By Susana Columna, FEMA External Affairs, DR-4085-NY
FEMA Corps is a new workforce in emergency management. Still, when some members were deployed to serve with FEMA’s repetitive loss property documentation teams in New York, they impressed many with their diligence and dedication.
FEMA Corps is a partnership between AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and FEMA that introduces individuals ages 18-24 to potential careers in emergency management.
In all, 25 FEMA Corps members worked on inspecting Repetitive Loss Properties for the National Flood Insurance Program, gathering tax assessor information, taking photographs, collecting flood map data and entering all the information into a large database. The repetitive loss teams’ work is part of a larger effort to reduce the impact of flooding on properties that have repetitive flood insurance claims. FEMA has been surveying RLPs throughout New York in the wake of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, which were a year apart and caused widespread damage in the state.
Because FEMA Corps had no experience with these types of inspections, some of the Mitigation staff was initially skeptical of giving them the task. “But now, we work for them,” says Jerry Frye, the floodplain management crew lead who manages the six teams. “There’s some real talent in the FEMA Corps.”
The FEMA Corps team has helped to complete 2,983 inspections in just seven weeks while undergoing extensive emergency management training and committing several hours a week to physical training and independent service projects.
Completing that many inspections in such little time was no small feat. FEMA Corps’ Green Team 2 members Diana Beltran, Lily Van and Trestin Powell started sending their information via their iPads as soon as they completed each inspection. This innovation sped the process up considerably.
“Many on the teams have demonstrated that they can be relied upon as leaders,” says Andy John, a FEMA Corps team leader. “After they exceed their daily goals, they volunteer to assist other teams with their inspections.”
FEMA repetitive loss teams expect to complete the majority of the RLP inspections by May 31 with the help of FEMA Corps. There are approximately 3,800 RLPs in the five boroughs of New York City.
“FEMA Corps does the heavy lifting with documentation,” said Jeff Rowbotham, who serves as overall coordinator of FEMA Corps and all RLP documentation work. “They do the majority of the inspections and have been invaluable to the RLP inspection process.”
Ultimately, the information the teams are collecting will be shared with FEMA headquarters and local jurisdictions to help determine what can be done to address repetitive loss.