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FEMA Media Library

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Best Available Refuge Area (BARA) Checklist (for P-361)


FEMA developed the Best Available Refuge Area (BARA) Checklist for the first edition of FEMA P-361 to use in assessing a building’s susceptibility to damage from extreme-wind events such as tornadoes and hurricanes. The checklist evaluation process guides registered design professionals (architects and engineers) in identifying potential refuge areas at a site with one or more buildings. The term “best available refuge area” (or “BARA”) refers to an area in an existing building that has been deemed by a registered design professional as likely to protect building occupants during an extreme-wind event better than other areas in the building when a safe room is not available.
The BARA should be regarded as an interim measure only until a safe room can be available to building occupants. A safe room is a hardened structure specifically designed and constructed to the guidelines specified in FEMA P-320, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business and FEMA P-361, Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms.

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Public Notice for Group Housing Site at Pine Shadows Golf Course (CU-5) in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana for DR-4559-LA (Hurricane Laura)

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CTA-3 Stakeholder Engagement and Communication

Stakeholder engagement strategies will be presented. In addition, a workshop will convene the broad stakeholder team that dam emergencies may affect within the county. A goal of the workshop is to engage partners that will support additional analysis and the planning process. The day prior to the workshop, core team members may meet to finalize preparations for the workshop and to tour the dam infrastructure. Additionally, facilitators will help the participants begin to pull together disparate research and analysis into an updated Information Analysis Brief (IAB) that will continue to support planning efforts. This updated IAB can also be used to inform senior leaders and receive their guidance to inform the ongoing planning process.

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CTA-2 Dam Risk Consequences/ Lessons Learned

This group of sessions provides the basis for developing effective plans. Specifically, it offers the frameworks and tools required to conduct a comprehensive analysis of dam hazards and increase collaboration and coordination. It also provides the opportunity to ensure that the appropriate stakeholders are included in the planning effort. FEMA works collaboratively with communities to set their own goals and objectives. Below are common session outlines and results.

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CTA-4 Plan Development

During this session, the participants will build an understanding of how to consider the Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dam Grant Program hazard mitigation and floodplain management plan requirements. Facilitators will share overviews of how to develop a floodplain management plan that identifies how to reduce the impacts of future flood events in the area protected by the grant project. Additionally, they will provide an overview of and guidance on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The participants will also be introduced to best practices in identifying dam risk in a hazard mitigation plan. A subject matter expert, for example from the National Silver Jackets program, will be a guest speaker to provide current best practices and available state and federal resources.

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CTA-1 Community Needs Scoping and Introduction

This session provides an overview of the following topics: the CTA concept, planning for dam emergencies, stakeholder engagement framework options, and the development of draft goals and objectives.

The session will empower participants to develop risk and data-informed community profiles. Participants will discuss key concepts and methods to improve information collection and gaps and develop a community profile.

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CTA-5 Emergency Action Plan and Emergency Operations Plan Refinement and Approval

During this session, participants will discuss their Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) to inform the development and/or refinement of dam incident annexes to local Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs). This will also support the review and approval process, as well as ensure the plans are ready to be tested at a tabletop exercise. Finally, the CTA delivery team will review the completed annex (the Dam Incident Planning Guide/Template will be provided before the session).

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CTA-0 Summary Sheet Overview

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering a Collaborative Technical Assistance (CTA) series to help communities at risk of dam-related flooding to better understand their risk landscape and the potential consequences of dam-related emergencies. The CTA will include planning for emergencies related to operational discharges or dam-related infrastructure failure. This document outlines the proposed concept of operations, schedule, goals, and objectives for a CTA offering.

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CTA-6 Plan Implementation and Program Evaluation

This group of sessions will take place after the main planning effort has been completed. It will provide opportunities for plan validation, exercise planning, and conducting an after-action review (AAR) and briefings to senior leaders and other stakeholders. FEMA works collaboratively with communities to set their own goals and objectives. Below are common session outlines and results.

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Cooperating Technical Partners - FEMA-approved Special Projects Statement of Work (SOW)