FEMA Bulletin Week of June 22, 2020

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Week of June 22, 2020

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Reminders

June 24

Webinar on COVID-19 Operational Guidance for Hurricane Season at 4 p.m. ET.

June 26

Application period ends for High Hazard Potential Dam Grant.

FEMA Publishes Emergency Sheltering Policy

FEMA published a new policy, "Emergency Non-Congregate Sheltering during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency." This policy addresses the extraordinary challenges involved with operating a sheltering program during the pandemic, in a manner that limits the risk of exposure to or further transmission of the coronavirus.


FEMA recognizes sheltering operations during COVID-19 may require state, local, tribal and territorial partners to consider additional strategies to ensure that survivors are sheltered in a manner that does not increase COVID-19 risks. Typically, sheltering occurs in facilities with large open spaces, such as schools, churches, community centers or other similar facilities rather than in non-congregate environments, which are locations where each individual or household has living space that offers privacy such as hotels, motels or dormitories.


This policy outlines the framework and requirements for determining eligible work and costs for non-congregate sheltering operations in response to a presidentially-declared emergency or major disaster for the Public Assistance Program or a Fire Management Assistance Grant declaration. 


This policy is one aspect of a larger recovery strategy to support the safe sheltering of survivors in a COVID-19 environment. The intent is that state, local, tribal and territorial governments work with FEMA and other non-governmental partners to determine how non-congregate sheltering options may be incorporated into overall sheltering plans. To view the complete policy, visit the FEMA website.

FEMA Releases Preparedness in a Pandemic Exercise Starter Kit

FEMA created an exercise starter kit to help organizations facilitate their own internal workshops based on preparedness planning principles, "COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for 2020 Hurricane Season" and a FEMA fact sheet on Preparedness in a Pandemic Exercise Starter Kit.


The exercise starter kit includes a fact sheet, sample slides and a facilitator guide with suggested discussion questions that can be tailored to meet the needs of your organization or agency. The kit is a collaborative effort by FEMA’s National Exercise Division and National Integration Center in support of state, local, tribal and territorial partners efforts to prepare for all-hazards in a pandemic environment. 

FEMA Holds National Engagement Period for Resource Management

FEMA seeks public feedback on the draft of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) document, Guideline for Resource Management Preparedness. Feedback will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. ET on July 23. National engagement provides an opportunity for interested parties to comment on the draft document to ensure that it is relevant for all implementing partners.


The guideline supplements the National Incident Management System Resource Management component by providing additional details on resource management preparedness processes, best practices, authorities and tools. The audience for this guide is any authority having jurisdiction that is responsible for acquiring, inventorying, storing or sharing resources. Whether building a new resource management program or working to improve an existing one, this guide can be used to find information about resource management preparedness and best practices.


FEMA will host a series of webinars to outline the guidance and answer related questions. All webinars are open to the whole community. To register for one of the webinars or to review the draft document visit the FEMA website.

FEMA Hosts Additional Webinars on COVID-19 Operational Guidance for Hurricane Season

FEMA is hosting additional webinars to expand awareness and understanding of the newly released "COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season." FEMA released this guidance to help emergency managers and public health officials best prepare for disasters while continuing to respond to and recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


The webinars will allow emergency managers an opportunity to discuss how the guidance can assist jurisdictions to review and modify their plans given the constraints and limitations of the ongoing pandemic.


To register:

  • Webinar:  4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 24
  • Webinar: 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 25


Download the “COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season” on the FEMA website.

FEMA Cancels 2020 IPAWS National Test

FEMA will not conduct a national test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) this year due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response.


FEMA postponed the next national test of the system to 2021 out of consideration for the unusual circumstances and working conditions for those in the broadcast and cable industry. Although systems remain in place for rapid automatic transmission of the test message by broadcast and cable operators, the reporting activities associated with a national test place additional burdens on technical staff that are already quite busy maintaining as close to normal operation as possible.


Emergency officials across the country sent more than 360 important safety messages on the COVID-19 pandemic to their residents via WEA and EAS.


FEMA is required by law to test IPAWS at least every three years. The national WEA capability was most recently tested in conjunction with the EAS in 2018. For more information on IPAWS and how to be able to use the system to send alerts, visit the FEMA website.


IPAWS is a national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency alert and information messaging to the public through cell phones and internet applications using Wireless Emergency Alerts and to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System.

FEMA Releases IPAWS Archived Alerts

FEMA released Datasets of Common Alerting Protocol messages sent by Alerting Authorities through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) from June 2012 to present. They are now available on the OpenFEMA platform. The data is in an easily digestible, machine-readable JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format.


There is a 24-hour delay before an alerting authority’s message is posted to avoid the risk that it could be confused with an active alert received from the live IPAWS feed.


FEMA prioritizes hosting and publishing the datasets which allows internal and external partners to understand IPAWS data, conduct analysis and to inform decisions to improve alert and warning. Several stakeholders, including researchers, media, the public and those who have submitted FOIA requests, are now being directed to OpenFEMA for information.

FEMA Begins Firefighter Grant Supplemental Awards

FEMA released the first awards from the Fiscal Year 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program – COVID-19 Supplemental (AFG-S) funding. The initial seven awards were made to organizations from five states and total more than $4.7 million.


The CARES Act authorizes $100 million in AFG-S funds for the fire service community to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and related supplies for our nation’s first responders. Fire departments, nonaffiliated EMS organizations and State Fire Training Academies were eligible to apply.


The application period ran from April 28 to May 15. The shorter application period allowed FEMA to quickly begin to adjudicate applications. The grant funding process for this program is designed to swiftly move awarded funds into the hands of recipients that are actively engaged in the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. AFG-S funds can be used to reimburse for the acquisition of eligible PPE after Jan. 1, 2020.


FEMA will continue to release awards on a rolling basis throughout this summer.

FEMA Implements Virtual Solutions to Replace Disaster Recovery Centers

Hazard Mitigation Community Education and Outreach implemented a unique approach for the disaster recovery center in the response to severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that impacted Oregon in February.


Disaster recovery centers, typically located within impacted communities, were replaced with virtual communication. FEMA's Individual Assistance Cadre, which specializes in asking disaster survivors financial aid questions, also asked questions pertaining to mitigation. The mitigation questions were:

  • Do you have flood insurance?
  • Do you have any questions concerning repairs, rebuilding or mitigation techniques?
  • May your information be shared with mitigation specialist?

If their response required a mitigation reply, they were directed to the appropriate mitigation specialist, helping to connect people to the information and help they needed. For more information on the role of mitigation and Hazard Mitigation Community Education and Outreach, visit the FEMA website.

FEMA Highlights Community Efforts in Puerto Rico

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, nonprofit and voluntary organizations are working together with the federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments and the private sector to address needs of those communities most affected. FEMA is highlighting stories from our partners on how they have made a difference during the pandemic.


Send Relief is working with Baptist Churches around Puerto Rico aiding in the communities. Send Relief has distributed over $26 thousand in gift cards for food and groceries and 75,000 meals through 52 churches. In partnership with the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, they have distributed 16,517 pounds of food and produce, 140 gallons of water and 106 dozen eggs. In partnership with the Food bank of Puerto Rico and Feeding America, Send Relief established its own food bank operations and has distributed 20,667 meals to 2,520 individuals.


Pentecostal Church of PR/ASSPEN (Pentecostal Social Services Association) is providing financial assistance to families impacted by COVID-19 as well as spiritual care and crisis counseling in 78 municipalities. They are also distributing food to 2,342 families over the counter, prescribed medications to elderly population and cleaning and sanitation products to families.


The Salvation Army continues to conduct disaster operations in Puerto Rico. As of today, the organization has provided appliances, spiritual care support and distributed materials and services such as cleaning supplies, clothing, infant supplies, food, water and financial assistance to 8,475 individuals in need.


Visit the FEMA Best Practices page to read more stories about communities making a difference.

Upcoming Deadlines and Reminders

FEMA Public Comment Period Open for Fire Management Assistance Guidance

FEMA released the draft of the "Fire Management Assistance Grant Program and Policy Guide" for a 45-day public comment period from June 16 to July 31.  Comments received during the public comment period will be reviewed and considered for the final version of the guide. 


Fire Management Assistance is available to state, local, tribal and territorial governments for the mitigation, management and control of fires on publicly or privately-owned forests or grasslands which threaten destruction that would constitute a major disaster. The draft guide and accompanying comments matrix are available on the FEMA website.  Submit the completed comment matrix by e-mail to FEMA-FMAG-comments@fema.dhs.gov.


FEMA Accepts Applications for High Hazard Potential Dam Grants

The application period is open for the Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dam Grant Program. The grant program provides technical, planning, design and construction assistance in the form of grants for the rehabilitation of eligible high hazard potential dams. Eligible applicants must be non-federal sponsors which include non-federal governments and non-profit organizations. Applicants can apply on Grants.gov by the June 26 deadline. For more information about the Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams Grant Program, visit the FEMA website.