Participate in EMI’s Winter Storm Virtual Tabletop Exercise (VTTX)

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is offering a four-hour Winter Storm Virtual Tabletop Exercises (VTTX) in November. The VTTX involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting and can be used to assess plans, policies, training, and procedures. This exercise will provide an excellent opportunity for cultural agencies to engage with their EMA (and vice versa) to further customize the scenario to include cultural and historic resources.

The VTTX differs from other tabletop exercises in that it is conducted using Video-Teleconference (VTC) technology (not web-based), and is intended to provide an opportunity for responders across the nation to participate simultaneously in a hazard-specific facilitated discussion. Lead facilitation for the exercise will be coordinated by EMI, with local facilitation provided by the participating EMA. This is a great opportunity to prepare for potentially disastrous winter weather.

This format will allow the common delivery of exercise materials, scenarios, modules, and discussion questions among those participating in the exercise.

Click here for more information, but don’t delay. The deadline for your EMA to apply to participate in the exercise is November 3, 2014.

FEMA Seeks Comments On Public Assistance Insurance Policy

FEMA is seeking comments from insurance companies and associations on a proposed policy which requires applicants of its Public Assistance program to obtain and maintain insurance coverage equal to the assistance FEMA provided. Comments must be submitted through the process outlined in the Federal Register notice and are due on December 8, 2014. In 2013, the Public Assistance program obligated more than $4.5 billion.

Under Federal law, applicants who receive assistance under the Public Assistance program are required to obtain and maintain insurance coverage for the peril which caused the damage for at least the amount of funding FEMA provided. The proposed policy, among other things, clarifies that this requirement extends to both flood and non-flood events and can be satisfied through a variety of options including commercial insurance, blanket polices, insurance pools, self-insurance or a combination of these options.

The Public Assistance Program provides grants to state, territorial, local, and federally recognized tribal governments and certain private non-profit entities to assist them with the response to and recovery from disasters. Specifically, the program provides assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and permanent restoration of infrastructure such as roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings and contents, public utilities, and parks, recreational, and other facilities.

The Public Assistance Policy on Insurance was posted to the Federal Register this morning. The notice and related documents can be accessed here.

Join in the Great ShakeOut on October 16

During National Preparedness Month, we hope you took the opportunity to prepare for possible disaster events in your community and region. If your region is susceptible to earthquakes – and most regions are – now is the time to put your plans to the test! You are invited to join in the Great ShakeOut, an annual event that promotes earthquake preparedness and organizes the “world’s biggest earthquake drill.” At 10:16 am on October 16, participants will “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” for at least one minute. FEMA encourages schools, childcare facilities, families, colleges, local, state, and federal government offices, tribal organizations, businesses, hotels, healthcare facilities, museums, libraries, other cultural institutions, and all individuals to participate. As of October 3, over 23,049,339 participants have registered. Promote earthquake preparedness in organizations and communities you are a part of by joining in.

Many resources are available to help you plan your participation and share valuable information about what to do in the event of an earthquake. If you choose to lead a drill, the Great ShakeOut provides manuals and tips for many different scenarios. If you are looking for information to share on what to do during and before an earthquake, FEMA has created a short video, “When The Earth Shakes,” which provides key information in an accessible format. For more information, see previous posts about earthquake preparedness and mitigation, and increase your knowledge about the risk of earthquakes in your region.

Business Continuity Training

Post by Howard Pierpont, International Association for Disaster Preparedness and Response

Disasters happen all the time. The Federal government declares on average one disaster per week. The reality is most disasters do not have national focus. Often an issue can be localized to a community, a neighborhood, or a single facility. Every disaster is personal when it occurs inside your organization. A ruptured pipe, overflowing faucet, wide temperature fluctuations, and external factors can impact the organization.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a day-long, interactive workshop in Caguas, Puerto Rico, to teach how to successfully engage small businesses so they are better prepared for future disasters and crises. The hands-on workshop covered the basics of how to deliver business continuity training to the local community. The audience included commercial as well as not-for-profit organizations.

I invite you to review the presentations included here.

Additional websites with great reference material include:
Open For Business
Ready.gov
US Small Business Administration (SBA), which also act as one of the financial clearinghouses for FEMA
Prepare My Business.org, a sponsored website from the SBA
The Ready Rating program from the American Red Cross
Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, funded by insurance companies
The Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Program – PS-Prep™ & Small Business Preparedness (last updated 8/6/2014)
FEMA Program Resources (last updated 8/7/2014)

Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

Howard Pierpont
Board Chair, DERA, International Association for Disaster Preparedness and Response
970-397-5526

September is National Preparedness Month

The 2014 National Preparedness Month theme is: “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.” NPM will culminate with National PrepareAthon! Day on September 30. Throughout the month of September, the NPM website will offer valuable preparedness information to raise awareness about disasters and encourage participation on the last day of the campaign on National PrepareAthon! Day. Here are some of the resources available on the NPM website to help you get started:

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) is hosting a series of free webinars as part of National Preparedness Month. The half-hour webinars will be presented at 2 pm Eastern each Wednesday in September. The first, Crisis Communication for Any Organization, will be held on September 3.

Visit http://snurl.com/296yw4e to register and learn more about the webinars.

Earthquake Mitigation Resources

In the aftermath of Sunday’s Napa Valley earthquake, California’s State Heritage Emergency Partnership is functioning just as it should: the state cultural agencies are communicating, collaborating, and coordinating with each other and with the state Office of Emergency Management to ascertain damage to cultural institutions and historic sites and properties. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.

Although the magnitude 6.0 earthquake highlights California’s inescapable susceptibility to earthquakes, it’s important to remember that all 50 states and five US territories are at some risk for earthquakes. As a no-notice event (unlike a hurricane, for which there is advance notice), the best planning entails mitigation. FEMA has a number of resources to help organizations:

QuakeSmart is a FEMA National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) initiative to help businesses in at-risk earthquake communities implement earthquake mitigation actions. The QuakeSmart Toolkit (FEMA P-811) is available online.

Earthquake Safety at Work provides information on what businesses and organizations can do before, during, and after an earthquake. The activities described all fall under the preparedness umbrella.

The Directory of FEMA Earthquake Partners, updated in May 2014, provides contact information for more than 300 organizations and individuals involved in earthquake mitigation at the federal and state levels and in the non-governmental sector.

And if you’re still not convinced that earthquake mitigation works, watch the six-minute video Earthquake Mitigation Saves Lives. Hoyt Fields of Hearst Castle, the historic house museum and California State Park, and Jim Saunders, owner of a historic building in Paso Robles, CA, describe the earthquake mitigation activities they have undertaken to protect and preserve history.

New Tsunami Evacuation App for Pacific States

Residents, emergency managers and tourists in Washington and Oregon have a new tool to help with tsunami preparedness. TsunamiEvac-NW is a new smartphone app that shows users:

• Evacuation zones where they live, work, or go to school;
• Helps people plan evacuation routes; and
• Maps important locations, buildings, and landmarks nearby.

The website and app both report active warnings and watches, provide information tsunami on signs, and explain evacuation and sheltering best practices. There are also printable community brochures available that:

• Map the local coastline;
• Explain the difference between distant and local tsunamis; and
• Provide instructions on what to do and what not to do, among other useful features.

It also displays the locations of fire departments, hospitals, tsunami warning sirens and assembly areas for evacuation. Users may switch between different views (road, satellite, terrain, etc.) and use the app’s tools to develop their own family emergency plan and kit.

This app is available for both iPhone and Android users for free. Download it today!

Source: FEMA