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From Boston: Snowed In & Plugged In

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snow drfit in boston neighborhood
A snow drift in my neighborhood. Shoveling snow becomes a massive job after a blizzard dumps multiple feet of snow on city streets.
I’m Eilis and I work in FEMA’s Region 1 office in Boston. Right now, wind is whipping snow around my Charlestown apartment, and the typically busy intersection right outside my door is completely deserted - not a car in sight! I’m in the midst of what Twitter has dubbed #snowmageddon2015. Although the city of Boston is almost completely shut down (no running subway and a driving ban in place) I’m happily working away inside, safe and warm and fully in touch with the rest of my coworkers. As you can imagine, we don’t have snow days at FEMA - on the contrary, we may end up working overtime! Which means it’s crucial that we’re able to do our jobs well even if a blizzard makes roads impassable and knocks out power.

Part of that means each employee doing their own preparation for disasters (think solar chargers for your cell phone, hand-crank weather radios, non-perishable food, and water).  We also have plans in place as an agency that we practice and test on the regular.  Most of our staff is equipped to work effectively from home or an alternative location – it’s all part of being an emergency manager. That means having systems set up for conference calls, virtual meetings, and tracking our tasks.

On Saturday when the internet began to rumble with rumors about a big storm headed toward the Northeast, we knew those plans would be put to the test. By the time most sports fans were kicking back for some quality Pro Bowl watching on Sunday night, our staff, along with all six New England states, were gearing up for a different kind of game time.  

Thanks to that kind of preparation, we’re still in close communication with our state partners, standing by to assist with any needs they may have in responding to and recovering from this storm. During this phase, communication is key, and snowstorms (and other disasters) sometimes do their best to break down our means of getting in touch with each other. We spend lots of time preparing for days like these—and our communications experts are always working hard to get us equipped with things like Wi-Fi hotspots on our cell phones to keep us connected. These tools help us accomplish FEMA’s mission when we need access to each other and our emergency management partners.

Like the rest of our team, I have my work cut out for me today, and while I may be wearing slippers instead of boots, it’s another full workday for me (with a bit of shoveling at the end of it).

snowy street looking over at a school
Schools around Boston were closed Tuesday for impacts of the winter storm.
Last Updated: 
06/02/2017 - 09:21

Comments

I live in Houston. Just what the heck is a "snow day" anyway? I've lived in Houston all of my 70 years and I don't recall anything about any "snow day." Do you snow-job and brown-nose your teacher or boss? How come Houston never has any "snow days?"

Great article (what I could read of it). Your site does not work well on mobile. No zooming or scrolling which means I can't see the right edge of the article. Love what you do and would love to be able to read more about it on my mobile device (Galaxy S4; Chrome browser)

YOU HAVE RECOVERY AND I WAS IN A STORM IN MASSACHUSETTS AND MY DAUGHTER, HER KIDS AND MY SON DISAPPEARED AND DO YOU STILL DO RECOVERY ON MISSING PERSON AFTER A STORM. THE POLICE AND RESPONSE DON'T DO THAT KIND OF WORK. MISSING PERSON IS OLDER AND ROAD OR AREA MIGHT HAVE FALLEN AWAY AND THEY RETARD IT. EVEN THE ARE I WAS IN DISAPPEARED SO DID ALL THE SCHOOL AND REPORT RECORDS IN THAT AREA BECAUSE THEY NO LONGER WORK LIKE THAT.

Dear Ellis, Thank you for your inspiring piece. Quite a lead-in for me today, to think further about my own preparation, not only for my family, but also as a contributing team member here at FEMA. Regards, John

Thanks for this posting and pics. Looks like everyone is tucked in. I worry about individuals/families who are homeless, elderly, low income, ready to deliver a baby, and people with communication and physical disabilities.

Thank you for posting this, very informative and motivates me to even be more prepared!

Very nice. An easy read and a new platform for me.