External Affairs Bulletin Week of September 28, 2015

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Week of September 28, 2015

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Deadlines

National PrepareAthon! Day

National PrepareAthon! Day

Proposed Stafford Act Section 705 Policy Open Comment Period Deadline

Proposed Stafford Act Section 705 Policy Open Comment Period Deadline

Preliminary Damage Assessment Manual Open Comment Period Deadline

Preliminary Damage Assessment Manual Open Comment Period Deadline

FEMA Encourages Families and Communities to Participate in National PrepareAthon! Day

FEMA encourages individuals, families, workplaces, schools, and organizations across the nation to take part in National PrepareAthon! Day on September 30, 2015. Extreme weather is occurring more often across the United States, which is increasing the costs of natural disasters. According to a recent survey conducted by FEMA, fewer than half of Americans have discussed and developed an emergency plan with their household.

As part of National Preparedness Month and National PrepareAthon! Day, FEMA is encouraging everyone to develop and practice their family emergency plan to prepare for disasters that are known threats in their communities.

National PrepareAthon! Day is part of America’s PrepareAthon!, a nationwide grassroots campaign for action to increase community preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific group discussions, drills, and exercises. The campaign offers easy-to-implement preparedness guides, checklists, and resources to help individuals, organizations, and communities prepare for the types of disasters that are relevant to their area. People can take these simple steps to increase their preparedness: 

  1. Create a family emergency communication plan. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download Be Smart. Take Part: Create Your Family Emergency Communication Plan. Collect the information you need, decide on the places you will meet in case of an emergency, share the information with your family, and practice your plan. 
  2. Sign up for local text alerts and warnings and download weather apps. Stay aware of worsening weather conditions. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download Be Smart: Know Your Alerts and Warnings to learn how sign up for local alerts and weather apps that are relevant for hazards that affect your area.
  3. Gather important documents and keep them in a safe place. Have all of your personal, medical, and legal papers in one place, so you can evacuate without worrying about gathering your family’s critical documents at the last minute. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download Be Smart: Protect Your Critical Documents and Valuables for a helpful checklist.
  4. Create an emergency supply kit. Be prepared for bad weather by creating an emergency supply kit for each member of your family. Visit ready.gov/build-a-kit for more ideas of what to include in your kit.

Visit the America’s PrepareAthon! website, ready.gov/prepare for more information, to sign up, and to register your participation.

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 is featuring statements from these members.


“Today, I'm proud to join with congressional colleagues to raise awareness about National Preparedness. It is important for all of us to be prepared to deal with a wide range of emergencies, including earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, power outages, acts of terrorism, and wildfires. I encourage every Californian – and every American – to consider ways to proactively protect themselves and their families, friends, and loved ones against disasters of all kinds. Make a plan today at www.ready.gov/september.”

Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security

“I am honored to once again serve as Congressional Co-Chair of National Preparedness Month. As Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on ‎Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, I cannot stress enough the importance of families, community organizations, and leaders taking the simple but necessary measures to make sure they are prepared in the event of a disaster. Thanks to the tremendous efforts from emergency planners and preparedness officials, my community has stood strong through man-made disasters and terrorist attacks, like 9/11, and natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy. This month, community leaders should work with the public to assess, update, and drill their plans, and ensure that they accommodate the unique needs of vulnerable populations, especially children. As National Preparedness Month coincides with children across the country embarking on a new academic year, it is the perfect time for schools to ensure they have updated safety and reunification plans that accommodate all children as well.”

Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr., Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications

Disasters do not discriminate – they can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. September is National Preparedness Month and participating is easy.  MAKE A PLAN for your family in the event of an emergency. Have adequate supplies, such as food, water, and medicine. Ensure that each person in your household knows what to do in the event of an emergency, where to go and how to re-connect once you have reached safety. This September, I encourage all Hoosiers to commit to participating in National Preparedness Month.”

Representative Andre Carson, Ranking Member, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management

National Preparedness Month Logo

FEMA Corps Conducts Nationwide Communications Drill

FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) and FEMA Corps, an AmeriCorps service program for 18-24 year olds, partnered to conduct disaster preparedness outreach around the National Capital Region. As a part of National Preparedness Month, the ICPD and FEMA Corps Team Alpine 2 created and executed a FEMA Corps-wide emergency communications drill.


Since FEMA Corps teams travel around the nation and work on various FEMA sponsored projects aiding disaster relief efforts, emergency communication plans are essential for each and every FEMA Corps team. During deployments, teams are frequently separated working on individual assignments, emphasizing the need for communications plans. By being prepared, FEMA Corps teams are not only helping themselves be ready for a disaster, but also helping set an example to the emergency management community.  


This drill built resilient FEMA Corps teams and promoted emergency preparedness. It required all Corps members to update their team contacts and reach out to family members to create or reevaluate their personal communications plan. Every team received an electronic flyer that included steps on how to conduct the communications drill, discussion questions on team preparedness, and additional exercises on how to better prepare for emergencies at their various project sites and lodging.


There are currently 57 FEMA Corps teams with 472 Corps members serving throughout the United States. More information about FEMA Corps can be found at www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/fema-corps.

FEMA Corps Members Kerry Boglin and Caitlin von Stein promote preparedness to DOD Employees at the 2015 Pentagon Preparedness Fair.
FEMA Corps Members Kerry Boglin and Caitlin von Stein promote preparedness to Department of Defense employees at the 2015 Pentagon Preparedness Fair.

FEMA Seeks Comments on Proposed Stafford Act Section 705 Policy

FEMA seeks public comments from state, local, tribal and territorial governments, private non-profit organizations, and interested members of the public regarding the Agency’s proposed policy describing guidelines FEMA will follow when implementing section 705 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act). The proposed policy applies to all potential recoveries of payments made to state, Indian tribal government, or local government recipients and details how FEMA will determine whether Stafford Act section 705 bars FEMA from recovering assistance payments.


Comments are due November 2, 2015, and should be submitted online.

Emergency Management Institute's Virtual Tabletop Exercise Reaches More than 7,000 Participants Nationwide

The Emergency Management Institute’s (EMI) Virtual Tabletop Exercise (VTTX) program continued to evolve and grow to meet the demands of the emergency management community across the United States, reaching more than 7,000 participants in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. VTTX broadcasts addressed a variety of subjects including a chlorine leak, an active shooter, an agricultural incident, disaster recovery, and a critical stress management seminar.

EMI conducts a monthly series of VTTX training using a video teleconference platform to reach community-based training audiences around the country and to provide a virtual forum for disaster training and discussion. The VTTX program is 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, tribal nations, and other whole community partners. Participants must have an appropriate site equipped with video teleconference capability that can access FEMA.

During FY 2015, the 74 VTTX broadcasts produced 22 different scenarios creating a training and learning environment for 7,129 participants. The number of agencies taking part in the VTTXs totaled 620 agencies in FY 2015, a vast jump from 340 agencies in FY 2014. Several VTTX broadcasts were designed for specific stakeholder training needs including Super Bowl 50 and the recent Papal visit to the United States. Unique stakeholders this year included utilities, volunteer agencies, professional sports, private security companies, academia, airports, seaports, insurance companies, oil companies, and movie and television studios.

VTTX broadcasts trained thousands of participants helping to save costs on salaries, travel, and production time. Many agencies do not have full-time exercise planners or facilitators, and the VTTX exercises were a unique opportunity to learn from the experience of others. U.S. taxpayers saved millions of dollars as teleconference technology eliminated transportation and housing costs for FEMA, along with incremental costs for maintaining additional classrooms and beds on-campus of the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, Maryland. As a result, more beds and classrooms were made available on the NETC campus for other EMI and National Fire Academy courses.

The VTTX exercises are designed to enable the participants to practice their knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively conduct all-hazards emergency response, recovery, and mitigation operations. The goal is to provide a virtual environment for participants to improve collective performance of critical tasks for a designated hazard or disaster affecting their community and strengthen coordination among counterparts representing agencies at all levels of government, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations.

EMI will conduct the following VTTX programs in early FY 2016:

- October 6, 7, 8:  Cyber

- October 20, 21, 22:  Public Health

- November 3, 4, 5:  Winter Storms

- November 17, 18, 19:  Power Outages

To apply for a VTTX event, please submit an email request to Doug Kahn at douglas.kahn@fema.dhs.gov or call 301-447-7645. The application deadline is four weeks prior to the start date. Additional information on FY 2016 VTTX broadcasts is available on the EMI Website at www.training.fema.gov/emi.aspx.

REMINDER: FEMA Seeks Comments on Preliminary Damage Assessment Manual

FEMA seeks comments from state, local, tribal, and territorial 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, territorial, and federal emergency management agencies.


The draft manual and comment matrix is posted in the FEMA library. Comments should be added into the comment matrix and submitted to Mr. Ryan Buras, Senior Program Advisor, Public Assistance, Recovery Directorate, no later than November 14, 2015. FEMA asks that comments on the manual be sent either by email to  PDAmanual@fema.dhs.gov or by 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, tribal or territorial verification, and federal validation. This document better highlights and provides guidance to state, local, tribal, and territorial 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.