External Affairs Bulletin Week of December 28, 2015

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Week of December 28, 2015

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Deadlines

Jan 1 -- New "Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide" Effective

New "Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide" Effective

Jan 11 -- Individual Assistance Declaration Criteria for States Open Comment Period

Individual Assistance Declaration Criteria for States Open Comment Period

January 15 -- Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Application Deadline

Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Application Deadline

Central Texas Community Participates in High Water Mark Initiative

On January 9, 2016, the City of Leon Valley, Texas, will become the first community in FEMA’s Region 6 to participate in the federal interagency High Water Mark (HWM) Initiative. This community-based awareness program, launched three years ago by FEMA and several participating federal agencies, improves the public’s awareness of flood risk and encourages communities to take long-term action to address this risk.

In annual Flood Risk Awareness Surveys, a trend among survey respondents is that very few (less than 30 percent) believe their community is at risk of flooding. In reality, flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States, and can be caused in a number of ways such as snow melt, ice jams, or unusually high rainfall rate.

The latter is what happened in Central Texas in mid-October 1998. More than 11 inches of rain fell in a few hours throughout the region and created unprecedented flooding in the City of Leon Valley. In recovery efforts, the City of Leon Valley implemented several mitigation actions including a county collaborative floodplain improvement project, revising flood regulations, installing flood sensors in creeks, and adding automatic text alerts to residents that live in areas that might flood.

As local, county, and emergency management officials are taking measures to lessen the effects of damage to businesses and residences after a flood, it is also a priority to continue outreach and awareness programs to encourage citizens to take action as well. As time passes and memories fade about the impact of a disaster and its aftermath, the hallmark of a HWM Initiative is to place signs at the height of a waterline to remind people of their community’s history and potential for flooding that can occur without notice.

For more information about the federal interagency HWM Initiative, visit www.fema.gov/high-water-mark-initiative.

Updated National Flood Insurance Program Specific Rate Guidelines Manual Now Available Online

The updated National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)’s Specific Rating Guidelines Manual is now available online. The Manual is used by Write Your Own flood insurance companies that participate in NFIP to help determine rules and rates for high risk properties with certain anomalous flood risk circumstances that prevent rate determination by use of guidelines in the standard NFIP Flood Insurance Manual. These updates to the specific rating guidelines updates take effect April 1, 2016.

Winter Weather Safety Social Media Toolkit Now Available

The Ready Campaign recommends using social media tools as one way to promote and encourage emergency preparedness. The winter weather social media toolkit includes Facebook and Twitter posts, related preparedness graphics, and preparedness social media writing tips that are customizable for your agency or organization.


More information about winter storms and extreme cold, as well as how to prepare before, during, and after severe winter weather, is available at www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Winter Weather Preparedness

FEMA Congratulates Basic Academy Graduates

FEMA congratulates the 35 students who graduated from the National Emergency Management Basic Academy on December 17, 2015. These graduates completed the full Basic Academy curriculum, which provides the basic knowledge and skills to help meet the unpredictable challenges in the field of emergency management. Graduates represented emergency management professionals from federal (2), state (2), local (18), private sector (2), non-governmental organizations, schools (1 from K-12, 3 from higher education), and military (7).

FEMA’s National Emergency Management Basic Academy is the entry-point for individuals pursuing a career in emergency management, offering the tools to develop the needed comprehensive foundational skills.   For those who are new to emergency management, the Basic Academy also provides a unique opportunity to build camaraderie, to establish professional contacts, and to understand the roles, responsibilities, and legal boundaries associated with emergency management.


The Basic Academy is the first of a three-level Academy series in the Emergency Management Professional Program (EMPP). The EMPP curriculum is designed to guide and educate emergency management professionals as they progress through their careers, providing a lifetime of learning for emergency management professionals. The EMPP includes three separate, but closely threaded, training programs; building from the Basic Academy; to the National Emergency Management Advanced Academy, and culminating in the National Emergency Management Executive Academy. The Advanced Academy is a program to develop the next generation of emergency management leaders who are trained in advanced concepts and issues, advanced leadership and management, and critical thinking and problem solving. The Executive Academy is a program designed to challenge and enhance the talents of the nation’s emergency management senior executives through critical thinking, visionary strategic planning, challenging conventional concepts, and negotiation and conflict resolution applied to complex real-world problems. Emergency management professionals should visit www.training.fema.gov/empp for more information about which academy best suits their needs.


Congratulations, graduates!

Put a Freeze on Winter Fires

Put a Freeze on Winter Fires

Because the risk of home fires increases in the winter, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) teamed up for the fifth year to draw attention to the risk of home fires and ways to keep you and your loved ones safe during the winter months.

From December to February, a fire safety tip will be released each week to help you stay fire safe this winter. You can follow these messages on Twitter @usfire or on Facebook.

REMINDER: EMI Offers Virtual Tabletop Exercises

EMI conducts a monthly series of Virtual Tabletop Exercises (VTTXs) using a teleconference platform to reach community based training audiences around the country providing a virtual forum for disaster training. The design of the VTTX is for a group of ten or more representatives from state, local, and tribal Emergency Management Community of Practice. Participants must have an appropriate site equipped with video teleconference capability.


The goals of the VTTX are to test the participants’ knowledge, skills, and abilities to conduct all-hazards emergency response and recovery effectively. The VTTXs also enable coordination response operations with counterparts from Federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, private sector organizations, non-governmental agencies, and other emergency management partners. The VTTX occurs 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET.

EMI will conduct the following VTTX programs in February and March:

- February 9, 10, 11, 2016:  Cyber scenario (course number V0015B)

- February 23, 24, 25, 2016:  Tornado scenario (course number V0005A)

- March 8, 9, 10, 2016:  Tornado scenario (course number V0005B)

- March 22, 23, 24, 2016:  Flood scenario (course number V0007)

To participate in a VTTX, submit an email request to Doug Kahn at douglas.kahn@fema.dhs.gov or call 301-447-7645.  Please send a courtesy copy email to the Integrated Emergency Management Branch at FEMA-EMI-IEMB@fema.dhs.gov or call 301-447-1381.  The deadline for applying to a VTTX is four weeks prior to the start date. Additional information is available at https://training.fema.gov/programs/emivttx.aspx.

REMINDER: FEMA Seeks Input on Individual Assistance Declaration Criteria for States

FEMA is seeking public comment on proposed changes to regulation describing FEMA’s Individual Assistance (IA) declarations criteria. FEMA published the proposed rule in the Federal Register, and is seeking comments by January 11, 2016.

The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act (SRIA) requires FEMA to review, update and revise, through rulemaking, the factors it uses to measure the severity, magnitude, and impact of a disaster. The proposed rule, which has a 60 day public comment period, is intended to provide more objective and clear IA declaration factors and speed the declaration process, including FEMA’s recommendation to the President on whether a major disaster declaration authorizing IA is warranted.

The proposed rule largely expands and clarifies current factors and aligns them with the data presently collected to support the evaluation process and adds additional data sets easily accessible by states. FEMA reviewed the current factors and the proposed rule intends to revise the current factors by including:  State Fiscal Capacity and Resource Availability, Uninsured Home and Personal Property Losses, Disaster Impacted Population Profile, Impact to Community Infrastructure, Casualties, and Disaster Related Unemployment.

Comments are due on January 11, 2016, and can be submitted online.

REMINDER: Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Application Period Open

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) opened for applications on Monday, December 7, and will close on Friday, January 15, 2016, at 5 p.m. ET. Grant guidance for this program is available at www.grants.gov and www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program. The “Get Ready Guide” may also be useful for potential applicants and is provided to answer questions and to help prepare grant applications.


The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, (Pub. L. 113-76) provides $306,000,000 in AFG Program funding to assist fire departments and nonaffiliated ambulance and emergency medical service organizations meet their firefighting and emergency response needs. The AFG Program enables these organizations to obtain the tools and resources necessary to more effectively protect the health and safety of the public and emergency response personnel.