FEMA Bulletin Week of September 18, 2017

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Week of September 18, 2017

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Deadlines

October 5

FEMA Fiscal Year 2018-2022 Strategic Plan Open Comment Period


sept 27

EAS Nationwide test

FEMA Encourages Residents and Visitors in Hurricanes’ Paths to Prepare Now

As Hurricane Maria advances toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Jose approaches the northeastern United States, residents and visitors in potentially affected areas should review their preparations. Always remember to listen to the instructions of state, tribal, territorial, commonwealth, and local officials.

As we continue response and recovery operations following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, FEMA is preparing for response to the potential impacts of Hurricanes Jose and Maria. FEMA staff in headquarters, and regional offices in New York, Boston, and the Caribbean Area Office, are closely monitoring the tracks of Hurricanes Maria and Jose, while pre-positioning assets and commodities to prepare for potential impacts from these storms. 

The U.S. Coast Guard relocated personnel, cutters, and aircraft Monday from areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico expected to be impacted by Hurricane Maria.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Jose is expected to produce life-threatening surf and rip currents and possible heavy rainfall along portions of the East Coast. Hurricane Jose is producing life-threatening surf and rip currents and possible heavy rainfall along portions of the East Coast. A Tropical Storm Watch and Warning are in effect from Fire Island Inlet, New York to north to Hull, Massachusetts.

Now is the time to prepare for these hurricanes. FEMA recommends all residents and visitors in the paths of Hurricanes Jose and Maria to review these tips.

- Check to make sure your emergency kit is stocked and test your family communications plan.

- Know your evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go, and how you would get there if instructed to evacuate. If directed to evacuate by local officials, evacuate.

Stay vigilant, and continue to monitor local radio or TV stations, and local emergency management officials, for updated weather and emergency information.

The FEMA App (available in English and Spanish) provides National Weather Service alerts (for up to five areas), emergency kit checklists, directions to open shelters, safety preparation tips, and more. For more safety procedures and tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, visit ready.gov/hurricanes or listo.gov/es/huracanes.

Hurricane Response and Relief - How You Can Help

FEMA is advising people who want to help survivors affected by Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria to do so through affiliation with the voluntary organizations that are active in the ongoing disaster operations. Those interested in volunteering are requested to do so through organized volunteer organizations and not to self-deploy to affected regions. To help people affected by the storms, visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). To help, remember:

- Cash is best. Financial contributions to recognized disaster relief organizations are the fastest, most flexible, and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and, if possible, purchase through are businesses which support economic recovery.

- Confirm donations needed. Critical needs change rapidly – confirm needed items BEFORE collecting; pack and label carefully; confirm delivery locations; arrange transportation. Unsolicited goods NOT needed burden local organizations’ ability to meet survivors’ confirmed needs, drawing away valuable volunteer labor, transportation, and warehouse space.

- Connect to volunteer. Trusted organizations operating in the affected area know where volunteers are needed, and can ensure appropriate volunteer safety, training, and housing.

Thank you for your interest in helping the survivors of recent hurricane activity, there are other ways to help. When disaster strikes, America looks to FEMA to support survivors and first responders in communities all across the country. FEMA is currently seeking talented and hard-working people to help support the response and recovery.

For more information, go to https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-harvey, https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-irma or https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-maria.

Mandatory Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System to be Conducted September 27

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a mandatory nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on September 27, 2017 at 2:20 pm EDT. The test will assess the readiness for distribution of the national level test message, as well as verify its delivery.

The EAS test is made available to radio, television, cable, and direct broadcast satellite systems, and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test’s message will be similar to the regular monthly test message of the EAS with which the public is familiar, only inserting the word “national.” “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.”

Significant coordination and regional testing has been conducted with the broadcast community and emergency managers in preparation for this EAS national test. The test is intended to ensure public safety officials have the methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems is also a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure required for the distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.

Conducting the test following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria will provide insight into the resiliency of our national-level alerting capabilities in impacted areas. The test will also provide valuable data into how the Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System performs during and following a variety of conditions. With two major hurricanes already making landfall, and a potential for two more impacting our nation, we need to have the ability to maintain the continuity of critical infrastructure under various conditions.

Receiving preparedness tips and timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events can make all the difference in knowing when to take action to be safe. FEMA and our partners are working to ensure alerts and warnings are received quickly through several different technologies, no matter whether an individual is at home, at school, at work, or out in the community. The FEMA App, which can be downloaded on both Android and Apple devices, is one way to ensure receipt of both preparedness tips and weather alerts. The FEMA App can be downloaded at https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app.

The back-up date for the test is October 4, 2017, at 2:20 pm EDT, in case the September 27 test is cancelled. More information on the IPAWS and Wireless Emergency Alerts is available at https://www.ready.gov/alerts.

This is the third mandatory nationwide test of the EAS. The first test was conducted in November 2011, in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials. The second mandatory test was conducted in September 2016. You can also access a video, FEMA Accessible Emergency Alert System IPAWS Test Message, in American Sign Language.

In 2007, FEMA began modernizing the nation’s public alert and warning system by integrating new technologies into the existing alert systems. The new system, known as IPAWS became operational in 2011. Today, IPAWS supports more than 900 local, state, tribal, and federal users through a standardized message format. IPAWS enables public safety alerting authorities such as emergency managers, police, and fire departments to send the same alert and warning message over multiple communication pathways at the same time to citizens in harm’s way, helping to save lives. For more information on FEMA’s IPAWS, go to: www.fema.gov/ipaws. For more preparedness information, go to www.ready.gov.

September is National Preparedness Month: Practice and Build Out Your Plans

National Preparedness Month Logo

As National Preparedness Month is recognized annually in September, this month also 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 visit.

Take some time to refine and build upon your emergency plans to be prepared to face any disaster. Identify strengths and areas of your plan that need improvement.  Does your communication plan have up-to-date information? Do you know how you will communicate with your family if you are not together during an emergency?

Another important part of being prepared includes being financially ready before an emergency happens. Budget some time to strengthen your financial preparedness.

- Consider the costs associated with disasters, such as lodging, gas, food, insurance deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses, and try to set aside those funds.

- After you do an initial assessment of what funds you might need to survive following a disaster, complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) to organize essential financial information.

Congressional Support for National Preparedness Month

FEMA appreciates the support of the Members of Congress who are serving as 2017 co-sponsors for National Preparedness Month. Throughout September, the FEMA Bulletin will feature statements from these members.

Representative John Carter, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security

“September is National Preparedness Month, and in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the importance of ensuring our communities and families are prepared for an emergency or disaster is at the forefront of our minds. Please continue to educate yourself on the importance of creating and practicing an emergency plan.”

Representative Dan Donovan, Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications

“September is National Preparedness Month.  As we commemorate the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and approach the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, please take some time this month to make an emergency kit and plan for your family.  Remember: Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!”

Senator Jon Tester, Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security  

“As a Montanan, I know the impacts of natural disasters on our economy and way of life.  From floods to droughts and wildfires, we must do all we can to prepare for these devastating events.”

Representative Lou Barletta, Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management

“Once again, I am honored to serve as a Congressional Co-Chair of National Preparedness Month. As Chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I cannot stress enough to families and individuals across the country the importance of creating, reviewing and implementing emergency action plans in advance of a disaster. Preparation is vital to saving lives, protecting families, and helping our communities recover after a disaster.”

Reminder of Upcoming Deadlines

FEMA Seeks Input on Fiscal Year 2018-2022 FEMA Strategic Plan

FEMA Administrator Long strongly believes in the importance of hearing external partners’ perspectives to help FEMA improve the way business is done. Throughout the next few months, FEMA is inviting its stakeholders and partners from across the whole community to help shape the Fiscal Year 2018-2022 FEMA Strategic Plan. In an effort to reach as many stakeholders and partners as possible, FEMA is accepting feedback via IdeaScale – an interactive, web-based application that allows idea sharing, collaboration and engagement.

FEMA is looking for input and engagement on:

Simplifying Recovery and Reducing Disaster Costs

- How can FEMA simplify recovery programs and reduce disaster costs while ensuring accountability, customer service, and fiscal stewardship?

Buying Down Risk through Preparedness and Mitigation

- How should risk be calculated in awarding grants?

- What type of grants are best suited for effectively reducing risk?

- How do we incentivize more investment in preparedness/mitigation prior to a disaster (not only federal investment)?

- How should the nation, including but not limited to FEMA, train and credential a surge disaster workforce ahead of major disasters?

- What are new ways to think about a true culture of preparedness?

FEMA values the input and diverse perspectives that you bring to help inform this process, the final product, and our efforts. Our IdeaScale campaigns are open until October 5, 2017. We look forward to your ideas and suggestions.