LINCROFT, N.J. -- When a major disaster strikes, the first steps agencies take are health and safety related – controlling damage, minimizing casualties, finding shelter for displaced victims.
When the initial burst of activity has subsided, the focus changes to helping affected people and businesses get vital information on recovery plans and financial assistance. Helping people cope with the aftermath of a disaster and teaching them how to prepare for future emergencies also becomes a priority.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency collaborated with several other government agencies, public and private organizations and area businesses to educate New Jersey residents after Superstorm Sandy.
FEMA also supported Church World Service’s Recovery Tools and Training workshops for volunteer groups helping with post-Sandy recovery. More than 400 people attended a January session to obtain background information, resources and national contacts to assist in long-term recovery.
The Community Education and Outreach section of FEMA’s Mitigation Branch promoted effective hazard mitigation ideas and techniques through community education, outreach, training and coordination with public and private sectors. CEO specialists worked with other branches of FEMA as well as other government agencies and private organizations. Programs based around the mantra of “rebuilding stronger, safer and smarter” made contact with nearly 61,000 people in the months following the storm.
FEMA representatives from the Private Sector and Hazard Mitigation programs, along with officials from the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, attended three Lakewood BlueClaws baseball games in 2013, collecting donated preparedness supplies and distributing informational materials to affected residents.
On July 27, FEMA outreach specialists were present at 13 Home Depot locations in New Jersey, including several in communities severely impacted by Sandy, as part of the
store’s hurricane preparedness workshops held on the East Coast. They distributed information on the National Flood Insurance Program, disaster preparedness and mitigation.
FEMA Private Sector specialists took part in the Sam’s Club Emergency Preparedness Expo at the store’s Edison, N.J., location on Aug. 27. The expo hosted government agencies from all levels and private organizations showcasing the assistance they can grant to individuals and small businesses. Representatives from Mitigation were at the
New Jersey Meadowlands State Fair distributing information.
FEMA Corps Launches School Programs
Members of FEMA Corps, a division of AmeriCorps created by FEMA and AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps, implemented its FEMA for Kids program in New Jersey in April 2013. In April and May, FEMA for Kids visited 21 schools and community-based programs in areas affected by Superstorm Sandy, and more than 5,000 elementary and middle school children attended the events. The interactive programs teach children how to prepare for and respond to disasters, as well as allowing them to express their concerns about the effect Superstorm Sandy has had on their lives and families. The website www.ready.gov/kids has FEMA for Kids program information for children, parents and educators. Corps members also created FEMA Connect, a similar program for high school students. It had more than 600 participants in New Jersey. The group recruits people ages 18-24 to assist with disaster response, recovery operations and community outreach.
Corps members also prepared and edited the New Jersey Resource Guide, which contains nearly 625 profiles of federal programs, private foundations and corporate giving programs.
“These kind of activities are very good because we get a lot of exposure and people know that we are here for them and that we are in their neighborhood, that we're doing the same things they are doing,” FEMA mitigation specialist Ofelia Garayua said.
Next, the One Year Later series examines the impact of Superstorm Sandy on New Jersey schools.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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