FEMA Supports Mississippi in Response to Devastating Tornadoes
On March 26, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell visited the devastated areas of Mississippi following Friday’s deadly tornadoes.
President Biden approved Mississippi’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration, making federal disaster assistance available to supplement recovery efforts. The declaration authorizes federal assistance to disaster survivors in Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey counties. This assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, crisis counseling, low-interest loans and other programs to help recovery efforts.
Without proper disaster planning, the safety and security of those we care about and the things we cherish may be in jeopardy. While each of us can take small steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones, preserving important items can require special attention and planning. That’s why FEMA has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution to help protect cultural heritage artifacts across the country through the Heritage Emergency National Task Force.
The task force, created in 2015, aims to protect our nation’s cultural heritage by training cultural stewards (such as museum curators), first responders and emergency managers to respond to incidents at cultural institutions and historic sites in a manner that preserves important artifacts. Participants practice evacuating a collection, gaining the skills and experience needed to better integrate the protection of cultural heritage into disaster risk management. Much of the training is conducted through the Heritage Emergency and Response Training program.
Visit the FEMA Blog to read the full story on how FEMA protects cultural artifacts before, during and after disasters.
This is the first update to the guide since 2015. The update now incorporates:
Climate change and future conditions.
Capability and capacity building.
Community lifelines as key principles for grant programs.
Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), a new program created since the last version was released.
State, local, tribal and territorial governments can use the guide to help them through the Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant lifecycle process. FEMA’s mitigation grant programs provide funding for actions that address risks to and reduce disaster suffering from events like wildfires, drought, extreme heat, hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding.
FEMA remains focused on further simplifying its programs and processes to help the whole community become more climate resilient. This updated guide aligns with FEMA’s people first initiative, reduces program complexities to help catalyze community partnerships and promote equitable investments to reduce risk.
In addition to BRIC, other programs included in the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guide are the Flood Mitigation Assistance program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Post Fire. Several of these programs have seen historic levels of funding in 2021 and 2022.
FEMA will offer several webinars and developed materials that offer more information about the updated guide. Anyone interested in attending may register here.
FEMA published the "National Continuous Improvement Guidance" in Spanish on March 28. The guidance provides an approach to conduct consistent and rigorous continuous improvement activities before, during and after real-world incidents.
The guidance is intended for the whole community, including state, local, tribal and territorial partners; nongovernmental organizations; the private sector and other organizations with emergency management functions. For more information about continuous improvement as part of national preparedness, please visit FEMA.gov.
FEMA publica la Guía Nacional de Mejora Continua en español
FEMA publicó la Guía de Mejora Continua Nacional en español el 28 de marzo de 2023. La guía proporciona un enfoque para realizar actividades de mejora continua consistentes y rigurosas antes, durante y después de incidentes del mundo real. Está destinado a toda la comunidad, incluyendo colaboradores estatales, locales, tribales y territoriales; organizaciones no gubernamentales; el sector privado; y otras organizaciones con funciones de manejo de emergencias. Para más información sobre la mejora continua como parte de la preparación nacional, visite FEMA.gov.
FEMA has awarded more than $12 billion since it created the Assistance to Firefighters Grants program in 2000 to prepare for and build resilience to fires.
One of the grants, the Fire Prevention and Safety Grants Research and Development, (R&D), is designed to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries. Academic and research institutions partner with fire services on grant-funded projects and share results across the fire service industry to improve firefighter safety, health and wellness.
As one example, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) received nearly $1.5 million in Fiscal Year 2018 Fire Prevention and Safety Grants R&D funding to help wildland firefighters. Recognizing a lack of information regarding health and safety risks on the fireground, OHSU used the funds to create a tool informed by firefighters for firefighters to improve safety, health and wellness.
The team started by conducting a four-phase study using R&D funding to identify and prioritize needs for Total Worker Health education for wildland firefighters. During the first year, OHSU interviewed firefighters across the country, hosted focus groups in multiple regions including both rural and urban areas. It included multiple types of firefighters, from career to volunteer.
In the second year, OHSU assessed and collected data and found that fatigue, heart and respiratory health, and mental health were high-need areas for firefighter education. OHSU then partnered with the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation and the First Responder Center for Excellence to develop a web-based, modular educational program, “Advancing the Wellbeing of Wildland Firefighters.” By completing the modules, firefighters can learn how to improve heart health, hydration, nutrition, sleep, mental fitness and more to improve their overall health and safety.
The OHSU program is just one of many successes funded by FEMA preparedness grants. This R&D project will result in an innovative, effective and scalable Total Worker Health program and novel dissemination platform. The program will reduce mortality/morbidity and improve the safety, health and well-being of those who fight wildland fires.
To learn more about FEMA Assistance to Firefighter Grants, visit FEMA.gov.
An emergency manager analyzes his communities’ risk from storm surge.
HURREVAC, a free web-based tool provided by FEMA, has achieved an exciting milestone of 25,000 registered emergency management users.
The 25,000 users represent emergency managers from hurricane-prone states and territories that use HURREVAC to better understand and plan for hurricane risks and make informed response decisions when hurricanes threaten.
This milestone comes on the heels of an equally impressive accomplishment. Last year, during Hurricane Ian, 5,000 users were active in HURREVAC simultaneously, more than doubling the previous concurrent usage record. During that time, HURREVAC boasted 99.9% uptime and showed no service slowdowns.
In preparation for hurricane season, the HURREVAC team will launch several new updates and provide training to emergency managers. Updates will include a notifications center and increased points of interest capabilities within HURREVAC. FEMA will offer HURREVAC training at the National Hurricane Conference and the Florida Governor’s Conference; customized trainings are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. FEMA will host the annual week-long HURREVAC webinar series from June 12-16. Register for individual days of the HURREVAC Webinar Series by visiting Training Events – HURREVAC.
HURREVAC is managed by the FEMA’s National Hurricane Program, a partnership program between FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center. To learn more about HURREVAC and register for an account, visit HURREVAC.com.
May 1 kicks off Hurricane Preparedness Week. Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) before the June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season, the week raises awareness of the hazards posed by hurricanes.
Even if you don’t live along an ocean coast, rain, wind, flooding and tornadoes could still impact you after a hurricane makes landfall.
If you do live in a coastal area, you may have to evacuate quickly. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with your household and pets, and identify where you will stay. Make sure you know the track of the storm and find out if you need to evacuate by having several ways to get alerts. Here’s how:
Download the FEMA App and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA), which require no sign up.
Have enough supplies for your household and include medication, disinfectant supplies and pet supplies in your go bag or car trunk. You may not have access to general household supplies for days or even weeks after a hurricane.
Learn more about how to prepare for a hurricane — as well as staying safe during the storm and cleaning up afterward — at Ready.gov/hurricanes. Additional information is available on FEMA’s Protective Actions website.
Be Prepared for a Wildfire
As the weather warms, wildfires are more likely to blaze through both forests and communities. That’s why May is National Wildfire Awareness Month.
Now is the time to prepare. Take these steps to be ready before the first fire sparks:
Create a fire-resistant zone that is free of leaves, debris, or flammable materials at least 30 feet from your home.
Find an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property.
The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” And Scouts in one large Massachusetts council are living up to that creed.
Last year, the Spirit of Adventure Council, which covers 77 towns and cities around Boston, started training Scouts and adult leaders to become Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers. Scouts in high school are taking CERT Basic Training to become certified as part of Teen CERT, for youth ages 14 and older. In all, 65 new CERT members received training in 2022, with hundreds more set to join their ranks this year as the program expands.
“We believe partnerships build strength. The thought process was, who better to help youth be prepared than FEMA?” said George O’Loughlin, senior director of community preparedness and enrollment with the Scout council.
In addition to FEMA, the Spirit of Adventure Council has also worked with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, local first responders and schools to enhance its preparedness programs for Scouts from elementary through high school. The council includes 13,000 Scouts and adult volunteers.
The addition of the CERT program extends the program for older Scouts, which already includes the Ready Scout merit badge series in which Scouts earn seven badges that focus on emergency readiness and public safety. Scouts often earn the Ready Scout distinction at age 13 and can then move onto Teen CERT the next year. Scouts who become Teen CERT members go back to their communities to help with such things as traffic management at large events, first aid and fire safety.
Save the Date for the 2023 National CERT Conference
The National CERT Association (NCA) will hold its 2023 conference in San Francisco from June 29 to July 1, with preconference training available from June 26 to June 29. This year, the NCA is partnering with the California Office of Emergency Services, the Fire Services Training Institute and the Bay Area Urban Areas Securities Initiative , which will allow for enhanced training opportunities for conference attendees. More than 35 training opportunities will be offered during pre-conference this year.
The conference theme is CERT 360°, highlighting CERT’s ability to be flexible as a community resource, as well as being inclusive of all community members. The conference will feature trainings and presentations for all levels of CERT, including emergency managers, program managers, instructors, volunteers and CERT partners.
This year, the conference will include the first-ever National CERT skills competition. CERT volunteers from across the U.S. will compete as teams to test a variety of CERT skills.
NCA President Suu-Va Tai with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell at the 2022 National CERT Conference.
ICPD Partners with LISTOS to Learn More About Reaching Spanish-Speaking Communities
In December 2022, members of the Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) attended a week of trainings and informational meetings with LISTOS Santa Barbara to learn more about disaster preparedness education for Spanish-speaking communities.
The LISTOS program was developed to fill a void in Spanish-language disaster preparedness education, both locally and nationally. The mission of LISTOS is to provide vulnerable populations with information about the importance of disaster readiness, including how to share preparedness skills with family and friends. LISTOS builds trust and comradery by using a grassroots approach to embed themselves into existing community networks. Working closely with leaders from community organizations, non-profits, emergency management officials and the media has been key to LISTOS’s success.
While in Santa Barbara, ICPD Director Aaron Levy, Preparedness Behavior Change Branch Chief Andy Burrows and Emergency Management Specialist Betty Nen met with the LISTOS team. LISTOS is led by Liliana Encinas, LISTOS National Program Director for the Fire Service Training Institute (FSTI), and Mike Williams, President-Executive Director for FSTI. Region 9’s Community Preparedness Officer Christian Erickson and Regional Preparedness Liaison Cameron Bochman also attended.
Homeland Security Grant Program Helps Fund Community Readiness
As Hurricane Lane tore across parts of Hawaii in 2018, remote areas were hit hard, with torrential rain and winds that toppled trees. Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) funds helped train and equip Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) before and after the storm, promoting community resilience and speeding up recovery efforts.
In Las Vegas, the Office of Emergency Management similarly trains 800 CERT volunteers each year using $225,000 in HSGP funding. In 2017, two of the CERT instructors attended the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival and jumped in to help during a shooting that tragically killed 60 people. After the incident, the instructors credited the CERT program with teaching them the life-saving skills they used that night.
These are just two instances where the more than $1 billion in HSGP funds awarded annually help communities prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies. The HSGP is comprised of three grant programs:
The State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), which provides preparedness funding for states to distribute;
Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), for enhancing regional preparedness and capabilities in 40 high-threat, high-density urban areas; and
Operation Stonegarden, which focuses on security at U.S. borders.
YPC Members Champion Preparedness in Their Communities
From mobilizing young volunteers, to helping older residents cope with hurricanes, to teaching Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes to fellow high school students, FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) members from across the country are preparing their communities for emergencies. As part of their work on both the national and regional YPCs, members from across the nation implement projects to help other teens and community members stay prepared. We highlight six of those projects below.
A Helping Hand from Hurricane Helpers
Region 4 YPC member Isabella Tar started Hurricane Helpers, a program that provides storm resources and information on preparedness, after witnessing the difficulty her family and neighbors had in preparing their homes for Hurricanes Irma and Matthew in Florida in 2016 and 2017. She specifically remembers the challenges for older residents.
“It broke my heart to see them struggle and not be able to lift the [sand]bags up into their cars,” Isabella recalled. Furniture that remained outside became airborne, damaging surrounding houses. “Seeing those effects, I knew I had to do something,” she said.
Last year she created the website and Facebook page that also help pair youth with those who face physical challenges in preparing their homes. The teens organized by Hurricane Helpers assisted in cleanup after Hurricane Nicole last November.
Tar’s work has been recognized by Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie and her county’s office of Emergency Management. She presented information on her project to Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff during last July’s YPC summit. Tar hopes to coordinate with Guthrie to create a YPC for Florida and is working to build a larger volunteer base of people who can help with hurricane preparation and cleanup.
Don’t Make a Costly Mistake: Flood Insurance Myths vs. Facts
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about flooding and flood insurance. If these misconceptions continue to go unchecked, too many Americans will continue to go unprotected from the financial damages of flooding. It’s a costly mistake that FEMA and its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would like to help fix.
The NFIP defines flooding as an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties.
Below are some commonly held myths about flood insurance and the facts to help clarify these misconceptions:
Myth: Flood insurance is available only to homeowners.
Fact: Renters and business owners can purchase flood insurance, too. Flood insurance is available to protect homes, condominiums, apartments, non-residential buildings, commercial structures and their contents. Learn more about what flood insurance does and does not cover.
Myth: I do not need flood insurance because homeowners, commercial property and renters insurance policies cover flooding.
Fact: Most policies do not cover damage due to flooding. Flood insurance must be purchased separately to cover damage directly caused by a flood. Just one inch of floodwater in an average-size home can cause roughly $25,000 in damages.
Help Prepare Your Community by Using FEMA’s Data and Findings!
Do you want to use data to inform your preparedness efforts? Are you wondering what actions you should encourage your community to take? FEMA publishes Data Digests to share findings from its preparedness research, like the annual National Household Survey on Disaster Preparedness. Our goal is to provide you with relevant insights, data, findings, research-validated protective actions and helpful links that you can use to engage with your community. We invite you to use the information below and incorporate Data Digest resources into your preparedness publications, social media posts and stakeholder outreach.
FEMA Advisory Act Quickly to Prepare for Hurricane Ida Hurricane Ida is forecast to make landfall along the U.S. northern Gulf coast as a dangerous major hurricane on Sunday. Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin late Saturday night or early Saturday morning. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting an increasing risk of life-threating storm surge along the Gulf Coast. Additionally, there is an increasing risk of dangerous hurricane force winds and extreme rainfall. A few tornadoes will be possible Sunday through early Monday across southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Yesterday, President Joseph R. Biden approved Louisiana’s request for an emergency declaration. This declaration authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts by identifying, mobilizing, and providing equipment and resources necessary to alleviate hardship and suffering of the local population. Additionally, it authorizes FEMA to provide appropriate assistance for required emergenc
As COVID-19 rages on World-Wide based on the latest from Johns Hopkins and the World Health Organization , our team decided to release this Virtual Public Service Annoucement on all our platforms courtesy the CDC as we join in asking all to #WearAMaskToSaveALife.