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Author: Jessica Stapf
Have you ever thought about putting aside your own plans and spending ten months of your life contributing to something bigger? I thought about it, like many others before me and certainly after. But like much fewer, I actually did it.I was a FEMA Corps member out of their Atlantic Region in Baltimore, Maryland from August 2013 through May 2014. Shortly after graduation, I accepted a job as FEMA’s Digital Storyteller at Headquarters in Washington, DC.For the last few weeks, we’ve been reaching out to some current and former FEMA Corps members to get their thoughts and perspectives...
Posted On: September 24, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
Volunteers are some of the most important contributors to disaster response and recovery. As the nation looked to remember and commemorate the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, several of our FEMA Corps teams worked with communities across the Gulf Coast to pitch in on the Day of Service, scheduled on the anniversary of Katrina’s landfall.Since 2012, we've been tapping into the spirit, enthusiasm, and helpfulness of AmeriCorps NCCC members to support communities all across the country. FEMA's partnership with AmeriCorps resulted in the FEMA Corps program: since it started...
Posted On: September 4, 2015
Author: Jason Lindesmith, Jessica Stapf, Eilis Maynard
What’s the largest team you’ve ever been a part of? Maybe it’s a sports team, a project team at work, or a group you volunteer with.  Whatever your answer, I’m fairly confident that it’s not as complex, as geographically spread out, or as diverse as the local, state, and federal search and rescue units that collectively make up a single National Urban Search and Rescue Response System task force.The nation’s search and rescue capabilities are in a very different place than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Over the years, disasters across the U.S. have...
Posted On: September 2, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
Volunteers are some of the most important players when it comes to an emergency management team. Their importance is magnified during disasters, such as the recent flooding in Texas, where over 30 counties were declared major disaster areas by the President. As a former national service volunteer, I have a special appreciation for the work volunteers selflessly do after a disaster.Here are a few photos that demonstrate some of the diverse work of these volunteers:As the pictures show, volunteers are making a difference all over Texas in a variety of ways, doing anything from providing meals...
Posted On: July 13, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
The Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency behind AmeriCorps NCCC and our partner in creating and maintaining FEMA Corps, has deployed many of their program members to help respond to the recent Texas flooding. They wrote up a breakdown of how teams from their Southwest Region campus of AmeriCorps NCCC in Denver, Colorado have been helping in Texas.Here’s an excerpt:From late May through mid-June, Texas was inundated by flooding due to a series of severe storms.  Of the more than 220 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members responding to date, 64 are Denver-based...
Posted On: July 8, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
We work with groups of all different sizes here at FEMA--organizations that have a handful of employees and those that have teams of thousands. Last week we teamed up with a range of groups to launch Tech Corps: a way to formally link organizations with technology expertise to the disaster response efforts happening at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels.Tech Corps can bring tangible benefits to communities and individuals impacted by disasters or emergencies.  It’s designed to leverage technology expertise in organizations so they can offer their existing skills,...
Posted On: June 25, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
Picture it: a warm and sunny Saturday morning in Maryland, about a half-hour outside of Washington, DC. Blaring bagpipes and snare drum rattles provide an interesting soundtrack; it’s evident you’re in a sea of first responders. Dogs from all over the country have travelled with their handlers to the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy to complete the rubble pile portion of the Canine Search Specialist Certification exam.It’s a pressure-packed situation; each team has successfully completed the first four tests to arrive here and they are one set of simulated...
Posted On: June 11, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
What was the toughest job interview you ever had? A grueling Q&A session with a panel of people in intimidating suits? Or maybe it involved a test or a simulation? No matter what your toughest job interview experience, I bet you’ll be impressed by the gauntlet of tests to become a certified FEMA canine search and rescue team.There’s a reason why the dogs and trainers that are part of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces as Canine Search Specialists are so good at what they do. The standards we have for these teams of searchers are incredibly high, considering the...
Posted On: June 9, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
Scores of inspiring stories emerge after traumatic events like disasters. The stories that include dogs capture my attention and pull on my heartstrings the most. Stories like finding signs of life in debris left behind by tornadoes or earthquakes or the incredible amount of teamwork and shared passion that exists between teams of dogs and handlers. That’s why over the next week we’re looking forward to sharing how FEMA canine search and rescue teams receive their certification.My hope is you’ll learn what makes these inspiring teams possible. I visited a search and rescue...
Posted On: June 8, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
While Guam is 17 hours ahead of our regional office in Oakland, and 14 hours ahead of FEMA HQ in Washington, DC, we’re working together to prepare federal support that may be needed for Typhoon Dolphin in the Pacific.  As of May 14, 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, forecasts are calling for winds around 100 mph, storm surge along coastal areas, and lots of rain for Guam and the surrounding islands.Here’s a quick snapshot of what FEMA and some of our federal partners are doing to get ready:FEMA is coordinating closely with the National Weather Service to monitor the storm’s track...
Posted On: May 14, 2015