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Another Round of Severe Winter Weather

Sound familiar? Severe winter weather is affecting much of the U.S., bringing heavy snow, cold temperatures, and gusty winds to the Central and Southern Plains.  The storm system is expected to move into the Mid-South and Tennessee Valley by Wednesday night.

We’re closely monitoring the storm through our regional offices in Kansas City, MO, Denton, TX, and Atlanta, and working closely with our state partners, as well as the National Weather Service.

Since the emergency declarations in Oklahoma and Missouri last week, our Incident Management Assistance Teams are embedded at the state emergency operations centers in those states, assisting in coordination of winter storm response operations.

As this round of dangerous winter weather rolls through, stay safe by:
 

  • Following the direction of state and local officials – Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your local news to monitor for updates and directions provided by local officials.  If you have access to the internet, check your state emergency management website for updates (e.g. the Oklahoma Emergency Management Agency is posting regular situation updates to their website and Twitter account).
  • Preparing for potential power outages – Gusting winds and accumulating ice can often bring power outages, so make sure your emergency kit has a working flashlight with batteries, in addition to other items to keep you safe.
  • Keep travel to a minimum - Traveling by car can be very dangerous if roads are covered in ice or snow, so make sure you have information on road conditions before you leave your home.  If you must travel by car, make sure you have an emergency supply kit in the trunk.

Even if your community won’t be affected by this round of winter storms, it’s still important to take the opportunity to get prepared today.  Everyone can play a vital role in helping our communities prepare for severe winter weather.

- Rachel

Spring is Coming: Red River Teaches a Lesson of Preparedness

Author: 

The coming of spring brings many simple pleasures: warming temperatures, the return of wildlife, longer days, and more opportunity to get outdoors. Unfortunately, spring often brings an increased risk of flooding in areas around the country. The rainy months of March and April, combined with melting snow packs, can cause water levels to rise in rivers and streams in many areas.

The cities of Moorhead, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota have historically been hit hard by flooding of the Red River, especially with the activity of the last two years. With the National Weather Service calling for another busy flood season along the Red River, we’ve been getting the word out, along with our local and state partners, to make sure residents are taking steps to be prepared for spring flooding.

The Red River drowns the roadway and completely covers over a bridge just north of Moorhead, MN.


Moorhead, MN, April 4, 2009 -- The Red River drowns the roadway and completely covers over a bridge just north of Moorhead, MN. According to local officials, the 2009 spring flood of the river was the highest ever recorded.

See the recent stories in KSTP (Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN) and the Associated Press, highlighting the National Weather Service forecasts and preparedness messages from local officials.

While flooding along the Red River has been in the headlines recently, flooding can happen in every U.S. state and territory. In particular, the risk of flooding is higher if you are in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam or where the surrounding geography has been changed by development.

As warmer weather approaches, there are simple steps you can take to prepare for seasonal winter flooding:
 

  • Make a plan – Your family may not be together when a flood hits, so it's important to know how you will contact one another, how you will meet up in a safe place and what you will do in case of an emergency. Not sure where to start? Ready.gov has a great checklist for making your family emergency plan.
  • Get a kit – An emergency kit can be your life line after an emergency. It should sustain yourself and your family for up to three days. For flood prone areas, keeping your important documents in a sealed, airtight container will keep them safe from water damage. See other tips on getting your emergency kit in tip-top shape.
  • Know your risk – One of the most important steps of being prepared is to find out if your home is at risk for flooding. After you know you risk, check out this tool to estimate the financial impact a flood could have your home.
  • Protect your property – A final step to make sure you’re prepared for flooding is to purchase flood insurance. Unfortunately, most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider flood insurance coverage.

** Flood policies typically take 30 days to become effective, so make sure to purchase flood insurance as a way to prepare before potential flooding. **

What steps have you or your community taken to reduce the impact of flooding? Leave a comment below and share your success stories.

- Tim

Answers to Some Common Questions on Flood Insurance

Author: 

At FEMA, our top priority is the safety of the citizens and communities we serve. A central part of our commitment to protect lives and property is to ensure that people are aware of the natural hazards and risks that exist in their communities so they can take appropriate actions to safeguard their property and their lives. We are constantly encouraging communities to take steps now to protect against those natural risks, including flooding – which is both the most common and the most expensive type of natural disaster in the U.S.

One of the goals of this blog - and another key priority for us at FEMA - is to make sure that the public and all of our stakeholders have an accurate understanding about how we operate.  Over the years, there has been  a number of confusing and at times misleading news reports about FEMA flood-mapping efforts and flood insurance in general.  We wanted to set the record straight and make sure that all homeowners in communities across the country have consistent and accurate information about this important topic. Below are some common questions and answers about flood insurance.

Q: Does FEMA run a “mandatory flood insurance program?”
A: No. In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program to provide property owners with financial protection against the devastating effects of flooding, since many standard homeowners’ insurance policies did not cover flood damage.  The program is authorized by Congress and administered by FEMA, who works with nearly 90 private insurance companies to provide affordable flood insurance to both property owners and renters.

A separate law passed by Congress in 1973 directed mortgage lenders to require that people who are in special flood hazard areas and have a federally backed mortgage to purchase flood insurance. (These “Special Flood Hazard Areas” are also known as a “100-year flood zones”, an area that has been determined to have a 1 percent annual chance of flooding.  Over the course of a 30-year mortgage, homeowners at the edge of this area have a 26 percent chance of experiencing flood damage.)

Some lenders may also implement their own insurance requirements on those not in a special hazard flood area as a condition of the loan. While it’s easy to assume – and commonly reported – that FEMA requires people to purchase flood insurance, it is actually a congressional mandate, required by mortgage lenders, not by FEMA.

Q: Why does FEMA conduct flood-mapping?  
A: Under the guidance and direction of Congress, FEMA updates flood maps for communities around the country.  This is done to show the most accurate and up-to-date information available regarding flood risks in a community.  Throughout this process, FEMA works closely with local communities to ensure that any verifiable data that will strengthen the maps are included and incorporated.  The entire process takes 2-3 years and includes a lengthy public and technical review. 

Q: Does FEMA take into account outside data? 
A: It’s important to note that is FEMA is currently in the process of updating flood maps in communities around the country. Updating these maps is a collaborative process, during which we work closely with the local community, incorporating any verifiable data they provide into our models so that the maps better reflect the risk the community faces.  If new information is made available even after flood maps have gone into effect, FEMA will review the new data and revise the map as appropriate.

Q: Why would homes at one of the highest elevations in a county be considered high risk for flooding? 
A: In reality, the flood risk of a community is determined by a number of factors, including rainfall, elevation, topography, flood control measures and any changes in building or development. A home’s elevation is simply one part of the equation.

Q: What options do people have if they think a flood-map miscalculates their risk?
A: A property owner has the option to submit new or additional data if they want the maps to be updated. If their information proves accurate, the maps will be updated and they will be removed from the high hazard flood zone.

If you think that there is inaccuracies on your local flood map, you can contact 1-877-FEMA-MAP (1-877-336-2627).         

Q: Why should someone purchase flood insurance?
A: We know that for homeowners – especially in this economy – any additional expenses can be difficult, and may seem unnecessary if they have been lucky enough not to experience a flood. But, like insurance we purchase for our cars, or our health – flood insurance is meant to protect us from the much greater costs we could incur if a flood did hit.  We hope homeowners that do purchase flood insurance never have to use it, but it is a critical means of protecting your property and loved ones against a hazard that hits far too many communities around the country each year. The consequences can be personally and financially devastating.

As we have seen time and time again, the most important way to protect ourselves against any type of disaster is to know what risks exist in our communities and to be prepared. We hope this post helps clear up an issue that can often be confusing – and empowers you with clearer information about flood risks.

For more information about flood risks in your community, contact your city or local floodplain manager.  And for more information about the National Flood Insurance Program or the dangers of flooding, please visit www.floodsmart.gov.

- Sandra

Preparing for an Earthquake: Three Easy Steps

Author: 
Damage to a home from an earthquake in Calexico, California.
Calexico, CA, April 6, 2010 -- A magnitude
7.2 earthquake rocked the city on Easter leaving
many facilities, roads, and public buildings closed.
This photo shows damages at a home in the area.

Back in December, Tim Manning spoke about our efforts to prepare for a catastrophic earthquake along the New Madrid seismic zone on the anniversary of the historic earthquake that struck the Midwestern U.S. in 1811.

Since 2011 is the bicentennial anniversary, states across the central U.S. are recognizing February as Earthquake Awareness Month.  FEMA has teamed up with the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, the Institute for Business and Home Safety, and state and local partners to educate businesses and residents on ways to reduce the risk of earthquake damage through mitigation activities.

One way we're getting the word out is through an earthquake outreach tour in five states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee.  During the week of February 7-11, leaders of this team effort, including FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, will be delivering the message of earthquake mitigation and preparedness.

But, you don't need to live along the New Madrid seismic zone to be vulnerable to the risks associated with earthquakes.  All Americans can reduce earthquake damage through low-cost mitigation activities and increase their personal preparedness by taking these three simple steps, now, before an earthquake hits:
 

Identify your Risk
Not all communities in a state or territory share the same risk from an earthquake, so reference the maps produced by the United States Geological Survey to see the risk to your specific community. 

To identify personal risk at home, try the Home Hazard Hunt.

Make a Plan
Both individuals and businesses can reduce the effects of earthquakes by making a plan.  Businesses can integrate earthquake mitigation and preparedness into their Business Continuity Plans, and for individuals, making a family emergency plan is a vital step to being prepared for any emergency.

Your family may not be together when an earthquake strikes, so it's important to know how you will contact one another, how you will meet up in a safe place and what you will do in case of an emergency.   It's also worthwhile to notify caregivers and babysitters about your plan, and make plans for your pets as well.

Take Action
There are a lot of simple and inexpensive ways to reduce the effects of earthquakes. From securing heavy pictures and mirrors at home, to strapping down merchandise and anchoring shelves at work, taking action now can go a long way to preventing damage and injuries later.

An emergency supply kit can literally be a life saver after an emergency.  Include items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries – enough that you will be able to sustain yourself for 72 hours.  Your kit should also include copies of prescription medications and important documents such as a driver's license and your Social Security card.

The public plays in important role in helping our nation prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters, so do your part this month and make sure you are prepared if an earthquake were to rattle your community.

- Sandra

Other links
- Businesses can visit QuakeSmart.org to learn how to reduce your risks in three steps.

A Very Real Payoff for Preparedness Training

Here at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) we focus on delivering all-hazard preparedness training for local, tribal and state first responders. This training is timely, skill-based, and a critical investment in more resilient communities. Time and time again, we have seen cases of CDP alumni putting what they have learned with us to work – saving lives, protecting property and making our country safer for all Americans.

A great example is what happened last spring in the attempted Times Square car bombing in New York City, NY. On May 1, 2010 a local vendor noticed smoke seeping from the rear of a parked vehicle and alerted a nearby officer, Wayne Rhatigan. Officer Rhatigan, who attended CDP training at New York City’s Training Center, quickly enlisted the help of two other officers patrolling the area to create a perimeter, to prevent casualties in case the car exploded. They also alerted the bomb squad, who was on scene within minutes to help diffuse the situation.

The vehicle was carrying a large amount of accelerants and explosives that could have killed hundreds, not only from the blast, but from the collateral damage of buildings. The quick thinking by Officer Rhatigan, who acknowledged his CDP training resulted in his decisive response to evacuate, rather than investigate the smoking car a little closer, helped thwart the attempted attack.

NYPD academy instructors and CDP Instructor Rich Teemsma (a former NYPD Bomb Squad Detective) taught Rhatigan’s classes, which trained officers in the RAIN (Recognize, Avoid, Isolate, Notify) concept related to protection from improvised explosive devices. Rich commonly tells his students if they find a suspicious package they should “RAIN on it.”

So when I think about how our training can benefit all communities, I look at the actions of Officer Rhatigan as a great example.  His CDP training helped protect citizens in Times Square that day. CDP alumni leave our training better equipped to protect their hometowns from very real hazards, and we are honored to play a part in that investment.

- Dr. Jones

Note
The man responsible for the attempted attack, Faisal Shahzad, was sentenced to life in prison October 5, 2010.


First Responders collect evidence from a potential hazardous crime scene, during a training exercise at the Center for Domestic Preparedness


Anniston, AL, October 9, 2009 -- First Responders collect evidence from a potential hazardous crime scene, during a training exercise at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). During CDP training emergency response personnel, regardless of specialty, learn the importance of preserving crime scenes when responding to All-Hazards, Mass-casualty events.

What we're watching: 2/4/11

Severe weather continues
The worst of this week’s massive winter storm has passed, but much of the southeast is forecasted to receive a combination of snow and ice through the weekend.  As always,  we’re continuing to monitor this weather through our regional offices in Denton, Texas, and Atlanta, and are in close touch with state and local officials – especially in Dallas, where they continue to gear up for the Superbowl.   If you’re in the projected path of the storm, make sure you’re prepared for winter weather or potential power outages.  

As the storm moved through much of the Midwest earlier this week, thousands lost power or received significant snow and ice, so make sure you follow the direction of local officials and are up to date with your local forecast from the National Weather Service.

Snow removal tips
If you’ve been affected by this week’s winter storm, chances are you’ll be digging out of snow and ice for the next few days.  As you put on your boots and ready your snow shovels, make sure you avoid overexertion when removing snow.  Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.

And as you clear your driveway and walkways, remember clear snow from around a nearby fire hydrant.  That way, fire fighters won’t waste valuable time searching for a hydrant in case of a fire.

Social media updates from your state
Updates on the winter storm have been the focus of the blog for the past few days.  While we’ve been providing daily posts here, we’ve also been posting updates on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.  In case you haven’t found your state emergency management on Facebook and Twitter, check out our favorite Facebook pages (on the left-hand side of the page) and our Twitter list of state emergency management agencies.  After a disaster strikes, they may provide valuable local information.

Fire and ice
Unfortunately, the winter months traditionally bring an increase in home fires.  Using space heaters, wood stoves, candles, and fireplaces can be fire hazards if they’re not used correctly.  For tips on preventing winter fires, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website.

Daily Wrap Up: Ongoing Federal Efforts for the Winter Storm

Key Efforts

  • When natural disasters, such as winter storms, strike the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet immediate human needs.
  • Yesterday, the President announced a federal emergency declaration for all 77 counties in Oklahoma to supplement state and local response efforts in the area struck by a severe winter storm beginning on January 31, 2011 and continuing. This declaration frees up federal dollars to reimburse the state for some costs associated with efforts over the last few days and designates Kevin L. Hannes as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
  • At the request of the respective states, FEMA representatives have been working with their state partners at various state Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs). At the height of the storm, personnel were deployed to EOCs in Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, but most have been demobilized at the request of the states.
  • FEMA, through our regional offices in Kansas City, MO: Denton, TX: Chicago, IL; Atlanta, GA; Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; and Boston, MA, continues to support federal and state coordination as the Midwest and the northeastern states begin recovery from this week’s severe weather.
  • FEMA has emergency commodities pre-staged across the United States should they be needed to support state and local emergency response operations. FEMA distribution centers have a current inventory of more than 5 million liters of water, 3 million meals, 500,000 blankets, 110,000 cots and more than 500 power generators.
  • Of the commodities pre-staged across the nation, at the height of the storm, FEMA had also proactively staged supplies to strategic locations in Ohio, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, in case they became needed.

Overall timeline of FEMA and Federal actions
Saturday, January 29

  • FEMA begins coordinating with its regional offices in Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Denton, TX, Kansas City, MO, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City, and state emergency operations centers in Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to plan staging of commodities and resources. Sunday, January 30 · FEMA deploys liaison officers to state emergency operations centers in Indiana, Kansas and Missouri. · FEMA begins to coordinate Incident Support Base locations at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, and the Regional Food Bank in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and the Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Oklahoma.  
  • FEMA continues constant contact with the Department of Homeland Security to provide regular updates on the storm’s developments. FEMA has also been in regular touch with Governors and local officials in the Midwest, the Southeast and up the East Coast. Monday January 31
  • FEMA deploys Incident Management Assessment Team (IMAT) team members to Oklahoma and Arkansas to assist the state with coordination of planning and response operations. FEMA deploys a liaison officer to the state emergency operations center in Oklahoma.
  • FEMA places on alert Incident Management Assessment Teams in its regional offices in New York City, Kansas City, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Denton to stand-by for deployment, if needed. · FEMA activates the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), a multi-agency center based at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., that provides overall coordination of the federal response by bringing together federal departments and agencies to assist in the preparations for and response to disasters.
  • FEMA deploys liaison officers to emergency operations centers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and regional support personnel to New York.
  • FEMA moves roughly 57,000 liters of water, 56,000 meals, 2,400 blankets, 1,200 cots and a 54-pack of power generators to Incident Support Base (ISB) locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and McAlester, Oklahoma. In addition, FEMA has moved roughly 30,000 liters of water, more than 20,000 meals, 1,500 blankets, 700 cots to an Incident Support Base in Kansas City, MO. FEMA holds a video teleconference with federal partners and regional representatives to assess needs and readiness.

Tuesday February 1

  • FEMA deploys liaison officers to state emergency operations centers in Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.
  • FEMA deploys members of Incident Management Assessment Teams (IMATs) to Pennsylvania and Indiana and places an IMAT on standby to be deployed to Kentucky, as needed, to assist states with coordination of planning and response operations.
  • FEMA places the National Incident Management Assessment Team-East (IMAT-East) and two Pacific Coast-based IMATs on alert to potentially provide additional planning and response coordination and operations support to Midwestern and East Coast states.
  • FEMA deploys 20 power generators, provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to arrive at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
  • In addition, FEMA deploys approximately 31,000 liters of water to arrive at Kansas City, Missouri. FEMA deploys a pack of 54 generators for staging at an Incident Support Base in Eureka, MO.
  • FEMA deploys approximately 72,000 liters of water, roughly 20,000 meals, 10,000 blankets, and 10,000 cots to arrive at an Incident Support Base at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. FEMA is also positioning 23 power generators at the base.
  • FEMA holds a video teleconference with federal partners and regional representatives to assess needs and readiness.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano brief President Obama by phone on preparations for the winter storm.
  • Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate brief members of Congress from the affected states on the preparations for the storm.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) maintains readiness of its 13 on-call Disaster Medicals Assistance Teams (DMATs) which are part of the National Disaster Medical System, a federally coordinated system that augments the Nation's emergency medical response capability. HHS also maintains its on-call Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) and Applied Public Health Teams (APHT) comprised of trained USPHS Commissioned Corps Officer Responders who can provide resources and assistance to State, Tribal and local health authorities throughout the nation.
  • HHS Critical Infrastructure contacts private partners regarding potential need to re-supply hospitals and any potential shortages caused by power or transportation disruptions.
  • More than 1,170 National Guard members in six states (AR, MO, IL, IA, OK, and TX) mobilize at the direction of their governors and prepare to assist their states in winter storm recovery efforts. More than 600 Missouri National Guard members clear roads, remove debris, and provide transportation and power generation. National Guardsmen and women in several others states also are expected to be mobilized due to anticipated severe winter weather.
  • At the request of FEMA, the U.S. Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, provides several facilities to use as Incident Support Bases, which are supply and equipment staging locations. These facilities include the McAlester Ammunition Depot in OK; the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in OH; and Fort Campbell in KY.

Wednesday February 2

  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano brief President Obama by phone on preparations for the winter storm.
  • FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate holds a video teleconference call to discuss the latest developments with the National Weather Service, partner agencies and regional representatives and to assess their needs and readiness.
  • Administrator Fugate and the Deputy Director of the National Weather Service hold a press conference call to discuss the latest developments with the storm and the ongoing federal efforts to support state and local officials as they prepare for and respond to the storm.
  • Deputy Administrator Serino and the Deputy Director of the National Weather Service hold a conference call with congressional staff from the affected regions on the latest developments with the storm and discuss the ongoing federal efforts to support state and local officials as they prepare for and respond to the storm.
  • FEMA moves an additional 31,000 liters of water to Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Oklahoma Governor Fallin requests a federal declaration for the State of Oklahoma as a result of a severe winter storm beginning on January 31, 2011, and continuing. The Governor is specifically requesting emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance, for all 77 counties in the State.
  • The President announces a federal emergency declaration for 77 counties in Oklahoma to supplement state and local response efforts in the area struck by a severe winter storm beginning on January 31, 2011 and continuing. This declaration frees up federal dollars to reimburse the state for some costs associated with efforts over the last few days and designates Kevin L. Hannes as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
  • Missouri Governor Nixon requests a federal declaration for the State of Missouri as a result of a severe winter storm beginning on January 31, 2011, and continuing. The Governor specifically requested (Category A) debris removal and (Category B) emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program for all 114 counties and the Independent City of St. Louis in the State of Missouri. The request is currently under review.
  • The American Red Cross supports sheltering operations in as many as nine states.
  • HHS Critical Infrastructure deploys 5 personnel and teams remain on call for deployment.

Thursday February 3

  • FEMA begins to demobilize winter storm response personnel and commodities, upon the request of the respective states, as states stand up their recovery operations.

Why Generators Are Critical To Supporting Local and State Response Efforts

 FEMA generators are staged at the Army Ammunition Plant for rapid deployment to support emergency facilities and public buildings.
McAlester, OK, February 1, 2011 -- FEMA generators are staged at the Army Ammunition Plant for rapid deployment to support emergency facilities and public buildings.

One of the ways that we were preparing before this past week's severe winter weather struck was by prepositioning commodities including generators, ahead of time in areas that were forecasted to be heavily impacted. 

We wanted to be ready in case a Governor's team needed our support, and one of the major concerns was power outages.

When most people see the term "generator", they think of small, personal generators that power homes.  At FEMA, when we say "generator", we are talking about industrial generators that power critical public facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, and water treatment facilities (to name a few).

FEMA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel inventory and inspect generators at the Incident Support Base for pre-deployment of resources.
Fort Cambell, KY, February 2, 2011 -- FEMA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel inventory and inspect generators at the Incident Support Base for pre-deployment of resources that may be needed due to the massive winter storm that struck the heart of the U.S.

As our mission says, we're committed to supporting our state and local communities as they prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters - and what better way to support them by helping keep their critical facilities up and running?

Here are some facts on our deployment and use of emergency power generators:

  • FEMA deploys and stages emergency power generators in configurations of fifty-four units, of varying sizes and capacities, ranging from 15 kW to 800 kW. (A shipment is commonly referred to as “54-pack”).  Of the 54 units in a pack, thirty-six generators are of 150kW or less; and eighteen are considered high-voltage, 150 kW or greater. (A 30-watt light bulb would use 1 kilowatt after running for 33 hours and 20 minutes.)
  • A lower-power generator, might power a well water pump, lift station, communications tower, waste water treatment plant or temporary hospital, while a higher-power unit, might support powering a school, shelter, assisted living facility or hospital.
  • The generators are compatible to support critical response and life saving facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, congregate shelters, waste water and water treatment facilities, water wells, pumping stations, emergency operations centers or fire and police stations. 
  • To ensure proper generator installation and usage, FEMA works with with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform facility assessments and coordinate installation and maintenance of the units.

Chicago increases safety through partnerships, federal grants

FEMA officials tour the Chicago Office of Emergency Communications.


Chicago, IL, January 25, 2011 -- Assistant Administrator William Carwile (left), Region IX Administrator, Nancy Ward (center), Region V Administrator, Andrew Velasquez III (back), FEMA Deputy Administrator, Richard Serino, and FEMA Director of Regional Operations, Patty Kalla (right), tour Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Last week, before the snow started to fall, I had the opportunity to tour Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) with FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, Assistant Administrator William Carwile, FEMA Region IV Administrator Major Phillip May, and Region IX Administrator Nancy Ward.

Our tour gave us a first-hand look at Homeland Security grant dollars in action. To date, the city has received over $281 million in grants, investing in state of the art technologies to better prepare the city and those that live here. Chicago has been working with federal, state, and local partners to leverage the grant awards for maximum impact in the community.

During the visit, we had a chance to see the city’s integrated camera network, one of the largest of its kind in the nation. The city has not only installed thousands of cameras, but they have also integrated existing surveillance cameras from several city departments, as well as those from the private sector. This collaboration between the public and private sectors provides first responders, as well as state and federal emergency management officials, with critical situational awareness during emergency situations.

The city also showed us their investments in geospatial information systems (GIS) technologies. They’ve incorporated critical infrastructure information and other data layers into their GIS systems, which provides the city and its partners with a platform for more efficient and effective emergency planning.

Overall, our group of FEMA officials were impressed with the OEMC’s emphasis on bringing together multiple public safety disciplines and partner agencies to achieve the common goal of better protecting the city. Chicago is a great example of leveraging grant dollars and partnerships to strengthen its emergency response capabilities.

Chicago's OEMC is one example of federal grant dollars making a difference at the local level. Leave a comment and let us know your ideas on using federal grants to make an impact on our nation’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

- Andrew

Winter Storm Update: Cold Moving To Deep South

Winter weather continues to impact areas across the country, and is forecasted to bring bitterly cold temperatures into parts of Texas and the Deep South today.  Impacted areas have seen a combination of snow, ice, gusting winds, and rain, making travel very hazardous

Yesterday, the President declared an emergency in Oklahoma, making federal disaster aid available to State and local responders in Oklahoma to supplement the response efforts.  We’re continuing to closely monitor the severe winter weather through our regional offices in Kansas City, MO, Denton, TX, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston and stand ready to provide assistance if requested. 

While the major wrath of the storm has passed, there are many roads and transportation routes that remain hazardous and extremely cold temperatures are forecasted throughout the country for the remainder of the week.  We continue to encourage all Americans to follow the instructions of state and local officials, and to listen to local radio and/or TV stations for updated emergency information.

And visit Ready.gov to make sure you’re prepared for winter storms and extreme cold.

- Rachel

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