External Affairs Bulletin Week of September 14, 2015

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Week of September 14, 2015

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Deadlines

National Advisory Council annual meeting (multiple dates)

National Advisory Council Annual Meeting (multiple dates)

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 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.

“This year we recognize the 14th anniversary of September 11, 2001, which forever changed our national perception of security, and the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina which devastated the Gulf Coast. Both these incidents taught us the true resilience of the American people. North Dakotans have also experienced significant events in the last decade from floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and HazMat incidents. All these events have taught us as Americans the importance of being prepared in the face of adversity. So whether you’re an individual, a business, a city, or a state, we urge you to have a robust emergency plan in place, and consider those actions you can take to enhance the preparedness of your family and community. Only through preparedness can we effectively respond to disasters and ensure the health and safety of our citizens. Preparedness saves lives, property and months, even years, of hardship.”

Senator John Hoeven, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security

“Over the past several years, we have seen an increase in the number of natural disasters in the United States—from Hurricane Irene and Super-Storm Sandy on the East Coast to tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest, including my home state of Wisconsin. There has also been an increase in wildfires in the West during the 2015 fire season, causing many states to exhaust their resources. National Preparedness Month is a time to raise awareness about ways we can all better prepare for these occurrences. It is also a time to highlight critical Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance programs that states and localities can take advantage of, including the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), the Flood Mitigation Assistance program (FMA) and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG). Both HMGP and FMA have helped communities in western Wisconsin plan and prepare for floods and AFG has helped fire departments and nonaffiliated Emergency Management Service organizations throughout Wisconsin to meet their emergency response needs. In my role as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management, I am exploring ways to make improvements to these programs and other disaster preparedness efforts to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect the public from natural disasters.” 

Senator Tammy Baldwin, Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management

“Every year, natural disasters like earthquakes, wildfires, and hurricanes wreak havoc on our communities, putting people in jeopardy and costing millions in damages. These events can happen anywhere, at any time, and often with very little warning. It is vital that we equip our citizens and our communities with the information and resources they need to prepare for these emergencies to keep themselves and their families safe. This month, during National Preparedness Month, I encourage everyone to make a plan to for what they and their family will do in the event of a natural disaster and encourage their friends to do the same. Preparation will save lives, reduces injuries, and minimize infrastructure damage.”

Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Ranking Member, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the devastation of hurricane Katrina and ten years later, New Orleans is still struggling to fully recover. We, as a nation, must do everything we can to ensure that we are prepared to respond to and mitigate the impact of natural and man-made disasters. I’ve seen firsthand the aftermath of these storms and a lack of preparation only exacerbates already horrific situations and suffering experienced by families, businesses, and communities. As we continue the important work of mobilizing, collaborating, and raising awareness this National Preparedness Month, it is critical that all Americans participate and recognize the importance of being ready for any possible scenario. We all have a role to play in ensuring communities in every corner of our nation are prepared when disaster strikes.”

Representative Maxine Waters, Ranking Member, Committee on Financial Services

National Preparedness Month Logo

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 that 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-271.A Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk, 2nd Edition
This course provides background information about weather, natural hazards, and preparedness for emergency managers and community partners.  It offers web-based content based on the multi-day Hazardous Weather and Flood Preparedness course offered by FEMA and the National Weather Service. The training includes weather basics, weather forecasting, threat analysis and hazard planning, and warning information.

IS-324.A Community Hurricane Preparedness
This course provides basic information to people about how hurricanes form; the hazards they pose, how the National Weather Service forecasts future hurricane behavior; and what tools and guiding principles can help emergency managers prepare their communities.

IS-909 Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone
Community members are important in the nation’s preparedness and resilience.  This course presents a model program for community preparedness.  It includes 16 preparedness modules ranging from 20 to 90 minutes that can be delivered to community groups in English and in Spanish. It provides information on developing a communications plan, creating a low-cost disaster kit, establishing a support network, planning for and practicing an evacuation, and planning for recovery from a disaster.

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.

Eight Mississippi Gulf Coast Communities Participate in High Water Mark Initiative

The Mississippi Coastal Hazard Outreach Strategy Team (C-HOST), comprised of local floodplain managers and other agency representatives, partnered with FEMA this summer in a High Water Mark Initiative. The community-based awareness initiative focuses on increasing consciousness about flood risk and encourages communities to take actions to mitigate that risk. Through the initiative, eight C-HOST communities identified 18 high-traffic locations along the Gulf Coast to post signs and markers that reflect the height of flood waters during the area’s historic storms.


The signs provide a brief narrative about the devastation to the coast due to the storm surge and resulting floodwaters, and provide a map to the locations of the other high water mark signs. Each sign is accompanied by markers to give passersby a visual reminder of just how high the flood waters rose. The red marker represents the water level due to Hurricane Katrina, the blue marker represents the water level due to Hurricane Camille, and the black marker represents the base flood elevation. The signs and markers were installed the week prior to the 10-year commemoration of Hurricane Katrina.


Today, the Mississippi Gulf Coast boasts 62 miles of scenic shorelines and beautiful wildlife, but in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the United States Gulf Coast as a Category 3 hurricane sweeping across 400 miles. Storm surge caused much of the widespread devastation to Mississippi communities. During the recovery effort, FEMA worked side-by-side with federal, state, and local partners to help rebuild those communities.


Ten years later, the desire to rebuild the Gulf Coast as a resilient community is stronger than ever. Each of the eight participating C-HOST communities plans to continue outreach efforts to increase awareness about the dangers of storm surge by providing information to realtors, insurance agencies, and property owners. The campaign is intended to encourage citizens to take actions today that will reduce their likelihood of loss during future flooding events.


The High Water Mark Initiative is an outreach strategy developed by FEMA and eight other Federal agencies and is customized for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For more information regarding the High Water Mark initiative, visit www.fema.gov/high-water-mark-initiative.

A High Water Mark in Biloxi, Mississippi
A High Water Mark in Biloxi, Mississippi

FEMA Seeks Comments on Preliminary Damage Assessment Manual

FEMA is seeking comments from state, local, and tribal emergency management practitioners on the draft FEMA Damage Assessment Operating Manual. The manual establishes national damage assessment standards developed from historic lessons learned and best-practices already in use by local, state, tribal and federal emergency management agencies.

The draft manual is posted in the FEMA library. Comments should be added to the comment matrix and submitted to Mr. Ryan Buras, Senior Program Advisor, Public Assistance, Recovery Directorate, no later than November 14, 2015. FEMA requests comments on the manual be sent either via email to  PDAmanual@fema.dhs.gov or mail to Mr. Ryan Buras, Senior Program Advisor, Public Assistance, Recovery Directorate, FEMA, 500 C Street, SW, Mail Stop 3163, Washington, DC 20472.

The FEMA Damage Assessment Operating Manual is built using a framework that encourages local information collection, state or tribal verification and federal validation. This document better highlights and provides guidance to state, tribal, and local governments on their role in the assessment. This version of the PDA manual also clarifies the types of damage that will qualify under the descriptors of destroyed, major damage, minor damage, or affected.

FIMA Policy Clarification for Hazard Mitigation Grants Program Obligations Approved

The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) published a policy clarification, which provides assurance that obligations approved prior to the 12 month Hazard Mitigation Grants Program ceiling will not be de-obligated if subsequent ceiling values are less than the obligated amount. The memo clarifies restrictions to early funding and identifies whose approval is required.


For questions or concerns, please contact Franki Coons by e-mail at Franki.Coons@fema.dhs.gov or phone at (202) 646-3079.

Next Meeting of the FEMA National Advisory Council

FEMA will be holding the next National Advisory Council (NAC) public meeting at Gallaudet University’s Kellogg Conference Center at 800 Florida Ave NE, Washington, DC, 20002, from September 16-18, 2015. During the meeting, the NAC will meet with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Deputy Administrator Joe Nimmich, and senior leadership to receive program briefings, and discuss the progress and potential recommendations of its three subcommittees: Preparedness and Protection, Response and Recovery, and Federal Insurance and Mitigation. The full agenda can be found on the FEMA NAC website at www.fema.gov/national-advisory-council.


There will also be remarks from Dr. Carol Erting, Provost of Gallaudet University, and Chris Geldart, Director of the District of Columbia’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (DC HSEMA). More information about those who will present updates at the meeting can be found in the Federal Register.


Members of the public are invited to provide public comments after the subcommittee report- outs between 3:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. EDT on Thursday, September 17, 2015. Directions on how to submit public comments can be found on the NAC webpage. For those planning to attend in person and for additional information on facilities or services for individuals with disabilities or to request special assistance at the meeting, please contact the Office of the NAC by email at FEMA-NAC@fema.dhs.gov.


More information on the NAC is available at www.fema.gov/national-advisory-council.

FEMA Reminds States of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test in Six New England States

FEMA is working together with state 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 can 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 intended 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 National Periodic Test (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.

This 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 state, as some stations in New England can be received across the New York border.

For more information on IPAWS please visit www.fema.gov/ipaws.