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A 7.0 earthquake in the Midwest? Planning for the "maximum-of-maximums"

Posted by: Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator, Protection and National Preparedness

It’s the stuff legends are made of.  On this day 199 years ago, the first in a series of catastrophic earthquakes rocked the Midwest along the New Madrid seismic zone.  Although the epicenter of the December 16th quake was in northeast Arkansas, the magnitude of the quake reportedly caused church bells to ring along the East coast.

As the graphic above shows, an major earthquake in the New Madrid zone (of magnitude 6.0 or more) would severely affect Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.  Several other states would be affected, ranging from Minnesota to Florida.

It’s hard to imagine a natural disaster on that scale today. For this reason, FEMA is leading a national-level exercise in May of 2011 (NLE 2011) simulating a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.  We’re bringing all the relevant team members to the table to make the exercise as realistic as possible – federal/state/local governments, the private sector, non-profit and faith-based groups, the public, and even the international community.  FEMA leaders will provide more details on NLE 2011 as it approaches, so watch the blog for more details.

(For the emergency management types, check out an overview of Illinois’s planning for NLE 2011.)

If the 199th anniversary of New Madrid serves a purpose today, it’s that individuals and communities need to plan for what we call a “maximum of maximums” event -- a large-scale, catastrophic event.  It may be gloomy to think about, but it’s necessary to plan for the unexpected, so whether you live along the New Madrid fault line or in the Pacific Northwest, take a few minutes today to be informed about the possible disasters in your community.

We sincerely hope America never has to respond to a major earthquake in the New Madrid zone, but we need to be prepared.  Visit for earthquake preparedness tips and other ways you can get prepared.

We want to use this blog to share ideas and continue the conversation, so leave a comment about how your family / organization / company is preparing for a “maximum of maximums” event.

- Tim

Sharing strategies and building a team

Posted by: Deputy Administrator Rich Serino

Yesterday, I spoke at the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Shared Strategies conference in Denver, CO.  Events like the UASI conference are a great way to get members of the team working together.  Whether you’re a business owner, member of your Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), local government official, or a parent looking out for your family, you can help the nation prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

Here's a quick video I recorded at the conference:

So what is the UASI? It’s a program designed to improve emergency preparedness in major metropolitan areas.  Cities from San Francisco to Miami have benefited from the program, making their region more resilient.

The Denver conference was all about “Shared Strategies”, or looking at how members of the emergency management team can work together to accomplish common objectives.  Since coming to FEMA, Administrator Fugate and I have stressed the importance of everyone doing their part.  We are all part of our nation’s emergency management team, and it truly takes the whole community, working together, to make sure we are meeting the needs of everyone during an emergency.

It’s my sincere hope that you will take three easy steps to get prepared: get a kit, make a plan and be informed.  If you prepare today, you’ll help your communities and families be more resilient tomorrow.

Tell us how the emergency management team in your community is helping prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.  We're working hard to get our team members prepared, so tell us what you've been up to.

- Rich

Are you prepared for winter weather?

Posted by: Public Affairs

Much of the U.S. has been hit with winter weather in the past week, from several feet of snow in parts of Minnesota to freeze warnings in Florida, and more snow and freezing rain is forecasted across large areas of the country today.  When the weather outside gets frightful, staying safe (and warm) is of primary importance.  So in light of the recent extreme weather, here are some simple reminders to keep you safe this winter season:

Be informed
NOAA weather radios, local TV and radio stations are great places to find severe weather updates.  For more detailed forecasts of your area, visit or on your smart phone.  And if you’re still looking for a gift for that special someone, consider a NOAA weather radio.

Get an emergency kit in your car and workplace
Snow storms and “whiteouts” can happen very quickly, so plan ahead by having an emergency kit in your car and workplace.  At first thought it might sound over-the-top, but recently some drivers in Wisconsin were stranded on the highway for hours during a heavy snow storm.  Having a blanket, hand warmers, and non-perishable food items on hand are invaluable in the event of such an emergency. 

Make a plan for safe snow removal
If you’re in an area that experiences heavy snowfall, removing snow can be a tough task.  Here are a few reminders as you rid your driveway and sidewalk of the fluffy white stuff:

  • Whether you use a shovel or a plow attached to an all-terrain-vehicle, make sure you’re removing snow legally.  Check with your city officials before placing excess snow in roadways or sidewalks, to ensure you’re following their guidelines.
  • Moving snow can be hard work.  Take breaks and make sure to give your body a rest.  Overworking yourself in cold weather can put extra strain on your heart.

Other Links

Leave a comment and share how you’re preparing for or dealing with the colder weather.

Welcome to the first-ever FEMA blog

Posted by: Administrator Craig Fugate

At FEMA we have a Facebook page, Twitter page, I tweet and earlier this year we launched our first-ever mobile website, but what we didn’t have was a blog. Well, now that we have one, you’re probably wondering what you can expect.

Plain and simple, this will be another tool we’ll use to communicate and let you know what we’re up to. This won’t be another way to put out our press releases - this is a way to communicate directly with you.

You’ll eventually hear from team members from across our agency, from our regional offices to our field offices, supporting local disaster recovery efforts. We will provide information before, during and after disaster strikes and we will highlight best practices, innovative ideas, and insights that are being used across emergency management and across the country.

So as we get our blog up and running, we’ll also be looking to you for ideas, tips and feedback. If you have a question you’d like us to address, send it our way. If you have a creative idea you’d like us to highlight, let us know. We’re looking to you – the rest of our team – to be our partners in this endeavor. Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation.

- Craig


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