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The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000: 20 Years of Mitigation Planning

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 14:17
The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000: 20 Years of Mitigation Planning jessica.geraci Mon, 10/19/2020 - 17:17

Kathy Smith, AICP, Planning and Safety Branch Chief shares her views on the importance of the 20th anniversary of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. 

Communities have long engaged in planning for public safety and future growth. But Congress recognized the need to support a new kind of planning that would help state, tribal, territorial and local communities understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards. This shift to focusing on pre-disaster planning was made formal in the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. This law was signed on Oct. 30, 2020, and amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act). FEMA is celebrating the anniversary and legacy of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 throughout October and November.

Before the act was signed, emergency managers’ planning usually focused on preparing for and responding to disasters, which help people during hazard events. After the act passed, emergency managers began using a more proactive planning process. Leading their communities through that process resulted in FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plans. This planning was aimed at reducing the impacts of disasters before they occurred. Emergency managers began to use a more holistic, collaborative process for hazard mitigation plans. They involved a wider range of partners, from sectors such as housing and infrastructure. Mitigation plans brought together people from emergency management and community development. They encouraged community-specific blueprints for proactively reducing risks and vulnerabilities. This kind of plan is required to receive certain types of FEMA assistance. But participants found that the plans could be useful for much more than that.

As with most new initiatives, the first iteration of mitigation plans simply tried to meet the requirements in regulation and FEMA’s “Blue Book” (2004). The plans’ contents rarely reflected each community’s unique needs. However, with a requirement for updates every five years, future versions grew and evolved with the communities and were refocused on priorities to match the times. Today, these are foundational documents to help ensure disaster responses are locally executed, managed by the state, territory or tribal governments, and federally supported.

Through the years, FEMA provided more guidance and training. This helped states, locals, tribes and territories develop more effective hazard mitigation plans. Lessons learned across the nation were paired with hands-on assistance and how-to resources to help communities plan. The result is hazard mitigation planning that is more inclusive and plans with actionable strategies. The plans became tools to prepare and protect states, tribes, territories and local communities from the impact of disasters and natural hazard events.

Twenty years later, many communities are updating their hazard mitigation plan for the fourth or fifth time. Increasingly, they are integrating elements of mitigation planning with other plans, such as comprehensive or economic development plans. Local communities are using them to decide where and how to build. The plans include using current disaster-resistant building codes. Communities are adding land use, wildfire protection, climate adaptation and fields such as public health to their mitigation planning. Take Massachusetts, which combined its hazard mitigation and climate adaptation plans into one strategy. Or Manitou Springs, Colorado, which uses hazard mitigation as a factor in its growth and development choices. This is a testament of the power of planning to reduce risk.

FEMA’s National Mitigation Planning Program celebrates this landmark legislation. As we do so, we work to elevate and support effective planning. We engage with partners early and often, support plan integration and implementation of actions using a wide range of public and private resources. Effective planning leads to completed mitigation projects, including non-structural actions. FEMA continues to help communities as they work to become safer and more resilient. To see a clear picture of the long-term impact nationwide, take a look at the timeline.

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FEMA is celebrating the anniversary and legacy of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 this October and November. For more information about the law, visit the FEMA website. For resources to support mitigation planning and your hazard mitigation plan, visit the Hazard Mitigation Planning page.

In addition, the 2020 Fiscal Year funding cycle for the Hazard Mitigation non-disaster grants is accepting applications until Jan. 29, 2020. As a FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan is required for funding, review the eligible projects for funding for a Flood Mitigation Assistance and the new pre-disaster mitigation program Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities.

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Participate in the Great Shakeout

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 12:00
Participate in the Great Shakeout jessica.geraci Tue, 10/13/2020 - 15:00 Author(s): Bridget Bean

Bridget Bean, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Administrator for Resilience at FEMA, shares why she believes participating in the Great ShakeOut can help save lives.

When the ground shakes beneath your feet, fear and uncertainty might overwhelm you. Knowing what to do can keep you calm and ready in any situation. That is why, each year, FEMA participates in the Great ShakeOut, a global earthquake preparedness drill. By registering and participating in this annual drill, you can practice how to be safer during earthquakes.

While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought many uncertainties and challenges, one thing's for sure: ShakeOut is still happening! This year, the drill will be held at 10:15 a.m. on October 15. At this specific time in each time zone, millions of people from all over the world will practice the earthquake safety steps ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On.’ With over 67 million people across the globe registered for this event in 2019, it is incumbent upon us as emergency managers to not only participate, but to encourage our communities to join as well.

As always, this drill can be on your schedule when, where and how you want, whether at home, work, school or perhaps through a video conference while working or taking online classes. The location for your ShakeOut activity may look different this year, but there has always been flexibility in how and when you would like to hold your drill. While some ShakeOut drills and other activities may happen just like in past years, there are some new considerations to keep in mind this year:

  • Where will you be for your drill? Together at work, school or home? Consider video conferencing or other virtual options.
  • How will you incorporate COVID-19 health and safety guidelines into your activity?
  • Is it better to have everyone participate all at once, or perhaps do so in staggered (or even repeated) dates and times?

This is also a great opportunity to take the next step and update your emergency plans and supplies while securing your space to prevent damage and injuries. Knowing what to do before a big earthquake will determine how well you respond and recover.

Lately, it seems each day we are confronting new challenges while natural disasters continue to occur across the country. The coronavirus pandemic has changed our routines and how we live. At the same time, a record-breaking wildfire season has caused devastation out West, and the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has left terrible destruction along the Gulf Coast. During all of this, seismic activity has not stopped, with significant U.S. earthquakes occurring in Utah, Idaho, and North Carolina during the last few months and in Puerto Rico earlier this year.

With all that is happening around us, it is clearer perhaps now more than ever that our Nation must be ready for disasters on a federal, community and family level. The Great ShakeOut can provide some peace of mind by preparing us for what can come and reminding us of what we can do when we work together.

To register and participate in the Great ShakeOut, visit the website or Ready.gov

Hurricane Delta Preparations Underway

Thu, 10/08/2020 - 08:51
Hurricane Delta Preparations Underway jessica.geraci Thu, 10/08/2020 - 11:51

 

As Hurricane Delta moves towards the Gulf Coast, FEMA, state and local officials are actively monitoring and preparing for the storm’s impact.

FEMA has pre-staged over 5 million meals, 4 million liters of bottled water and 285 generators near the expected areas of impact. Response teams are on the ground in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. This includes Urban Search and Rescue teams that help locate survivors and assess damage and Mobile Emergency Operations Vehicles, that provide emergency communication capabilities for federal resources.

FEMA received emergency declaration requests from the governors of Alabama and Louisiana for Hurricane Delta response. Today, President Trump approved the emergency disaster declaration for Louisiana. These declarations provide federal assistance for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance under the Public Assistance program.

Residents in Hurricane Delta’s path should prepare now. While Delta is forecast to make landfall as a hurricane in Louisiana, the location could change and surrounding states may still experience the storm’s impact, including life-threatening storm surge, flash flooding, tornadoes, wind and rain.

It is important to remember that every storm is different, and this hurricane may impact your area in different ways than previous storms. Delta could bring damaging winds further inland than a slower storm. To stay informed:

  • 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 and Wireless Emergency Alerts (which don’t require sign-up).
  • Sign up for email updates and follow the latest guidelines about coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your local authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Guidelines include how to protect yourself and others if you need to go to a public shelter.

Heeding local evacuation orders and staying informed on the latest anticipated impacts of the storm can help protect you and your family. Visit Ready.gov for more ways on how you can prepare for hurricanes.

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The New Frontier of Pre-Disaster Mitigation

Wed, 09/30/2020 - 06:12
The New Frontier of Pre-Disaster Mitigation jessica.geraci Wed, 09/30/2020 - 09:12

 

The following message is from Katherine Fox, Assistant Administrator for the Mitigation Directorate in FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration.

Like many parents, I’m trying to navigate the challenging balance between work and family needs in this new telework environment. It’s fun to watch my son build things with Legos when not in virtual second grade. It struck me recently that the work FEMA is doing to build a more resilient nation is for his and future generations. This is what drives my passion and dedication to promoting risk reduction programs across the nation in my role at FEMA.

Early in August, we hit an important milestone when we announced the Fiscal Year 2020 Notice of Funding Opportunities for the Flood Mitigation Assistance grant program and the new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) pre-disaster mitigation grant program. This year, FEMA will award up to $660 million in grant funding, including a record-breaking $500 million available for BRIC and $160 million for Flood Mitigation Assistance.

These two competitive grant programs provide states, communities, tribes and territories funding for eligible mitigation activities to reduce the risks and the impact of future disasters. When the application period for these two grants opens on Sept. 30, extensive preparation and collective efforts by many helped meet this milestone, especially for the BRIC program.

Over the last two years, we hosted stakeholder engagements which were one of the agency’s largest efforts both in-person and online. We considered nearly 5,500 individual comments about how to design the program and what to emphasize.  After a thorough analysis, we drafted a policy, developed extensive program content, and hosted a series of webinars to introduce BRIC concepts and to provide an overview of the Notices of Funding Opportunities.  In addition, we now have a robust library of readily accessible support materials to submit an application for a BRIC and Flood Mitigation Assistance grants, including dozens of project examples.

The new BRIC program will also provide direct technical assistance to improve capacity and capability for up to 10 communities to conduct mitigation activities or identify potential projects to reduce risk. And we did all that while working closely with FEMA’s Grant Programs Directorate to develop a new application process through the FEMA Grant Outcomes (FEMA GO) system.

As emergency managers, we have experienced firsthand the dramatic increase in the number of disasters and the devastating impact across our nation. Investing in mitigation – through BRIC and Flood Mitigation Assistance, along with emphasizing opportunities in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Public Assistance 406 Mitigation program – is critical to achieving FEMA’s mission.

Together, we have a game-changing opportunity to move mitigation forward and enhance the nation’s resilience to disasters. To learn more, visit the FEMA Website.

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Disaster’s Don’t Wait, Make Your Plan Today

Tue, 09/29/2020 - 12:15
Disaster’s Don’t Wait, Make Your Plan Today jessica.geraci Tue, 09/29/2020 - 15:15

Hodgen Mainda, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and the State Fire Marshal, shares his perspective on why National Preparedness Month is important.

Ten years ago, Nashville and the surrounding areas were devastated by a flood whose magnitude will never be forgotten. As the floodwaters invaded Nashville, took lives and damaged property and public infrastructure, the nation watched with immense disbelief and sadness. As the floodwaters receded, we pulled together, volunteered and helped the city recover.

This year has brought a series of tornadoes, flooding and a derecho across Tennessee simultaneous with the spread of COVID-19, wildfires in the west and hurricanes in the gulf. We have yet again faced unbelievable sadness and devastation nationwide. As we always do, I know that Americans will pull together, overcome and move forward in the aftermath of immense devastation.           

September is National Preparedness Month. This month we take time to prepare for disasters and learn from past disasters. Unfortunately, disasters don’t wait, they can happen at anytime and anywhere. Therefore, it is important that you create a plan for you and your family today. It all starts with a conversation among your friends and family about how you will communicate, what you will need and where you will go before, during and after a disaster. In these unprecedented times, make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations due to the ongoing coronavirus.

Next, build a disaster kit. You should gather supplies for everyone living in your home and ensure the supply will last for several days after a disaster. Remember to consider the unique needs of each person or pet in case you must evacuate very quickly, such as specific medications and medical supplies. Be sure to include items such as face masks and hand sanitizer in case you must go to a shelter after the disaster strikes.

Not all insurance policies are the same and you should be sure to review your policy to make sure the amount and types of coverage you have meet your requirements for all possible hazards. For example, homeowner’s insurance does not typically cover flooding, so you may need to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.  Flood insurance is vital for flood preparedness because aid can take months and it may not be enough to cover the costs of rebuilding a home in the aftermath of a flood. 

Having insurance for your home or business property is the best way to make sure you will have the necessary financial resources to help you repair, rebuild or replace whatever is damaged.

As a nation, let’s volunteer to be better prepared by taking the right steps to protect the life you have built and your property. Preparedness begins with you.

Learn more at Ready.gov.

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The Second Disaster – Flood After Fires

Tue, 09/29/2020 - 08:56
The Second Disaster – Flood After Fires Brian.Hvinden Tue, 09/29/2020 - 11:56 Author(s): Lee dePalo

 

September is National Preparedness Month. This year it also happens to be a dry one across much of the West. The devastating fires on the West Coast have the nation’s attention, but we also have seen fires in our own backyard in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.  FEMA has provided assistance to these four states battling wildfires to ensure a larger disaster does not occur.

While it may not seem so now, the fires will soon be extinguished. And although it may feel like the time to let out a sigh of relief, another threat is close behind. Those living downstream of burn scar areas are at an increased risk of flooding, and this risk can last for years after a fire. Flooding can be a hazard even if you are not living in what is currently a high-risk flood area.

In the aftermath of wildfires, burn scars are left without the vegetation that can help absorb rainfall. In addition, the soil itself can be left with a hardened crust, almost acting like concrete when redirecting water. These conditions can turn what would normally have been a simple thunderstorm into a flash flood event. These events can come with very little warning.

An additional hazard exists in the form of mudflows, where water picks up ash and debris that have been left behind after a fire. These mudflows can inflict a great deal of damage to your home and property.

What can you as an individual do to prepare for this threat? First, be sure to have important documents and papers gathered in a waterproof container.  Ask local officials about areas in your community that could be impacted by thunderstorms and know evacuation routes if necessary. Then make sure you follow current weather conditions via the media or your local National Weather Service at weather.gov.

Finally, you should look at purchasing a flood insurance policy. Damage from flooding and mudflows is generally not covered under a homeowner’s policy. Talk to your insurance agent to see what is right for you. Policies are available for owners and renters as well as businesses.  Policies take 30 days to go into effect, so the time to buy is now.  Learn more about flood insurance at floodsmart.gov.

Brave firefighters do everything possible to combat wildfires. Unfortunately, there is little we can do to prevent Mother Nature from bringing rainfall at unwanted times. It’s up to each of us to take steps to make sure that flood after fire isn’t the second disaster we face.

Related Locations Region VIII

Response and Recovery Efforts Continue After Hurricane Sally

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 12:58
Response and Recovery Efforts Continue After Hurricane Sally jessica.geraci Fri, 09/18/2020 - 15:58

Hurricane Sally made landfall on Tuesday near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a category 2 hurricane, causing widespread flooding and leaving behind a trail of destruction. As conditions calm and the damage becomes clear, recovery efforts continue along the Gulf Coast.

Over the last week, President Trump has approved Emergency Declarations for affected areas in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. These declarations allow states to receive federal assistance and coordinate all disaster relief efforts in response to Hurricane Sally.

FEMA continues to have supplies available nearby, with shuttle drivers and trailers ready to move these assets out to fulfill state requests. Supplies include over 4 million liters of bottled water, 3.2 million meals, 289,000 blankets, 117,000 tarps, 6,500 cots and 23 generators. As of Friday, six shelters are open with a population of 366 in affected areas throughout the Gulf Coast.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the need to protect the safety and health of all Americans, FEMA will conduct remote home inspections to expedite the delivery of recovery assistance to applicants based on their eligibility. 

As survivors return home, document damages and begin cleaning up debris from Hurricane Sally, it is important to contact your local emergency management or public works agencies to get information about sorting guidelines and pickup schedules.  Follow these guidelines when clearing debris:

  • Wear safety gloves and glasses when cleaning up.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots when walking on, or near, debris. Wear long sleeves and gloves when handling debris.
  • Don’t drive or walk through flood waters. Be aware of downed power lines, standing water and other hidden hazards. 
  • When clearing debris from a property, make sure you know the location of all utilities, both underground and overhead to prevent personal injury.

As you clean-up, you may see neighbors clearing debris as well. While recovery is a whole community effort and it is important to check on neighbors, use caution when doing so.  Continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

While you may want to help other survivors, do not put your life at risk by self-deploying to affected areas.  Instead, find trusted organizations that are operating in the affected area. They will know where volunteers are needed and can ensure appropriate volunteer safety, training and housing. Financial contributions to recognized disaster relief organizations are the fastest, most flexible and most effective method of helping.

FEMA will remain engaged in response and recovery efforts and partner with states, local governments, tribes and community organizations to make sure help arrives in the areas where it is needed most.

To find out how you can help, visit FEMA.gov.

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FEMA Response Efforts Continue for Western Wildfires, Begin for Hurricane Sally

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 17:29
FEMA Response Efforts Continue for Western Wildfires, Begin for Hurricane Sally jessica.geraci Mon, 09/14/2020 - 20:29

FEMA is continuing to mobilize teams and supplies to respond to impacts from Hurricane Sally in the Gulf and wildfires out west.  Federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners are working with FEMA to make sure needs are met.

“It’s a true team effort,” Administrator Gaynor said in a briefing to President Trump Monday.  “The disaster declarations and Fire Management Assistant Grants have allowed the Governor to exercise all the resources the federal government has to respond and protect life. That’s the number one priority.”

Hurricane conditions begin today on the Gulf Coast where Hurricane Sally is expected to make landfall Tuesday. President Trump approved emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi Monday afternoon. These declarations authorize FEMA to provide assistance, including direct federal assistance, for emergency protective measures for 30 parishes in Louisiana and 24 counties in Mississippi.

FEMA teams are already on the ground, including recovery teams that were supporting Hurricane Laura. Teams are ready to support state and local officials with ongoing response and recovery efforts across the Gulf Coast.

A storm surge warning is in effect from Port Fourchon, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line in the Florida Panhandle. Severe inland flooding is also expected to impact areas far from the coast due to the storms slow movement. If you are in the path of Hurricane Sally, it is important to remember the following about storm surge:

  • Storm surge is water that is pushed onto shore by a hurricane. It can rise as rapidly as several feet in just a few moments.
  • This wind-driven water has tremendous power. One-foot deep storm surge can sweep your car off the road. A 6-inch surge is difficult to stand in.
  • The water is also dangerous because of the large amount of floating debris that typically accompanies the surge. Don’t drive or walk through flood waters. Be aware of downed power lines, standing water, and other hidden hazards. 
  • Residents in Louisiana should call 2-1-1 evacuation, sheltering and resources for immediate needs.

Recovery and response efforts are also continuing in the west. There are over 100 large fires throughout the Western U.S. that have burned over 5 million acres across California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

President Trump approved a major disaster for California on Aug. 22. Residents and business owners in nine counties who have disaster-caused damage can apply for assistance at  www.DisasterAssistance.gov or via the FEMA app. The declaration also authorizes reimbursement to state, local and tribal agencies, and certain private non-profit organizations, for emergency work and repair or reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and facilities.

The President has approved an emergency declaration for Oregon on Sept. 10 for the 12 active wildfires impacting the state.  Under the Emergency Declaration, Federal funding is available to the state, eligible local and tribal governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program at 75 percent federal funding.

In support of state and local response, FEMA has deployed four Urban Search and Rescue teams to Oregon, including an incident support team to support state search and recovery needs. Additionally, FEMA has meals, water, cots and blankets staged in Salem, Oregon, with additional quantities of each along with hygiene kits, commonly used shelter items and generators in transit to a staging area at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

In addition, fourteen Fire Management Assistance Grants approved in California, three approved in Colorado, 16 approved in Oregon and eight approved in Washington.

If you are in an evacuation zone, heed warnings, and follow local official recommendations without delay.  In Oregon:

  • Know your evacuation levels! Level 1 - Be Ready. Level 2 - Be Set. Level 3 - Leave Immediately. DO NOT return the fire area until officials give the OK.
  • If you already have an N95 mask, use this to protect yourself from smoke inhalation.
  • An Oregon Wildfire Resource Website has been created to help Oregonians stay informed at wildfire.oregon.gov.

For more information on how to prepare for disasters, visit Ready.gov.

 

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Facts About the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Flood Insurance

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 10:09
Facts About the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Flood Insurance jessica.geraci Mon, 09/14/2020 - 13:09

Retired Navy veteran Marty Severson never expected a summer rain to submerge his Sparta, Wisconsin, home in seven feet of water. Marty lost almost everything he owned. Fortunately, his home was covered by flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) so he was able to avoid financial ruin.

National Preparedness Month is a time set aside to encourage families and communities to plan and prepare for disasters. Preparing for the unexpected is vital. For Marty, it made all the difference in his recovery. During this month of preparedness efforts, we wanted to share answers to five of the most commonly asked questions about the NFIP – to help you weather any storm that’s headed your way.

1. Do I need flood insurance?

Every property is vulnerable to flooding. Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. In fact, between 2015 and 2019, policyholders outside of high-risk areas filed more than 40% of all NFIP flood insurance claims.

Marty lived outside a high-risk area, but still decided to purchase a flood insurance policy. It’s a good thing he did – with flood insurance Marty was able to file a claim and receive an advanced payment, which helped him recover quickly.

Many people may think a homeowners insurance policy is enough, however, it doesn’t cover the cost of flood damage. Only a specific flood insurance policy does.

2. What factors go into determining my rate?

Your agent can give you specific information about your rate and coverage options, however, some factors may include:

  • Your property’s flood risk (e.g., your mapped flood zone);
  • The type or amount of coverage purchased (e.g. building and contents coverage are purchased separately, it’s important to make sure to have both for complete coverage);
  • The design and age of your structure; and
  • The location of your structure’s contents (e.g. elevated utilities may bring the rate down).
3. How do I get a flood insurance policy?

Your insurance company or agent can give you more information about the right coverage for you. If you need help finding an insurance provider, go to FloodSmart.gov or call the NFIP at 877-336-2627.

4. How do I start a claim after experiencing a flood?

Follow these steps to report a claim:

  • If you are an NFIP policyholder and experience a flood, report your loss immediately to your insurance agent or carrier. If possible, take photos of any damage to the interior and exterior of your home. And be sure to ask about advance payments to jump start your recovery.
  • Make an appointment with an insurance adjuster. In response to COVID-19, a remote inspection is an option FEMA is offering to policyholders who have experienced a flood.
  • The adjuster will assess the damage to your home, either in person or remotely, to determine the amount of the claim, and answer any questions you may have about the process and what’s covered under your policy. For more information on starting a claim or the inspection process, visit FloodSmart.gov/start.
  • If you need help finding your insurance agent or carrier, call the NFIP at 877-336-2627.
5. What is a mandatory purchase requirement?

If you own a property in a high-risk flood area, you may be required to have flood insurance. Homes and businesses in high-risk flood areas with government-backed mortgages are required to have flood insurance.

Even if you live outside the high-risk flood area and you aren’t federally required to have flood insurance, your lender may still require you to purchase a flood insurance policy.

Where it can rain, it can flood.  You never know when rainfall may lead to a major flood. National Preparedness Month is a great time to make sure your home and belongings are prepared for the unexpected. Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information.  

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September is National Preparedness Month

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 07:39
September is National Preparedness Month jessica.geraci Wed, 09/09/2020 - 10:39

Each September, National Preparedness Month reminds us how important it is to prepare for disasters. This year, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic puts into perspective just how unpredictable disasters are and how far-reaching their impact can be.  

“Disasters don’t wait. Make your plan today” is a fitting theme for 2020’s National Preparedness Month. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for us to be ready for the impact disasters of all types can have on our lives. Our nation must be ready for disasters on a national, community and family level.

For four-weeks, National Preparedness Month is highlighting easy-to-follow steps that your family can take to improve preparedness at home.

This year's weekly themes include:

Week 1 September 1-5: Make A Plan: Talk to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during and after a disaster. Make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations due to the coronavirus. 

Week 2 September 6-12: Build A Kit: Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in your home.  Don’t forget to consider the unique needs each member of your household (including your pets) may have in case you have to evacuate quickly. Update your kits and supplies based on recommendations by the CDC.

Week 3 September 13-19: Prepare for Disasters: Limit the impacts that disasters have on you and your family.  Know the risk of disasters in your area and check your insurance coverage. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert.

Week 4 September 20-26: Teach Youth About Preparedness: Talk to your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them that they have a role to play in being ready for disaster by providing information about how they can get involved.

Everyone has a role to play to ensure that their community is ready for disasters.  For more resources, visit Ready.gov.

 

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We Are FEMA: Meet Kristin Duquette

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 07:01
We Are FEMA: Meet Kristin Duquette zella.campbell Wed, 09/09/2020 - 10:01

As a kid, Kristin Duquette dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer. “There’s nothing like representing your country on an international stage,” Kristen says. To this day, she still finds comfort and joy swimming, though her experience and drive has taken her impact well beyond the pool.

Kristin has competed on and led Team USA, spoken at the United Nations, served as confidential assistant to the Chief of Staff for the National Endowment for the Arts under the Obama Administration and is a selected U.S. representative and expert on various human rights topics on international platforms.

These accomplishments merely scratch the surface of her character and accomplishments.  Today, the five-time American Paralympic swimming record holder and a renowned advocate for disability rights has led her to a career in public service.

“After retiring from swimming,” Kristen said. “I transitioned my passion to represent the U.S. to serving our country, particularly during times most in need of comfort and protection.”

At FEMA, Kristin serves as a preparedness officer for the Transportation Security Grant Program. The work she does helps to protect public transportation agencies, critical transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism. She is also in the Homeland Defense and Security Master’s Program at the Naval Postgraduate School as part of her efforts to do the most she can in her field. Additionally, Kristin formerly served as director of diversity and inclusion for FEMA's Women's Leadership Forum. Her commitment to FEMA’s core values of compassion, fairness, integrity and respect shine through in her work.

Kristin says, “My passion for working at FEMA derives from my interest in securing our nation, particularly vulnerable groups, against foreign and homegrown terrorism, and the fluid environment of homeland security.”

The We Are FEMA campaign highlights employees like Kristin, who are committed to serving our country before, during and after disasters. It takes a deeper look at the employees who work to make our nation safer, stronger and more prepared. The campaign allows others to learn more about the mission-driven work and the who, what and why behind the FEMA mission. The faces of FEMA are diverse, but they share the same goal: to help people before, during and after disaster.

To join our team, visit FEMA.gov/careers to see the latest job openings.

Related Locations All Headquarters

We Are FEMA: Meet Kristin Duquette

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 11:39
We Are FEMA: Meet Kristin Duquette jessica.geraci Tue, 09/08/2020 - 14:39

As a kid, Kristin Duquette dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer. “There’s nothing like representing your country on an international stage,” Kristen says. To this day, she still finds comfort and joy swimming, though her experience and drive has taken her impact well beyond the pool.

Kristin has competed on and led Team USA, spoken at the United Nations, served as confidential assistant to the Chief of Staff for the National Endowment for the Arts under the Obama Administration and is a selected U.S. representative and expert on various human rights topics on international platforms.

These accomplishments merely scratch the surface of her character and accomplishments.  Today, the five-time American Paralympic swimming record holder and a renowned advocate for disability rights has led her to a career in public service.

“After retiring from swimming,” Kristen said. “I transitioned my passion to represent the U.S. to serving our country, particularly during times most in need of comfort and protection.”

At FEMA, Kristin serves as a preparedness officer for the Transportation Security Grant Program. The work she does helps to protect public transportation agencies, critical transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism. She is also in the Homeland Defense and Security Master’s Program at the Naval Postgraduate School as part of her efforts to do the most she can in her field. Additionally, Kristin formerly served as director of diversity and inclusion for FEMA's Women's Leadership Forum. Her commitment to FEMA’s core values of compassion, fairness, integrity and respect shine through in her work.

Kristin says, “My passion for working at FEMA derives from my interest in securing our nation, particularly vulnerable groups, against foreign and homegrown terrorism, and the fluid environment of homeland security.”

The We Are FEMA campaign highlights employees like Kristin, who are committed to serving our country before, during and after disasters. It takes a deeper look at the employees who work to make our nation safer, stronger and more prepared. The campaign allows others to learn more about the mission-driven work and the who, what and why behind the FEMA mission. The faces of FEMA are diverse, but they share the same goal: to help people before, during and after disaster.

To join our team, visit FEMA.gov/careers to see the latest job openings.

FEMA Prepares for Hurricane Laura, California Wildfires

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 09:10
FEMA Prepares for Hurricane Laura, California Wildfires jessica.geraci Tue, 08/25/2020 - 12:10 Author Tony Robinson

As Hurricane Laura approaches and wildfires continue to burn in the west, it is more important than ever to be prepared. As you make necessary preparations for your family and your home, FEMA is preparing too. The agency is working with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners to make sure the nation is ready for these tropical systems and wildfires.

One of the primary actions FEMA is taking is to strategically move resources into place. Having supplies and people in the quantity and location they need to be helps FEMA and our partners respond rapidly and efficiently.

In states that the storms threaten, there are FEMA personnel on the ground, including teams that help to coordinate federal support, provide mobile telecommunications, operational support, life support and provide power generation.

There are also teams in place in Louisiana and Texas state operations centers. The region is working to move 500,000 meals and 800,000 liters of water into Roseland Staging Area and Camp Beauregard in Louisiana. Additionally, FEMA is placing another 250,000 meals and 400,000 liters of water on standby at its distribution center in Fort Worth, Texas that can be pushed to either Texas or Louisiana after the storms make landfall. 

FEMA, other federal agencies and the American Red Cross have also spent the last couple of months preparing to face additional challenges that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents. They have modified policies and planning and have taken actions to ensure the federal government can respond to any disaster during the continued COVID-19 response efforts. Actions such as safe distancing in shelters have been taken into consideration when preparing shelter locations. You can read more about how to prepare for disaster during COVID-19 by visiting the Ready.gov website.

Emergency declarations have also been approved for Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Puerto Rico. These declarations help FEMA to rapidly and efficiently respond when states and individuals need aid after a disaster. They authorize FEMA to provide assistance, including reimbursement for mass care, evacuation and shelter support.

Additionally, President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for California. The declaration includes grants to individuals and households, and emergency work in seven counties impacted by wildfires. All areas in the state are also eligible for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

To further make sure employees and disaster survivors stay safe from COVID-19, FEMA has added virtual options for meeting needs after disasters. These methods include virtual damage assessments and inspections for FEMA Individual Assistance and Public Assistance programs, as well as for National Flood Insurance Program claims.  

While FEMA makes preparations for the tropical storms and wildfire response, you can also stay prepared by downloading the FEMA app to receive emergency alerts and information. Visit Ready.gov to read more about what you and your loved ones might need to know before, during and after disasters.

 

Related Locations Texas Louisiana Mississippi Puerto Rico California

Americans with Disabilities Act Opens Doors for All

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 14:29
Americans with Disabilities Act Opens Doors for All gloria.huang Wed, 08/05/2020 - 17:29 Author 484312

30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Celebrate. Learn. Share.

Sunday, July 26, marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This sweeping legislation led to an historic expansion of civil rights protections for people with disabilities across the nation. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, private businesses, public accommodations, telecommunications and access to state and local government programs. Today, its provisions cover more than 56 million Americans.

The passage of the ADA in 1990 has a personal significance for me, because it led me to focus on my career path working to improve the lives of people with disabilities as a lawyer practicing disability law. Now, as director of the Office of Disability integration and coordination since 2017, I am able to help people with disabilities participate in—and benefit from—FEMA’s programs and services. And I join in celebrating this important milestone today.

When FEMA was created in 1979, the ADA was still 10 years in the making. But the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 already prohibited FEMA and other federal entities from discriminating against people with disabilities. Yet, children with disabilities were still often in segregated public schools. There were state schools for children who were deaf and blind. Even in major cities, there weren’t always curb cuts, necessary for the mobility of wheelchair users. Elevators and ramps weren't required by law. Braille descriptions were left off signs and elevator control panels. Captioning for television programs didn't exist widely.

Over the course of this generation, we've seen some huge advancements in accessibility for people with disabilities. So today, I think it is appropriate that we celebrate our successes and how far we’ve come as a nation. That we learn from our experiences over the past 30 years. And that we share our ideas and best practices with each other.

As President George H. W. Bush said at the time, “With today’s signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom.”

Many doors have been opened during the past 30 years thanks to the ADA. Public transportation has provided the means for people with disabilities to get to school, work and play. Changes in building codes have created opportunities for people with disabilities to choose the housing and communities they want to live in.  Technological advances have enabled people with disabilities to communicate better, faster and more seamlessly than ever before. Durable medical and rehabilitation technology have empowered people with disabilities to push harder, run faster and jump higher — competing for and winning medals on the world stage at the Paralympic Games.

There are many ways that the ADA has benefitted people with disabilities during emergencies and disasters. For example, thanks to the requirements in the ADA that mass transit be accessible, people with disabilities are now usually able to evacuate in the event of a disaster or emergency alongside people who don't have disabilities. This is especially important, because people with disabilities tend to rely more heavily on trains and buses. Today, most major cities also have paratransit as a daily transportation option – a door-to-door accessible pickup and transport service that can also be activated in emergencies. Other ways include sheltering, post-disaster longer term housing options and rebuilding communities in an accessible way.

FEMA, specifically the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination and the Disability Integration Cadre, continue to lead the way in integrating the needs of people with disabilities into all of our agency’s programs and services. We work with our state, local, tribal and territorial partners to support them by providing technical assistance, training, tools and resources that guide them in serving people with disabilities in their jurisdictions.

The ADA opened the doors for FEMA and our partners to work together to serve disaster survivors with disabilities. We are proud to celebrate this important milestone and to continue our commitment to helping people with disabilities before, during and after disasters.

Related Locations All

Tropical Storm Isaias Reminds Us Disasters Don’t Wait

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 12:18
Tropical Storm Isaias Reminds Us Disasters Don’t Wait Listing Image jessica.geraci Mon, 08/03/2020 - 15:18

Tropical Storm Isaias is an important reminder that disasters don’t wait. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic remains a threat, even in the face of the strong winds and flooding that Isaias is bringing to the East Coast this week. It is vital that you are prepared for both. The best way to do this is to stay informed, know how to deal with all types of weather and always keep your personal safety in mind.

To stay informed, you will need to listen for emergency information and alerts. If told to evacuate by local officials, do so immediately. Pay attention to the wireless emergency alerts sent to your phone or that play on the radio. On the FEMA website, you can find out how to receive these types of weather alerts. You can also follow your local National Weather Service office and your FEMA regional office on social media.

When faced with tropical storms or hurricanes, it is important to determine how to best protect yourself from high winds and flooding.

  • For high winds, take refuge in a designated storm shelter or an interior room.
  • For flooding inside of a building, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic as you may become trapped by rising flood water.
  • Avoid walking, swimming or driving through flood waters. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down. One foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Stay off bridges spanning over fast-moving water.

While tropical storms and hurricanes present immediate threats, it is important to still take precautions against COVID-19 when possible. Following these guidelines can help protect you from COVID-19 and hurricanes:

  • If you must go to a community or group shelter remember to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for protecting yourself and family from COVID-19.
  • Add cleaning and disinfectant items to your disaster supplies kit. This includes items such as soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces you may need to touch regularly.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between you and persons not part of your immediate family while at a shelter, and avoid crowds or gathering in groups as much as possible.
  • Anyone over two years old should use a cloth face covering while at shelters.

For more information on preparing for disasters, visit the Ready website.

 

Related Locations All

Making a Difference for 50 Years

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 06:06
Making a Difference for 50 Years zella.campbell Sun, 08/02/2020 - 09:06

By Greg Forrester, President and CEO at National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

For the past 5 years, volunteers from around the country travel to FEMA Headquarters in Washington D.C. each July to celebrate Partnership Day. Although we are not able to meet in person this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are together in spirit and we have a lot to celebrate!

Fifty years ago, six religious denominations and the American Red Cross formed the National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster (NVOAD), a coalition of national voluntary organizations that help people and communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. NVOAD now has 75 national member organizations, a state VOAD in all 50 states and six territories, and 15 private sector and educational partners. We average over 5 million volunteers per year, served over six million meals during the last six months, and donated thousands of hours towards disaster cleanup, rebuilding storm damaged homes, feeding the hungry, and providing spiritual/emotional support to those in need. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to make some changes but it hasn’t stopped us from helping people. Our member organizations are adapting their procedures and processes to serve safely to continue to meet needs during this pandemic and ongoing disasters. In addition to utilizing established trained leaders - organizations are recruiting and training community members not affected by the disaster who are eager to help their neighbors. High school and college students who are out of school have filled their free time working in food banks, delivering food to their neighbors, and assisting their communities. Member organizations have worked with federal, state, and local emergency management to re-open restaurant operations to prepare, package, and deliver meals in communities across the United States.  They have assisted with much needed blood drives, COVID testing sites, and provided mental/spiritual health services.

National VOAD works collaboratively with government agencies. We have a seat in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center and our State VOADs are embedded in their state Emergency Operation Centers. As our government partners are establishing infrastructure restoration and rescue operations - our community based members/volunteers are helping establish sheltering, feeding, and cleanup operations. Communication and partnership between government, the private sector, and voluntary organizations leads to whole community response.

I want to thank all the volunteers who have contributed their time and talents to National VOAD and encourage anyone reading this to consider joining us. How many times have you watched a news report of people flooded out of their homes, seen pictures of evacuees staying in a shelter after a wildfire, or read about whole towns destroyed by a tornado and thought “I wish there was something I could do?” You don’t have to change careers  -  donate your time. You can use your skills, experience and abilities to help people rebuild their lives after disasters. It’s not always easy, there are struggles - but you get to say to yourself, “I made a difference.”

Visit our Virtual Partnership Day Exhibit Hall to learn more about how volunteer organizations work with FEMA to help people before, during and after disasters. To volunteer, visit NVOAD to find an organization to volunteer your time and talent!

 

Related Locations All

Introducing the New FEMA.gov

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 19:52
Introducing the New FEMA.gov zella.campbell Mon, 07/27/2020 - 22:52

Over the past two years, FEMA.gov has been visited over 80 million times, making it our most important communication tool to provide disaster survivors, emergency managers, government and private sector officials, and first responders with the information and assistance they need before, during and after disaster. Today we are excited to launch a fully redesigned FEMA.gov that is easy to navigate, focused on the user and accessible by all. This is a big step towards reducing the complexity of FEMA, one of the three main strategic goals for the agency.

This redesign is an opportunity to start fresh. We’ve upgraded our content management system and fully implemented the U.S. Web Design System for greater accessibility and mobile-friendly user experiences. Our team worked across the entire agency with program experts to rewrite thousands of pages in plain language and reorganize the information to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for.

As you explore FEMA.gov, you may notice these major changes:
  • User focus. The old FEMA.gov became overwhelmingly organized by our office structure rather than common sense topics and information was often written in insider shorthand. The new navigation menus now help site visitors better identify where to find the information they are looking for.
  • Getting local. A new geo-filter search function allows people to enter a state or zip code to see active disaster declarations, alerts, press releases and other information specific to their location. Over time, we will be able to add more location features and content to ensure you can always find the most urgent and timely information for your area.
  • Modern web design. The site embraces U.S. Web Design System principles of starting with real user needs, embracing accessibility and consistent design. The launch of the new site is a first big step towards creating a unified, accessible and experience for our audiences across all our digital platforms and media.

This is a first step in what will be a continuing effort to make sure our customers can easily access the information needed.  We want your feedback to know what works for you and what you’d like to see improved.  We welcome you to check out the redesigned site, and then visit our Contact Us form to share your thoughts

Related Locations All Headquarters

Americans with Disabilities Act Opens Doors for All

Wed, 07/22/2020 - 06:07
Author:  Linda Mastandrea, Director, Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, FEMA

30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Celebrate. Learn. Share.

Sunday, July 26, marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This sweeping legislation led to an historic expansion of civil rights protections for people with disabilities across the nation. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, private businesses, public accommodations, telecommunications and access to state and local government programs. Today, its provisions cover more than 56 million Americans.

The passage of the ADA in 1990 has a personal significance for me, because it led me to focus on my career path working to improve the lives of people with disabilities as a lawyer practicing disability law. Now, as director of the Office of Disability integration and coordination since 2017, I am able to help people with disabilities participate in—and benefit from—FEMA’s programs and services. And I join in celebrating this important milestone today.

When FEMA was created in 1979, the ADA was still 10 years in the making. But the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 already prohibited FEMA and other federal entities from discriminating against people with disabilities. Yet, children with disabilities were still often in segregated public schools. There were state schools for children who were deaf and blind. Even in major cities, there weren’t always curb cuts, necessary for the mobility of wheelchair users. Elevators and ramps weren't required by law. Braille descriptions were left off signs and elevator control panels. Captioning for television programs didn't exist widely.

Over the course of this generation, we've seen some huge advancements in accessibility for people with disabilities. So today, I think it is appropriate that we celebrate our successes and how far we’ve come as a nation. That we learn from our experiences over the past 30 years. And that we share our ideas and best practices with each other.

As President George H. W. Bush said at the time, “With today’s signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom.”

Many doors have been opened during the past 30 years thanks to the ADA. Public transportation has provided the means for people with disabilities to get to school, work and play. Changes in building codes have created opportunities for people with disabilities to choose the housing and communities they want to live in.  Technological advances have enabled people with disabilities to communicate better, faster and more seamlessly than ever before. Durable medical and rehabilitation technology have empowered people with disabilities to push harder, run faster and jump higher — competing for and winning medals on the world stage at the Paralympic Games.

There are many ways that the ADA has benefitted people with disabilities during emergencies and disasters. For example, thanks to the requirements in the ADA that mass transit be accessible, people with disabilities are now usually able to evacuate in the event of a disaster or emergency alongside people who don't have disabilities. This is especially important, because people with disabilities tend to rely more heavily on trains and buses. Today, most major cities also have paratransit as a daily transportation option – a door-to-door accessible pickup and transport service that can also be activated in emergencies. Other ways include sheltering, post-disaster longer term housing options and rebuilding communities in an accessible way.

FEMA, specifically the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination and the Disability Integration Cadre, continue to lead the way in integrating the needs of people with disabilities into all of our agency’s programs and services. We work with our state, local, tribal and territorial partners to support them by providing technical assistance, training, tools and resources that guide them in serving people with disabilities in their jurisdictions.

The ADA opened the doors for FEMA and our partners to work together to serve disaster survivors with disabilities. We are proud to celebrate this important milestone and to continue our commitment to helping people with disabilities before, during and after disasters.

30 Ways FEMA Supports Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery for People with Disabilities

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 14:13
30 Ways FEMA Supports Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery for People with Disabilities zella.campbell Tue, 07/21/2020 - 17:13

July 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The theme is Celebrate. Learn. Share. In the past 30 years, we've seen improved access to buildings, doctor’s offices, museums, eateries, shops, recreational venues and so much more. As they build, America’s cities and towns are planning for the needs of people with disabilities living in and visiting their communities. It’s now easier for people to be involved with their state and local governments and access their services and programs.

 

FEMA is committed to making sure that people with disabilities have access to, and can benefit from, our programs and services. To celebrate the 30th ADA Anniversary, here are 30 ways the agency supports emergency preparedness, response and recovery for people with disabilities.

  1. Developed a coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and disability dashboard that overlays disability demographics with COVID-19 cases and deaths to assist Regional Disability Integration Specialists in identifying potential areas of need.  
  2. Reorganized the disability integration cadre; developed new staff positions, tools and training to develop a highly skilled workforce that meet the needs of people with disabilities affected by disasters.   
  3. Created the Program and Policy Branch, increasing our agency’s capacity to serve people with disabilities and focus on policy development; added staff liaisons to FEMA program areas.   
  4. Hired a data analyst to identify people affected in disaster and measure recovery outcomes for disaster survivors with disabilities.  
  5. Hosted calls with our regional disability integration specialists in the 10 FEMA regions to identify and address concerns of people with disabilities during COVID-19 and for future disasters.  
  6. Worked with FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute and Center for Domestic Preparedness to increase campus access for students with disabilities.  
  7. Engaged in ways to integrate disability competency and disability integration principles in campus training delivered to the agency, emergency managers and first responders.  
  8. Updating the “Integrating the Needs of People with Disabilities in Emergency Management” course that will provide emergency planners real-world opportunities to test their disaster plans against legal and regulatory requirements to serve people with disabilities.  
  9. Simplified the FEMA disaster-survivor registration intake questions on  disability and disability-related loss, resulting in an increase in the percentage of registrants identifying as having disabilities from less than 3% to approximately 15%--in line with disability demographic estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.  
  10. Engaged in developing the “2016 Response and Recovery Federal Interagency Operational Plans” annex, creating a system to provide reasonable accommodations;  addressing evacuation by keeping people with disabilities together with their durable medical equipment and service animals; providing accessible transportation; and, supporting the mental health needs of disaster survivors.  
  11. Participated in a vendor review panel, which made sure that vendors of showers, sheltering cots and portable bathrooms and laundry facilities met accessibility standards for people with disabilities in shelters.  
  12. Conducted listening sessions together with the Department of Homeland Security Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Office to hear from disability Non-Governmental Organizations and emergency managers in California, Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on how we can work together to better serve people with disabilities.  
  13. Created the “Disability Demographics and Program Utilization Report,” published in February 2020, which studied the experiences of people with disabilities who apply for FEMA assistance, and provided us with information on ways to improve our programs and services based on those experiences.  
  14. Facilitated inclusion of an introduction to FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination and disability integration into FEMA employee onboarding process.  
  15. Engaged with state and local emergency managers nationwide to improve disaster services for people with disabilities.  
  16. Presented FEMA program updates on national calls hosted by the ADA National Network, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities and the U.S. Access Board, among others.  
  17. As part of the federal Disability Interagency Working Group, shared information and best practices about serving people with disabilities across the federal government.  
  18. Deployed disability integration advisors to disasters nationwide to provide advice and guidance to FEMA senior leadership and just-in-time training to staff to ensure our programs and services meet the needs of people with disabilities.  
  19. Worked with the Individual Assistance Program to update the Individual Assistance Program and Policy Guide and National Mass Care Strategy: Transition to Alternate Sheltering to make sure the needs of disaster survivors with disabilities were integrated into the guidance.  
  20. Engaged with Public Assistance (PA) for the first time to discuss ways to leverage PA dollars to build more accessible, resilient and sustainable communities after disasters.  
  21. Helped the agency develop processes so that joint field offices, alternate field offices and disaster recovery centers meet accessibility requirements.  
  22. Facilitated creation of core advisory groups in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico, bringing together local emergency managers, municipal officials and disability NGO representatives to address the needs of people with disabilities.  
  23. Worked with FEMA programs to implement Section 1212 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, which included legislation to help Americans with disabilities receive disaster assistance to better meet their needs, particularly related to the repair or replacement of accessibility related real or personal property.  
  24. Produced “We Prepare Every Day” videos showing people with disabilities taking charge to prepare for emergencies. We have also  provided equal access to video content by providing open captioninga certified deaf interpreter, and audio descriptions.  
  25. Produced accessible videos with information about registering for FEMA assistance, disaster recovery centers, filing a flood claim and more. Some videos are also available in multiple languages.  
  26. Partnered with the American Red Cross in Puerto Rico after the 2020 earthquakes providing more than 200 sensory kits with a weighted blanket, noise cancelling earphones, fidget spinner and stress ball to disaster survivors in need.  
  27. At the Arkansas Department of Human Wellness Fair in March 2020, taught people with disabilities, older adults, caregivers and medical staff to plan ahead for disasters, build an emergency supply kit and write an emergency plan.  
  28. Made Including People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs in Disaster Operations a required course for FEMA employees.  
  29. Equipped disaster recovery centers with assistive and communication technology devices to facilitate accessible and effective communication for people with disabilities visiting disaster recovery centers.  
  30. Offers preparedness tips for people with disabilities on Ready.gov. Information includes tips on creating a support network of family, friends and others who can help during an emergency, identifying an out-of-town contact and packing a go bag with items for your unique needs, such as extra medications or hearing aid batteries.  

As we look back on the last 30 years, our nation has made many strides to help support people with disabilities.   FEMA remains committed to working toward building the nation contemplated by the ADA—one where people with disabilities are woven into the fabric of our neighborhoods and integrated into our communities, living, working and playing side by side with family, neighbors and friends.

Related Locations All

Communities on the Frontline: Week of July 13

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 14:11
Communities on the Frontline: Week of July 13 zella.campbell Tue, 07/21/2020 - 17:11

Around the world, communities are using innovative approaches to support coronavirus (COVID-19) response efforts. Each week, FEMA is highlighting these extraordinary efforts so that other others can learn from and expand on them. This week focuses on communities that are using new protocols and resources to adapt to new learning environments.

Precautions at Primary Schools

At a Nashville, Tennessee day school, teachers disinfect kids’ lunchboxes at drop-off in the morning, and children must switch into a designated pair of shoes that remain at the school. Schools are also removing soft toys and dress-up clothes and dividing supplies, such as markers and scissors, so that each child can have their own. To prepare for students who may test positive for COVID-19 as operations resume, some schools designated isolation rooms where sick children can wait for pickup from school. The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) recommends that the isolation room is adjacent to a nurse’s office and features an outside access door.

Precautions at Child Care Centers

In Charlottesville, Virginia, a preschool divided its playground into sections so that different classes could play at the same time. To accommodate limited indoor space for social distancing, a childcare center in Atlanta, Georgia placed privacy dividers between cots and cribs, which were arranged in an alternated head-to-toe pattern. In classrooms with infants, teachers are using clear masks so that infants can take cues from facial expressions.

Staffing to Support Reduced Class Sizes

Although school reopening guidance recommends emptier classrooms to encourage social distancing, overcrowded schools in New York have about 30 students in one class and an insufficient number of teachers to accommodate reduced class sizes. To address the staffing shortage, the president of New York City's teacher's union suggested supplementing staffing for in-person or remote teaching with employees from the city’s Department of Education who have teaching certificates. Classes may also be held in cafeterias or gyms to allow for adequate social distancing.

Resources to Support Remote Learning

Nordic countries, such as Estonia, Finland, and Denmark, made their remote learning tools and resources available for global use at no cost, although the duration of free access varies by resource. This online source is regularly updated and allows users to sort by "General Education", "Early Years", and "Higher Education". Examples of resources include management tools for lessons and homework assignments, exam and quiz generators, and messaging applications for communication between teachers and students or families.

These stories are part of the FEMA Best Practice initiative, which focuses on compiling the best practices and lessons learned from communities fighting COVID-19.  To see more stories like this, visit the Best Practices page. For more information on how to help during COVID-19, visit FEMA’s website for information on donations and volunteering.

Related Locations All