FEMA Bulletin Week of September 25, 2017

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Week of September 25, 2017

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Deadlines


FEMA Fiscal Year 2018-2022 Strategic Plan Open Comment Period



EAS Nationwide Test



Federal Response to Hurricane Maria

As the response to Hurricane Maria continues, and the recovery begins, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the entire federal family remain focused on life-saving and life-sustaining measures to ensure the safety of residents in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

Yesterday, FEMA Administrator Brock Long met with FEMA personnel and the governors of the USVI and Puerto Rico to get an update on the current situation, each governor’s priorities, and assess the progress of response and recovery efforts underway.

We are, again, reminded after witnessing Hurricane Maria’s destruction that the compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than during and after a disaster. It is through individuals, non-profits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners, and governmental agencies working together that we will most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of these catastrophic storms.

The following information is provided to assist those who wish to contribute, whether through financial donation or personal volunteerism.

The fastest way to help

As with previous storms, the most effective means to support recovery of communities affected by Hurricane Maria is to donate time or money to trusted voluntary-, faith- and community-based charitable organizations. This gives these organizations the ability to purchase what survivors need right now. In addition, when these organizations purchase goods or services locally, they pump money back into the local and regional economy, helping businesses recover faster.

It is important to remember unsolicited donated goods (e.g., clothing, miscellaneous household items, mixed or perishable foodstuffs) require voluntary agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.

Donate through a trusted organization

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) lists trusted organizations receiving donations, many of which are already coordinating relief and response efforts in the Caribbean. The NVOAD website has information on non-profit organizations accepting or registering individual in-kind donations here. For corporate donations connect here.

You may also make financial donations to a National VOAD member organization to help voluntary or charitable organizations continue to provide services to Hurricane Maria survivors.

Volunteering in Response to Hurricane Maria

Anyone seeking an opportunity to get involved in response and recovery operations is encouraged to volunteer with local and nationally known organizations. A list of volunteer websites is available at www.nvoad.org.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ask that volunteers not self-deploy, as unexpected arrival in affected communities creates additional burden for first responders. Those who wish to register to volunteer to support response efforts for Hurricane Maria can go here for Puerto Rico (https://prvoad.communityos.org/cms/irma) and here: (https://usvivoad.communityos.org/cms/irma) for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To register as an affiliated volunteer with a voluntary or charitable organization, visit the National VOAD for a list of partners active in disaster. Alternatively, you may register your interest to volunteer here for partner organizations to reach out to you.

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

Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test Planned for September 27: FEMA and FCC Share Key Points About Test

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 Wednesday, September 27, 2017, at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

The purpose of the nationwide test is to ensure that the EAS remains an effective means of warning the public about emergencies.  Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems helps to assess the operational readiness of alerting infrastructure, and to identify any needed technological and administrative improvements.

FEMA will administer the nationwide test, in cooperation with the FCC and National Weather Service, and with the participation of broadcast TV, radio, cable, satellite, wireline video, and other service providers, known as EAS participants.  After the test, EAS participants are required to file reports with the FCC, which the agency will analyze to determine how the test performed.

FEMA’s nationwide test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages, in that the public should receive both audio and on-screen text conveying that it is only a test.  The nationwide test message language will differ slightly as it will say, “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System.  This is only a test.”

The test message will be transmitted in both English and Spanish, with EAS participants deciding which version to use for their communities.  The test is intended to last approximately one minute.

Emergency alerts are created and sent by authorized government agencies.  EAS participants receive the alerts through a central Internet-based system administered by FEMA or through local “over the air” monitoring sources.  EAS participants then disseminate the emergency alerts to affected communities.  The FCC prescribes technical and procedural rules for communications providers’ participation in this process.

Wireless Emergency Alerts will not be part of the test.

The back-up date for the test is October 4, 2017, in case the September 27 test is cancelled due to widespread severe weather or other significant events.

You can also access a video, FEMA Accessible Emergency Alert System IPAWS Test Message, in American Sign Language.

FEMA Honors 11 Individuals, Organizations for Community Preparedness Achievements

FEMA announced today the winners of the 2017 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, recognizing the lifesaving efforts of individuals and organizations from across the country who are working to prepare for emergencies. Each year, FEMA honors individuals and organizations who excel at inspiring the public to be ready if a tornado, hurricane, wildfire, or other disaster were to strike their community.

This year’s award winners strengthened their community to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate a disaster through innovative practices and programs. For example the City of Arlington Office of Emergency Management in Texas teamed up with the Arlington Christian Disaster Network to manage spontaneous volunteers and assist with sheltering needs around disasters. The Blue Lake Rancheria tribal base in California, with a population of only 203 people, transformed the Blue Lake Casino and Event Center into an official public shelter with help from the American Red Cross and installed backup “green” power should the regular power grid get cut off. Another example is Rosalind “Roz” McKelvey from Germantown, Pennsylvania, who organized a community wide drill to address the unique challenges of preparing a community where approximately 40 percent of the residents live at or below the poverty line.

The 11 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award recipients will be recognized in a webinar and during local ceremonies to celebrate their achievements.

This year’s winners of FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Awards are:

Outstanding Citizen Corps Council: Connecticut Citizen Corps Council

Community Preparedness Champions: Rosalind Roz McKelvey and Cindi Barker

Awareness to Action: Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies (BRACE)

Technological Innovation: SABER, the Single Automated Business Exchange for Reporting

Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness: MyPI National (short for “My Preparedness Initiative”)

John D. Solomon Whole Community Preparedness: Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe of California

Outstanding Private Sector Initiatives: William Bracken

Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Initiatives: Long Beach Fire Department CERT

Outstanding Citizen Corps Partner Program: Arlington Christian Disaster Network

Prepareathon in Action: Prep Step Campaign from Save the Children

Since its inception in 2009, FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division has received and reviewed hundreds of applications, awarding 90 winners and acknowledging 450 honorable mentions from communities nationwide.

Visit https://www.ready.gov/awards for more information on the 2017 award recipients and to see the honorable mentions.

FEMA's Swift Water Rescue Heroes

The FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Incident Support Team and FEMA Task Forces from Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania received the 2017 Higgins and Langley Award for Outstanding Achievement in Swift Water Rescue.  They were recognized for their heroic efforts in rescuing those who were caught up in the devastating floods that swept through North Carolina in 2016 as a result of Hurricane Matthew.  The FEMA teams, along with more than 30 other state and federal teams, rescued 2,336 people, bringing them to safety as Hurricane Matthew's floodwaters rose.

The Higgins and Langley Award is the premier internationally recognized award for excellence in swift water and flood rescue.  The FEMA teams joined their fellow emergency responders at the annual conference of the International Association of Water Rescue Professionals in South Bend, Indiana, held on September 20-23, 2017, where they received their award. 

To learn more about FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue System visit: www.fema.gov/urban-search-rescue.

September is National Preparedness Month: Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger

National Preparedness Month Logo

Each year, September is recognized as National Preparedness Month. The 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 visit. Each week in September has a theme highlighting specific actions you can take to prepare for an emergency.

No matter where we live, we’re all part of a community, including our neighborhoods, jobs, campuses, community organizations, and places of worship. Active participation in preparedness activities, and sharing resources from trusted partners such a Ready.gov and, Individual and Community Preparedness Award winners, can help your family, community, and organizations be better prepared.

- You can help your neighborhood, organization, or campus prepare. Join your local Community Emergency Response Team, or find volunteer activities in your area to promote community readiness.

- Join the Weather Ready Nation.

- Volunteer with local and nationally known organizations. A list of volunteer websites is available at www.nvoad.org.

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 Lamar Smith, Chairman, Committee on Science, Space, & Technology, Subcommittee on Research & Technology

“I hope my fellow Texans and all Americans will take the time to create an emergency plan. Disasters and extreme weather events sometimes arrive with minimal warning, and having an emergency plan in place can help individuals and families stay safe when they occur. Please join me and my colleagues in this effort to increase preparedness, protect families, and save lives.”

Senator Gary C. Peters, Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management

“In June, heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding that devastated several counties in mid-Michigan. I am grateful to our federal, state, and local first responders who had protocols in place and were resilient in their response efforts. However, this flooding served as an important reminder that disasters can happen suddenly and without much advance warning. Having a response plan in place before disaster strikes can mitigate costs and - most importantly - ensure that you, your family, and neighbors are both prepared and safe. I encourage Michiganders and all Americans to develop and practice a plan so that you can be ready in case of emergencies.”

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

“Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc along the East Coast five years ago, and particularly in my home State of New Jersey.  The recovery was hard and still continues today.  My heart breaks for the people of Houston whose lives have been upended by Hurricane Harvey, and I will do everything in my power to ensure the Federal government does its part to help them get back on their feet.  This National Preparedness Month, we must remember that effective preparedness activities make our communities resilient.  I am pleased that this year FEMA has identified a call to action for each week of September, and I urge people of all ages to get involved.  The people of Houston have shown that ordinary citizens can be an invaluable force multiplier for first responders and the disaster management community, so I encourage everyone to take this month learn how they can help protect themselves, their neighbors, and their communities when disaster strikes.”

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?

We value the input and diverse perspectives that you bring to help inform this process, the final product, and our efforts. Our IdeaScale campaigns will be open until October 31, 2017. We look forward to your ideas and suggestions.