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Will You Be Ready in 2011?

Posted by: Rachel Racusen, Director, Public Affairs

The current snowstorms blanketing the East Coast are another reminder that its important to take simple steps now to be prepared -- and to Resolve to be Ready for emergencies in 2011.

As we get closer to the New Year, today our Deputy Administrator, Rich Serino, teamed up with the head of Massachusetts Public Safety, Mary Beth Heffernan, to urge everyone to consider making a new year's resolution that could make a real difference in the next snowstorm, flood, or hurricane:

"Nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. This year, why not make one that is easy to keep and could save your life: Resolve to be ready for disasters. It only takes a few simple steps and it starts with making a family emergency communications plan in advance of a disaster and staying informed.

For example, consider how you would get in touch with your children if their school was locked down. What if you were in a car accident and your cell phone was broken? What if another flood knocked out power for days?

We need you to do your part to become a member of our team, by getting ready now, because when disaster strikes, those of us who should have and could have gotten ready will be competing with our most vulnerable citizens for food, water and the critical resources of our first responders. We all share responsibility."

This message isn't just important for the Massachusetts and East Coast residents digging out from mounds of snow -- it applies to all of us.

So with the countdown to New Year's eve on, join us. Will you Resolve to be Ready in 2011?

- Rachel

(Read the full op-ed in the Boston Herald from Deputy Administrator Serino and Mary Beth Heffrnan)

Severe Weather on the East Coast

Posted by: Brad Carroll, Press Secretary

Snow plow working during a blizzard.
(Photo courtesy of FEMA Photo Library, 2006)


If you’ve turned on the news anytime in the past week, the headlines have been littered with stories of the ongoing severe weather across the U.S.  Last week, a powerful rain and snow storm affected much of the West coast.  Over the weekend, a blizzard moved in along the eastern seaboard.  Airports are closed, major sporting events have been affected, and thousands of residents are without power or sheltering in their homes.

We are in close coordination with our state and local partners, monitoring developments from the National Weather Service forecast office.  There has been no request for federal assistance at this time, but the governors of the following states have declared a state of emergency due to the storm:

  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia

By declaring a state of emergency, the Governor makes available state government resources, such as personnel, equipment and facilities, to support and assist disaster response operations.

As the storm moves through, be sure to listen to local officials for safety information in your area.  Keep up with the latest local forecast at weather.gov, or on your smart phone at mobile.weather.gov.  For tips on winter preparedness, check out Ready.gov, or if you’re on the go, visit our mobile site.

- Brad

Holiday Message from Administrator Fugate

Posted by: Public Affairs

In this video Administrator Fugate shares a special holiday message on being prepared before a disaster strikes. With New Year's right arond the corner, why not Resolve to be Ready in 2011?

You can start today at Ready.gov with three easy steps: get a kit, make a plan and be informed.  From all of us at FEMA, have a safe and happy holiday!

Ongoing severe weather

Posted by: Rachel Racusen, Director, Public Affairs

At FEMA, we continue to monitor severe weather on the Hawaii islands and in the western U.S. through our regional offices in Denver and Oakland. Parts of Utah and Nevada are still getting rain, and we remain in close coordination with the Utah and Nevada Departments of Public Safety, as well as the California Emergency Management Agency.

With the powerful storm system forecasted to head east in the coming days, the National Weather Service is calling for a wet holiday weekend for much of the country, whether snow or rain. Follow your latest forecast at weather.gov, or check it on the go at mobile.weather.gov, and make sure you’re prepared for potential flooding or extreme winter weather at Ready.gov.
Posted on Thu, 12/23/2010 - 13:25

Be Disaster Ready in 2011

Posted by: Rachel Racusen, Director, Public Affairs

 As the countdown to New Year’s Eve continues, FEMA is doing our part to encourage all of you out there still looking for a New Year’s resolution to Resolve to be Ready in 2011.  Last week, we highlighted op-eds written by Nancy Ward, our Region 9 Administrator, and Ken Murphy, our Region 10 Administrator, in the LA Daily News and the Oregonian. Yesterday, our Administrator Craig Fugate continued this drumbeat, partnering with Jim Bassham, the director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, on an op-ed published in the Tennessean:
 

“This was a challenging year for families across Middle and West Tennessee. No one will soon forget the historic floods that stretched from Nashville to Memphis and numerous towns in between. Throughout the disaster response and the longer-term recovery, Tennesseans have truly stepped up to help each other out. That’s why, as families and friends come together to celebrate the holidays and close the book on 2010, we’re asking you, if you haven’t already, to get prepared now, before the next disaster strikes.”

You can read their full op-ed here. As they note, FEMA and TEMA were proud to team up to help residents and communities across Tennessee during this recovery, and we’re proud that we were able to team up again to remind everyone of the importance of being prepared. So especially with severe winter storms hitting many of us across the country, take a few minutes to sit down with your family and follow our basic steps for getting prepared. Join Craig and Jim and Resolve to be Ready in 2011.

- Rachel

What We're Watching: 12/22/10

Ongoing severe weather
As we mentioned yesterday, we’re continuing to monitor the severe weather in the western U.S. through our regional offices in Oakland, Seattle and Denver.  Last night, Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in six California counties due to extreme weather and storm conditions. By declaring a state of emergency, the Governor makes available state government resources, such as personnel, equipment and facilities, to support and assist disaster response operations.

Heavy rain is also hitting portions of Utah and Nevada, and we are in close coordination with the Utah and Nevada Departments of Public Safety.

There has been no request for federal assistance at this time, but our regional watch teams are in constant contact with our federal and state partners, along with the National Weather Service forecast offices.

With the powerful storm system forecasted to head east in the coming days, the NWS is calling for a wet holiday weekend for much of the country, whether snow or rain.  Follow your latest forecast at weather.gov, or check it on the go at mobile.weather.gov.  And make sure you’re prepared for potential flooding or extreme winter weather at Ready.gov.

Travel Tips
The Transportation Security Administration blog has some great resources for holiday travelers.  If you plan on taking to the skies to visit family/friends, be sure to check these out:

Holiday Fire Safety
If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, we’ve had quite a few posts related to fire safety leading up to the holidays.  This is the time of year when lighting a cozy fire and a few candles can bring in the holiday spirit unlike anything else.  Unfortunately, those simple joys increase the risk of a home fire.

So whether you decorate your home for the holidays, plan to use lighted candles, or are fixing to cook an unforgettable holiday feast, keep these fire safety tips in mind from the United States Fire Administration (USFA).  Also be sure to see the USFA’s collection of videos on fire safety.

The First Day of Winter - Well, the First Official Day Anyway

Posted by: Brad Carroll, Press Secretary

For a lot of folks across the country, winter has already come in like a lion.  There’s been snow in the mid-Atlantic, Mid-West and Nevada is currently getting dumped on with feet of snow in some areas.  The Metrodome collapsed and California and Hawaii are currently experiencing some serious severe weather.

But, as your local meteorologist will probably point out on your evening newscast today, December 21st, is actually the first official day of winter.  Which means, if you haven’t already, now is a great time to get ready for winter.

Winter storms can bring high winds, heavy snow, and rain, causing power outages and hazardous travel.

That’s why we urge families to maintain an emergency supply kit at home and in the car.  An emergency kit should include food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra flashlights and batteries.  And if you haven’t yet, make sure to update your kit for winter by including:
  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways;
  • Sand to improve traction;
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment;
  • And adequate clothing and blankets to help keep you warm.
And this year as you gather with family and friends and talk about making resolutions for the New Year, why not resolve to be ready?

You can start small.  Why not find your local emergency management office and see if they offer alerts or other ways to stay informed? Why not sit down with your family and develop a family communications plan?

These small steps can make a big difference for you and your family.

Be safe this holiday season and be prepared.

Monitoring Severe Weather in the West

Posted by: Public Affairs

Through our regional offices in Oakland and Seattle, we are continuing to monitor the severe weather across Hawaii, California, and into the northwest that is forecasted to affect the area through mid-week, at least.  We remain in close contact and coordination with California Emergency Management Agency, Nevada Division of Emergency Management, Hawaii State Civil Defense and other possibly affected states. 

During severe weather, it’s important to follow the instructions of state and local officials, and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated disaster response and evacuation information. We urge all individuals in the affected areas to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local emergency management officials.

Flash flooding can take only a few minutes to a few hours to develop, and it’s important to be informed and ready.  And remember, when you come across a flooded roadway, Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

On the web:

National Weather Service

CA Emergency Management Agency

HI State Civil Defense

NV Dept of Public Safety

UT Dept of Public Safety

Ready Flood Preparedness

On twitter:

@CalEMA - California Emergency Management Agency

@LAFDtalk - Los Angeles Fire Dept

@HNL_Info - City and County of Honolulu Information Officer

@utdpspio - Utah Dept of Public Safety

#larain
#sfrain

And for those interested in emergency management social media (#SMEM), a crowd sourced event map for the severe storms in California.

"Please Pardon the Interruption..."

Posted by: Public Affairs

After a fire swept downtown Baltimore, MD, earlier this month, 2,000 workers were displaced as businesses in the area were impacted. While this event made the news, it got us thinking about the countless common issues that can shut you down for precious hours, days or even longer: power outages, computer viruses and cyber attacks, burst pipes,  and the flu - just to name a few.

The fact is that we live in a world of constant disruption – both the unplanned and intentional kind.  For businesses and employees, business interruptions mean loss of income, services and potentially customers.

How you bounce back depends largely on how you prepare.  At FEMA, we typically see the more widespread disasters requiring federal assistance. But any business operation can experience an interruption. Not even the federal government is immune.  Just look at the historic snowstorm that shut down Washington, DC, for several days last winter.

The good news is that no matter the scale of an emergency, there are basic precautions everyone can take.  Visit www.Ready.gov (or Ready Business) for practical, low- or no-cost steps that will help safeguard cash flow, reputation, and peace of mind.  Also, consider telework policies to ensure continuity of business, no matter where the work is being done.

Share how your business, organization, and family is preparing for a new year of potential disruptions. As members of the team, it’s up all of us to ensure we’re prepared to bounce back stronger than ever.

What we're watching: 12/17/10

Posted by: Public Affairs

Going into the weekend, here’s what’s on our radar screen:

Potential severe weather
Our friends at the National Weather Service (NWS) are calling for one to three inches of rain for much of the California coast up into Oregon. In the mountainous areas of the region, heavy snow is expected. For the southeast portion of the U.S., forecasters are calling for weekend rain along the north Gulf Coast region. Winter weather is expected to continue for the east coast, and some portions of the region may see snow later this weekend.

Make sure you’re prepared for any severe weather that could come your way this weekend. For more detailed forecasts in your local area, visit the NWS website (or bookmark it on your mobile phone).

A cartoonist's take on Twitter & earthquake notification
For the social media users among us, check out this comic on Twitter users and earthquake notification. Whether it’s true or not, it shows the power of social media in notifying emergency managers of emergency situations.

Last minute holiday shopping
The holiday shopping season is in full gear, and if you’re like us, you still need to find gifts for the hard-to-please. One of the best gifts you can give is the gift of emergency preparedness. It gives people peace of mind, and can ultimately save their life. So if you’re looking for gift ideas, here are some ideas to get you started.

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