FEMA Bulletin Week of December 4, 2017

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December 4, 2017

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Deadlines 

December 7

National Qualification System Webinar

As Historic 2017 Hurricane Season Comes to an End, Federal Support to Recovery Continues

While November 30 marked the end of a historic hurricane season, FEMA and its partners continue to work diligently in support of disaster survivors recovering from the devastating season. Four hurricanes made landfall:  Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate (the first three were classified as major hurricanes, which affected roughly 25.8 million people). Also during this season, nearly two dozen large wildfires burned more than 200,000 acres of land in northern California.


Hurricanes Harvey and Irma marked the first time two Atlantic Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the continental United States in the same season. Hurricane Harvey set a new record for the most rainfall from a U.S. tropical cyclone, with more than 50 inches of rain in some areas. The storm resulted in catastrophic flooding in Texas and western Louisiana. Two weeks later, Hurricane Irma became the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record. Winds peaked at 185 mph, and Hurricane Irma remained a hurricane for 11 days. Irma was the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane since Ivan in 2004. The public response to Hurricane Irma, as the storm approached, resulted in one of the largest sheltering missions in U.S. history.


Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico soon after Hurricane Irma struck their shores. Hurricane Maria was the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on the main island of Puerto Rico in 85 years, and the resulting response became the longest sustained air mission of food and water in FEMA history. In addition to these hurricanes, prior to the 2017 season FEMA already had 17 Joint Field Offices working 28 presidentially declared disasters.


While the 2017 Hurricane Season has ended, recovering from these devastating hurricanes will take years, and FEMA and our federal partners will continue to support affected governments and survivors as they build back stronger.

2017 unprecedented hurricane season infographic.

National Flood Insurance Program Direct Contractor Change

As part of continuing efforts to improve the customer experience for all its flood insurance policyholders, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) recently changed service providers for its NFIP Direct Program.  Effective December 1, 2017, Torrent Technologies, which is based in Kalispell, Montana, is now the program’s service provider.

During a competitive contracting process which began in 2016, FEMA awarded the new contract earlier this year. For several months, the agency has been working with both the current and new contractor to ensure a smooth transition and to ensure that customers see no impact to service or payment.

The NFIP Direct is designed to allow all state-licensed property and casualty insurance agents to sell NFIP policies to their customers. Agents have the choice to sell policies through an affiliated Write-Your-Own (WYO) insurance company, or from FEMA itself through the NFIP Direct. The policy coverages and premiums are the same, no matter where the NFIP policy is purchased.

Citizen Responder Program Teaches Public How to Take Simple Lifesaving Actions After Disasters

Disasters can strike unexpectedly, and emergency responders may not be able to be on the scene right away. Life-threatening injuries require immediate action to reduce the chances of death, and people may be able to save lives by knowing what simple steps to take. You are the help until help arrives.


FEMA’s "You Are the Help Until Help Arrives" animated interactive video educates and empowers the public to take action in emergency situations and provide lifesaving care before professional help arrives. The video is also available with Spanish closed captioning and descriptive audio.


In the wake of recent disasters affecting the United States and territories, the public can use FEMA’s resources to learn what to do in cases where they may be in the best position to provide first care to someone with life-threatening injuries. As disaster survivors clean up and rebuild following a disaster, it is important that safety remains a top priority. The program teaches the public how to aid those in need, while keeping themselves and others safe. FEMA developed free tools for the public to learn more, including materials for individuals to train others. To download the free resources, view the animated interactive video, and find out more, visit www.ready.gov/untilhelparrives.

Additional resources available on the UHA site include a web-based training program, and a downloadable instructor guide plus student tools to provide in-person training.

Since the program launched in February 2017, more than 44,000 people have taken UHA training. Course feedback remains remarkably positive. Specifically, 86 percent of training participants surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed the course taught them valuable concepts, and 98 percent indicated they were more likely to help after taking the course.

The program is the result of an interagency collaboration led by FEMA's Individual and Community Preparedness Division in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Hu­man Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and the Uniformed Services University's (USU) National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH). Original research supporting the training curriculum comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Decorate Safely for the Holidays

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. Be fire smart as you deck the halls for a festive holiday season with these USFA tips:

- Inspect holiday lights each year before you put them up. Throw away strands with frayed or pinched wires. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.

- Turn off all holiday lights before going to bed or leaving your home.

- Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.

- If you do use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where you can not knock them down.

- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns. Never leave a burning candle alone in an empty room.

- Water Christmas trees every day. A dry tree is dangerous because it can catch fire easily.

- Make sure Christmas trees are at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents. Also, make sure the tree does not block exits.


Find more holiday, Christmas tree, and fire safety information on the USFA Holiday Safety page.

Safety tip: flameless candles image.