By Rich Serino, Deputy Administrator
Thousands of FEMA employees participated and continue to contribute in Community Relations activities associated with Hurricane Sandy. For all of your countless hours and dedication, Administrator Fugate and I thank you.
Community Relations proved to be a great asset supporting disaster survivors and operations. One of the great innovations from this past disaster included the ability of deployed teams to meet disaster survivors in their community and assist with registration and status inquiries for Individual Assistance. This approach allowed us to meet residents who could not leave their homes or had transportation limitations. We couldn’t have done this without providing training in Individual Assistance to the CR reservists, FEMA Corps, and the Department of Homeland Security Surge Capacity members.
Based on the desire to provide expanded services during FEMA’s first interaction with a disaster survivor, we will be transferring the CR program from the Office of External Affairs to the Recovery Directorate. CR remains a critical function of FEMA that will continue to perform the Assess, Inform, Report Mission, but retooling and incorporating this effort into the Recovery Directorate will enhance strategic and tactical coordination when serving survivors in the critical first hours, days, and weeks following a disaster. To facilitate this move, OEA and Recovery have established a working group to develop an integrated approach to meet the disaster survivor’s needs. Going forward, the management and training of this survivor-centric workforce will be done by the Recovery Directorate in coordination with Response’s Incident Workforce Management Office. In addition to the structural transfer, the concept of Community Relations continues to evolve—FEMA leadership and team members are diligently working to create the survivor-centric teams of the future.
Community Relations will remain within the External Affairs structure in the field and as a program at Headquarters until the transfer is fully complete. Our goal is to have this transfer complete by April 8, 2013 at which point the function will report to Operations in the Joint Field Office structure and management of the cadre will reside in the Recovery Directorate.
If you have any recommendations on how to improve FEMA’s first interaction with a disaster survivor, please email EnhancingSurvivorExperience. Any questions regarding this transfer should be directed to Heather.Smith at 202-646-3181.