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Author: Brig. Gen. Diana Holland
I will never forget the sadness I felt when I first flew over Puerto Rico in the days following Hurricane Maria. It looked as though a fireball had made landfall and burned a path through the center of the island. It was heartbreaking. As the commander of the South Atlantic Division, with responsibility for the southeastern United States, the Caribbean, and the landmass south of the US-Mexico border, I felt responsible and obligated to do whatever possible to make a difference here and restore normalcy.The Corps is performing many important missions in Puerto Rico in support of FEMA and the...
Posted On: October 14, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Editor's Note: On October 7, we updated the title of this blog to reflect the new status of the storm. October for many brings thoughts of postseason baseball and pumpkin spice lattes. For us, it doesn’t change a whole lot, just the page of the calendar and maybe our coffee preferences, as we continue to monitor the potential for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic.Hurricane season doesn’t actually end until November—after the revelry of Thanksgiving has finished and some places in northern parts of the country have already seen their first snowfalls.This...
Posted On: October 5, 2017
Author: Jacob Vawter
On August 29, during a phone call with President Trump, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offered a detachment of Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) CH-47 Chinook helicopters to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The Chinooks and their crew have participated in joint training with the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG) since 1996. President Trump accepted Singapore’s offer and FEMA was tasked with integrating the assets into the overall response effort.FEMA coordinated closely with the Department of Defense’s Northern Command and the National Guard to ensure...
Posted On: October 3, 2017
Author: FEMA Public Affairs
(Español) On August 25, 2017, FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) was fully activated to a Level I with all emergency support functions operational, including Department of Defense (DoD) liaisons in preparation for Hurricane Harvey. The NRCC remains at a Level I activation. Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Maria, federal personnel were already positioned on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in response to Hurricane Irma.These personnel included federal coordinating officers and Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) on both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto...
Posted On: September 29, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Two hurricanes, Irma and Maria, have devastated the Caribbean in quick succession, causing an unprecedented amount of damage.Because the storms traveled so closely together, the teams we had deployed and were already on the ground in response to Irma had to shelter in place during Maria, choosing their shelter-in-place locations wisely.Now that the storms have passed, the response and recovery can begin.Federal agencies have come together to provide a variety of resources for impacted communities.Nearly 7,000 federal employees are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to...
Posted On: September 23, 2017
Author: Roy Wright
Normally, I spend my days at work sitting (or standing) at a desk in a windowless office in Washington, D.C., answering email, taking conference calls, and talking to experts about flood insurance and risk reduction. These are topics I am passionate about, but let’s be honest, most people don’t spend their days thinking about floods and risk. It’s a little different—a little out of the ordinary.But flooding is important. And its consequences are devastating. When flood waters enter a home, they don’t flow like treated water from a swimming pool. Floodwaters...
Posted On: September 21, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Over the years there have been several news articles to come out about a little something called the “Waffle House Index.” This index is pretty ingenious—it relies on the open or closed status of the well-known diner chain in disaster-affected areas.The index itself isn’t just about whether or not you can get pralines on your waffles or if you can get waffles at all, but rather about the damage in a neighborhood.If a Waffle House can serve a full menu, they’ve likely got power (or are running on a generator). A limited menu means an area may not have running...
Posted On: September 20, 2017
Author: Linda Mastandrea
Disasters can be devastating for those who are left in the aftermath, but the effects are often amplified for people with disabilities.  As the senior disability integration advisor to FEMA Administrator Brock Long, it is my responsibility to provide direct support and counsel on disability integration needs in support of response and recovery operations.  I am supported by more than 100 disability integration advisors who are on the ground in areas across the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, working with federal coordinating officers, interagency, and state, local, tribal,...
Posted On: September 20, 2017
Author: Carl Levon Kustin
On Saturday, September 9 I received an email from my daughter, Rachelle, notifying me that a friend of hers had not heard from his mother since Hurricane Irma hit the island of St. Thomas where she lives next to her sister. When I received the email, we knew that St. Thomas received extensive damage with very little communication capability. I also did not know where I would be assigned. I kept the email in my pocket and was prepared to forward it to whoever was assigned the responsibility of conducting welfare checks in her neighborhood.What I did not tell my daughter was that the last time...
Posted On: September 19, 2017
Author: Jacob Vawter
Editor's Note: Updated on September 15In keeping with a tradition of cross-border emergency assistance, on August 28 the Government of Canada offered its assistance to the United States following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.After receiving Canada’s offer to support Harvey relief efforts, FEMA’s International Affairs Division, in consultation with Mass Care experts in the National Response Coordination Center, identified select pediatric supplies including cribs, pillows, and baby formula as being a critical need for many survivors.  Responding to a formal request...
Posted On: September 9, 2017