Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DisasterAssistance.gov is the official website devoted to helping disaster survivors. It’s a portal to help survivors locate more than 70 forms of assistance across 17 federal agencies via the internet using their desktop computer, tablet or mobile device. Using prescreening technology, DisasterAssistance.gov offers an anonymous questionnaire that generates a personalized list of assistance a survivor can apply for based on the answers. The site also provides other disaster-related information and resources to help before, during and after a disaster.

FEMA Encourages Families and Communities to Participate in National PrepareAthon! Day

Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging individuals, families, workplaces, schools, and organizations across the nation to take part in National PrepareAthon! Day on September 30th, 2015. Extreme weather is occurring more often across the United States, which is increasing the costs of natural disasters. According to a recent survey conducted by FEMA, fewer than half of Americans have discussed and developed an emergency plan with their household.
As part of National Preparedness Month and National PrepareAthon! Day, FEMA is encouraging everyone to develop and practice their family emergency plan to prepare for disasters that are known threats in their communities.
“The first step in preparing yourself and your family is learning the type of disasters that can happen where you live,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Your family may not be together when disaster strikes. Developing an emergency communication plan doesn’t cost a thing, and the time you’ve invested beforehand will make it easier for your family to reconnect.”
National PrepareAthon! Day is part of America’s PrepareAthon!, a nationwide grassroots campaign for action to increase community preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific group discussions, drills, and exercises. The campaign offers easy-to-implement preparedness guides, checklists, and resources to help individuals, organizations, and communities prepare for the types of disasters that are relevant to their area. People can take these simple steps to increase their preparedness:  
  1. Create a family emergency communication plan. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download Be Smart. Take Part: Create Your Family Emergency Communication Plan. Collect the information you need, decide on the places you will meet in case of an emergency, share the information with your family, and practice your plan.  
  2. Sign up for local text alerts and warnings and download weather apps. Stay aware of worsening weather conditions. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download Be Smart: Know Your Alerts and Warnings to learn how sign up for local alerts and weather apps that are relevant for hazards that affect your area.
  3. Create an emergency supply kit. Be prepared for bad weather by creating an emergency supply kit for each member of your family. Visit ready.gov/build-a-kit for more ideas of what to include in your kit.

USDA and FEMA Partner on Summer Program

USDA STEM Camp partcipants make their presentations.
FEMA DAIP is not only a critical managing partner for the USDA on Disaster Assistance. FEMA also supported another USDA initiative, the Open Data Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) camp by providing USDA with valuable educational materials for the open data STEM camp focused on agriculture. FEMA’s Are You Ready disaster guidebooks were distributed to the students and used in their training as a key resource.
USDA is committed to providing USDA open data to federal, state, local, tribal, industry, academia, and the public to foster innovation, economic growth and improve American lives. The USDA Open Data initiative is referred to as OpenAg. To fulfill its mission, USDA must be positioned to provide outstanding services to its internal and external customers by recruiting, training, and retaining a world-class IT workforce that is flexible enough to meet rapidly changing business needs. Because information technology (IT) directly supports that mission, USDA needs to develop individuals with leadership competencies and a variety of emerging IT skill sets to continue its role as a dynamic organization capable of strengthening the American agricultural economy and building vibrant rural communities.
As a result, USDA partnered with GovLab/New York University and the Patriots Technology Training Center on this first of its kind Open Data STEM Summer camp.
USDA is tasked with providing national leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues. To support the USDA’s mission, the GovLab Academy designed and executed a dual pilot of a two-week open data summer program for Washington, DC-area teenagers. The goal of the camp is to help the leaders of tomorrow learn more about data, the tools of data science, and the ways they might be leveraged to improve innovation and security in the nation’s food supply and forest service. The camp provided an opportunity for USDA employees to support the goal of strengthening STEM education in this country by piloting an initiative that can be scaled and replicated across agencies and across levels of government.
Using data provided by the USDA agencies the camp participants worked on small, actionable projects linked to one or more key issues facing the USDA, in which teams of students had to find, qualify, and interpret relevant data, and then they were asked to create and present a compelling visualization of the data they have found and of its significance. The second group of students graduated on Friday, July 31st.
USDA thanks FEMA-DAIP  for their continued support both as a managing partner, as well as supporting other initiatives, including the Open Data STEM summer camp.

DisasterAssistance.gov Site Metrics Fiscal Year (FY) through August 31, 2015

DAIP Informational Graphic August 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

During a Fire

·         Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.

·         When the smoke alarm sounds, get out fast. You may have only seconds to escape safely.

·         If there is smoke blocking your door or first way out, use your second way out.

·         Smoke is toxic. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.

·         Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, leave the door closed and use your second way out.

·         If there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.

·         If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.

·         If you can’t get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.

·         If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.

·         If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out.  Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.

·         If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands.  Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out.  If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel.  Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes.  Cover with a clean, dry cloth.  Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.


Thursday, September 24, 2015



Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud and other debris. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event typically occurs when waterways such as rivers or streams overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

Before a Flood

What would you do if your property were flooded? Are you prepared?

Even if you feel you live in a community with a low risk of flooding, remember that anywhere it rains, it can flood.  Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future.  Flood risk isn't just based on history; it's also based on a number of factors including rainfall , topography, flood-control measures, river-flow and tidal-surge data, and changes due to new construction and development.

Flood-hazard maps have been created to show the flood risk for your community, which helps determine the type of flood insurance coverage you will need since standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding.  The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium.

In addition to having flood insurance, knowing following flood hazard terms will help you recognize and prepare for a flood.

To prepare for a flood, you should:

·         Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.

·         Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.

·         Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.

·         Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.

·         If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

2015 National Preparedness Month

More and more people are making their homes in woodland settings - in or near forests, rural areas, or remote mountain sites. There, homeowners enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the very real danger of wildfire.

Every year across our Nation, some homes survive - while many others do not - after a major wildfire. Those that survive almost always do so because their owners had prepared for the eventuality of fire, which is an inescapable force of nature in fire-prone wildland areas. Said in another way - if it's predictable, it's preventable!

Wildfires often begin unnoticed. These fires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now - before wildfire strikes. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area. Follow the steps listed below to protect your family, home, and property

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Driving in Floods

The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

·       Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.

·       A foot of water will float many vehicles

·       Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

·       Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.

·       Do not drive around a barricade. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.

·       Do not try to take short cuts. They may be blocked. Stick to designated evacuation routes.

·       Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Monday, September 21, 2015

2015 National Preparedness Month



Earthquakes are sudden rolling or shaking events caused by movement under the earth’s surface. Earthquakes happen along cracks in the earth's surface, called fault lines, and can be felt over large areas, although they usually last less than one minute. Earthquakes cannot be predicted — although scientists are working on it!

All 50 states and 5 U.S. territories are at some risk for earthquakes.  Earthquakes can happen at any time of the year.


·         Look around places where you spend time.  Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office or school so that when the shaking starts, you Drop to the ground, Cover your head and neck with your arms, and if a safer place is nearby, crawl to it and Hold On. 

·         Practice how to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!”

o    To react quickly you must practice often. You may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake.

·         Before an earthquake occurs, secure items that could fall and cause injuries (e.g., bookshelves, mirrors, light fixtures).

·         Store critical supplies (e.g., water, medication) and documents.

·         Plan how you will communicate with family members, including multiple methods by making a family emergency communication plan.

·         When choosing your home or business, check if the building is earthquake resistant per local building codes. 


If you are inside a building:

·         Stay where you are until the shaking stops. Do not run outside. Do not get in a doorway as this does not provide protection from falling or flying objects, and you may not be able to remain standing.

·         Drop down onto your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn’t knock you down. Drop to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!)

·         Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris.

o    If you are in danger from falling objects, and you can move safely, crawl for additional cover under a sturdy desk or table.

o    If there is low furniture or an interior wall or corner nearby, and the path is clear, these may also provide some additional cover.

o    Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as light fixtures or furniture.

·         Hold on to any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops. Stay where you are until the shaking stops.

If getting safely to the floor to take cover won’t be possible:

·         Identify an inside corner of the room away from windows and objects that could fall on you.  The Earthquake Country Alliance advises getting as low as possible to the floor. People who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices should lock their wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.

If you are in bed when you feel the shaking:

·         If you are in bed: Stay there and Cover your head and neck with a pillow. At night, hazards and debris are difficult to see and avoid; attempts to move in the dark result in more injuries than remaining in bed.

If you are outside when you feel the shaking:

·         If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once in the open, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Stay there until the shaking stops. This might not be possible in a city, so you may need to duck inside a building to avoid falling debris.

If you are in a moving vehicle when you feel the shaking:

·         If you are in a moving vehicle, stop as quickly and safely as possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires. Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that the earthquake may have damaged.


·         When the shaking stops, look around. If there is a clear path to safety, leave the building and go to an open space away from damaged areas.

·         If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust.

·         If you have a cell phone with you, use it to call or text for help.

·         Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, so that rescuers can locate you.

·         Once safe, monitor local news reports via battery operated radio, TV, social media, and cell phone text alerts for emergency information and instructions.

·         Be prepared to “Drop, Cover, and Hold on” in the likely event of aftershocks.

Listen to Local Officials

Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

2015 National Preparedness Month
During a Landslide

·         During a severe storm, stay alert and awake. Many deaths from landslides occur while people are sleeping.

·         Listen to local news stations on a battery-powered radio for warnings of heavy rainfall.

·         Listen for unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together.

·         Move away from the path of a landslide or debris flow as quickly as possible. The danger from a mudflow increases near stream channels and with prolonged heavy rains. Mudflows can move faster than you can walk or run. Look upstream before crossing a bridge and do not cross the bridge if a mudflow is approaching.

·         Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas.

·         If you are near a stream or channel, be alert for any sudden increase or decrease in water flow and notice whether the water changes from clear to muddy. Such changes may mean there is debris flow activity upstream so be prepared to move quickly.

·         Curl into a tight ball and protect your head if escape is not possible.

After a Landslide

·         Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).

·         Stay away from the slide area. There may be danger of additional slides.

·         Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.

·         Watch for flooding, which may occur after a landslide or debris flow. Floods sometimes follow landslides and debris flows because they may both be started by the same event.

·         Check for injured and trapped persons near the slide, without entering the direct slide area. Direct rescuers to their locations.

·         Look for and report broken utility lines and damaged roadways and railways to appropriate authorities. Reporting potential hazards will get the utilities turned off as quickly as possible, preventing further hazard and injury.

·         Check the building foundation, chimney, and surrounding land for damage. Damage to foundations, chimneys, or surrounding land may help you assess the safety of the area.

·         Replant damaged ground as soon as possible since erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to flash flooding and additional landslides in the near future.

·         Seek advice from a geotechnical expert for evaluating landslide hazards or designing corrective techniques to reduce landslide risk. A professional will be able to advise you of the best ways to prevent or reduce landslide risk, without creating further hazard.