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Author: Hannah Vick
When Jack Zenkel, 10, was in the hospital with a serious head injury six years ago, his mother, Michele, stood vigil. She was worried, but determined to remain hopeful. While Jack was resting in his hospital bed, a woman with a small, furry therapy dog entered his room. Upon seeing the dog, Jack’s face immediately lit up.  For the next few minutes, Jack petted and snuggled with the dog.  “I was amazed at the wonderful effect the dog had on my son. The dog made a huge difference,” says Michele.As Jack’s condition began to improve in the hospital, Michele started thinking about the...
Posted On: December 11, 2012
Author: Liane Richardson
I am the County Administrator for a county approximately the size of Rhode Island.  With over 4,000 square miles, Lane County extends from the Pacific Ocean to the mountains, and includes dunes, wetlands, oceans, rivers, lakes, ski resorts, a large university, and a major north-south interstate.  The question of a large-scale disaster, man-made or natural, is not if it will occur, but when.CAPTION: Anniston, Ala., Oct. 25, 2012 -- Liane Richardson recently graduated the Technical Emergency Response Training for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive Incidents (...
Posted On: December 11, 2012
Author: Hannah Vick
As we hit the one month mark after Hurricane Sandy, Mike Byrne, the Federal Coordinating Officer here in New York and my boss, reflected on the work that has been done and the work that remains.  In his blog, he made a note that we would be sharing stories and updates, and I wanted to share this story from Rita M., a disaster survivor in Rockaway, Queens:A lot of us in Rockaway evacuated during Hurricane Irene last year. And then nothing happened. So of course when we heard about Sandy, we stayed home.Never again. We learned that each storm is different – with a different outcome.At...
Posted On: December 7, 2012
Author: Flat Stanley and Flat Stella
The weather has been getting colder – and that means more than just getting out the winter coat, hat, and gloves.  It also means we’re getting close to the holidays and some extra cheer is in the air!  However you celebrate the season, you’re probably doing some decorating inside your house, out in the yard, or in your own room!Putting up lights, candles, and holiday decorations can be a lot of fun.  We have been spending the last few days learning about how to safely put up all our pretty decorations.  You see, more houses tend to be damaged by fires this time of year,...
Posted On: December 7, 2012
Author: Michael Byrne
Because of the magnitude of the population affected by Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Homeland Security activated its Surge Capacity Force for the first time on Nov. 1. Created by the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform act, this surge includes employees from every agency throughout DHS, from the Transportation Security Administration to the Coast Guard to Secret Service, who are willing to take time out of their normal jobs to help survivors. They are out pounding the pavement with our Community Relations teams and working in disaster recovery centers, assisting survivors with...
Posted On: December 6, 2012
Author: Michael Byrne
Driving toward the old Navy pier in the Stapleton area of Staten Island, you would never know that past the warehouses, graffiti and lonely steel fence are hundreds of disaster workers in a hub of activity, a prime example of how government agencies come together. It is also the home of New York City’s only marine unit on Staten Island, the guys who handle all emergency incidents in New York Harbor.After 9/11, there was no water pressure in lower Manhattan, compromising the city’s ability to put out the fires. FDNY’s marine units came to the rescue, able to pump enough water to extinguish the...
Posted On: December 5, 2012
Author: Michael Byrne
At FEMA we’re in the business of customer service and my boss, Administrator Fugate, often refers to our Community Relations teams as the face of FEMA. And rightfully so, because they are the team who literally pound the pavement and talk with survivors at their homes, apartments or at shelters. Community Relations teams also do what we call AIR, which stands for Assess, Inform and Report. They report back what they’re seeing in the field, allowing those in the disaster field office to be alerted to specific issues. This information is critical for us to set priorities.Community...
Posted On: December 4, 2012
Author: Mike Hall
It’s hard to believe I have been working alongside our disaster relief team in New Jersey for more than a month.  Thirty-five days have passed since Hurricane Sandy first made landfall on the New Jersey coast on October 29th.  This marked one of the most damaging disasters in state history – battering the coastline with greater than 14-foot waves and wind gusts up to 88 mph.  Even more unsettling were the 122,000 structures affected across 21 New Jersey counties – many of them damaged or destroyed.  I’ve traveled to these hardest hit neighborhoods, met with the heartbroken...
Posted On: December 3, 2012
Author: Lars Anderson
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.Hurricane Sandy RecoveryIt’s been just over a month since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, and recovery continues in full swing.  Thousands of FEMA employees are working in the impacted areas to help meet the immediate and long term needs of those impacted by the storm.  Earlier today, the Federal Coordinating Officer in New York, Mike Byrne, offered his perspective and blogged...
Posted On: November 30, 2012
Author: Michael Byrne
I am a native New Yorker. I was born in New York City.  I grew up in the city’s Public Housing developments in East Harlem and my Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters still live here.  I worked for the New York Fire Department for 20 years, eventually serving as a Captain.  I worked at the New York Office of Emergency Management and then I joined FEMA. I’m a proud New Yorker and today, I’m honored to be part of the federal team that is working hard to assist my home city and state. Coney Island, N.Y., Nov. 12, 2012 -- Aerial view of damage and debris on Coney Island...
Posted On: November 30, 2012

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