Together as One: On Board and Making a Difference in the Lives of Those in Need

Main Content

In rare circumstances, disasters of extraordinary size occur, such as Sandy—a hurricane which devastated America’s eastern seaboard last week.  Due to the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy, FEMA’s workforce and efforts were strengthened as the entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS) came together as one team to staff a Surge Capacity Force.

The Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act directs the DHS Secretary to create an employee volunteer force, named the Surge Capacity Force. These employees are from DHS and other federal agencies. In addition, they must be willing to be deployed to a disaster location to help FEMA with response and recovery support. 

Surge Capacity Force volunteers in training








For the first time, Secretary Napolitano activated the Surge Capacity Force on November 1, 2012 to support FEMA with response and recovery efforts in New York and New Jersey, only days after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc.

On November 5, 2012, expressing nothing but pride and appreciation to all the volunteers from across the Department, the Deputy Secretary of DHS, Jane Holl Lute, addressed approximately 400 volunteers from the DHS’s Surge Capacity Force at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, MD, where volunteers received a two day training on Individual Assistance and Community Relations before heading out into the field.

Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute speaks to members of the Surge Capacity Force.









This was a momentous occasion as approximately 400 volunteers showed the true meaning of DHS’ motto, “Comprised of Many, Performing as One.” The first wave of volunteers, includes personnel from the following agencies:

  • Transportation Security Administration;
  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  • Coast Guard;
  • Secret Service;
  • Customs and Border Protection;
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and
  • Department of Homeland Security Headquarters.

The Surge Capacity Force volunteers are excited and enthusiastic about their efforts ahead to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Volunteers have completed their Community Relations training and have deployed to NY to help those in need.  They are now “on board” in more ways than one, with accommodations provided on the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s training ship, the T. S. Kennedy, sent to New York City to serve as a “no-frills hotel” for the Surge Capacity Force volunteers and other first responders helping the region recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Surge Capacity Force volunteers are just one example of how the Department of Homeland Security stands united to help those in need.  The next wave of 400 volunteers arrives at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, MD on November 8.

  Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute speaks to members of the Surge Capacity Force.









Emmitsburg, Md., Nov. 6, 2012 -- Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Lute, addressed newly trained Community Relations Specialists at the USFA's National Emergency Training Center. With a cheering and energized crowd of 392 DHS employees from across the department, Deputy Secretary Lute expressed the nation's gratitude, wishes for safe deployments and led the 392 employees through stories from New Jersey and the importance of their work. For her efforts, Deputy Secretary Lute received a rousing and uplifting standing ovation.

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
Back to Top