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Two Truths and Some Artistic Liberties: FEMA Corps in House of Cards


The release of the third season of the Netflix hit series House of Cards provides a great opportunity to provide some insight into what FEMA Corps is all about. I wanted to use this space to share some truth about the real-life men and women who wear the “FEMA Corps” blue shirts you may have seen onscreen.

*Rest assured – no spoilers here!

FEMA Corps members' t-shirts to promote the program.
FEMA Corps is a real program run by FEMA and the Corporation for National and Community Service. That’s me on the far right in this photo.

Truth: FEMA Corps is a real program.

I’m proud to be a former FEMA Corps member. The FEMA Corps program was created in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service to enable young people to help their communities by getting involved in emergency management and federal service. I served as a Corps Member from August 2013 through May 2014, where I saw firsthand how disasters impact communities across the United States and how programs like FEMA Corps can make a lasting impact. I was able to play a part in the response to the Colorado floods in September 2013. After completing our assignment there, my team and I spent five months working at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Truth: FEMA Corps members really do register people for disaster assistance.

FEMA Corps teams, made up of eight to ten individuals, receive the same training as full-time FEMA staff members in order to ensure that disaster survivors are receiving the assistance they need.

When flooding ravaged several counties in Colorado, my fellow Corps Members and I were on the scene -- helping FEMA staff work to make sure disaster assistance went where it needed to go. That could mean going door-to-door in disaster-impacted areas or working at a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center like in this photo:

A FEMA Corps member helps an affected resident register for assistance.
Yes, FEMA Corps members are trained to register people for federal disaster assistance.

Finally, a myth: Anyone is eligible to be a FEMA Corps member.

As a program run through AmeriCorps, normal FEMA Corps members can be between the ages of 18-24 years old. This may have been portrayed differently on the show. However, there are plenty of opportunities for more experienced individuals to serve as Team Leaders.

As a former FEMA Corps member and current FEMA employee, it’s exciting to see the program become more familiar to folks across the country – not just because of a cameo on a popular Netflix series. The FEMA Corps program and its members are worthy of this recognition because of the great work they do every day to make our communities safer and more resilient.

If you or someone you know may be interested in becoming a FEMA Corps member, the application period is open until April 1.

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From our lawyers: This post is for informational purposes only. FEMA does not endorse or recommend any third party services, TV shows, or organizations.

Last Updated: 
06/02/2017 - 09:22


FEMA Corps builds on the great work of AmeriCorps to establish a service cadre dedicated to disaster response and recover. To be sure, responding to disasters is nothing new for Americorps. In fact, the great work that AmeriCorps already does during disasters was the inspiration for FEMA Corps. When I visited communities all over the country that were devastated by disasters, from Joplin, MO to Bastrop, Texas, I always encountered the incredible members of AmeriCorps lending a helping hand to survivors. I was continually struck by the level of compassion, dedication, and skill these members brought to the table.