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What We're Watching: 12/6/13

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

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

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

Stay safe (and warm)!

Kentucky’s New CEOC Is a Positive Result of Federal and State Partnership

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inside large room in kentucky emergency operations centerThe new Kentucky Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) was unveiled on October 21, 2013 during a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Gov. Steve Beshear, FEMA and state personnel. The $11.8 million dollar facility, built in part with FEMA grant funds, is outfitted with the latest technology and constructed to endure natural and man-made disasters (Photo Credit- KY National Guard).

On October 21, I had the pleasure of speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Kentucky Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center (CEOC).  The new CEOC, built with the help of a $10 million grant from FEMA’s Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, is a symbol of the great emergency management partnership we have with the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

At FEMA, we support our partners in disasters and during their preparedness effort on the days between. Grants to states, counties and first responders strengthen communities and prepare them for the challenges of a disaster. This new CEOC will ensure that Kentucky will have the tools they need to respond to any event. It’s rugged, has the latest technology and is a great match for the dedicated and experienced personnel who will staff the facility during a crisis.

The $11.8 million CEOC will act as the hub of operations for future emergencies. The building itself is designed to be durable, able to withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour.  In the event of an electrical grid failure, the entire CEOC can continue running on power from an 800 KW back-up generator.

large generatorThe $11.8 million CEOC will act as the hub of operations for future emergencies. The building itself is designed to be durable, able to withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour. In the event of an electrical grid failure, the entire CEOC can continue running on power from an 800 KW back-up generator. (Photo Credit- KY National Guard)

The two-story, 26,150 square-foot facility replaces the former CEOC built in the 1970s and has space for more than 220 emergency personnel during a disaster response. It is outfitted with state-of-the-art communications technology to ensure the effective coordination of responders during natural disasters and emergencies. At the ribbon cutting, the Governor spoke of stepping over staff working in hallways during the response to ice storms and tornados.  In the new CEOC, there will be space for all to work together to serve the Commonwealths citizens.

In addition to the grant for the construction of the CEOC, we are also funding the construction of Emergency Operations Centers for Clark, Fayette, Garrard, Jackson, Madison, Powell and Rockcastle counties in Kentucky. In total, FEMA will spend about $35 million in support of our partner, the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was a great day to see what we can accomplish by working together, but our job isn’t done. We’re always preparing for the next emergency to see what we can do better. But with a strong partnership in place and a new home for Kentucky responders, we’re making great progress toward a safer, disaster-resilient commonwealth.

kentucky governor given tour of kentucky operations centerKentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini explains to Governor Steve Beshear, features of the new Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 21, 2013. The tour followed the official ribbon cutting of the $11.8 million facility which took less than two years to complete. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

What We’re Watching: 11/8/13

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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.

Honoring our Veterans

Photo of American Flag.Photo of American Flag. Attribution: By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Dennis Cantrell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Here at FEMA we’re fortunate to have veterans from all five branches of our nation’s military working at headquarters, in our regional offices and on the ground during disasters. We appreciate all that they have done by serving in the armed forces and all that they continue to do with their public service here at FEMA.

This Veterans Day, join us in honoring our nation’s veterans, especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Learn more about the history of Veterans Day.

Pass or Fail – Disaster Preparedness 101

Here at FEMA, we talk a lot about ensuring your family and friends are prepared for an emergency.  Well, recently FEMA’s own Director of Individual and Community Preparedness, Gwen Camp helped a family who thought they may be prepared determine whether they were really prepared for an emergency or not.  And if you think your family can use a review on what it means to really be prepared then head over to Ready.gov to take a few simple steps to get prepared.

Join our Team

Here at FEMA, we’re always looking to expand our team and recruit highly motivated people interested in a rewarding career in emergency management. Here are a few open positions within our Digital Engagement Team:

We’d love for you to join our team! Check out our Careers page to learn more about FEMA and browse through other opportunities that are available throughout the agency.

Have a great and safe weekend!

Building a teenage readiness club in Monson, Mass.

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Monson, Mass., July 7, 2011 -- The debris that was left behind by the June 1 tornado that hit the town of Monson and western Massachusetts. Alberto Pillot/FEMAMonson, Mass., July 7, 2011 -- The debris that was left behind by the June 1 tornado that hit the town of Monson and western Massachusetts. Alberto Pillot/FEMA

My name is Rachel Little and I am a junior attending Monson High School.  I have lived in Monson, Massachusetts, my whole life, and couldn’t have grown up in a better place.  My town is full of strong- willed, determined people, always willing to lend a helping hand. 

When a tornado struck our town on June 1st, 2011, it brought our small community even closer together.  Everyone was reaching out to give support, from supplying food or water, to giving neighbors hope for a better tomorrow.  It was a very moving event to watch.  Even though I was not directly affected by the tornado, I had people very near and dear to me in the path of the tornado.  I wanted to help out in whatever way I could, because I saw how much the people of Monson were suffering.  I couldn’t stand by and watch -- I had to take action.   

Therefore, I joined the Monson volunteer efforts and eventually became a member of The Street Angels.  The Street Angels is a dedicated volunteer group that brought supplies to families in need after the tornado,  and helped families make connections with landscapers and builders. My fellow Street Angels helped me fill out an application to become part of FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council, and I am now going into my second year of being a proud member.  To me, the Youth Preparedness Council is the beginning of people realizing that youth can make a difference in emergency preparedness and response -- not just myself and the wonderful people of this council, but the world’s youth.   My fellow members and I are just the beginning of that change.

My plan for 2013 is to collaborate with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), or Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), to start a teen readiness club in my town.  I know a lot of people my age wanted to get involved after the 2011 Monson tornado, but they didn’t know how.  If either a Jr. MRC or a Teen CERT had already been in play before the tornado, Monson would have seen a significantly higher amount of youth action.   Being a member of the Youth Preparedness Council, my mission is to increase the amount of prepared youth and families in my region. 

I’ve also been trying to share emergency preparedness at my school.  I’ve hit significant road blocks during previous attempts at getting a teen readiness club up and running for Monson High School.  After last year’s Youth Preparedness Council summit in Washington DC, I had my heart set on starting a Teen CERT. The idea of getting my friends and classmates interested in preparedness and prepared for disasters was exciting.  I asked around to see if I could get a trainer to help me get the team started.  I found a man in my neighboring community who seemed very willing to help me out, but unfortunately, that fell through.

I turned to my Local Emergency Preparedness Committee, which was formed after the tornado.  Although I made a presentation to them and they liked my ideas, we weren't able to get the plans off the ground.  I did meet a woman in the Local Emergency Preparedness Committee meetings who happened to be the head of the MRC in my town, and she introduced me to Jr. MRC.   We’re still hoping to get the Jr. MRC started, and it’s a current work in progress.  I anticipate that the challenges for this year will again be finding someone to teach the course or help me with the establishment of the club.  I have a backup plan, so that if things fall through, I will take the Teen CERT “train the trainer” course so I can teach a class myself. 

As a result of starting Teen CERT or Jr. MRC in Monson, I want to see this little community become prepared for future emergencies.  I hope never to see another disaster to the extent of the tornado ever again, but it’s better safe than sorry.  I will know I’ve met success when I have a fully functioning teen readiness club in Monson High School.  From there, I can only hope to expand my efforts to other communities and beyond. 

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, organizations or services.

Implementing High School Emergency Preparedness While Staying True to Your Culture

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Yarmouth, Maine, Sep. 9, 2013 -- Assistant Principal Josh Ottow (center) talks about emergency preparedness with Yarmouth High School students on the opening day of school.Yarmouth, Maine, Sep. 9, 2013 -- Assistant Principal Josh Ottow (center) talks about emergency preparedness with Yarmouth High School students on the opening day of school.

My name is Josh Ottow, and I am the assistant principal at Yarmouth High School in Maine. Yarmouth is a suburban town of approximately 8,000 residents and 1,400 students, with 500 students at our high school. I serve on a team of administrators that helps plan for security and emergency preparedness in our district. Currently, we have an emergency management protocol that applies to all schools, and has additional specific information and plans for individual schools.  

We feel that Yarmouth High School is already a safe school, in that we foster a trusting and respectful school culture, where positive relationships between students and teachers are of the utmost importance. For example, we do not have locks on our lockers, bells between classes, or hall passes. It’s important to us to add measures that make our school more prepared for emergencies without losing that trusting culture.  

This can be a challenge because, in the eyes, of students, things like locked doors, buzz-in systems, cameras in the parking lot, and lockdown drills can feel like we are assuming the worst in them, as opposed to trusting them to do the right thing.  

At Yarmouth High School, the centerpiece of our emergency preparedness is having a strong Advisor/Advisee program. We believe in the innate strength and potential of a small group of students working together with an advising adult for four years. A student’s advisor is a person to rely on for advice, information, and genuine help and support in moments of distress.  Each teacher’s group of advisees comprises a unique combination of students, who might not otherwise have become friends. We see this as an opportunity for students to offer support and receive support from a group that will be a constant in students’ life for four years at Yarmouth High School. Because of our commitment to this program, we knew that it would be critical to our emergency preparedness implementation efforts.

Over the past year we spent considerable time in our Advisor/Advisee groups, talking about new emergency preparedness measures. The key is doing so in the context of keeping our school culture intact and making the school a safer place. One way we approach this is by employing discussion questions in our Advisor/Advisee groups to stimulate conversation, build understanding within our student body, and give students an opportunity to share their opinions and concerns. Example questions include:

  • What makes Yarmouth High School a secure place?
  • What makes the culture of Yarmouth High School unique?
  • Do you feel safe at Yarmouth High School?
  • Do you know what you would do in an emergency at school? Do you feel prepared?
  • What can we, as a school, do to ensure that we foster and maintain our positive, trusting, and respectful culture AND have a more secure school?

Teachers are advised to be sensitive to potential stress-level increase and emotional reactions surrounding these discussions, and are aware that student reactions may vary widely, and everyone’s opinion should be given its due. Our hope is that this conversation is honest and impactful for students as they wrestle with these tough issues.  We are also hoping that this conversation spills into “dinner time” talk with their parents at home. Parents are always invited to play a contributing role in these emergency preparedness plans via community-based forums, where they can express their opinions, make requests, and give suggestions.

Another method that we use to address emergency preparedness is collecting direct feedback from students. For example, we ask students (through their Advisor/Advisee groups) for feedback on our response plan and suggestions for future protocols each time we hold a lockdown drill. Advisors are given a detailed, play-by-play lockdown drill guide that they go over with their advisees after each drill. Sometimes, we get great suggestions from the students that we may not have thought about otherwise.

For example, during a recent lockdown drill we asked students to hand over their phones to their teacher. One student asked his Advisor why we did that, and he was told that one reason was to minimize light and noise coming from the classroom.  In response, he suggested that teachers should also close the lids of their laptops, because his teacher had his laptop open during the lockdown and it was emitting light. This was not something we had specified in the plan and may not have thought to add if this student hadn’t brought it up. Advisors have access to a shared online document where they can note these suggestions, and then we talk about the responses and potentially revising our plans at a school-wide faculty meeting.  

Our emergency preparedness efforts in the past several months, from new plans and new equipment to authentic and honest discussions amongst students and staff, have shown me that involving students and being open with them about how preparedness measures could impact school culture is the best way to ensure a safe and positive school.

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, organizations or services.

Get “Prepared” to Trick-or-Treat

Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stanley with his Halloween costume. Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stanley with his Halloween costume.

We’re really excited for Halloween and can’t wait to go Trick-or-Treating! How about you?!?!

As Stella and I talked about all the candy we wanted to get, we thought of ways we could remind everyone that getting prepared can be fun too!

So…..

We’ll use the map we drew of our neighborhood from our family communication plan to highlight our trick-or-treating path! You can too!

Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella prepare to go trick-or-treating in their neighborhood by highlighting their path using a map of their neighborhood from their family emergency communication plan.Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella prepare to go trick-or-treating in their neighborhood by highlighting their path using a map of their neighborhood from their family emergency communication plan.

We want to make sure to go to all of our neighbors’ houses.

Our map also has our family meeting location, just in case anything happens.  If your family communication plan doesn’t include a map, maybe this weekend you can ask your parents to sit down and draw one with you.

We’ll be sure to take our flashlight just in case it gets a little too dark. A flashlight is also a good item to keep in your kit.

Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stanley grabs his flashlight in case it is dark while trick-or-treating. A flashlight is also a good item to include in your emergency supply kit.Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stanley grabs his flashlight in case it is dark while trick-or-treating. A flashlight is also a good item to include in your emergency supply kit.

Then, I had an idea to grab some other supplies to take around and encourage our neighbors to get prepared! As we go door-to-door to our neighbors’ homes, we’ll show them some of the items they can keep in their emergency supply kit.

Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stella shows some basic first aid supplies that should be in your emergency supply kit.Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stella shows some basic first aid supplies that should be in your emergency supply kit.

Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stella shows some other items to include in your emergency supply kit. Water and snacks should be included in your kit.Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Flat Stella shows some other items to include in your emergency supply kit. Water and snacks should be included in your kit.

Then, we’ll be sure to thank them for all the candy they give us!

Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Halloween candy for the flats.Washington, D.C., October 30, 2013 -- Halloween candy for the flats.

Stella and I are always thinking of fun ways to incorporate being prepared in everything we do.  Share with us the fun activities you and your family have done to get more prepared!

We can’t wait to go trick-or-treating! We hope you have a fun (and safe) time too!

Photo Retrospective: Sandy One Year Later

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A year after Hurricane Sandy, we’ve seen countless stories of communities coming together and neighbors helping neighbors to recover from this storm.  While we still have a long way to go, the signs of recovery can be seen across the region.  We remain committed to standing with those impacted as they continue to build back, and will continue to provide all eligible aid as this effort goes on.

New York, Oct. 3, 2013 --The Battery Park Underpass was inundated by the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was charged with de-watering the tunnels. New York, Oct. 3, 2013 --The Battery Park Underpass was inundated by the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was charged with de-watering the tunnels.

Long Beach, N.Y., July 26, 2013 -- The storm surge from Hurricane Sandy left behind several feet of sand in the streets of Long Beach. Long Beach, N.Y., July 26, 2013 -- The storm surge from Hurricane Sandy left behind several feet of sand in the streets of Long Beach.

Liberty Island, N.Y., July 4, 2013 -- Hurricane Sandy flooded 75 percent of the island in October 2012, causing major damage to its infrastructure and facilities. The statue was reopened on July 4th following eight months of extensive repairs.Liberty Island, N.Y., July 4, 2013 -- Hurricane Sandy flooded 75 percent of the island in October 2012, causing major damage to its infrastructure and facilities. The statue was reopened on July 4th following eight months of extensive repairs.

Liberty Island, N.Y., July 4, 2013 -- The passenger dock destroyed by the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy was rebuilt in time for the official reopening of the Statue of Liberty.Liberty Island, N.Y., July 4, 2013 -- The passenger dock destroyed by the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy was rebuilt in time for the official reopening of the Statue of Liberty.

Breezy Point, N,Y., August 5, 2013 -- About 350 of the more than 2,800 homes in Breezy Point were completely destroyed by the fires or flood surges caused by Hurricane Sandy. Ten months after Sandy, about 60 percent of the community has returned.Breezy Point, N,Y., August 5, 2013 -- About 350 of the more than 2,800 homes in Breezy Point were completely destroyed by the fires or flood surges caused by Hurricane Sandy. Ten months after Sandy, about 60 percent of the community has returned.

Long Beach, N.Y., July 26, 2013 -- In November 2012, debris filled the streets as residents started to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.Long Beach, N.Y., July 26, 2013 -- In November 2012, debris filled the streets as residents started to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

 

Jersey City, N.J., October 28, 2013 -- Before and after photo showing devastation to Liberty Bridge following Hurricane Sandy compared to the rebuilt structure. Jersey City, N.J., October 28, 2013 -- Before and after photo showing devastation to Liberty Bridge following Hurricane Sandy compared to the rebuilt structure.

Jersey City, N.J., October 28, 2013 -- Before and after images of the Central Railroad Terminal damage sustained by Hurricane Sandy. The historical building received over four feet of water and incurred $6 million in damages from the hurricane. Jersey City, N.J., October 28, 2013 -- Before and after images of the Central Railroad Terminal damage sustained by Hurricane Sandy. The historical building received over four feet of water and incurred $6 million in damages from the hurricane.

Seaside Heights, N.J., October 28, 2013 -- A before and after image of the damage sustained to the Seaside Heights Pier following Hurricane Sandy.Seaside Heights, N.J., October 28, 2013 -- A before and after image of the damage sustained to the Seaside Heights Pier following Hurricane Sandy.

Visit the New York and New Jersey disaster pages for more recovery updates.

What We’re Watching: 10/18/13

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Throughout the recent government shutdown, FEMA was committed to supporting disaster survivors. Ongoing response operations to recent disasters have continued because this work is funded by the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which did not lapse with other appropriations on September 30, 2013. It will take time for FEMA to get back to business as usual. We ask for your patience in the coming days and weeks as we reactivate all of FEMA’s activities following the government shutdown. Below are some highlights from this past week of FEMA activities.

ShakeOut Time!

The ground shook (figuratively) and we practiced how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On (literally) during the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill yesterday.

Millions of individuals, families, students, teachers, businesses and organizations across the country took part in the ShakeOut.   You may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake, and ShakeOut earthquake drill is a time for people to practice what to do during an earthquake.  So remember, if an earthquake occurs, just DROP under a sturdy table, COVER your head, and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.

Here’s how the ShakeOut played out for a few FEMA staff yesterday:

Lincroft, N.J., October 17, 2013 -- FEMA employees practice how to drop, cover, and hold on during the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill.Lincroft, N.J, October 17, 2013 -- FEMA employees practice how to drop, cover, and hold on during the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill.

Although the ShakeOut is over, we encourage you to continue to practice earthquake drills along with other safety drills to prepare your family and friends for an emergency.  And even though the Great ShakeOut was yesterday, you can still be counted as a participant (along with over 18 million Americans) by registering at the Great ShakeOut website.

Visit www.shakeout.org for more information on the ShakeOut and remember, if the ground starts shaking, Drop, Cover and Hold On.

 

Fort Collins, Colo., October 16, 2013 -- Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams working in Big Elk Meadows to register disaster survivors, coordinate outreach efforts.Fort Collins, Colo., October 16, 2013 -- Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams working in Big Elk Meadows to register disaster survivors, coordinate outreach efforts.

Colorado Flood Recovery Continues

We continue to support ongoing recovery efforts underway in Colorado following last month’s flooding. To date, more than 12,500 impacted individuals and families have been approved for FEMA assistance, accounting for more than $44 million in approved assistance. Here are a few photos highlighting the work being done to assist residents during the recovery process.

Fort Collins, Colo., October 16, 2013 -- Denver Mobile Emergency Response System (MERS) deploys a inflatable satellite dish in support of Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSAT) working in the isolated community of Big Elk Meadows to register disaster survivors.Fort Collins, Colo., October 16, 2013 -- Denver Mobile Emergency Response System (MERS) deploys a inflatable satellite dish in support of Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSAT) working in the isolated community of Big Elk Meadows to register disaster survivors.

Loveland, Colo., October 11, 2013 -- FEMA Hazardous Mitigation Community Education Outeach (CEU) specialist Amelia Pino discusses the various programs that FEMA is offering to residents affected by recent flooding at a Lowe's Hardware Store. FEMA is working with local, state, businesses and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents affected by the flooding.Loveland, Colo., October 11, 2013 -- FEMA Hazardous Mitigation Community Education Outeach (CEU) specialist Amelia Pino discusses the various programs that FEMA is offering to residents affected by recent flooding at a Lowe's Hardware Store. FEMA is working with local, state, businesses and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents affected by the flooding.

Jamestown, Colo., October 9, 2013 -- Deane Criswell, FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer, and Dan Alexander, FEMA Long Term Recovery Director, look at map which shows the course of the flood waters in and around the Jamestown, CO area. FEMA is working with local, state, volunteer and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents affected by flooding.Jamestown, Colo., October 9, 2013 -- Deane Criswell, FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer, and Dan Alexander, FEMA Long Term Recovery Director, look at map which shows the course of the flood waters in and around the Jamestown, CO area. FEMA is working with local, state, volunteer and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents affected by flooding.

Jamestown, Colo., October 2, 2013 -- FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams arrive via helicopter in the isolated community of Jamestown to help register disaster survivors for disaster assistance.Jamestown, Colo., October 2, 2013 -- FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams arrive via helicopter in the isolated community of Jamestown to help register disaster survivors for disaster assistance.

Jamestown, Colo., October 2, 2013 -- FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams arrive in Jamestown to go door to door to make sure any residents still in town are registered for assistance with FEMA.Jamestown, Colo., October 2, 2013 -- FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams arrive in Jamestown to go door to door to make sure any residents still in town are registered for assistance with FEMA.

Lyons, Colo., October 2, 2013 -- William Lindsey, a FEMA Public Affairs Officer (PIO) talks with a TV reporter who was documenting a housing inspection in Lyons, Colo. FEMA provides housing inspection to eligible FEMA applicants.Lyons, Colo., October 2, 2013 -- William Lindsey, a FEMA Public Affairs Officer (PIO) talks with a TV reporter who was documenting a housing inspection in Lyons, Colo. FEMA provides housing inspection to eligible FEMA applicants.

Lyons, Co, October 7, 2013 -- A Salvation Army volunteer gives a resident food at a temporary disaster recovery site in Lyons, Colo. The town of Lyons experienced significant damage when flood waters hit the town.Lyons, Co, October 7, 2013 -- A Salvation Army volunteer gives a resident food at a temporary disaster recovery site in Lyons, Colo. The town of Lyons experienced significant damage when flood waters hit the town.

Preparing for Tropical Storm Karen and Central U.S. Severe Weather

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nrcc staff work at desksOctober 4, 2013 - Staff work in FEMA's National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. in response to Tropical Storm Karen.

FEMA is preparing and coordinating with our partners for Tropical Storm Karen and the severe weather threat for the Central U.S. We’re encouraging those in the Gulf Coast and Central U.S. states to take time to make sure they’re getting prepared.  Here are some steps you can take today to prepare for any severe weather threat, including tropical storms, damaging winds, and severe thunderstorms:

  • Finish reviewing your family’s emergency plan (include your kids, too).  Plan for scenarios such as how you’d stay in touch during a storm, where you could meet up in the event of an emergency, and who your out of town contact is, should communications become difficult in the impacted areas.
  • Check on your family’s emergency supplies.  Basic supplies include:
    • battery-powered radio
    • flashlight
    • extra batteries
    • cell phone charger
    • medicines
    • non-perishable food
    • first aid supplies.

      red cross emergency kit photoA Red Cross "ready to go" preparedness kit showing the bag and it's contents. Red Cross photograph.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest forecast in your area by monitoring local radio and TV reports. It’s also important to note that local officials may send out Wireless Emergency Alerts to provide brief, critical instructions to warn about imminent threats like severe weather. If you receive an alert like the one below, please follow the instructions in the message.

    emergency alert photo

    During all phases of a storm, continue to listen and follow the instructions of local officials. If Tropical Storm Karen brings significant rainfall to your area, follow local safety instructions and stay away from flooded roads – remember, Turn Around Don’t Drown. Follow ongoing updates from trusted emergency management accounts on social media, visit our Social Hub on your mobile device and computer
  • Download the FEMA app.  It’s packed with tips on how to stay safe before, during, and after a tropical storm.  You can also use it to track what’s in your family’s emergency supply kit, as well as store your family’s emergency meeting locations.

    google play store

    apple app store logo

    blackberry app world

Finally, here is an update on what FEMA is doing to prepare for the impacts of Tropical Storm Karen:

  • Today, FEMA activated the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., a multi-agency coordination center that provides overall coordination of the federal response to natural disasters and emergencies, to support state requests for assistance from Gulf Coast and Southern states.  Regional response coordination centers in Atlanta, Ga. and Denton, Texas are also activated.
  • FEMA has begun to recall currently-furloughed employees necessary to serve functions of the agency that protect life and property as they prepare for potential landfall of Tropical Storm Karen, and for severe weather in the central U.S. based on applicable legal requirements and consistent with its contingency plan.
  • FEMA Regional Administrators for Regions IV and VI have been in touch with emergency management partners in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

    weather service official on phoneOctober 4, 2013 - An official at the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, FL speaks with emergency management partners. (Courtesy of @NWSTallahassee on Twitter)
     
  • FEMA has recalled and deployed liaisons to emergency operations centers in each of these states to coordinate with local officials, should support be requested, or needed.
  • Today, three FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT), recalled from furlough, are deploying to the potentially impacted areas to assist with the coordination of planning and response operations.

We’ll continue to provide updates as needed.

What We’re Watching: 9/27/13

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Images of Colorado Flooding & Recovery

As we continue to support the ongoing recovery efforts in Colorado, we wanted to share a few photos of highlighting the work being done to assist survivors. To date, more than 19,000 Coloradans have applied for FEMA assistance, with more than $29 million in approved assistance for impacted individuals and families.   If you’re looking for ways to help those affected by the flooding, visit HelpColoradoNow.org for a list of trusted organizations  and volunteering resources.

Evans, Colo., September 25, 2013 -- Disaster response group Christian Aid Ministries help muck out homes in Evans. Many community and voluntary organizations are assisting residents with recovery efforts. Evans, Colo., September 25, 2013 -- Disaster response group Christian Aid Ministries help muck out homes in Evans. Many community and voluntary organizations are assisting residents with recovery efforts.

Evans, Colo., September 25, 2013 -- Disaster response groups Hands.org and AmeriCorps join forces to help muck out homes in Evans.Evans, Colo., September 25, 2013 -- Disaster response groups Hands.org and AmeriCorps join forces to help muck out homes in Evans.

Evans, Colorado Septemeber 25, 2013 -- Jewish Disaster response organization Nechama and Muslims for Humanity join forces to help muck out homes in Evans.Evans, Colorado September 25, 2013 -- Jewish Disaster response organization Nechama and Muslims for Humanity join forces to help muck out homes in Evans.

Colorado Springs, CO September 24, 2013 -- A Small Business Administration (SBA) representative talks to a resident about the services that may be available to her at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Colorado Springs, CO. FEMA is working with local, state and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents, businesses and communities affected by the recent floods. Colorado Springs, Colo., September 24, 2013 -- A Small Business Administration (SBA) representative talks to a resident about the services that may be available to her at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Colorado Springs, CO. FEMA is working with local, state and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents, businesses and communities affected by the recent floods.

Colorado Springs, CO September 24, 2013 -- A FEMA Individual Assistance specialist talks to a resident about the services that may be available to him at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Colorado Springs, CO. FEMA is working with local, state and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents, businesses and communities affected by the recent floods. Colorado Springs, Colo., September 24, 2013 -- A FEMA Individual Assistance specialist talks to a resident about the services that may be available to him at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Colorado Springs, CO. FEMA is working with local, state and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents, businesses and communities affected by the recent floods.

Colorado Springs, CO September 24, 2013 -- A FEMA Mitigation specialist talks to a resident about the services that may be available to her at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Colorado Springs, CO. FEMA is working with local, state and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents, businesses and communities affected by the recent floods.Colorado Springs, Colo., September 24, 2013 -- A FEMA Mitigation specialist talks to a resident about the services that may be available to her at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Colorado Springs, CO. FEMA is working with local, state and other federal agencies to provide assistance to residents, businesses and communities affected by the recent floods.

For continued updates on FEMA’s role, visit the disaster webpage or follow the FEMAregion8 account on Twitter.

National Preparedness Month Wrap-Up

Staton Island, N.Y., Sep. 4, 2013 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate met with the Port Richmond, NY Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) while visiting Staten Island for National Preparedness Month.Staten Island, N.Y., Sep. 4, 2013 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate met with the Port Richmond, NY Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) while visiting Staten Island for National Preparedness Month.

As the month comes to an end, we want to take a moment to thank everyone who took steps to get prepared for disasters and joined the national preparedness community. All across the country, families, businesses, communities and organizations held preparedness events educating others about emergency preparedness.

Although National Preparedness Month is just about over, we hope you’ll continue to encourage others to make a family plan and to host preparedness community outreach events, fairs, workshops, webinars and trainings.

Have a great weekend!

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