This section provides content that reflects recovery, preparedness and various other topics of interest across the Region.
Financial Preparedness for Emergencies
Hurricane season begins June 1. Many Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. During an already stressful situation, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently.
Taking the time now to collect and secure these critical records will give you peace of mind and, in the event of an emergency, will ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Gather financial and critical personal, household, and medical information.
- Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATM’s and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.
Visit: https://www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness for more information.
Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs
Core Advisory Groups or CAGs were created to promote inclusive emergency management, encouraging collaboration and partnership among members of the whole community including disability agencies and organizations and emergency managers. Participants include not-for-profits, service providers, caregivers, persons with disabilities, emergency managers, first responders and community leaders who each collaborate to provide equal services to people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
For more information about CAGs:
Specific tips for those with Access and Functional Needs:
In FEMA Region II, there are approximately one dozen CAGs that meet quarterly to discuss issues pertinent to their communities. For a list of CAGs, please contact James Flemming: James.Flemming@fema.dhs.gov or Kathleen Madigan: Kathleen.Madigan@fema.dhs.gov.
Individual and Community Preparedness
The Individual and Community Preparedness Program aims to educate individuals, families and communities on how they can implement basic measures to reduce their risk to a hazard — natural, technological or manmade. There are four pillars of Individual and Community Preparedness, which include being informed, making a plan, building a kit, and getting involved.
Be Informed- This is about identifying the risks that are most prevalent in your community and determining the best way to receive accurate and timely information about these risks. You should always listen to instructions from your local officials and will want to identify the public alerting systems that are in place at the state or county level.
Make a Plan- Making a plan refers to establishing a plan and/or course of action in the event of a disaster, including, for example, establishing a neighborhood meeting place in the event of a sudden disaster (i.e. a home fire) or identifying an out-of-state contact in the event of a larger scale disaster with ample forewarning (i.e. a hurricane).
To learn more about how to establish a family communications plan, please visit: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
Building a Kit- This step includes setting aside items to include in a “Go-Kit” to be self-sufficient for at least seventy-two hours. A basic Go-Kit should include the following items: non-perishable food, water, medication, flashlight, batteries, basic toiletries, first aid supplies, a wrench to turn off utilities (if applicable), and cash in small denominations.
For more information about how to build a Go-Kit, please visit: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
Get Involved- This refers to volunteering in a given community by joining either the local Community Emergency Response Team or Medical Reserve Corps. While both of these programs are national, each is administered at the local level by the state or county.
For more information about these program areas, please follow this link: https://www.ready.gov/citizen-corps-partner-programs
Inclusive Emergency Management Promoted in New York Counties
With the goal of ensuring every community member is treated equally when an emergency strikes, the Resource Center on Independent Living (RCIL) joined with FEMA in New York in June 2018 to promote inclusive emergency management. Four counties, Oneida, Herkimer, Fulton, and Montgomery, conducted a series of Core Advisory Group (CAG) briefings for disability and access/functional needs stakeholders and emergency managers.
The goal of CAGs is to raise awareness of all citizens’ needs throughout communities, especially during emergencies.
Region II’s Disability Integration Specialist led briefings in each county over a two-day period. These public events fostered open exchanges among participants, including nonprofits, caregivers, persons with disabilities, emergency managers, first responders and community leaders.
The briefings enabled emergency managers and the disability communities to identify barriers to their participation in disaster planning, preparedness and mitigation, as well as limitations during response, recovery operations. Emergency managers realized the invaluable benefits from listening to the needs of their communities.
The groups began to develop strategies for addressing access issues and providing inclusion throughout all phases of emergency management to achieve full and meaningful assistance during, and after, emergencies.
Ultimately, each session involved active and lively dialogue on the steps needed to form Core Advisory Groups. At the conclusion of each briefing, the counties agreed to form Core Advisory Groups by either working through existing groups or by establishing new ones.
Geographic Information Systems Play an Integral Role in Disaster Response and Recovery
On March 21-22, FEMA hosted CADGeoCon 2019, a two-day conference in Puerto Rico to discuss the unique challenges the geospatial community faced while responding to hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The goal of the conference was “to promote better understanding of those challenges, how they were handled, determine best practices and how these experiences help shape the future. The conference provided an opportunity for FEMA to network with members of academia, government, nonprofit and private sector organizations.
Conference attendees and speakers included representatives from FEMA, NASA, NOAA, the Puerto Rico Planning Board and more. Professors and students from the University of Puerto Rico and the University of the Virgin Islands were also in attendance. Subject matter experts from Dewberry, Geographic Technologies Mapping Corp, and New Light Technologies also participated.
Conference speaker Jennifer Hinjosa, a research associate at CUNY Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies, also known as “Centro,” noted that the summit fostered collaboration and that was one of the main reasons she traveled from New York to attend. “I enjoyed attending CADGeoCon 2019 because it brought together the researchers, technicians and analysts from the geospatial community,” said Hinjosa. “I would like to see Centro’s Rebuild Puerto Rico platform be used as a model to serve as a clearinghouse, research mechanism and data warehouse to influence public policy in rebuilding Puerto Rico & and the surrounding areas that were impacted,” Hinjosa added.
Various topics were discussed during the conference that provided insight into what other agencies and organizations were doing to support hurricane response and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of the topics presented at the conference included HAZUS for Puerto Rico/USVI, NOAA’s Emergency Response Imagery, Flooded with Data: An Overview of Post-Event Data Now and in the Future, and many more.
Gregory Guannel, a professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, delivered a presentation on the process he and his team undertook to collect high water marks from flooding and storm surge in U.S. Virgin Islands following the 2017 hurricanes. Professor Guannel highlighted some of the challenges GIS teams faced when dealing with back-to-back storms. One of those challenges included surveying the islands post-disaster and he expressed why citizens should be part of the data collection process. “Engage citizens in data gathering after events, train citizens in understanding natural processes so they can help, use the results of the research to inform planning,” said Guannel. Having such a team immediately collect data in hard-to-reach areas post-disaster could help improve the understanding of the science of a disaster and can have an influence on current and future practices.
If you are interested in learning more about some of the topics discussed during the conference please visit: https://fema.connectsolutions.com/cadgeocon/.