Main Content

Blog

Author: Jessica Stapf
“What did you do before you came to FEMA?”My answer to this question isn’t as exciting as many of the ones I’ve heard over the nearly four years I’ve been associated with FEMA in some capacity.I’ve asked that question countless times and I’ve received a vast variety of answers: the film industry, music, other emergency management agencies… The list goes on for what feels like forever. In fact, the nun in the photo above is one of our reservists.As for me, my pre-FEMA time was spent as a humble college student studying French and international...
Posted On: June 29, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Whether it’s a captain of a professional sports team, a captain of a ship, or an administrator of a federal agency, strong leadership qualities are important.As we head into hurricane season, with storms already brewing, we are excited to welcome our new administrator back to FEMA.Since the change in administration, we’ve had strong leadership. Region 9 Administrator Bob Fenton stepped in to take the reins as the administration transitioned. His hard work is appreciated, and we thank him for his continued service and dedication to the agency.Now, the individual appointed by the...
Posted On: June 26, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
I’ve always had a knack for remembering random tidbits of information, including memories that many would assume I would’ve long forgotten. The one I’m thinking of this week includes butterflies.In first grade, we studied the development of monarch butterflies—from an egg to the completed, gorgeous and fluttery state. The project culminated in the release of cages of monarchs on the playground. With their wings fluttering above the blacktop where we played hopscotch, the butterflies were never to be seen again. It was sad, but also beautiful, and it’s stuck with...
Posted On: June 21, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
While the title of this post harkens back to a song I first heard as a small child thanks to my mother’s impeccable taste in music, it’s also an accurate depiction of events across the country over the last few weeks.Wildfires have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres of forest across the Southeast and Plains. Rushing floodwaters and heavy rainfall have inundated areas of the Midwest—with little to no sign of relenting any time soon.One of the things that is notably out of the norm is the prevalence of fires in the Southeast.Out of the fourteen fire management assistance...
Posted On: May 18, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
Back when I was in college, I did a lot of community service. One of my favorite and most memorable service projects was helping out at a roller skating event hosted by a local public library. I laced up a pair of skates and got rolling to help supervise the young skaters. It was essentially a perfect project for me; I’d loved skating growing up and hadn’t had an opportunity to do so in nearly a decade.Well, it turns out, when you get older your center of gravity shifts and things that were easy and fun when you were a kid suddenly turn into dangerous pastimes. I broke my wrist...
Posted On: April 7, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
As a kid, I had a jigsaw puzzle based on one of my favorite books. It wasn’t a standard puzzle at all. It was unique, my favorite, and thinking about it now, it most closely relates to my day-to-day job.Billed as a “family puzzle,” it was designed with larger pieces for kids and smaller pieces for adults—to keep it easy for younger kids and provide somewhat of a challenge for the adults. All of the pieces, a community of them, fit together and connect in the middle to make this big picture.  I’ve been thinking about this puzzle a lot as of late. Not solely...
Posted On: March 31, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
What happens when an umbrella or a raincoat just isn’t enough?Last week I wrote about umbrellas and raincoats and the importance of being prepared for anything from rain events to disasters. While being prepared is important, it’s not going to keep either one from happening. Umbrellas and go-bags aren’t intended to be an impervious shield. They’re designed to help you through the situation.When a disaster happens, that kick-starts the response phase of the disaster cycle. And the first things that come to mind for many after hearing the phrase “disaster response...
Posted On: March 24, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
 There’s an old song that talks about raindrops falling on heads. If you know what song I’m talking about, it’s probably stuck in your head now; it’s quite catchy. (If not, I think it’s definitely worth a quick internet search.)And when raindrops fall on your head, umbrellas and raincoats can be rather helpful. However—they don’t actually keep the rain from falling. They just (hopefully) keep your hair from getting wet.Rain can lead to more damage than just wet hair and it isn’t the only hazard.There are earthquakes, fires, floods,...
Posted On: March 17, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
I’ve written before about how I grew up in upstate New York and how much I dislike snow and the more I think about this storm and the potential it has to bring some not-so-nice weather here as well as in my hometown, the more I keep thinking about the term “nor’easter.” It’s one of those words that if you say it several times in a row it starts sounding more like a garbled bunch of syllables than an actual word.But according to my dictionary of choice, Merriam-Webster, it is still in fact a word, and its first known use was in 17531. Another interesting fact: the...
Posted On: March 13, 2017
Author: Jessica Stapf
While much of California has been faced with historic drought, the last few weeks have been full of heavy rains and severe storms—a 180 degree turnaround.This week, we’ve been focused on the spillways of the Oroville Dam—about 75 miles north of Sacramento—along with much of the rest of the country.Spillways regulate the flow of water into or out of dams and when they are damaged by erosion, impacted by debris, or hindered in any way, there can be serious consequences—including potentially dangerous flooding.The Oroville Dam’s primary spillway was damaged by...
Posted On: February 16, 2017