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Author: Jessica Stapf
Scorched trees now line the roads where children played and parents drove to work. Ash and soot blanket everything—like dust settles on unmoved furniture. The sunrise is hazy with smoke that fills the air with a sweet scent, yet the ground is littered with bitter remnants.Communities across the Fort McMurray area in Alberta, Canada have faced tragically beautiful scenes like these since fires sparked at the beginning of May. Conditions continue to remain tough—with the Fort McMurray-area wildfires taking up 522,892 hectares (nearly 1.3 million acres for those of us who prefer...
Posted On: May 23, 2016
Author: Helen Lowman
Unlike most natural disasters, hurricanes rarely take us by surprise. There’s a season (June 1 – November 30) when forecasters can see hurricanes developing off the coast, hundreds of miles away, and  can track them as they move closer to land. However, when they hit, high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and even tornadoes are all part of the hurricane package that can really pack a punch. That’s why if you live in an area where hurricanes are a threat, now is the time to prepare. Watch this short animation about hurricane...
Posted On: May 19, 2016
Author: Craig Fugate
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on the National Hurricane Center's "Inside the Eye" blog. Hurricane season is almost here. The season officially starts June 1 and ends November 30. During these seven months, forecasters watch hurricanes as they develop hundreds of miles off the coast. While we may see a hurricane coming, we won’t know the impact it will have on a community until well after landfall. To ensure the safety of you and your family, don’t wait until it's too late to prepare; know your zone today.   It only takes one...
Posted On: May 16, 2016
Author: Thomas "T.J." Dargan
In the summer of 2014, the Carlton Complex Fire burned more than 250,000 acres of land, the largest wildfire in the history of Washington. The next summer, wildfires scorched more than 1 million acres in the Evergreen State. Most sadly, three firefighters lost their lives in an outbreak one sheriff called a "hellstorm." The 2015 Okanogan Complex Fire alone burned more than 500,000 acres — now crowned the largest in state history.As the federal coordinating officer, it’s my job to support the state and ensure FEMA aid — about $145 million in the long run —...
Posted On: May 10, 2016
Author: Helen Lowman
You’ve heard the expression “spread like wildfire,” right? Well, there’s a good reason for that. Wildfires can start in an instant – sometimes from a flash of lightning or the quick careless flick of a cigarette. And if that happens in the summertime or during a period when there’s been little to no rain then dry brush, grass, and trees can quickly fuel that fire.Wildfires can happen anywhere in the country so here are some things you should do to make sure you’re ready:Have a Go Bag with essential items you can grab-and-go because every minute counts...
Posted On: May 5, 2016
Author: Jessica Stapf
“Check out this embarrassing photo from five years ago!” an unnamed social network tells me every morning promptly at 8:45. You could set your alarm by it. (Half the time, that buzzing notification is my alarm.) Social media flashbacks are all the rage these days and have been for quite some time. “Throwback Thursday,” “Flashback Friday,” the memories and archive apps we know and love. They’re everywhere.For some, these apps and posting trends bring back fond memories like junior prom or college graduation. For some, these apps don’t bring back...
Posted On: April 29, 2016
Author: Helen Lowman
I couldn’t believe it. The other day I was at my friend’s book club meeting in Seattle and people starting talking about disaster preparedness. Hearing the discussion actually filled me with joy.Why? Because my job as Director of FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division is all about encouraging people to prepare for disasters. It’s a conversation too few Americans are having, so when I listened to my friends sharing their disaster preparedness strategies during our book club time, it made me smile.We’ve made tremendous progress but, still, more than...
Posted On: April 25, 2016
Author: Helen Lowman
Spring is a great time here in Washington, DC.  The cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and it’s when I start packing away my winter clothes and preparing for warmer weather. However, with these temperature changes comes a threat many people aren’t prepared for: tornadoes.  They’re violent and fast-moving, and can arrive with little warning when one is about to strike.  That’s why it’s absolutely critical to be informed and know where to go for safety. Here are some things you can do right now to prepare.Sign up for local text alerts and...
Posted On: April 18, 2016
Author: Helen Lowman
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live – on the coast, in a rural area or in a metropolitan city – we’re all at risk of being affected by a flood. What makes flooding dangerous is that it can happen quickly and often with very little warning – and the effects can be devastating if you’re not prepared. Here are a few important things all of us can do right now to be ready for a possible flood.Sign up for local weather alerts and warnings. Probably the most important thing is...
Posted On: April 12, 2016
Author: Shayne Adamski
There are a ton of things competing for our attention in real life and online, and each one of us has different ways to stay organized and on-track with to do lists. For some, it’s a new sheet of paper every day or a bullet journal. For others, it’s tons of sticky notes strategically placed around the desk. And for the digitally inclined, it’s the latest organizer app.Your to do list may look something like this:Go grocery shoppingPay the billsCall momTake the dog to the vetCheck smoke alarmsWait, what? Check smoke alarms?That last item may not be on your to do list, but it...
Posted On: April 6, 2016