External Affairs Bulletin Week of September 7, 2015

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Week of September 7, 2015

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Deadlines

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

Flood Insurance Policyholders with Hurricane Sandy Claims Request for Review Deadline

National PrepareAthon! Day

National PrepareAthon! Day

National Preparedness Month: Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). All across the country, federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, community organizations, and members of the private sector have embraced NPM and America's PrepareAthon! by planning events that will help their community to be more prepared. You can take the lead in planning an activity for National PrepareAthon! Day in your organization or community. The America's PrepareAthon! website has many resources available to help plan a successful event.


Congressional Support for National Preparedness Month

FEMA appreciates the support of the Members of Congress who are serving as 2015 co-sponsors for National Preparedness Month. Throughout September, the External Affairs Bulletin will feature statements from these members.

"As chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I am honored to serve as a congressional co-chair for the 12th annual National Preparedness Month. Over the years, my home state of Wisconsin has seen its share of disasters, weathering severe storms, power outages, damaging winds, tornadoes, flooding and mudslides. This year’s National Preparedness Month theme, ‘Don’t Wait. Communicate: Make Your Emergency Plan Today,’ is vital, as disasters happen at a moment’s notice. It is imperative that families think ahead by creating and reviewing emergency plans, building and restocking emergency kits, and promoting awareness among friends and local communities. Through effective preparation, we can do a better job of keeping our communities and loved ones safe.”

Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

“Ten years ago, we witnessed the heartbreaking destruction and devastation Hurricane Katrina left along our nation’s Gulf Coast. Countless lives and communities throughout the region were changed. Hurricane Katrina made it clear that we were simply ill-prepared for a storm of that magnitude, and underscored the need for drastic improvements to our emergency management and preparedness. The good news is that we’ve come a long way in those ten years, but there’s more work to be done. I continue to work hand in hand with my Congressional colleagues to ensure that our government is prepared to respond to disasters and save lives, but we can’t do it alone. Every American must take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones when a disaster occurs. National Preparedness Month encourages all of us to share techniques and access tools that can save homes, businesses, and lives. By working together, we can become stronger and more resilient and better protect ourselves from future storms.”

Senator Tom Carper, Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs

"We can never know for sure when a terrorist attack or natural disaster will occur, but we all have the responsibility to be prepared. In the 14 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks and the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, the nation has made significant progress in our preparedness and response efforts. However, we must remain vigilant. As the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, this National Preparedness Month, I urge all individuals and communities to be aware of the threats our nation faces and take steps to enhance their preparedness." 

Representative Michael McCaul, Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security

“This year's National Preparedness Month follows the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The storm devastated the gulf coast, including parts of my home state of Mississippi, and forced the nation to resume a national conversation about emergency preparedness capabilities that began, but was slowly abandoned, after the September 11 terrorist attacks. One of the most important lessons we learned was that we cannot become complacent. National preparedness cannot be achieved through one-time investments or a single drill or exercise - it takes continued investment and sustained efforts. On the state and local level, I encourage community leaders and first responders to continue their efforts to bolster preparedness and response capabilities, leverage regional capabilities when budgets are stretched thin, and involve the public in preparedness and planning efforts. On the federal level, I encourage my colleagues to support robust funding to build and maintain preparedness capabilities, and I urge my colleagues to return to regular order on our annual appropriations bills. Communities across the nation need resources for emergency planning, disaster mitigation, and response training.”

Representative Bennie Thompson, Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security

National Preparedness Month Logo

National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Now Available

This wildfire season is shaping up to be one of the worst in U.S. history. The Third National Climate Assessment: Climate Change Impacts in the United States concludes that warmer and drier conditions have contributed to increasing wildfire events across the western United States, and future increases are projected in some regions. Already this year, there have been over 44,000 wildfires that have damaged or destroyed almost 8.5 million acres. Combine this with the ever increasing number of homes that are being built in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), more communities are being placed at risk.

The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) is a holistic approach to wildland fire management that could help you and your communities prepare for what may lie ahead. FEMA’s US Fire Administration (USFA) is collaborating with federal agencies/departments and other governmental and non-governmental partners to establish priorities under the three goals of the Cohesive Strategy:  resilient landscapes, fire-adapted communities, and safe and effective wildfire response. The result would be communities and landscapes that are more resilient to the harmful effects of wildland fire. The goal for fire-adapted communities asserts that human populations and infrastructures can withstand a wildland fire without loss of life and property.


Communities and individuals have roles and responsibilities that will increase their wildfire resilience:

- Be aware of and understand risks associated with wildfire.

- Take action to make homes and properties more “Firewise.”

- If wildfire strikes, be prepared to “Ready, Set, Go! 

- America’s PrepareAthon! asks everyone to take action, be counted, and spread the word. Register your actions today at www.ready.gov/prepare.


For more information, visit the USFA website:  www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/wildfire.html

Emergency Management Institute Offers Free Online Preparedness Courses

National Preparedness Month serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and also where we visit. FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is the emergency management community’s flagship training institution who provides training to federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, volunteer, public, and private sector officials to strengthen emergency management core competencies for professional, career-long training. 


EMI’s Curriculum Standards and Instructional Technology Branch manages the Independent Study Program (ISP), which offers free training to the nation’s emergency management community and to the general public. It serves as an alternative means to deliver valuable training to professionals and to the volunteer emergency management community. It helps to improve public awareness and to promote disaster preparedness to the public. The ISP offers 200 training courses, including courses on preparedness for hurricanes and other disasters, that can help prepare emergency managers and the public for the hazards identified during National Preparedness Month:

IS-22 Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness

This course helps citizens to learn how to protect themselves and their families against all types of hazards. It can be used as a reference or as a step-by-step-basic manual for how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during, and after a disaster to protect people and property.

IS-247.A Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) for Public Safety Officials

This course provides basic information on the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). It provides authorized public safety officials with increased awareness of the benefits of using IPAWS for public warnings, such as how to develop more effective warning messages.

To get a complete listing of courses, visit www.training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.aspx. All are offered free of charge to those who enroll. For more information on National Preparedness Month, visit www.ready.gov/september.

FEMA Announces Statewide Test of the Emergency Alert System in Six New England States

As part of FEMA’s mission to strengthen preparedness and resiliency, FEMA is working together with state, local, and tribal emergency managers and state broadcasters, to conduct a statewide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in six New England states. The test, expected to last approximately one minute, is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

The test in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island will verify that participating radio, TV, and cable systems are able to receive a National Periodic Test (NPT) code message from the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and broadcast the test message. The test message will be the same as previous EAS test messages, with the word “national” added to the message: “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test..." The test is designed to occur during the state’s regular monthly EAS test conducted by state officials and broadcasters in the six New England states. It is designed to have limited impact on the public, with only minor disruptions in radio and TV shows.

The test requires that radio and television stations make a minor configuration change to their station EAS equipment to receive and process the NPT code message. Participation in the September 16 test is completely voluntary for radio and TV stations and cable operators. There is no Federal Communications Commission liability for stations that choose not to participate. The test is a cooperative effort to ensure that communication channels are available, working and ready to deliver alerts and warnings to the public when an emergency occurs in the six states. (It is also possible the EAS test could be heard or seen in upper New York, as some stations in New England can be received across the New York border.)

For more information on IPAWS, visit www.fema.gov/ipaws or www.ready.gov/alerts.

Unified Federal Environmental and Historic Preservation Review Guide for Federal Disaster Recovery Assistance Applicants (Applicant Guide) Release

FEMA, in coordination with the inter-agency Steering Group comprised of the Department of Homeland Security, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Council on Environmental Quality, released the Unified Federal Environmental and Historic Preservation Review Guide for Federal Disaster Recovery Assistance Applicants (Applicant Guide). The issuance of this Applicant Guide is an important step in the implementation of the Unified Federal Review (UFR) Process, established in July 2014 through an interagency Memorandum of Understanding.


The UFR Process provides federal agencies with opportunities to expedite environmental and historic preservation (EHP) reviews through enhanced coordination for all presidentially declared disasters. The Applicant Guide will assist applicants, (state and local agencies, Indian tribes, small business owners, individuals) in complying with EHP requirements when multiple agencies may be involved in funding or permitting a disaster recovery project. It also outlines the type of information applicants should submit to federal agencies to assist in expediting the EHP review.


To learn more about the UFR Process and to access the Applicant Guide, visit the Unified Federal Review webpage.

Coming Soon: FEMA Damage Assessment Operating Manual

In the coming weeks, FEMA will issue a draft of the FEMA Damage Assessment Operating Manual and solicit input from emergency management practitioners at the state, tribal, territorial, and local levels of government as well as private non-profit organizations. FEMA will conduct formal tribal consultation on this document. The FEMA Damage Assessment Operating Manual establishes national damage assessment standards developed from historic lessons learned and best practices already in use, and is intended to increase the accuracy, consistency, and efficiency of damage assessments by empowering emergency management at all levels with clear information and defined roles and responsibilities.

FEMA Administrator Appoints National Advisory Council Members

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate appointed five new members and reappointed five current members to the FEMA National Advisory Council (NAC). The NAC, which consists of up to 35 members, is an advisory committee established by federal law to ensure effective and ongoing coordination of federal emergency management activities. Members represent the whole community and include representatives from a wide array of backgrounds and communities involved or affected by the emergency management profession.


The NAC provides recommendations to the FEMA Administrator on a variety of issues within emergency management. For example, the NAC recently made recommendations to address training gaps for the whole community, and to address children’s needs through the establishment of a permanent advisor position within the Agency to focus on the needs of children in disasters.


FEMA received more than 140 applications for the open positions. All applicants were thoroughly considered through an intensive review process, which included an interagency membership recommendation panel of senior government officials. All appointments are for three-year terms.

For the full list of members, see the press release. Additional information on the FEMA National Advisory Council is available at www.fema.gov/national-advisory-council.

FEMA Honors Achievements in Community Preparedness

FEMA announced the winners of the 2015 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of individuals, programs, and organizations throughout the country working to prepare their communities for emergencies.


The winners developed innovative practices and campaigns in 2014 that have made outstanding contributions toward making communities safer, better prepared, and more resilient. The eleven FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award recipients will be recognized on September 8, 2015 in Washington, D.C. During the recognition ceremony, recipients will share their experiences, success stories, and lessons learned with fellow emergency management leaders.


For the full list of winners, see the press release.

FINAL REMINDER: Deadline to Submit Hurricane Sandy Claims for Review Is Approaching

FEMA is reminding National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders, who filed a claim as a result of Hurricane Sandy, they have until September 15, 2015, to register to have their claim files reviewed if they believe their claims were underpaid. FEMA is committed to ensuring every NFIP policyholder who filed a claim as a result of Hurricane Sandy receives every dollar they are due under their policy. The agency established a process for Hurricane Sandy survivors to have their claims reviewed, and where warranted, additional payments will be made to those policyholders. FEMA has begun providing additional funds to policyholders taking part in the Hurricane Sandy Claims Review.

To be eligible, policyholders must have experienced flood damage between October 27, 2012 and November 6, 2012. Policyholders can call the NFIP’s Hurricane Sandy claims center at 866-337-4262 to request a review. Alternately, policyholders can go online to www.fema.gov/hurricane-sandy-nfip-claims to download a form requesting a review. The completed form may be emailed to FEMA-sandyclaimsreview@fema.dhs.gov to start the process. For individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use 711 or VRS, please call 866-337-4262. For individuals using a TTY, please call 800-462-7585 to begin the review process.

When policyholders call, they should have available the name on the policy, address of the damaged property, the name of the insurance company and the policy number that was in effect at the time of the loss. Policyholders will be asked a series of questions to determine whether they qualify for review. Once qualified, policyholders will be called by an adjuster, acting as a case worker, to begin the review. The timing of the adjuster’s initial call may be affected by the volume of requests for review. Most reviews can be concluded within 90 days. Files will be assigned to an NFIP-certified adjuster who will review the claim file. Adjusters will contact policyholders to guide them through the review process. Policyholders who have already requested their review can call 866-337-4262 if they have questions or need more information.

After a policyholder receives the results of their claims review in writing from FEMA, they may seek reconsideration by a neutral third party reviewer if they are dissatisfied with the result. The review is an optional process established by FEMA to give policyholders an opportunity to seek further reexamination of their claim file by a neutral third party reviewer. FEMA will give substantial weight to the recommendation made by the officials in making its final determination on the file. Policyholders who have already requested a Hurricane Sandy claims review do not need to take any additional action and can expect to be contacted by their adjuster.

The Sandy claims review process is intended to be simple for 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/advocacy-groups-and-services-referral-list.