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Author: Jessica Stapf
Last week, the Chicago Tribune featured a story about a firefighter from the Galapagos Islands who traveled about 3,000 miles from his home to attend a firefighting training course in Romeoville, IL. Carlos Gonzales, who is a tour guide in his everyday life, saved up the money—nearly $3,000—to attend the course, hosted by the Romeoville Fire Academy.Like many fire departments across the United States, Mr. Gonzales’ hometown fire department relies on volunteers to keep it up and running: "We are all volunteers (firefighters) on the island… We do it without pay because it's our home and we...
Posted On: October 2, 2014
Author: Jessica Stapf
Flash flooding in El Paso, TX caused a disruption during the early Monday morning commute of many people, including one woman whose truck was swept into a canal by fast-moving flood water. Some quick-thinking teachers that were on their way to training became first responders as they helped the woman escape being trapped between her vehicle and the canal’s wall. Not all first responders are fire fighters, police officers, or paramedics. Often, first responders are fast moving bystanders with a mind to help.The video of the dramatic rescue, filmed by a news reporter turned rescuer is available...
Posted On: September 24, 2014
Author: Todd Davison
Fifteen years after Hurricane Floyd, the images of overwhelming physical, human and environmental impacts are still vivid. The late 1990s was an unprecedented time for North Carolina: Floyd was the sixth hurricane to hit the state in four years. Hurricane Dennis soaked the landscape a few weeks before, and then Floyd dumped 20+ inches of rain. The impacts were devastating: 51 fatalities, about 100 thousand damaged homes, inundated sewage treatment plants, and millions of lost livestock.On the evening of September 17, the day after Floyd’s landfall, I met with Eric Tolbert and Gavin Smith in...
Posted On: September 19, 2014
Author: Cathy S. Haynes
I don’t remember what it was like to work in emergency management prior to Hurricane Hugo. In a strange way, it was the beginning for us and an experience we still remember today. At 6 a.m. on September 21, 1989, Hurricane Hugo was heading for Charleston County and the evacuation order was in full effect. The Charleston County Emergency Operations Center, located in a small cinder block building with a metal warehouse attached, was fully activated. The actual room where we worked was plain and unhardened, hardly enough to withstand a Category 4 storm. Hugo made landfall at 10 p.m., and just...
Posted On: September 19, 2014
Author: John J. Lanza, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAP
September 15-16, marks 10 years since Hurricane Ivan made landfall in Northwest Florida. For the Florida Department of Health, it was the third storm in four and a half weeks to which we responded.As the Director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County during Ivan, I was responsible for Public Health and Medical Services in my county, as well as serving as incident commander and a physician for our Special Needs Shelter. During Ivan, we sheltered more than 500 individuals including medically needy patients, their families, and health department staff and families, including...
Posted On: September 16, 2014
Author: Craig Fugate
Editor's note: this post first appeared on weeks ago, FEMA shared research about the state of family preparedness in America. The good news is that a large number of American families are aware of the importance of preparing for emergencies. The bad news is that awareness doesn't always translate into action. In fact, roughly half of all Americans have not discussed, or developed an emergency plan with their family about where to go and what to do in the event of a local disaster.That's just not good enough.During National Preparedness Month, FEMA, in coordination with...
Posted On: September 12, 2014
Author: Tony Russell (R8)
It’s been nearly a year since the massive flooding that struck several areas of Colorado.  With little forewarning, heavy rains left streams and rivers swollen.  The images in the aftermath of this dramatic event remain striking: communities isolated as entire roads were washed away, homes destroyed by the torrent of water, and streams and rivers that changed course entirely.While the impact of the flooding was significant, even more impressive was the teamwork shown at all levels of government, the private sector, and volunteer agencies, as well as the resilience and determination...
Posted On: September 11, 2014
Author: Brittany Trotter
Over the last several years, Administrator Fugate has made embracing and considering the unique needs of all stakeholders one of FEMA’s top priorities.  This approach has improved the way we engage with our partners across the emergency management team and how we’re working to ensure that as a nation we’re becoming better prepared. Tribes are vital members of this team.  They have unique needs to consider when developing and implementing policies that affect their communities.Last week, I had the privilege of speaking with Chris Howell, Executive Director for the Kansas Office of...
Posted On: September 10, 2014
Author: Yajaira Reyes
Portland prides itself as a “green city,” of so it’s no surprise that it’s known as “America’s biking capitol.” Portland’s enthusiasm for biking goes beyond just helping the environment, however. It also helps the city prepare for emergencies.Portland’s Disaster Relief Trials (DRT) initiative is a unique effort designed to employ the use of bicycles to carry cargo in case of a disaster to maneuver people and supplies to safety without worrying about gasoline, flooding or other unpredictable conditions.  Our team, FEMA Corps Blue 5, had the opportunity to witness this when we supported...
Posted On: September 8, 2014
Author: Beth A. Freeman
What you do, choose not to do, perhaps even hesitate to do is based on two conditions: the planned and the unplanned. For example, when you notice your gas tank is low on fuel as you leave work one evening, what do you do? You stop for gas, either on the way home or first thing in the morning. Why? Because you plan on going to work the next morning and you’ll need fuel to get there.Now let’s consider an unplanned wrinkle in your evening of plans and normalcy. You’ve fueled up and headed home, going about your evening as planned. It was your night to cook dinner as your spouse was running late...
Posted On: September 5, 2014
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