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Preparing for this Year’s Hurricane Season

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Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted on the White House Blog.

Today marks the start of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Under the direction of President Obama, FEMA and DHS stand ready to support our state and local partners as the tropics start to produce their annual cyclones, storms, and hurricanes. On Wednesday, I joined Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano as well as partners from NOAA, DOE, the Army Corps of Engineers, and representatives from states and the private sector to brief the President on steps FEMA and our partners have already taken to meet the challenges of the 2012 hurricanes season. That briefing underscored the importance of the whole community, from the federal government to individual citizens, working together to get prepared before a potential storm threatens a region, state, or community.

Long before the start of this year’s hurricane season, FEMA has worked closely with our partners at the state, local and tribal levels. This includes openly sharing information and expertise that will improve resiliency across our nation, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and families. For FEMA, building relationships before a disaster strikes is vital to working closely together during and after an emergency situation.

But government doesn’t prepare for and respond to disasters alone. Right alongside are the hundreds of businesses, voluntary agencies, and faith- and community-based organizations who provide vital services to both communities and individuals affected by disasters. Some of these organizations provide for basic needs like food, water, and shelter – while others respond to needs such as financial consulting, animal sheltering, or help processing your insurance claim.

While all the players I mentioned play a part in keeping our nation and neighborhoods safer in case disaster strikes – these efforts will fall flat unless individuals take part in their own preparedness. Fortunately, the short amount of time and effort it takes to make our families and homes safer is well worth the payoff if an emergency should happen. For example, here are three simple steps you can take today:

So as we move into the traditional start of the Atlantic hurricane season, I encourage you to respond to the important role you play as part of the emergency management team. You can start with one of the three steps I listed out above, or by pledging to prepare at Ready.gov/hurricanes.

Joplin and Recovery: A Thought Provoking Discussion during the May Think Tank Call

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A little over one year ago, on May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado tore through the city of Joplin, MO and surrounding areas. This tornado caused significant damage and tragic loss of 161 lives. I was on the ground less than 15 hours after the event and saw firsthand the inspiration leadership displayed by community leaders. I drew inspiration from the people of Joplin-how the leaders gave hope to the residents of Joplin and hope to the country. And that is why I chose Joplin as the location for the May Think Tank Conference Call. It was an opportunity to return almost a year later and listen to community leaders while they shared their experiences and lessons learned with over 30 community members at Missouri Southern State University and more than 500 people on the phone nationwide.

The resilience of the community has been nothing short of amazing, which is both a testament to the city’s inspirational leadership and to some of the pre-planning that took place. In case you missed the call, here’s a quick recap.

Recovery Efforts in Joplin

Dr. Bruce Speck, President of MSSU, spoke about the integral role that the University played in helping the community recover. “Only three weeks before the tornado hit we finalized an agreement with the American Red Cross to serve as an emergency shelter. At the time, some may have wondered when we would ever be called to serve such a need. Little did we know that need was lying just ahead of us and would test our strength and resilience in a way we'd never imagined.” Soon after the tornado, MSSU stepped in and offered its campus as a shelter, surge medical clinic, and volunteer coordination point, among a number of other things.

Other speakers from Joplin included those first on the scene, like Mark Rohr, the City Manager of Joplin, and Keith Stammer, Director of the Jasper County Emergency Management Agency. Both have been integral to the response and ongoing recovery efforts of the communities affected by the tornado. Callers asked many questions about their experiences and lessons learned throughout the recovery efforts. Rohr stressed the need for strong local leadership and continued communication with the people affected by the disaster, while Stammer focused on the value of preexisting relationships and agreements such as the one between MSSU and the American Red Cross.

Jane Cage, Chair of Citizens Advisory Recovery Team, and Stephanie Brady, Director of Programs at the Independent Living Center, also spoke about their efforts. Cage and Brady’s comments supported the lessons learned that were shared by Rohr and Stammer. Brady discussed her role in representing the disability community in Joplin. Cage spoke about the impact that volunteers can have on a community’s recovery. Rohr pointed out that there were 130,000 volunteers for 755,000 hours of community service, valued at over $17 million and more than 82 years' worth of community service. Each story and lesson learned provided all the participants, myself included, with valuable lessons and insight into the recovery process. For more insight into the inspiration efforts of these community leaders, I encourage you to read this article from the Boston Globe.

Integrating Planning for Recovery

The second topic of the call focused on how to integrate recovery into all planning, stakeholder engagement, community participation, and Tribal and Federal partnerships. Deb Ingram, Assistant Administrator for FEMA’s Recovery Directorate, provided information about the National Disaster Recovery Framework and stressed the importance of the whole community coming together in pre-disaster recovery planning including economic, health and social services, infrastructure, schools and housing partners.

Amanda Phan from the Fairfax County, Virginia Office of Emergency Management, spoke about the comprehensive pre-disaster recovery plan recently completed by her office, highlighting the number the stakeholders involved in its creation. Phan explained some of the successful pieces of their planning process, such as how to get stakeholders engaged in the project.

I commend the people of Joplin for their resilience and the extraordinary progress that the city has made in less than a year. I would also like to thank everyone that worked, and continue to work, to help Joplin recovery. The team of citizens, volunteers, local, state, and federal government partners is essential; and has been an amazing source of hope to the survivors and country as a whole.

For the next Think Tank conference call, FEMA is partnering with Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within the Department of Health and Human Services. The theme for the June call is Emergency Management, Healthcare and Public Health: Increasing Coordination and Collaboration and will take place on June 28.

Please submit your ideas and comments on this theme, or on any topic related to emergency management, to the Think Tank Online Forum. A full transcript of the May 15 conference call is available on the FEMA Think Tank page

Target: Preparedness helps build strong, healthy, and safe communities

Editor's Note: The views expressed by Bryan Strawser do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, entities, or services.

At Target, ensuring our guests, team members, local communities, and our facilities are prepared for emergencies is a critical part of what we do on Target’s Global Crisis Management Team.

Target’s Corporate Command Center, or “C3”, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, monitoring events around the globe that could impact our guests, team members, and local communities. C3 keeps in close contact with teams across the country so that we can prepare for, and quickly respond to, almost any situation.

We believe that the more guests and team members are prepared in advance of a disaster, the easier it is for communities to quickly recover. People who are prepared required fewer services from relief agencies, allowing organizations to concentrate their efforts on those most affected by a disaster.

We help our team members prepare for disaster at home by providing tips on how to keep themselves and their family's safe. We provide an emergency hotline they can call if they are affected by a disaster. Target also provides education and resources so that Target team members are prepared to help Target respond to and recover from disasters that may affect our company and our communities.

Target has plans in place for all of our facilities to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recovery from disasters. At Target, we believe that if we as a company can recover quickly from disasters that affect our company and team members, we are better able to help our communities get back on their feet quickly. We also know that by doing so, we’re able to help lift the load off of our public sector partners.

Our planning combined with the real time monitoring and response capability within our Corporate Command Center allows Target to ensure that our stores and local communities have the supplies they need before and after a disaster hits. For example, during Hurricane Irene last year, we quickly shipped pre-staged merchandise in our distribution centers to stores from the Carolinas up to our northernmost stores in Maine. This helped our guests and team members have the emergency supplies that they needed to prepare for and respond to the disaster.

We don’t do any of this alone. Target has a long standing commitment to providing support for disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery efforts. One of our most important partners is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with whom we share information before, during, and after a disaster strikes. In advance of a disaster, information from FEMA helps us understand the potential impact and make preparedness decisions to ensure our guests and team members are safe. During and after a disaster, we share information on the recovery of our stores and assistance that we’re providing to the local community with FEMA, while receiving additional information that helps us quickly recover our stores and local communities.

Learn more about Target’s Command Center in this recent story by Minneapolis TV Station KARE-11.

Bryan Strawser is Target’s Senior Group Manager for Global Crisis Management. He leads a diverse team of executives in a comprehensive effort to mitigate risk, minimize loss and business disruptions, and provide a safe and secure environment for Target and the communities it serves. His areas of responsibility include business continuity management, crisis operations, global intelligence, and Target’s two corporate command centers.

Lessons from Andrew: CNN’s John Zarrella

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Editor’s Note: John Zarrella is responsible for CNN's coverage of news in Florida, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Since joining CNN, he has covered every major hurricane to hit Florida and the Gulf Coast.

The views expressed by John Zarrella do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, entities, or services.

As we drove south on Florida’s turnpike the damage was getting worse with every mile. At first as I looked to the east and west, it was just trees and power lines down. A bit further road signs and light poles were sprawled across the highway as the first real glimpse of Hurricane Andrew’s destructive force came into view.

By the time we reached Cutler Ridge in South Miami, roofs were gone, facades crumbled, buildings split open. With so much debris now covering the turnpike, we couldn’t go any further.

It was about ten a.m., just five hours after Andrew bulldozed a path of pain and suffering and death across South Florida. The real misery, no homes to come home to, no power, no water, no gasoline, wouldn’t set in for days. When it did, the misery lingered like a fog that wouldn’t lift.

As we walked through what was left of one home, the woman turned to me and said, “Have you ever felt the devil breathing down your neck? We had the devil here last night.” I’ve often wondered during the past twenty years, how she and her family made out. With street signs gone and one demolished neighborhood looking just like the next, we never found her home again.

Much has changed since that August day. The neighborhoods have been rebuilt. Homes are stronger thanks to new building codes that rose up from the rubble Andrew left behind. But when I talk with the experts, there is a real fear that many of us are still not as prepared as we should be despite Andrew and Katrina and Ike and Rita and Wilma and Charlie.

Why? Here’s a case study. I recall quite vividly just twenty-four hours after Wilma, a category three storm, hit Broward County, Florida hard the lines for water and gasoline and propane and groceries sprung up everywhere. People were driving to the west coast of Florida and north to Orlando to find gasoline and generators.

This was the same year as Katrina and Rita. You would have thought for sure people would be ready. They’d have at least three to five days of supplies on hand. On top of that, this was Florida, the best prepared state. And emergency managers say the longer between major storms striking the U.S. the more the hurricane malaise sets in. That’s a false sense of comfort.

Here’s another. I can’t count the times over the years of covering hurricanes for CNN that someone has said to me, they’d been through this hurricane or that one and weren’t evacuating. Problem is they were only in the fringe of the storm.

In the past twenty years since Andrew, technology has vastly improved our ability to communicate warnings before storms hit and to respond more quickly to stricken areas after the storm has passed. The science of forecasting the path of a storm has dramatically improved, reducing the number of people who should evacuate which saves money.

But the ability to forecast rapid changes in intensity either up or down, says Bill Reed the outgoing Director of the National Hurricane Center, isn’t much better now than twenty years ago. Consider this, Andrew was a tropical storm just forty-eight hours before it hit as only the third category five hurricane to ever strike the United States.

With June first upon us, take the time to stock up your hurricane kit. And if you are faced with a decision this year on whether to evacuate, just remember what that woman told me after Andrew. “We had the devil here last night.”

National Dam Safety Awareness Day

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On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania failed, killing 2,200 people and leaving thousands homeless. The Johnstown disaster was the worst dam failure before and since 1889 in the United States in terms of lives lost and injuries.

This year, FEMA’s National Dam Safety Program recognized today, May 31, 2012 as National Dam Safety Awareness Day, in commemoration of the devastation of 1889 and as a call to action. FEMA, along with various Federal, State and local stakeholders, attended the event this morning at the Lake Needwood Dam in Rockville, Maryland.

The National Dam Safety Program is a partnership between states, federal agencies, and other stakeholders led by FEMA, to encourage and promote best practices, individual and community responsibility for dam safety and prevention of future catastrophic dam failures.

Sandra Knight, Mitigation Deputy Associate Adminsitrator, speaks at the Dam Safety Awarenss Day ceremony at Lake Needwood Dam.Rockville, Md., May 30, 2012 -- Sandra Knight, Mitigation Deputy Associate Adminsitrator, speaks at the Dam Safety Awarenss Day ceremony at Lake Needwood Dam.

The Lake Needwood Dam served as the focal point for Dam Safety Awareness Day because of its urban setting and the successful emergency action planning that took place in response to a severe leakage incident that occurred on July 19, 2006. The planning and response of that incident by state and local officials symbolize exactly what FEMA and its partners strive to achieve through the National Dam Safety Program: a “whole community” approach to emergency management that keeps Americans, their property, and the environment safe from dam failure. National Dam Safety Awareness Day is a day to acknowledge the important work that is being accomplished at all levels of government, and to make a commitment to continue this work to help and create a culture of preparedness and safety in all communities.

Manning, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness, speaks about the National Dam Safety Program.Rockville, Md., May 30, 2012 -- Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness, speaks about the National Dam Safety Program.

Fewer storms expected, but it just takes one!

Editor's Note: The views expressed by Phil Klotzbach do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, entities, or services.
 
The Tropical Meteorology Project in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University along with many other forecasting groups (e.g., NOAA, the UK Met Office, Tropical Storm Risk) are calling for a near-average hurricane season this year. While a somewhat less active hurricane season than the past couple of years is expected, this does not mean that coastal residents should prepare any differently. The recent landfall of Tropical Storm Beryl is a reminder that tropical cyclones can make landfall when a quieter season is predicted, even prior to the official start of the hurricane season.

It only takes one system to make it an active season for you. Devastating tropical cyclones have impacted the United States in very quiet years. For example, in 1992, CSU correctly predicted that only one major hurricane would occur. This major hurricane happened to be Hurricane Andrew, which devastated south Florida. The 1983 Atlantic hurricane season is another good example. That year only had four named tropical cyclones all season, but one of them was Hurricane Alicia which pounded the northern part of Texas. So despite this year’s less active forecast, take time now to get prepared if you live in an area susceptible to the effects of severe tropical weather.

A little history…
CSU has been issuing Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecasts annually since 1984. Many individuals have wondered why a university located thousands of miles away from the Atlantic Ocean would issue seasonal hurricane forecasts. Dr. Herbert Riehl, a renowned hurricane researcher from the University of Chicago, came to Colorado to start CSU's Atmospheric Science department in the early 1960s. One of his Ph.D. students at the time was Bill Gray, who came to CSU a couple of years later. Dr. Gray began issuing forecasts when he discovered the relationship between El Niño and Atlantic basin hurricane activity. When El Niño occurs in the tropical Pacific, it increases the frequency during the hurricane season of strong vertical wind shear in the Atlantic, a condition that is detrimental for tropical cyclone formation and strengthening. Since the early 1980s, many other predictors of severe tropical weather have been discovered by CSU and other forecasting groups that impact Atlantic basin hurricane activity. As technology continues to improve, these forecasts will continue to play an important role in educating the public.

The Waffle House Plan - Show Up

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Editor's Note: The views expressed by Walt Ehmer do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, entities, or services.

Preparation is a big part of our job at Waffle House® Restaurants. Since we never close, being prepared for the unexpected is as big a part of our job as is cooking hashbrowns, waffles and eggs. When running a 24/7 restaurant if you don’t plan well, then every day will be an emergency.

This culture of planning for everyday activities is well suited for when an emergency presents itself. Over the last two years, our company has responded to many emergencies - the ice storm in Atlanta, the tornadoes in Missouri, Alabama and north Georgia and Hurricane Irene in the Carolinas. The main part of our plan is what we call “Show Up.” We show up to the area, determine what is needed to get the restaurants open and then do it.

There is logistics planning in staging and getting additional supplies and manpower into an affected area right after a storm, however it’s our show up that sets us apart from other companies. Our planning gets us ready for the storm and so once it has passed our managers can see what’s going on in the area and respond right after an emergency.

We put our leadership on the ground right after the storm to make the decisions needed on where to send the supplies and manpower. Within hours of Hurricane Irene making landfall, our Chairman & CEO, two Executive Vice Presidents, a subsidiary President, our CFO and I were all on site managing the emergency from the front lines.

We had staged some supplies and sent additional manpower into the area. However it was the management on the ground making the decisions about what needed to go where – not someone back in our corporate office in Georgia. This allowed us to quickly respond to the issues at our restaurants.

After each emergency, we look at our planning to decide what worked well and what needs to be tweaked. But the biggest part of our planning is to show up and decide what is needed to keep the restaurants open.

And that’s the big take away for other businesses and individuals. You need to plan ahead and then when the emergency occurs, be ready to be flexible and address the most important issues in front of you. And over time, it simply becomes part of your company’s or home’s culture.

A Small Vermont Business Struggles to Make a Comeback and Learns to Prepare for the Future

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Editor’s Note: Last year, hurricane Irene caused significant flooding in several states along the East Coast well after it made landfall. Since last week was Small Business Administration week and this week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, we wanted to share this perspective from a small business owner in Vermont. Mr. Crowl experienced first-hand how natural disasters can impact business owners, and has some lessons to share…


The views expressed by Patrick Crowl do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, entities, or services.

You can plan for a disaster all you want, but when it hits, you have to put your emotions aside and deal with it like you’re an ER doc. Each decision takes on critical importance.

Few of us in the town of Woodstock would have predicted that Hurricane Irene, which came up the East Coast at the end of last August, would have devastated much of Vermont like it did. But my partners and I, at our popular year round fresh market, the Woodstock Farmers Market, did take some precautions when we knew it was heading our way – we had our employees stay late the night before to move food into freezers and we closed the store down the day the storm was expected.

The next day I saw our entire store decimated, covered with mud. I was lucky to have a dedicated staff who did not abandon ship. I had about five staffers who “came to work” and even regular patrons who came by to clean up. People were making lunch, shoveling and mucking. It was surreal and it was very humbling.

Woodstock, Vt., May 23, 2012 -- Damages sustained by Hurricane Irene to Woodstock's Farmers Market.Woodstock, Vt., May 23, 2012 -- Damages sustained by Hurricane Irene to Woodstock's Farmers Market.

We were determined to reopen. We had vendors to pay and a mortgage on the property. The market is the main livelihood for most of the store’s employees. We’re a significant part of the community. We needed to rebuild and get ourselves going again.

But how? I was very familiar with the statistic that only 25 percent of small businesses are able to survive after a disaster. But somehow we managed to reopen in time for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t easy. Over the course of the last year, I have thought about how we did it and have broken down the various stages of business recovery.

Damages sustained to the Woodstock Farmers Market following Hurricane Irene.Woodstock, Vt., May 23, 2012 -- Damages sustained to the Woodstock Farmers Market following Hurricane Irene.

Phase 1 – Days 1 and 2 – Clean-up
Don’t delay what you have to do, take advantage of the momentum of the community right afterwards because things slow down after the adrenaline of the incident wears off, and people have to return to their own lives. If you can, work 12 to 14 hour days. Eight hours won’t cut it. There will be time later to rest. Your reputation is at stake. Your money is at stake.

Set up a command post and gather the right people together. Break down who does what. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Keep lists of who is doing what, and reward community volunteers.

Phase 2 – Days 2 and 3 – Continue the Momentum on the Money Trail
Register with FEMA and the SBA immediately and leave no stone unturned when it comes to other sources of funding. It was a challenge, but I knew I had to stay focused and positive. I would spend full days on the phone navigating the various bureaucracies. We had no manual. We read and reread all the flood insurance literature to make sure we knew the steps to take. We huddled early on with a group of close advisors and came up with a financial game plan.


Phase 3 – Days 3 through 7 – Fine-Tune Your Plan
Take care of your co-workers and staff. Make sure they apply for unemployment and they have access to any needed counseling. Property can be rebuilt, income can be brought back, but foremost make sure people are taken care of. Without them, you won’t be able to come back.

Then do a budget outline of what it will cost to rebuild. Flood expenses can include the cost of the cleanup, construction, new equipment, cost of the insurance adjustor, outstanding payables and any other miscellaneous costs. On the income side, we had to tally our savings, flood insurance proceeds, state economic loan, customer loans and gifts.

My Smartphone was my lifeline. It buzzed and it rang, constantly. Whenever I got an idea, I texted, called or emailed.

We lost all our computer files and many records. Luckily our main computer back up was saved as were many of the computers because before the floodwaters got too high, we carried them to a top floor. But next time, we’re going to make sure we keep a backup data “in the cloud.”

Be prepared to change your game plan. Things are moving a hundred miles an hour and everything changes in a day. We met every day, twice a day for information updates.

We followed the following matrix and updated it every week.

  • Physical plant issues: cleanup; equipment tear out; rebuilding. 
  • Financial issues: insurance, sources of funding 
  • Human Resources: staff communications; unemployment; grief counseling 
  • Marketing/PR: getting the word out; website communication; social media

It was from those meetings that we came up with the idea for our Irene Card program, which was essentially a prepaid shopping card. We offered a discount for cards over $1,000. This idea was a great way to generate money up front. We raised over $375,000 in a matter of weeks.

Phase 4 – After first week – Facing Reality
Your business is gone. Staff is gone. As many people return to their normal lives, you are alone. Keep going. Gather people for weekly meetings and check the matrix.

While we are now open, we still have a gap between what it actually cost to get ourselves back to where we were, versus the cost of the disaster. We were indeed underinsured for our contents, but our building flood insurance was a correct amount. I guess while you can’t plan for a flood, you can be better prepared.

Woodstock Farmers Market reopening following the temporarily closing due to needed renovations caused by Hurricane Irene.Woodstock, Vt., May 24, 2012 -- Woodstock Farmers Market reopening following the temporarily closing due to needed renovations caused by Hurricane Irene.

Knowing what I know now, we have re-examined our flood policy and corrected. A relatively small price to pay for the peace of mind needed when you know Mother Nature could strike at any time.

Flat Stanley Helps FEMA Prepare for Hurricane Season

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Back in early April we blogged about a special visitor to FEMA.  At the time, Flat Stanley was making the rounds in Washington, DC and dropped in at FEMA headquarters to spend a little time with me.  Take a look at the latest meeting I had with Flat Stanley and what we have in mind for helping prepare everyone for hurricane season.
 



FEMA, through our Ready Campaign, is working in collaboration with Flatter World and the Flat Stanley Project to bring awareness to school aged children about the need to be prepared for emergencies and disasters and what they can do to help their families and loved ones to build more resilient households.

Children and their parents will soon be able to build their own FEMA Flat Stanley and share with their friends and classmates the steps they have taken to support preparedness throughout their homes, schools and communities.

Stay tuned for more information as Flat Stanley gets more and more involved.  And in the mean time, kids can find fun preparedness games and activities like word searches, crossword puzzles, comic strips and more at Ready.gov/kids.

Three Opportunities for Sharing Preparedness this Weekend

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Today, I joined our partners at the National Hurricane Center to release the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s outlook for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season (June 1- November 30). Even though the season “officially” starts next week, we have already seen the first named storm, Alberto, develop in the Atlantic. Alberto serves as an invaluable reminder: as much as we can try to predict, nature and disasters will inevitably throw the unexpected our way.

While we can’t stop a tropical storm, hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster from happening, there are actions we can all take to lessen the impact these unexpected events can have on our families, homes and businesses. Whatever the risks are in your area (especially those where hurricanes/tropical storms can have an impact), I encourage you to visit Ready.gov to learn about the three simple steps to getting prepared before an emergency. But maybe you already know the risks in your area, have already assembled a family emergency supply kit or recently reviewed your family’s emergency plan – then you can play a part in taking preparedness to the next level. Join us by pledging to prepare for emergencies and telling three of your relatives, friends, coworkers, or social media followers to do so as well.

The upcoming three day weekend could be a great opportunity to practice and share emergency preparedness. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you will be in an area potentially impacted by hurricanes or tropical storms, review and talk about NOAA’s 2012 outlook for the season. Make sure friends and family know if they live in an evacuation zone and what their evacuation route is, in case local officials should give the order. 
  • Before you head out for weekend travel, make sure your car or truck has emergency supplies, like blankets, water, an AM/FM radio, jumper cables, and a flash light with extra batteries. Then when you get to your destination, show it off to family and friends! 
  • If you’re traveling by airplane, keeping a small first aid kit, flashlight, medication and extra cell phone charger with you could prove useful if your flight is delayed. (Other passengers could add these items to their carry-on luggage the next time they fly if they see you using your kit.) 
  • During the day off, take a few minutes fill a “go-bag” with emergency supplies. Many of the items are probably already be around your home, then add any additional needed items to our family’s grocery list for the week. 
  • Take 10 minutes with your family and practice your fire escape plan. After you’re done, posting a photo or status update to your social media accounts is a great way to spread the word and remind others to do the same.

And if you’re looking for more ideas or others ways people and organizations around the country are getting prepared for hurricane season, then you’re in luck. Next week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, so FEMA and our partners will be talking about hurricane and tropical storm preparedness all week long on our blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, and other online channels. So make a point to post your own updates about preparing for severe tropical weather, or you can even repost one from our sites!

I hope either of these three - the NOAA hurricane season outlook, upcoming three day weekend, or National Hurricane Preparedness Week – can act as starters for making your family, home, or business more prepared for emergencies as we move into the “official” hurricane season.

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