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Author: Daniel Kaniewski, PhD
Major disasters persistently test our nation’s capacity to recover and adapt. As the 2017 calendar year came to a close, more than 25 million Americans (nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population) had been affected by unprecedented disasters.  The range of disasters from flooding, hurricanes or wildfires and the significant losses didn’t affect just one person or one family, the impact of these events is felt by us all.More than anything else, 2017 highlighted the need for the nation to change the way we prepare for and mitigate against future hazards. We need to change the way...
Posted On: January 11, 2018
Author: Jocelyn Norman
How did we deliver more than 3,500 pounds of food and water to an isolated community in central Puerto Rico cut off from the rest of the island due to a collapsed bridge? The obvious answer is by helicopter, but when the only safe place to land is a mile away from the town and the vehicles needed to transport the supplies are out of gas, what then?A shopping cart turned out to be the key.But this was no ordinary shopping cart. The people of Rio Abajo, a community in Utuado, put their ingenuity to use by creating a pulley system with the cart to span the void left by the collapsed bridge.After...
Posted On: January 9, 2018
Author: Jocelyn Norman
People didn’t expect Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to be an innovator in a disaster, yet that is exactly what happened during the Hurricane Maria response.“Anytime, anywhere,” probably doesn’t mean much for most people, but for the more than 6,000 employees of Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Department of Homeland Security, it is a promise to help no matter the circumstances.When FEMA activated thousands of federal responders, 268 members of 17 investigation teams from 14 cities answered...
Posted On: January 8, 2018
Author: Roy Wright
After last year’s devastating floods in Texas and Florida, I saw firsthand how critical flood insurance is for recovery after extreme events. But too few Americans have the proper coverage for their homes. As we shift the nation’s mindset about preparedness, closing the insurance coverage gap for homeowners and renters stands as a critical path for each of us to consider. It is time to think beyond our standard, historical approaches and work towards much needed growth and resiliency in the flood insurance market.In 2017, FEMA took a significant step to shift the conventional...
Posted On: January 5, 2018
Author: Jessica Stapf
In the early-to-mid nineties, the term “bomb” was slang for something that was awesome or really cool. Now, all my “fellow kids” are using it (and other flowery terms) to describe what is a rapidly intensifying nor’easter: the “bomb cyclone.”According to the National Weather Service, a nor’easter is:“A strong low pressure system that affects the Mid-Atlantic and New England States. It can form over land or over the coastal waters. These winter weather events are notorious for producing heavy snow, rain, and tremendous waves that crash onto...
Posted On: January 4, 2018
Author: Jessica Stapf
Year in review. Top 100 [albums or songs or articles—you name it, there’s a list]. It’s, once again, the time of year where publications big and small, and even individuals take a step back and look at the last twelve months and all that has happened.2017, to put it in the most rudimentary terms, has been monumental, particularly as it pertains to disasters; it was one for the record books.With the first storm of the year occurring in late April with Arlene, prior to the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, the stage was set for a season that would be out of the...
Posted On: January 3, 2018
Author: Jessica Stapf
Over the last two days, parts of southern California have been wrought by sudden, violent wildfires. This may sound eerily familiar, as other parts of the state faced similar, sudden onset fire emergencies earlier this year.The southern California fires, the Thomas fire in Ventura County and the Creek and Rye fires in Los Angeles County, have been raging and swiftly heading toward areas that are heavily populated and full of rich cultural history. However, those facts don’t matter to fires.  Local officials have issued evacuation orders for places they believe these fires may be...
Posted On: December 6, 2017
Author: Roy Wright
In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, I have visited the homes of many flood survivors. This year I can be more confident than ever that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will be there to pay their claims.November 30 marked the end of the 2017 hurricane season, the second largest claims year in the NFIP’s history. As of November 30, more than 122,000 survivors have filed claims for the recent floods, and FEMA has paid over $6.687 billion in flood insurance claims related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.Before the storms of 2017 were even developing, we took a...
Posted On: December 5, 2017
Author: Nancy Rebek
“I know these people, and I can tell you they gave with their hearts.”Surrounded by over 100 colleagues, Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn presented members of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve with bins of donated new toys, including over 10 new bikes and helmets.  The toys were collected by employees deployed in support of Hurricane Irma at the Joint Field Office in Orlando and branch offices throughout the state of Florida.“Our people work under difficult conditions; they are away from home and loved ones during the holiday season,” said Nunn. “Through...
Posted On: November 29, 2017
Author: Andrew Slaten
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Government of Mexico generously reached out to the United States to offer life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to survivors in Puerto Rico. Even as Mexico was recovering from several disasters of its own, Mexican authorities worked closely with FEMA’s International Affairs Division to determine what assistance was most urgent for Puerto Rico. The Government of Mexico committed $100,000 for the purchase of humanitarian aid, and also dispatched Mexican experts to support recovery efforts.September saw Mexico struck by two hurricanes, Katia...
Posted On: November 16, 2017