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Author: Melissa Wiehenstroer
I’m not ashamed to admit it. Remember the movie with the ragtag team of oil drillers who save the planet from a Texas-sized asteroid? I loved it. Sure, it was an absurd premise, but it made for a great action flick.Hollywood certainly dramatizes the threat of an asteroid impact, but some asteroids are, in fact, potentially hazardous to Earth. Therefore, at FEMA we have to be prepared to respond to them just like any other natural or man-made hazard.An asteroid impact is not a scenario emergency managers are used to dealing with.  They’re more used to things like hurricanes,...
Posted On: November 28, 2016
Author: Jessica Stapf
A famous late-night television host takes part of his show on Friday nights to write out his weekly thank you notes—complete with some “thank you note writing music.” It’s part of his routine and essentially a tradition. When I still lived with my family in New York, one of my own traditions was watching that skit with my brother every week.It appeals to me because I’ve also always been quite fond of the tradition of a handwritten thank you note. There’s something about writing one that makes me feel like I’m showing just a little bit of extra...
Posted On: November 22, 2016
Author: Jocelyn Augustino
As much as a natural disaster can physically tear a community apart, Mother Nature cannot strip away the resilience, perseverance, and hope that surrounds a community following her devastating wrath.As a photographer for FEMA, I have had the unique opportunity to document her fury firsthand on many occasions over the span of twenty-one years as a disaster reservist.On a recent visit to Kinston, North Carolina, while documenting Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts, I stumbled upon the Neuseway Nature Center. I was reminded of the scope of people, places, and surprisingly, the small creatures,...
Posted On: November 4, 2016
Author: Eileen Lainez
My first deployment to a disaster response wasn't the typical first day. But then again, is anything “typical” when it comes to disaster response?My first order of business was to accompany Federal Coordinating Officer Terry Quarles and State Coordinating Officer (Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management) Bryan Koon, to survey and assess Hurricane Matthew damage across the coast.Over the course of three long days (what disaster day isn't long), we visited several counties and saw hundreds of homes. The official objectives were to document first-hand...
Posted On: October 14, 2016
Author: Jessica Stapf
Bravest and finest. Two words you’ve seen associated with police officers and firefighters. (In fact, that’s what they’re referred to in New York City. New York’s bravest are those with the FDNY, the finest are with NYPD.)Those are also two words we’d often use to describe the first responders with know and work with.As floodwaters leftover from Hurricane Matthew continue to rise in some places, we have deployed some of the country’s bravest and finest into those waters to help impacted communities.Over the last several days, the ten teams we’ve...
Posted On: October 10, 2016
Author: Jessica Stapf
It’s officially fall and many people are going pumpkin picking, heading out to apple orchards, and drinking pumpkin spice lattes.But, did you know that the start of fall isn’t the end of hurricane season? It actually doesn’t end until after Thanksgiving.In that vein, we’re quite busy around here because right now we're keeping our eye on Hurricane Matthew in the Atlantic.According to the National Hurricane Center's office in Miami, Matthew is on a course heading straight for Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica and those areas are already seeing the impact.1,2 His track is...
Posted On: October 4, 2016
Author: Jamie Aten, Ph.D
A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2016 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness award ceremony. During my time in Washington, D.C, I had the opportunity to hear from some of our country’s top emergency management leaders.I learned a lot from getting to participate in two full days of activities at FEMA Headquarters and the White House. In fact, I had writer’s cramp from taking down so many notes during the meetings I attended.With today being National PrepareAthon! Day, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share just a few of the key preparedness...
Posted On: September 30, 2016
Author: Roy Wright
My recent visits with Baton Rouge, Louisiana flood survivors reinforce the critical role flood insurance plays in returning our citizens to home, work and school after disasters. Already, nearly 29,000 survivors have filed claims for the flooding in Louisiana, and FEMA has paid out over $400 million to policyholders.One of our priorities at FEMA is to mitigate the impact of natural disasters by building resilient communities and helping Americans recover when damage occurs. A key resiliency resource is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which saves our country $1.7 billion in...
Posted On: September 21, 2016
Author: Michelle Breeland, Craig Crosby
As several storms have recently swept through the Atlantic and Pacific, it’s hard to believe that it has been a full five years since Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee struck the East Coast. As the director and deputy director of Region III’s Individual Assistance Branch, we deployed to Maryland to work directly with the state and support their efforts in responding to and recovering from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.While the storms brought many tragedies, many were avoided because of everyone’s work, including state and federal agencies, voluntary agencies...
Posted On: September 14, 2016
Author: Cora Russell
Editor's Note: This post first appeared on USDA's blog.Incidents described as “thousand year storms and floods” and “the worst U.S. disaster since Hurricane Sandy” claimed the lives of more than 58 people in Louisiana, West Virginia and South Carolina over the last year. These disasters often remind us of the devastating impacts that families and their communities face after they strike.After emergency life saving operations, food and shelter assistance are the most important priorities with which emergency managers must contend. It was during these times that...
Posted On: September 13, 2016