By Andrew Slaten, FEMA International Affairs
FEMA’s International Affairs, and the Consular Corps of Washington held a half-day Disaster Roundtable at the Embassy of Canada, May 22, in Washington. The Roundtable provided information to the consular community in Washington on the interaction of foreign nations in domestic disasters and to provided information that supports international assistance management to a major domestic disaster in the United States.
Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator, spoke to over 55 representatives from the Consular/Diplomatic community in Washington. Manning spoke about preparedness and the need for partnership between the Embassies, Consulates and FEMA to ensure their citizens have access to up-to-date information.
The Consular officers attending the Roundtable represented over 40 countries. The Consular officers serve the citizens of their respective countries who have been or may be impacted by a U.S. disaster, whether they are directly impacted or are attempting to contact friends and family who may have been impacted.
With the events in Moore, Okla., fresh on everyone’s mind, Manning’s message about personal and community preparedness were well received. He emphasized the importance of the Whole Community in preparing for and responding to disaster. The Consular community’s contact with the nearly 30 million foreign-born citizens living in the U.S. on any given day highlights their importance as a member of that Whole Community.
The Consular representatives heard about FEMA social media tools that foreign nationals can access, such as Twitter, and Facebook. Systems for tracing individuals caught up in disaster, what types of disaster assistance their citizens could receive from government and voluntary agencies, as well as how foreign countries might best help the survivors of major disasters in the U.S. through the International Assistance System.
In addition to FEMA, the gathered dignitaries heard from the American National Red Cross, the District of Columbia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions.