PHILADELPHIA – You know a strategy is meaningful when you can see it brought to life in meaningful and practical outcomes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) just did that, during an active disaster nonetheless. In order to enhance the collaboration between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a FEMA Integration Team (FIT) has been established to coordinate directly with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on program implementation, hazard risk reduction, and operational planning. The team was officially adopted by Memorandum of Agreement, signed over the weekend by Dr. Jeff Stern, State Coordinator for VDEM, and MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region III Regional Administrator, as both coordinated the response to Hurricane Florence in Virginia. Under the agreement, the FIT will enhance the capabilities of FEMA Region III staff already assigned to VDEM by increasing FEMA’s ability to provide on-site technical assistance and rapid delivery of FEMA’s programs within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
FEMA currently works closely with VDEM on long term planning, operational coordination, and program implementation and closeout through staff in the regional office in Philadelphia and staff assigned to the state emergency operations center. The FIT Team enhances that collaborative effort by bringing in additional specialized staff to enhance mitigation and response planning capabilities. “We partner with FEMA every day to prepare for emergencies and coordinate on programs, training, and our operations to keep Virginians safe,” stated Dr. Jeff Stern, State Coordinator for VDEM. “By having the FEMA Integration Team in our emergency operations center, day-to-day, we can prepare and coordinate for potential events and improve our coordination across programs. Our joint operations for Florence showed the great relationship we have and the FIT will only enhance that partnership.” By adding these capabilities, FEMA and VDEM look to build their joint capability to prepare for and respond to potential disasters.
The FIT Team also represents FEMA’s commitment to reducing the complexity of FEMA programs through direct staff engagement on emergency management with the state. The FIT Team will work closely with their counterparts in Virginia on projects such as hurricane response planning, power outages and logistics, and reducing risk to other hazards such as flooding across the Commonwealth. “FIT is just one way we are implementing FEMA’s Strategic Plan,” stated MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region III Regional Administrator. “By building a comprehensive team working directly with Virginia on disaster assistance programs, hazard mitigation, and emergency response planning, we can continue to build a true culture of preparedness, ready the nation for catastrophic events, and reduce the complexity of FEMA across the Commonwealth.”
We didn’t just write a strategy. We are putting the strategy into action. FEMA currently has four FIT Teams in the states of North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Indiana. The Virginia FIT continues FEMA’s rollout of this new and important program, a cornerstone element of implementing FEMA’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. The Virginia Team is the fifth FIT team out of a planned minimum of 10 for 2018.
To learn more about VDEM and preparedness across the Commonwealth of Virginia, please visit www.vaemergency.gov. For more information on FEMA Region III, please visit www.FEMA.gov/region-iii. For more information on FEMA’s Strategic Plan, please visit https://www.fema.gov/strategic-plan.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Learn more about FEMA Region III at www.FEMA.gov/region-iii. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.