanted to share some of the things we’ve done to get ready. 

Don’t forget, winter is only half over, and it will continue to be cold for a while.  We keep some winter things around at home and in the trunk of the car during these cold months – things like gloves, a hat & scarf, a flashlight, salt (to melt ice on walkways), an extra blanket, and extra water.

flats with winter supplies

And whether your neighborhood resembles the chilly north pole or a warm and sunny Florida Beach, having a nifty weather radio is handy for any emergency.  Here is Stella with her radio – it can be powered by batteries, sunlight, and even by turning the crank around and around. A radio like this can be very useful if the power goes out, so be sure to have extra batteries ready for it -- just in case!

flat stella with noaa weather radio

One thing we have been learning recently is that, as the outside temperatures increase, so do the chances for storms and tornadoes happening.  Those storms can be scary, but there are ways that every family can be better prepared if your areas has a stormy spring.  Think about what you and your family might need – even things for your pets like extra water, food, and medicines!

pet photo

And if you are like us, you like playing games.  If the power is out, having some games around helps keep us kids busy with something we enjoy.  So double check that your favorite games are part of your family’s emergency kit, too.  Maybe you have a few of these!

Finally, we want you to know there are a lot of resources to help get ready for emergencies before they happen.  One of our favorite sites is Ready.gov/kids – there, you can find games, activities, and quizzes that will let you show what you know!  

ready kids site

And for parents, we recommend going to Ready.gov or m.fema.gov on your cell phone or tablet.  Here’s what m.fema.gov looks like, in case you haven’t been there, yet!

screenshot of mobile website

Stay safe!

What We’re Watching: 2/15/13

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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.

Assistance available for Mississippi storms and tornadoes

On Wednesday, President Obama made federal assistance available to individuals and families affected by the Feb. 10 Mississippi storms, tornadoes, and flooding in Forrest and Lamar counties.  This assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. 

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in Forrest and Lamar counties can register for assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.  (Additional damage assessments are ongoing, so keep an eye on the Mississippi disaster page for any updates.)

Taxes and disaster assistance

Tax season is upon us, so I wanted to address the impact federal disaster assistance has on taxes.  If you received FEMA assistance in the last year, it is not considered taxable income.  I’ll say it again: those who received FEMA assistance will not pay additional federal taxes or lose Social Security or other government benefits.  For more information, check out the IRS website, which has specific sections for those who received disaster assistance in 2012.

Photos of the week

elevated homes

CAPTION: Holgate, N.J., Feb. 6, 2013 -- While these homes may look bad, they received little hurricane damage to the actual living spaces due to their elevation above base flood elevation prior to the storm. Check out this publication for more details about protecting your home from flood damage.


new home construction

CAPTION: Beach Haven, N.J., Feb. 6, 2013 -- Signs of recovery in the form of new construction, elevated to the new standards, are seen in Beach Haven and elsewhere in Long Beach Island.

Videos of the week

It’s been over 100 days since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, but response and recovery efforts are still going at full speed.  Here’s a look at some of the key points to recovery in New Jersey, where over 58,000 applicants have been approved for federal disaster assistance, resulting in over $358 million going to impacted individuals and families.

 

The TODAY Show’s Al Roker has been in some of the most powerful storms Mother Nature can produce, so he knows the importance of getting prepared before severe weather.  He recently teamed up with FEMA’s Ready campaign and the Ad Council to show just how unpredictable the weather can be:

If you’re interested in learning more about how the video was made, here’s a behind the scenes look.  And as the video said, check out Ready.gov for information on getting your home, family, or business prepared for any emergency.

Mark your calendars; Promote severe weather safety

For those emergency managers and community leaders among us, I’d like to remind you that National Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 3-9.  FEMA and our partners will be spreading the word about how people can get prepared for the severe weather threats in their community.  I encourage you to check out Ready.gov/severe-weather and click on the “Talk about Severe Weather” tab.  You’ll find a toolkit to help you share severe weather preparedness with your audience, wherever they are. 

Have a safe weekend!

What We’re Watching: 2/8/13

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Severe winter weather

As we head into the weekend, we continue to monitor the impacts of the winter storm affecting millions along the northeast and east coast of the U.S.  FEMA’s regional offices in Boston and New York City are working closely with state emergency management counterparts and have staff working alongside the states at each of their emergency operations centers.

We will continue to hold operational briefings with our regional and federal partners as the severe weather advances and as impacts are felt through the overnight hours into Saturday.  While FEMA stands ready to support its federal, state, local, and tribal partners, we want to make sure you, your family, and your business are taking the right steps to stay safe if you’re impacted by this serious winter storm.  A few reminders:

  • Follow the direction of local officials – if they advise against traveling, please stay off the roads unless driving is absolutely necessary.  That way you’re staying safe while keeping the roads clear for snow plows, emergency crews, and first responders.  If you do need to travel, remember to pack some basic emergency supplies in your car, such as extra blankets, gloves, ice scraper, water, and a portable radio.
  • Keep up with local conditions – the National Weather Service is how FEMA gets its information on severe weather conditions, and you can too. From your computer, visit weather.gov, or go to mobile.weather.gov from your phone. If you have a NOAA weather radio, tune in for the latest updates on severe weather in your area.  And finally, local radio and TV are normally good places to find information on what’s happening in your area.
  • Have a plan in case the power goes out – in addition to heavy snowfall, National Weather Service forecasts are calling for high winds over a large area, which may cause power outages.  Make sure you have a plan to stay warm should the power go out.  Have extra blankets on hand, have an alternative place to go, and use the “buddy system” so you and your neighbors check on one another.  
  • Check on friends, family, and neighbors – Even if you’re not in the path of this winter storm, you may know someone who is.  If so, send them a quick text, e-mail, or phone call to make sure they are OK and staying safe.

For more safety tips on staying safe during and after winter storms, visit Ready.gov from your computer or m.fema.gov from your mobile device.  

Photo of the week

assistive technology in disaster recovery center

CAPTION: Breezy Point, N.Y., Feb. 5, 2013 -- Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Ms. Polly Trottenberg, visits the Disaster Recovery Center at Fort Tilden and gets a demonstration on assistive communications equipment. Several FEMA partners, including the Small Business Administration, Housing & Urban Development, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the US Post Office are stationed at Fort Tilden to provide one-stop assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy and the fires at Breezy Point.

For more photos, visit our photo library.

Job openings

There are several job vacancies at FEMA, but I’d like to highlight the openings for our Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) pilot program.  IMATs are critical to the FEMA disaster workforce, capable of being on scene within hours of a disaster in support of our local, tribal, territorial, and state partners. The pilot program will create three new IMATs – two national teams in Sacramento, Ca. and Washington, D.C. and one new regional team in Oakland, Ca.  Openings are currently available in a variety of fields, including:  Operations Section Chief, Attorney Advisor, Situation Unit Leader, Documentation Unit Leader, External Affairs Officer, Disability Integration Manager, and Logistics Section Chief. 

Video of the week

A Connecticut homeowner discovers the installation of "engineered openings" or "engineered flood vents" saved his home from severe foundation damage during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.  For more information about protecting your home against flood damage, check out this guide.

Have a safe weekend!

What We’re Watching: 2/1/13

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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.

FEMA Think Tank Conference Call

Join Deputy Administrator Rich Serino as he hosts the next FEMA Think Tank Conference Call Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 12:00 p.m. EST. Over one year ago, Deputy Administrator Serino created the FEMA Think Tank to bring together people across all sectors of emergency management to discuss real-life solutions and ideas to present and future emerging challenges within the emergency management field. This month’s call will focus on innovative solutions in emergency management and is open to everyone.

Here’s the call-in information:

Call-in Number: 888-324-6998

Passcode: ThinkTank

Captioning: http://fedrcc.us//Enter.aspx?EventID=2090240&CustomerID=321

Twitter: #femathinktank

We hope that you can join us for this month’s call. Even if you can’t join the call, you can follow and participate in the conversation on Twitter. We’ll be live tweeting from the event from our @FEMAlive account.

Great ShakeOut

On Thursday, Feb. 7 at 10:15 a.m. CST, millions of people will stop what they’re doing and "Drop. Cover. Hold on." Join over 2 million people across the U.S. who plan to participate in the largest earthquake drill in the U.S.

shakeout graphic

Taking part in the ShakeOut is a great first step towards knowing what to do in the event of an earthquake. It’s not too late to register your family, business, or school. After the ShakeOut, visit Ready.gov/earthquakes for more information on preparing your home, workplace or school for an earthquake.

We hope you will join us for these events.

Photo of the Week

Mitigation expert Bill McDonnell spoke at an informational meeting to help residents in Toms Rivers, N.J., affected by Hurricane Sandy. Survivors were able to learn about individual assistance, mitigation, flood insurance, and many other topics. 

public assistance program meeting

For more photos, visit the FEMA Photo Library.

Video of the Week

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Debris Collection

More than 90 percent of the debris left in New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, has been collected in just 90 days by the Army Corps of Engineers. Much of it is being cleaned, repurposed and recycled.

In Case You Missed It…

  • Earlier this week, President Obama signed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. In addition to providing assistance to individuals, families, and communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the act also included an amendment to the Stafford Act, giving Tribal nations the same status as states when requesting federal disaster assistance. Federally recognized tribal governments can now make a request directly to the President for an emergency or major disaster declaration to receive assistance, whereas in the past, Tribes had to make the request through a State.

Read more about this new legislation on our blog and visit our Tribal page.

  • As winter storms and weather continue to impact many parts of the U.S., be sure you are prepared for winter weather. Visit Ready.gov/winter-weather for tips on what to do before, during and after winter weather.

Have a safe weekend!

A Groundhog Day Message from FEMA: Stay Prepared for Weather Changes Year-Round

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groundhog day groundhog

CAPTION: “Punxsutawney Phil” the groundhog with his official “handlers,” the residents of Punxsutawney who care for him year-round. (Photo courtesy of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Inc.)

It’s funny how a groundhog can make people think about being prepared for weather.

Here in Pennsylvania, where FEMA continues to partner with our Commonwealth and local partners on Hurricane Sandy recovery, a beloved American tradition will take place this weekend. On February 2, just a few minutes before 7:30 a.m., the world’s most famous groundhog, “Punxsutawney Phil,” will make his annual prognosis for spring. 

The belief is that if it is sunny when Phil emerges, he will see his shadow and retreat back to his hay bale. Supposedly, winter will last for six more weeks. If it is cloudy and Phil does not see his shadow, spring will arrive sooner.

This will be Phil’s 127th celebrated appearance from the burrow where he lives at the peak of Gobbler’s Knob, a hilly patch of land located in the countryside about two miles east of Punxsutawney. Some believe that Phil is the same groundhog that has appeared there every year since fans made the first trek up the hill to watch for him in 1887. That would make Phil the world’s oldest groundhog. 

Regardless of who subscribes to the legend of Phil, weather watchers around the globe look to him for his perennial prediction. Thousands of enthusiasts are expected to travel to Punxsutawney, where a variety of Groundhog Day activities are planned.  Groundhog Day folklore reminds us to be ready for weather changes not just on Feb. 2, but all year. Whoever you turn to for your weather forecast, it is important to monitor upcoming changes closely.  

Preparedness information is available online at www.Ready.gov. Ideas and reminders posted to the Ready website include:   

  • Learn how to send updates via text and Internet from your mobile phone to your contacts and social channels in case voice communications are not available;
  • Store your important documents, such as personal and financial records, in a secure and remote area, or put them on a flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available so they can be accessed from anywhere; and
  • Download the Emergency Family Readiness Plan to create an “Emergency Information Document.”

Additionally, PEMA and FEMA also provide helpful preparedness information online.

This year, Groundhog Day occurs at the end of two full weeks of Hurricane Sandy Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation applicant briefings in Pennsylvania. At the briefings, applicants met with specialists from FEMA and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to determine which recovery expenses are eligible for reimbursement under the Public Assistance program.

To be eligible for federal Public Assistance, applicants must show that their project is required as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy during the period from October 26 to November 8, 2012. Public Assistance funding may cover costs incurred to return elements of the infrastructure as close to their pre-disaster condition as possible. Expenses may include costs for work such as debris removal and repair or replacement of damaged roads, bridges and other public components. Applicants typically include such organizations as school districts; volunteer fire fighter organizations; sewer authorities; emergency management offices; and regional police departments.

public assistance consultation

CAPTION: Middletown Township, Penn. -- FEMA Public Assistance Specialist Jim Teats (left); PEMA Public Assistance Specialist Rick Weiberg (center); and Middletown Township Fire Marshall Jim McGuire assess Hurricane Sandy damage in Dauphin County on Nov. 7, 2012. Photo by George Armstrong/FEMA

PEMA and FEMA have been partnering on Hurricane Sandy-related activity since October 29, which is when President Obama signed a major emergency declaration for the Commonwealth.

I look forward to sharing more information in the coming months as we continue to work on Hurricane Sandy recovery here in Pennsylvania.

Changing laws for the better - recognizing tribal sovereignty

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On January 29, President Obama signed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. In addition to providing assistance to individuals, families, and communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the act also included a very important amendment that impacts tribal governments.

Here are the basics: the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act provides a legislative change to amend the Stafford Act (which is an act that outlines how the federal government provides assistance to communities impacted by disasters).  This amendment will provide federally recognized tribal governments the option to choose whether to make a request directly to the President for an emergency or major disaster declaration, or to receive assistance, as they do presently, through a declaration for a State.

What does that mean for emergency management, and why is it important for our nation?  Here are the key things to know:

  • The Stafford Act now clearly reflects federally recognized tribal governments’ status as sovereign nations, giving them the same status as states when requesting federal disaster assistance. Prior to being amended, the Stafford Act mandated requests for an emergency or major disaster declaration by the President could only be made by the Governor of the affected state. As a result, federally recognized tribes were statutorily excluded from making a direct request for a Presidential declaration and were required to make a request through the state(s) in which they were geographically located. 

    The change to the Stafford Act is particularly important because some states could not readily work with federally recognized tribes under their state constitutions and laws.  This could create obstacles in the emergency response and recovery process.  Here’s a quick example.  To receive federal disaster assistance, the Governor must activate the state’s emergency plan and demonstrate that state and local capabilities in the affected areas are insufficient.  Depending on the tribe’s status and applicable state law, the Governor may not have independent authority to take such actions with respect to tribal lands.

    Now, federally recognized tribes have the same status as states, removing legal barriers from developing stronger relationships with the federal government, while allowing tribes to directly request federal assistance.
  • The Stafford Act now allows consideration of all of a tribe’s affected land.   Disasters don’t respect borders – their effects can stretch across multiple counties and states, and the impacts can vary widely from community to community.  Prior to the amendment of the Stafford Act, the federal and state governments made it hard to meet the needs of impacted tribes, especially when tribal nations cross over one or more state lines.  Before the Stafford Act amendment, an affected tribal government would have to submit a request to the governor of each state within which the tribe’s lands are located to request an emergency or major disaster declaration.

    For example, both North Dakota and South Dakota experienced flooding during the spring of 2009.  This flooding affected lands under the civil-regulatory authority of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but within the political boundaries of both North Dakota and South Dakota.  North Dakota received a declaration for both the state and for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal lands immediately after the incident, while South Dakota’s major disaster declaration came several months later because the statewide impact differed there.  This put FEMA in the untenable position of only providing assistance to one portion of the affected Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lands, though the incident affected all of the tribe’s lands in both North and South Dakota.

    Now, tribal governments have the option to choose whether to directly request federal disaster assistance for the impacts within their own borders, not the borders of their surrounding states.

I applaud the hard work and tireless support of the Administration, tribes and the organizations representing more than 300 tribes nationwide for this important amendment to the Stafford Act.  Effective emergency management requires a team – and I am proud we have taken an important step in recognizing the vital importance that tribal nations play as part of that team.

For more information on the work being done with our tribal partners and Indian Country, visit www.fema.gov/tribal.

Severe Weather throughout the South & Midwest

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As the risk for severe weather conditions continue throughout parts of the Midwest and South, we wanted to take a second to remind everyone in areas expected to see severe weather to take necessary precautions now. We encourage all individuals in areas where severe weather is expected to listen to NOAA Weather Radio, especially as we head into the evening and overnight, and local news for severe weather updates and warnings and to always follow the direction provided by their local officials.

Here are a few severe weather terms you should familiarize yourself with now:

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning - Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm. 
  • Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information. 
  • Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately. 

As weather conditions often change quickly, it’s important to stay updated on your local forecast conditions at weather.gov (or mobile.weather.gov on your mobile device).

If severe weather is expected in your area, keep in mind these safety tips:

  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information. 
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and the utility company. 
  • Injury may result from the direct impact of a tornado or it may occur afterward when people walk among debris and enter damaged buildings. Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris. 
  • After a tornado, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.

Visit www.ready.gov/severe-weather  for more tips on what to do if severe weather is expected in your area. You can also visit http://m.fema.gov for safety tips on your mobile device.

Visiting FEMA’s New York Field Office

 Queens, N.Y., Jan. 4, 2013 -- Flat Stella and Flat Stanley visit the FEMA Joint Field Office (JFO) in Queens, NY to attend meetings with FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne, FEMA partners and associates.

Queens, N.Y., Jan. 4, 2013 -- Flat Stella and Flat Stanley visit the FEMA Joint Field Office (JFO) in Queens, NY to attend meetings with FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne, FEMA partners and associates.

Stella and I went to the FEMA Field Office in New York City.

We met the man in charge, a former firefighter who was quite busy.

He and his staff said, “be prepared and stay smart.”

They all reminded us “everyone must do their part.”

When disasters hit, the whole community stays aware.

In other words, there are a lot of people who care.

Queens, N.Y., Jan. 4, 2013 -- Flat Stella and Flat Stanley visit the FEMA Joint Field Office (JFO) in Queens, NY to attend meetings with FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne, FEMA partners and associates.

Queens, N.Y., Jan. 4, 2013 -- Flat Stella and Flat Stanley visit the FEMA Joint Field Office (JFO) in Queens, NY to attend meetings with FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne, FEMA partners and associates.

The next stop was the Disaster Recovery Center.

Where people affected by the storm can enter.

They get information on how to rebuild homes.

And can talk face-to-face about money and loans.

People can talk about something called Mitigation.

Which means building a safer and stronger nation.

New York, N.Y., Dec. 15, 2012 -- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella visit a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) specialist who is discussing mitigation best practices with Hurricane Sandy survivors.

New York, N.Y., Dec. 15, 2012 -- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella visit a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) specialist who is discussing mitigation best practices with Hurricane Sandy survivors.

We also went to a school in Far Rockaway, Queens.

Where teachers make preparedness part of their routines.

We learned that the next time a storm is coming.

We should not wait, we must get going.

We learned not to panic, but it’s important to prepare

With a kit that holds supplies packed with care.

 Washington, D.C., Aug. 24, 2012 -- FEMA Flat Stanley and Flat Stella learn about items to go into a family emergency kit.

Washington, D.C., Aug. 24, 2012 -- FEMA Flat Stanley and Flat Stella learn about items to go into a family emergency kit.

Other things we have to face:

Disasters can happen any time, any place.

And floods just don’t happen at the ocean;

Water can rise with much rain and quick motion. 

So make sure you know a safe place to go,

A place high and dry, where the water won’t flow.

Practice beforehand till you know the route.

Like you do with fire drills so it all works out. 

Bronx, N.Y., Jan. 11, 2013 -- Students in the Bronx, New York, take part in learning about natural disasters and preparedness during a FEMA For Kids presentation at MARC Academy and Family Center. FEMA plays a vital role supporting State, Tribal and local governments as they respond to the impacts of Hurricane Sandy.

Bronx, N.Y., Jan. 11, 2013 -- Students in the Bronx, New York, take part in learning about natural disasters and preparedness during a FEMA For Kids presentation at MARC Academy and Family Center. FEMA plays a vital role supporting State, Tribal and local governments as they respond to the impacts of Hurricane Sandy.

Don’t drive through standing water, please tell mom and dad

Find another way around and you will be glad

Always be safe, always be sure

Turn around, don’t drown, find the next detour.

 

We were glad to learn these things in order to be ready

For the next disaster that may come our way

We’ll have the best chance of being okay.

What We’re Watching: 1/25/13

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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.

Winter temperatures

Cold temperatures, snow, and ice have impacted millions across the U.S., especially in the last few weeks.  I have been sharing winter safety tips on a weekly basis in each What We’re Watching post, but it never hurts to have a few more.  If any of these look familiar, it’s because these tips were shared on many of FEMA’s social media accounts this week, too!

  • During winter months, keep your car's gas tank at least half full for emergencies. This should keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Winter storms & blizzards can knock out power. Make sure your home emergency kit is stocked up with extra blankets, gloves, and hats – and that you also have a plan to stay warm if power cannot be quickly restored.
  • Some great emergency kit items for your car during the winter months: a shovel, flashlights, water, matches, blankets, booster cables & emergency flares.
  • If winter weather is expected in your area, listen to a NOAA weather radio & follow local news for the latest forecast and conditions.

For more winter safety tips, visit Ready.gov on your computer or m.fema.gov on your mobile device.

Fire safety for the winter months

We all know winter means colder days and nights, but did you know the number of home fires tends to increase during the winter months, too?  This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires, as well as people using alternative heating sources for their home.

So take a few minutes this weekend to check your home’s smoke alarms and review your family’s fire escape plan – those are two small things that can make all the difference if a fire occurs.  For more winter fire safety tips, visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s website, or check out this video:

Upcoming events
We are also watching a few upcoming events, so mark these on your calendar!

  • Great Central U.S. ShakeOut - On February 7 at 10:15 a.m. Central time, over 2 million people will stop what they’re doing to participate in an earthquake drill and "Drop. Cover. Hold on." Signup today to participate and then check out Ready.gov/earthquakes to learn how you can prepare your home, workplace or school for an earthquake.

ShakeOut Poster

  • Think Tank - The next FEMA Think Tank Conference Call is scheduled for Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST. The call is open to anyone, and the theme for the discussion is innovative solutions in emergency management.  Here’s a summary of the upcoming call, and you can learn more at fema.gov/thinktank:

    Innovation is often thought of as something for the tech or design world, not for government or bureaucracy. The model of connecting government with outside networks has been around for a long time, but FEMA is has successfully taken it to the next level.  Soon after Sandy made landfall, FEMA deployed an Innovation Team--a multi-sector, cross functional group with the mission of working with the whole community: government, non-profit and international organizations, volunteer groups, businesses, and concerned citizens. More information on the Innovation Team is available on the recent blog post.

Photo of the Week

Debris from Hurricane Sandy is processed at the Jacob Riis Park where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to clean and sort it into piles for recycling. Trash separated from the debris is put into trucks to be hauled to landfills.

Queens, N.Y., Jan. 18, 2013 -- Debris from Hurricane Sandy is processed at the Jacob Riis Park where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to clean and sort it into piles for recycling. Trash separated from the debris is put into trucks to be hauled to landfills.

For more photos, visit the FEMA Photo Library.

A Fond Farewell

Saying good-bye is always hard, and last Friday was a hard day as FEMA said good-bye to William L. Carwile, III, Administrator for Disaster Operations. After over 40 years of cumulative federal service, Bill retired from the agency.  The entire FEMA family wishes Bill all the best and a long and healthy retirement.

Have a safe weekend!

Supporting our partners for 2013 Inauguration

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As you might guess, it takes a high level of coordination and skill to pull off an event where hundreds of thousands of people converge on a small area to watch many of the nation’s political leaders.  Yesterday during President Obama’s public Inauguration ceremony, I jotted down some thoughts about FEMA’s role supporting our emergency management partners:

The President’s Inauguration is on the televisions at the front and along the sides of the room as 25 government employees watch attentively and monitor the situation. We’re here in the FEMA Region III Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) in Philadelphia, PA supporting the Inauguration and the surrounding events. The RRCC is where we monitor situations, work with our partners, and coordinate our response efforts.

 Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 21, 2013 -- FEMA staff monitor the Presidential Inauguration in the Regional Response Coordination Center.

There were employees here from several government agencies to support the Inauguration.

 Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 21, 2013 -- FEMA staff monitor the Presidential Inauguration in the Regional Response Coordination Center.

Staff members have been communicating with their federal and state partners and other FEMA employees throughout the day so they know what’s happening in DC and if there are any unmet needs.  They’re talking to coworkers who are in the Washington, DC Emergency Operations Center, with the Secret Service, and with the FBI.  They’ve spent months planning for this, for any scenario that could pop up, whether it includes consequence management, food, water, transportation, security or a myriad of other factors and scenarios. Team members include logisticians, planners, response, finance, media monitors and more. Because we train and plan together, serving together is easier.

Now that the preparations have all been made, everyone is able to pay attention to the televisions and listen in as the President is inaugurated and begins his address.  One thing that seems to really hit home for everyone here is the President’s quote, “Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life's worst hazards and misfortune.”

It’s a statement that resonates throughout this room because that, too, is why we’re all here; to care for the vulnerable and protect the population from life’s worst hazards. A lot of people here have only recently returned home, many were deployed to help respond to Hurricane Sandy. These are staff members that have just returned from assisting the people of the affected states.

 Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 21, 2013 -- FEMA staff monitor the Presidential Inauguration in the Regional Response Coordination Center.

Upon hearing the President’s statement, we’re reminded that the sacrifices we make, the long hours we work, and the time away from home is worth it; we are here for the disaster survivors, not for ourselves, and we do it together. We have so many of our partners working with us today:  federal agencies, state and local emergency management agencies, and all of our citizens.  We truly are working to protect our citizens together.

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