HOLYOKE, MA -- State and local officials attended one of two Open Houses held last week to provide an opportunity for attendees to hear first hand about State and Federal support, including Public Assistance and Mitigation programs, available during disaster declarations.
The first Open House was held on Wednesday, February 4th at the Joint Field Office (JFO) in Holyoke MA. This office is set up temporarily by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with the impacted states. The JFO was established to support disaster recovery operations from the December 11th ice storm which resulted in presidential disaster declarations for Massachusetts and Vermont. The second Open House was held at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) located at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) headquarters in Framingham on Friday, February 6th.
The attendees were addressed by Federal and State officials on topics including Public Assistance, Mitigation Grant Programs, and Joint Field Office Operations. Additionally, the attendees in Holyoke received a tour of the Joint Field Office to gain a better understanding of the available subject matter expertise that is brought to a state when a presidential disaster is declared. A similar tour was held in Framingham.
Federal Coordinating Officer Mark H. Landry told attendees, "Bringing folks in to the Joint Field Office provides an opportunity for you to ask questions about FEMA programs, disaster operations and any other issues we can address while you are here." Landry continued, "Transparency is critical in everything we do. The more you understand, the better prepared we all are to respond now and in the future."
MEMA Director Don Boyce discussed the importance of the partnership between the Federal and State agencies when responding to an emergency such as the December 11th ice storm that prompted the presidential declaration. "These Open Houses help to demonstrate the value of strong partnerships at all levels of government. In addition, local officials are now better informed about the key programs which help their communities recover from the ice storm."
The Joint Field Office will be operational as long as is necessary to support the disaster recovery operations in both Vermont and Massachusetts.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.