National Preparedness Month: Prepare for Disasters
September is National Preparedness Month. Each week, National Preparedness Month will highlight easy-to-follow steps that your family can take to improve preparedness at home. This week, the theme is "Prepare for Disasters."
To properly prepare for disasters, know the common disasters for your location and then mitigate the risk. For example, did you know the Midwest and the Southeast have a greater risk for tornadoes? Meteorologists can often predict when conditions might be favorable for a tornado and are investigating new approaches to keep you safe.
- Pay close attention to weather reports when severe weather is forecasted. If your community has sirens, become familiar with the warning tone. Learn the signs of severe weather including a tornado, hail and other risks and know where you and your family will go to keep safe.
Public service announcements (PSA) made for television and radio are now available to download from the Ad Council website. These PSA help to spread awareness and prepare everyone for disasters.
FEMA Releases COVID-19 Resource Tools
FEMA supports state, local, tribal and territorial recovery outcomes by coordinating across the federal government to resolve operation and policy challenges. For the COVID-19 pandemic recovery, FEMA has been developing resources that partners can use to explore and navigate supplemental appropriations that have been made available. Specifically, FEMA has created two tools – the COVID-19 Resource Summary Report and COVID-19 Resource Roadmaps.
The "COVID-19 Resource Summary Report" compiles available resources provided by federal departments and agencies. The report captures federal funding sources that can be applied to specific areas for COVID-19 recovery (e.g., education) and helps partners understand where there is potential duplication of benefits within areas of interest, including potential overlap with FEMA Public Assistance.
The second tool, "COVID-19 Resource Roadmaps," provides a deep-dive into specific topic areas and challenges associated with COVID-19 recovery. Roadmaps offers potential solutions and federal resources that could support recovery activities. To date, FEMA has published two roadmaps: "COVID-19 Education Resource Roadmap," and "COVID-19 Food and Nutrition." FEMA will provide additional roadmaps for Healthcare, Housing and Economic Development by the end of September. Roadmaps use information that is either publicly available or publicly obtained, and should be used for informational purposes only.
These tools were created by FEMA’s Recovery Support Function Leadership Group, under the National Disaster Recovery Framework. Visit the FEMA website for more information on these resources.
FEMA Offers Exercise Assistance Through the National Exercise Program
FEMA's National Exercise Division is now accepting nominations to the National Exercise Program (NEP). The program offers no-cost assistance for exercise design, development, execution and evaluation to validate capabilities across all mission areas.
Fall nomination round submissions are due by Nov.1 and decisions will be sent by Dec. 1. The NEP will hold additional exercise nomination rounds in spring and fall of 2021.
FEMA will host two 60-minute webinars for state, local, tribal, territorial and other whole community partners to discuss the nomination process. The webinars will be held at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Sept. 22 and Tuesday, Oct. 6. The webinar topics will also include the support that NEP can provide for conducting exercises in a COVID-19 environment and the proposed 2021-2022 Principals’ Strategic Priorities.
To participate in either webinar:
FEMA, through the National Exercise Program, offers no-cost assistance for exercise design, development, execution and evaluation to validate capabilities across all mission areas.
HURREVAC Supports Emergency Managers During Hurricane Season
The National Hurricane Program support tool, HURREVAC (HURRicane EVACuation), is actively supporting emergency management decisions at many levels during the 2020 hurricane season. HURREVAC provides dynamic hurricane forecast data, advanced and tailored decision support products and reports, high resolution storm surge modeling and exploration, and embedded storm simulations and training.
During Hurricane Laura, more than 1,800 emergency managers were simultaneously utilizing HURREVAC to access forecast and timing information.
Since the release of the web-based HURREVAC tool, more than 16,000 state, local, tribal, territorial and federal emergency managers have registered for access to the system. In preparation for an active Atlantic hurricane season, FEMA’s National Hurricane Program hosted HURREVAC training webinars for more than 2,000 emergency managers.
HURREVAC is a collaborative effort between the National Hurricane Program partners. Recently, advancements were enabled through partnership with DHS Science and Technology and development contributions from MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
FEMA Releases IPAWS Planning Toolkit
FEMA released the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Program Planning Toolkit. This toolkit will assist state, local, tribal and territorial alerting authorities to create and support an effective alerts, warnings and notifications program.
FEMA has been working with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate to identify gaps in existing IPAWS alerting messaging. The IPAWS Program Planning Toolkit is result of that partnership. It consists of three documents: the IPAWS Lab Fact Sheet, IPAWS Frequently Asked Questions and the IPAWS Train the Trainer Guide.
The documents in the toolkit were produced based on recent innovative changes to technology and were derived from the collection of successful practices and lessons learned from hundreds of data points, including more than 100 emergency managers, public information officers, alerting originators and administrators, and alerting experts.
The toolkit will assist public safety agencies in minimizing alerting delays; planning for future alerts, warnings and notifications enhancements; facilitating interoperability across different technologies; and improving information sharing among emergency management and public safety officials.
For more information on IPAWS, visit the FEMA website.
IPAWS is FEMA’s national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency alert and life-saving information messaging to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts, and to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio.
Faith-Based Organizations Respond to Hurricane Laura
Last week, Kevin Smith, Director of the DHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives traveled to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to highlight and support the work of national, state and local faith-based organizations serving Louisianans. The work of faith-based groups began as soon as the storm had passed. Houses of worship opened their doors to the community offering comfort, food and hydration.
While resources are being gathered, staged and mobilized for affected area, houses of worship are often already on the frontlines serving. FEMA seeks ways to help these organizations by supporting their efforts with needed resources such as tarps and drinking water.
During Hurricane Laura response efforts, a truck from Southern Baptist Send Relief dropped off food and supplies that Louisiana and Texas Baptists would use to serve storm survivors. Southern Baptist volunteers have prepared over 150,000 hot meals.
Another organization, Convoy of Hope, is running daily drive-through distributions as well as resourcing surrounding communities that were also impacted, through local partners. The organization has distributed more than 1.6 million pounds of disaster relief supplies helping nearly 60,000 people who were affected by the storm.
Additionally, The Salvation Army has mobilized more than 30 mobile feeding units, two field kitchens, a shower unit, and two portable command posts and delivered more than 230,000 meals in Louisiana and Texas.
FEMA partners with these faith and community-based organizations to reach where the need is greatest. To learn more about these efforts, visit the FEMA website.
Salvation Army present providing disaster relief for those affected by Hurricane Laura and Director Kevin Smith ready to support.
FEMA Seeks Public Feedback on NIMS Documents
FEMA’s National Integration Center is seeking public feedback on four National Incident Management System (NIMS) resource typing definitions. This includes four job resource typing definitions under the emergency medical services core capability:
- Emergency Medical Responder
- Emergency Medical Technician
- Emergency Medical Technician - Advanced
NIMS is a key component of U.S. incident management efforts and enables organizations from across the country to work together during incidents of all kinds and sizes. Implementing NIMS across the nation is a fundamental part of building our national preparedness. NIMS resource typing definitions define minimum qualifications and capabilities for personnel and their equipment within their assigned teams to manage all threats and hazards, regardless of the incident’s cause or size.
FEMA Opens Comment Period for Draft Guidance on Inundated and Submerged Roads
FEMA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed guidance for federal assistance for the restoration of inundated and submerged roads damaged or destroyed by a declared major disaster. This guidance is from section 1228 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) of 2018.
FEMA is releasing the current draft policy for a 30-day public comment period. The draft policy and accompanying comments matrix are located on the FEMA website.
The federal assistance is from FEMA’s Public Assistance program. The policy is consistent with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act (Stafford Act) and FHWA’s Emergency Relief Program.
Congressional Support for National Preparedness Month
Thirteen members of Congress are serving as 2020 co-sponsors for the 2020 National Preparedness Month. Throughout September, the FEMA Bulletin will feature statements from these members.
New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Chairwoman, Committee on Oversight and Reform
“Throughout the country, we have seen the devastating impacts of increasingly severe natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires, and floods. My Congressional district knows this all too well, having experienced Superstorm Sandy. As Chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, I encourage all Americans—especially during this National Preparedness Month—to create their own plans to protect themselves and their families in the event of a disaster or emergency.”
Alabama Rep. Mike D. Rogers, Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security
“Preparedness is more important than ever. Throughout 2020, we’ve experienced devastating hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, and flooding all while in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s important for all Americans to be prepared to face these challenges as they come. I am proud to partner with FEMA during National Preparedness Month to help bring awareness of how to best prepare for the unexpected and distribute critical information on what to do when disaster strikes.”
Michigan Sen. Gary C. Peters, Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
“Every year, natural disasters are responsible for hundreds of deaths and cause billions of dollars in damage across the country. As our nation continues its response to the Coronavirus pandemic as we face other natural disasters, National Preparedness Month reminds us all of how important it is to be prepared for an emergency and make investments in our infrastructure to reduce the impact on our communities and families. As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I’m joining FEMA in urging families in Michigan and across the country to ensure everyone stays safe when disaster strikes.”
Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, Ranking Member, Committee on Science, Space, & Technology
“We all know the terrible consequences of natural disasters and weather emergencies, which include everything from tornadoes in my home state of Oklahoma, to hurricanes on the east coast, to wildfires in western states. One way we can help save lives is to improve our weather forecasting abilities to give families and businesses earlier, more accurate, and more precise warnings. While we can and should work to improve this technology, it’s equally important that people know how to protect themselves and their families before emergencies strike. Having a plan ahead of time saves lives, and families that already have a plan in place should update it given new circumstances working or learning from home. I’m proud to co-chair FEMA’s National Preparedness Month and help Americans stay safe during emergencies.”
Visit Ready.gov to see the list of 13 congressional co-chairs who are helping promote National Preparedness Month throughout the country. You can help share preparedness messaging by using the social media safety graphics and various public service announcements during the month of September.
IPAWS Used 500 Times for Coronavirus Response
Emergency officials across the country have sent 502 important safety messages on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to their residents using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
As of Monday, Sept, 14, 109 agencies across 31 states and the District of Columbia, as well as three Indian tribes and one U.S. territory, have sent a total of 411 alerts containing information on COVID-19 to cell phones and other wireless devices via the Wireless Emergency Alerts and 91 alerts to radios/televisions via the EAS.
For more information on IPAWS and how to be able to use the system to send alerts, visit the FEMA website.
FEMA Podcast Episode 75: National Preparedness Month - Flood Insurance
In this episode of the FEMA Podcast, Paul Huang from the National Flood Insurance Program discusses how purchasing flood insurance is one easy way homeowners and renters can prepare for future disasters.
Upcoming Deadlines and Reminders
FEMA Public Comment Period for Debris Monitoring Guide
FEMA is releasing an interim "Debris Monitoring Guide." The guidance is now open for public comment. It includes several changes that incorporate updated requirements to comply with the "Procurement Disaster Assistance Team 2019 Field Manual."
FEMA Holds Public Comment Period for Mitigation Planning Updates
On Aug. 28, FEMA published updates to the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program and mitigation planning regulations for public comment in the Federal Register. The updates synchronize the requirements enacted by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12).
In addition, FEMA is replacing substantially similar terms and definitions in BW-12 to better align with the Code of Federal Regulations Title 2 part 200: Uniform Administrative Guidance.
This update of outdated terms and definitions also impacts FEMA's Property Acquisition and Relocation for Open Space, mitigation planning and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program regulations.
Since the passage of BW-12, FEMA has implemented these updates and is in now making the changes administratively in statute.
The 60-day public comment period is open until Oct. 27. Visit Regulations.gov and provide comments to Docket ID: FEMA-2019-0011.