External Affairs Bulletin Week of June 29, 2015

Seal of the Department of Homeland Security


Week of June 29, 2015

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Deadlines

August 10 -- Fiscal Year 2015 Homeland Security National Training Program/Continuing Training Grants Program Application Deadline

Fiscal Year 2015 Homeland Security National Training Program/Continuing Training Grants Program Application Deadline

August 15 -- 2016 National Emergency Management Executive Academy Application Deadline

2016 National Emergency Management Executive Academy Application Deadline

August 28 -- Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants Deadline

Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants Deadline

September 15 -- Flood Insurance Policyholders with Hurricane Sandy Claims Request for Review Deadline

Flood Insurance Policyholders with Hurricane Sandy Claims Request for Review Deadline

FEMA Publishes Final Public Assistance Policy on Insurance

Last year, FEMA began to re-evaluate aspects of its Public Assistance (PA) policy and guidance on insurance. After consulting with internal and external stakeholders and subject matter experts, FEMA recognized the need to develop an improved and comprehensive policy to more effectively implement the statutes and regulations that require PA grant Applicants to obtain and maintain insurance as a condition of grant assistance. The resulting policy addresses insurance issues and key policy questions that were unclear in previous policy and guidance, and often resulted in inconsistent implementation.

The new Public Assistance Policy on Insurance posted to the Federal Register on June 29, 2015. This new policy makes several changes including clarifying key terms, the scope of insurance needed, and the difference between flood and non-flood events. The policy also provides options to self-insure, modify the insurance requirement with FEMA and sets standards for a State Insurance Commissioner certification.


The policy takes effect immediately for disasters declared on or after June 29, 2015. FEMA is developing electronic calculation and tracking worksheets to support consistent and accurate implementation of insurance requirements and reductions. Moving forward FEMA will work to ensure ongoing communication with stakeholders to solicit input on key deliverables and the implementation approach.

FEMA will offer webinars for state and tribal partners to review the new Policy on insurance, and provide information on implementation of the policy in the field. FEMA will announce webinar dates and logistics in the coming weeks.

NASA Takes Over FEMA’s Instagram for a Week

Last week, NASA heliophysicist Yari Collado-Vega took over the FEMA Instagram account and shared space weather photos. Her images and descriptions of solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and sunspots were especially timely due to the space weather currently affecting the planet. More of NASA’s photos and space weather explanations from last week can be found by following @fema on Instagram.

  Dr. Yaireska Collado-Vega, a heliophysicist at NASA looks closely at satellite imagery of the sun. As a heliophysicist, Dr. Collado-Vega studies spa

Firework Safety Tips

Many people enjoy picnics, family, and fireworks on July 4. Fireworks are fun and beautiful, but they are also dangerous if not handled properly. In the month of July, an average 230 people go to the emergency room each day due to firework related accidents. Sparklers can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is as hot as a blow torch. The United States Fire Administration urges everyone to stay safe this Independence Day, and to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Here are some safety tips for those who decide to legally purchase and use fireworks:

- Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby.

- Never allow young children to play with or light fireworks.

- Don’t stand over a firework when lighting the fuse.

- Light fireworks one at a time.

- Do not try to relight a firework that isn’t working properly.

For more information about summer safety and fireworks, visit www.usfa.fema.gov.

Notice of Funding Opportunity for Fiscal Year 2015 Homeland Security National Training Program/Continuing Training Grants Program

FEMA announced the release of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Homeland Security National Training Program (HSNTP) Continuing Training Grants (CTG) program with a total $11,521,000 available for awards in four focus areas.


The HSNTP/CTG program develops and delivers innovative training programs that are national in scope and play an important role in the implementation of the National Preparedness System by supporting the building, sustainment, and delivery of core capabilities essential to achieving the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient nation. The FY 2015 HSNTP/CTG program focuses on the following four training areas: Cybersecurity; Hazardous Materials; Countering Violent Extremism; and Rural Preparedness.


This highly competitive program attracts on average 80 applicants from state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, along with eligible non-profit organizations to include colleges and universities. In 2014, 88 eligible organizations competed and six HSNTP/CTG awards were made. Information on the 2014 awards can be found online.


For more information on this opportunity, and to download an application package, visit www.grants.gov. This NOFO can be located on the website by selecting Browse Agencies, and then select Department of Homeland Security. In the Basic Search Criteria, in the CFDA box, enter 97.005; from there, select the Continuing Training Grants (CTG) Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).


FY 2015 HSNTP/CTG applications are due no later than August 10, 2015. Submissions must be made through www.grants.gov.

FEMA Continues Public Assistance Alternative Procedures Debris Pilot Program

After two years of implementation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will continue the Public Assistance Alternative Procedures Debris Pilot for another year starting June 28, 2015. During the last two years, FEMA used the alternative procedures pilot to award more than $258 million in debris removal costs across 71 disasters, which represents more than 87 percent in total debris removal assistance FEMA has provided.


While FEMA’s preliminary review of the data collected thus far for the Debris Pilot indicated that several of the provisions are trending towards satisfying the goals outlined in the law, the one-year extension will enable FEMA to continue to collect additional data that will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of each of the alternative procedures before deciding which features to make permanent. The disasters declared in the last two years did not yield debris removal operations of the type needed to fully test the provisions against the goals outlined in the law. For example, for the two years that the pilot has been in use, the total of all debris removal costs that FEMA documented was $296 million, this number is significantly less than the 10 year annual average of $961 million.


The Public Assistance Alternative Procedures Debris Pilot program for debris removal was one of the first provisions to be implemented under the authorities of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act, which President Obama signed into law on January 29, 2013. The alternative procedures were first offered during the Oklahoma Tornadoes in May of 2013 and were then expanded to include all new declarations on June 28, 2013.


Additional information of the Public Assistance Alternative Procedure Debris Removal Pilot can be found at www.fema.gov/alternative-procedures.

FEMA Meets with Tech Corps Partners to Discuss Program Impacts

FEMA signed Memoranda of Understanding with seven technology organizations on June 17 to formally launch Tech Corps, a nationwide network of skilled technology volunteers who can help address critical challenges experienced by state, local, tribal, and territorial governments following a disaster. After the signing, FEMA met with Cisco Systems, Google, Humanity Road, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, Intel, Joint Communications Task Force and Microsoft to begin developing a program action plan.

Participants were interviewed to discuss what this new program means for communities across the country and for their organizations, including Harmony Mabrey, Manager of Global Disaster Response Operations at Microsoft; Christine Thompson, President of Humanity Road; Catherine Graham, Chief Operating Officer of Humanity Road; and Kristin Buda, Tech Corps Liaison of FEMA’s national Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT). More about the discussion can be read on the FEMA blog.

FEMA is currently developing a functional framework, identifying opportunities to integrate organizational volunteer capabilities, and constructing the outreach plan for the program, as they relate to both public and private sectors. FEMA’s Chief Technology Officer provides strategic counsel for the program, the Private Sector Division develops strategy, policy, and program framework and three Tech Corps Liaisons focus on implementation and operations during disasters. More information on Tech Corps will follow and we continue to work with organizations with existing technology volunteer programs that may be interested in becoming part of the effort

Flood Insurance Policyholders Have Until September 15 to Request Hurricane Sandy Claims Be Reviewed

FEMA is committed to ensuring every National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholder who filed a claim as a result of Hurricane Sandy receives every dollar they are due under their policy. The NFIP established a process for Hurricane Sandy survivors who feel they were underpaid to have their claims reviewed. Where warranted, additional payments will be made to those policyholders.

On May 18, FEMA began mailing letters to approximately 142,000 NFIP policyholders who filed claims resulting from Hurricane Sandy, offering them an opportunity to have their files reviewed. While extensions may be granted on a case by case basis, FEMA set a September 15, 2015 deadline for policyholders to begin the intake process by either phoning the call center and speaking to a claims review specialist or downloading the claims review request form from the website and submitting it via email or by fax. In the coming weeks, FEMA will use a number of communications channels to remind the all 142,000 policyholders of the Fall deadline.

Establishing this review is just one step in FEMA’s effort to improve the program.  The Sandy claims review process is intended to be simple, navigable by the policyholder and does not require paid legal assistance. Additionally, there are several nonprofit service providers ready to offer free advice and answer questions policyholders may have. A list of these advocacy groups can be found on the claims review website at www.fema.gov/sandyclaims.

To be eligible for the review, policyholders must have experienced flood damage between Oct. 27, 2012 and Nov. 6, 2012, as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Policyholders can call the NFIP’s Hurricane Sandy claims center at 1-866-337-4262 or go online to www.fema.gov/sandyclaims to download a form requesting a review. The downloaded form may be filled out and emailed to FEMA-sandyclaimsreview@fema.dhs.gov to start the review process.

FEMA will request the policyholder’s claim file from their insurance company and forward it to the NFIP review office within two business days. Files will be assigned to a highly qualified, NFIP-certified adjuster who will serve as a caseworker for the insured. Caseworkers will contact policyholders to guide them through the process. The caseworker will make a recommendation after a thorough review of the claim file and any new information provided. If the policyholder does not agree with the recommendation, the policyholder will have the opportunity to obtain an additional review of the file by a third party neutral. The entire process should take less than 90 days.

For individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability using 711 or VRS, please call 866-337-4262. For individuals using a TTY, please call 800-462-7585 to begin the review process. Before contacting the claim center, policyholders are asked to have their flood insurance carrier name and policy number at hand.

FEMA and the Private Sector Partner for the 7th Annual Roundtable on Alert and Warning Technologies

FEMA’s National Continuity Program’s (NCP) Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), in partnership with FEMA’s Office of Disability and Integration Coordination (ODIC), hosted its 7th annual IPAWS/ODIC Roundtable entitled “Organizations Improving Accessible Alerts and Warnings.” The Roundtable, held on June 17, 2015, featured presentations and demonstrations from the IPAWS Program Management Office (PMO), federal, and private sector partners.


The IPAWS PMO provided an overview of the IPAWS program and its efforts to incorporate and adopt technologies to make alerts and warnings more accessible, especially for those with access and functional needs. Federal and private sector partners explored opportunities for expanded collaboration and emerging technology to ensure that alert and warning information and communication technology are accessible to individuals with disabilities.


David Baquis of the Technical and Information Services Office of the U.S. Access Board presented an overview of his organization and led an in-depth discussion covering the proposed refresh of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines.  Information Communication Technology Standards are periodically reviewed to ensure that new technologies incorporate accessibility standards.


Edward Czarnecki of the Digital Alert Systems Department of Monroe Electronics demonstrated the unique capabilities of the Audio Management System that automatically inserts Text-To-Speech emergency information into the Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) channels of a television station to help those with disabilities to receive emergency alerts. A tone in the main audio channel signals viewers that an emergency audio description of an alert is available on the SAP channel. The system was developed in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) mandated 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) of 2010.

The IPAWS PMO updated the development of its symbols/icons project designed to enhance public alerts and warnings. Alert and warning symbology is the result of a partnership between FEMA’s IPAWS PMO, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology and the National Alliance of Public Safety’s Geographic Information System Foundation through an initiative to update the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) framework. The adoption of a standardized set of symbols/icons could significantly enhance the effectiveness of public alerts and warnings to communicate vital lifesaving information to the whole community.


The IPAWS PMO will continue to implement recommendations for IPAWS technology capabilities and policy needs based on research and collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center and the Center for Advanced Communications Policy.  IPAWS will continue to develop and promote standard iconography and symbology for alerts and warnings that can help to strengthen the ability of public safety officials to incorporate symbols and media in public alerts and warnings.

Emergency Management Institute and Extension Disaster Education Network Partner to Offer Virtual Agriculture Tabletop Exercise

The Emergency Management Institute’s (EMI) Virtual Table Top Exercise (VTTX) program continues to evolve and expand to meet the demands of the emergency management community.  This new agricultural series, developed in partnership with Louisiana State University Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), focuses on planning and response needs when outbreaks of infectious disease impact livestock.


EMI conducts a monthly series of VTTXes using a video teleconference platform to reach community-based training audiences around the country and provide a virtual forum for disaster training. The VTTX programs are designed for a community-based group of at least ten or more personnel from local or state emergency management organizations with representatives from other disciplines such as public safety, public works, public health, health care, government, administrative, communications, military, private sector, non-governmental, and other whole community partners. Participants must have an appropriate site equipped with video teleconference capability that can access FEMA. 


This VTTX, held in June, was based on an outbreak of “glanders,” an infectious disease that occurs primarily in horses, mules, and donkeys and also other animals, such as dogs, cats and goats. The bacteria that cause glanders can be transmitted to humans through contact with body fluids or tissues of infected animals, or by inhaling dust or sprays contaminated by infected animals.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been no naturally occurring cases of glanders reported in the United States since the 1940s; however, sporadic reports of glanders do occur in other parts of the world. The high mortality rate in humans, the lack of a vaccine, and the increased risk of exposure to infected animals through global logistics, provides a sound platform for emergency management planning considerations.


During the three broadcasts, more than 250 people took part including representatives from state departments of agriculture, state and community fair planning teams, veterinarians and staff, state and local emergency management agencies, and farming communities.

EMI will conduct VTTX programs between July and September 2015 on a variety of subjects:

- July 28-30, 2015:  Psychology of Disaster: Long-term Mental Health Recovery

- August 25-27, 2015Building Collapse Focused

- September 1-3, 2015:  Public Health Infectious Disease (written and hosted by the CDC)

To apply for a VTTX event, submit an email request to participate in the exercise to Doug Kahn at douglas.kahn@fema.dhs.gov or call 301-447-7645. The deadline for applying to participate in a VTTX is four weeks prior to the start date.

Additional information on this VTTX can be found on the EDEN website.

Australia and United States Strengthen Emergency Management Partnership

Emergency Management Australia (EMA), within the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deepened their existing relationship through a renewed five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Cooperation on Emergency Management 2015-2020.


The new MoU was signed on June 26 by EMA Director-General Mark Crosweller and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in Hawaii, during bilateral meetings on emergency management. This re-affirmation of the relationship builds upon the success of the 2010-2015 MoU, which has served as a valuable mechanism for Australia and the United States to share knowledge and experiences and strengthen both nations’ capacity.


This relationship is based on our shared commitment to improve the way we prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. Past engagement has included a focus on preparedness through enhanced planning and exercising for catastrophic events, strengthening community disaster resilience, as well as improving recovery arrangements.


The new MoU will further improve existing cooperation between the Australian and U.S. Governments in key areas including:

- crisis coordination arrangements and capabilities across all hazards;

- policy and planning, including emerging trends in disaster risk reduction, impact assessment, capability development, resilience, recovery, education and community engagement;

- the administration and evaluation of national recovery programs to deliver effective outcomes for government and the community; and

- cooperation in multilateral fora to enhance regional disaster management capacity.


FEMA looks forward to continuing the strong relationship between our two nations to ensure the continuous improvement of disaster resilience across Australia and the United States.

REMINDER: Apply Now for the 2016 National Emergency Management Executive Academy

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is now accepting application packages for the 2016 National Emergency Management Executive Academy. This Academy provides a comprehensive and cutting edge curriculum to enhance strategic leadership and critical thinking for emergency management senior executives from all levels of government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Ideally, candidates will have experience as senior executives of major emergency management organizations, served on major commissions and task forces, or be responsible for decisions that have a significant effect on homeland security and emergency management policies.

The four resident sessions, to be held at EMI in Emmitsburg, Maryland will include:

- Emergency Management – A Leadership Challenge:  February 8-11, 2016

- Integrating Science into Emergency Management Policies and Decisions:  May 2-5, 2016

- Emergency Management in the 21st Century:  June 27 – July 1, 2016

- Exercising Emergency Management Executive Policy and Decision-Making:  September 12-15, 2016

Applications will be accepted through August 15, 2015. There are a limited number of seats and enrollment is competitive. For more information on the Executive Academy and the application and selection process, visit www.training.fema.gov/EMPP/executive.asp.

REMINDER: Funding Opportunity for Fiscal Year 2015 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants

FEMA announced $180 million in funding available through two Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs: Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM). These two grant programs assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in strengthening our nation’s ability to reduce the potential cost of natural disasters to communities and their citizens.

Both HMA FY 2015 Funding Opportunity Announcements can be found at www.grants.gov. Eligible applicants must apply for funding through the Mitigation eGrants system on the FEMA Grants Portal accessible at https://portal.fema.gov. All applications must be submitted no later than 3 p.m. EDT on August 28, 2015.


FEMA's HMA grant programs provide states, local governments, tribes, and territories funding for eligible mitigation activities to strengthen our nation’s ability to reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages. Further information on these grant programs is available at www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-assistance.