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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: Kaylyn Beck
Meet Elizabeth and Ventoux. They’re a highly trained canine/handler Urban Search & Rescue team with Virginia Task Force 1. They’ve been working together for nearly six years with an impressive resume of disasters including Hurricane Sandy and the 2015 Nepal earthquake. My colleague and I were lucky enough to hang out with the duo, learning about the spirited 8-year-old Belgian Malinois and his steadfast handler.We met up with Elizabeth and Ventoux at a Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue training site in Virginia. The site boasts a variety of realistic training scenarios...
Posted On: June 27, 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: Kathy Fields
Earlier this week, we had some severe weather up in the panhandle of Nebraska. A tornado did touch down in the community of Bayard on Monday night, causing damage to several homes and a nursing home. Fortunately, and most importantly, it appears that nobody was injured. In true Cornhusker fashion, neighbors were out the very next day, checking on each other and lending a hand with cleanup.Approximately nine miles west of Bayard is the City of Minatare. As the severe weather approached Monday evening, tornado sirens went off, and it was time for folks to take action.Recently, they City of...
Posted On: June 15, 2017
Author: Raymond J. Piper
It was like any other night. The school day was over, and my family was waiting for my father to get home so we could eat dinner together. I don’t remember where I was specifically, but it’s likely my brother and I were playing in the living room while the TV played.At 5:05 p.m. the first tornado touched down near Albion, Pennsylvania, and began a 4 hour and 20 minute onslaught of life-threatening tornadoes that would impact parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario, Canada.Looking back, I realize now the danger that my dad was in. He worked near where an F5 tornado—...
Posted On: June 5, 2017
Author: Kaylyn Beck
Over the last two years I’ve spent a lot of time looking at weather forecasts (especially during hurricane season) because they’re pretty important to the work I do. Despite this, I had never thought much about the science behind predicting hurricanes or what it means to be a Hurricane Hunter pilot.Then I went to the Hurricane Awareness Tour stop in Washington, D.C., and had the opportunity to tour one of the aircraft that fly directly into storms and meet the brave souls who pilot them. Here’s what I learned, thanks to the expertise of Lt. Col. Drew Clark and Major Devon...
Posted On: June 1, 2017
Author: Jamy Lomento
"911, what’s your emergency?"If you've ever had to dial 911, the voice on the other end of the line provided some immediate reassurance; someone out there was ready to listen and provide assistance, regardless of the circumstances leading to the call.I'm also guessing that when you dialed those three digits, it didn’t matter how that call was routed, where the person on the other end was sitting, or how any of the technology behind that call was assembled. All that mattered was that someone, somewhere, picked up the phone and was ready to...
Posted On: May 26, 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: Caroline Strunk
When we think about the aftermath of a disaster, we often picture the devastating physical damage it leaves behind. Rows of homes underwater, roads turned into rivers, entire neighborhoods reduced to piles of rubble. The destruction caused by natural disasters, whether they come in the form of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or wildfires, can be catastrophic.So it comes as no surprise, then, that we also tend to think of disaster recovery in terms of repairing the damage we can see – things like clearing debris and rebuilding homes and infrastructure. But there‘s also...
Posted On: May 11, 2017