Upcoming Webinar: The Essential Role of Records in Disaster Response

On Wed., August 5, 2015, FEMA-Continuity Webinar will present a free, one-hour webinar by David Carmicheal, Pennsylvania State Archivist. David will discuss the role of essential records and essential records maintenance in disaster response and recovery operations.  Additionally, he will explain how to identify essential records before a disaster occurs, as well as outline strategies for protecting essential records during and after disasters.

David is also the author of Implementing the Incident Command System at the Institutional Level: A Handbook for Libraries, Archives, Museums, and other Cultural Institutions.

Host:     FEMA-Continuity Webinar

When:  Wed., August 5, 2015

Time:     2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern

Connection options for webinar:

1) Webinar (No need to dial into audio conference. Webinar can be heard through computer speakers.)

Go to:   https://share.dhs.gov/aug2015

  • Enter as a guest.
  • Type your FIRST and LAST name.
  • Click “Enter Room.”

2) Audio Conference (Can be used if having trouble hearing webinar through computer speakers. Please dial in prior to the meeting start time.)

While participating in the teleconference, please mute your phone.

  • Audio Conference Dial-In Number: 1-800-320-4330
  • Audio Conference pin: # 164994

Questions? Contact FEMA-Continuity Webinar. For more information, click here.

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FEMA Launches Disaster Declaration Data Visualization Tool

FEMA data visualization TXFEMA is committed to increasing the transparency and accessibility of data. FEMA recently launched a new data visualization tool that enables the public to see when and where disaster declarations have occurred across the country. With hurricane season underway, the tool helps educate people about the history of hurricanes and other disasters in their communities.

The Public Data Visualization Tool allows users to view and interact with OpenFEMA data. Through an interactive platform, users can view the history of disaster declarations by hazard type or year and financial support provided to states, tribes, and territories, and access public datasets for further research and analysis. This tool builds off of the beta launch in January where users were able to see a visual representation of federal grant data as it relates to fire, preparedness, mitigation, individual assistance, and public assistance. The FEMA data used in the visualization are from the publicly available datasets on www.fema.gov and www.data.gov.

Hurricane Season Is Here!

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 through November 30 while the Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30. As Tropical Storm Bill pounds the Texas coast and moves inland, this second named storm reminds us to become familiar with the hurricane-related notifications issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), including watches and warnings.

  • Hurricane Watch: An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible within a specified area. Watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. During a watch, tune in to your NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, or television for information and conduct outside preparedness activities. You can use the America’s PrepareAthon! How to Prepare for a Hurricane Guide for help with storm preparations.
  • Hurricane Warning: An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected within a specified area. Warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. During a warning, complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.

Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, tornadoes, coastal and inland flooding, and storm surge. According to NWS, storm surge produced by hurricanes is one of the greatest threats to life and property along the coast. To learn more about storm surge, take a look at this clip from the National Hurricane Center.

NOAA: Below-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely this year

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below normal, but that’s no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.

For the hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 – November 30, NOAA is predicting a 70% likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (with winds 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (with winds of 74 mph or higher), including 0 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher, with winds of 111 mph or higher).

The outlook calls for a 70% chance of a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season, a 20% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of an above-normal season. The seasonal average for the Atlantic is 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The NOAA outlook includes Tropical Storm Ana, which formed earlier this month. Pre-season development is not an indicator of the overall season.

NOAA also issued its outlook for the Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific basins. For the Eastern Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s 2015 outlook is for a 70% chance of an above-normal hurricane season. That outlook calls for a 70% probability of 15–22 named storms, of which 7–12 are expected to become hurricanes, including 5–8 major hurricanes. For the Central Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s outlook is for a 70% chance of an above-normal season with 5–8 tropical cyclones likely.

“It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall in your community to significantly disrupt your life,” said FEMA Deputy Administrator Joseph Nimmich. “Everyone should take action now to prepare themselves and their families for hurricanes and powerful storms. Develop a family communications plan, build an emergency supply kit for your home, and take time to learn evacuation routes for your area. Knowing what to do ahead of time can literally save your life and help you bounce back stronger and faster should disaster strike in your area.”

With the hurricane season officially starting next week, NOAA offers hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements at www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.

Click here for the full article.

Best Practices Gleaned from the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings

On April 3, 2015, a multi-jurisdictional Project Management Team released the After Action Report for the Response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. The 130-page report, the product of a year-long process, provides an overview of the incidents that occurred during the week of April 15, 2013; discusses the response activities of public safety, public health, emergency medical, and healthcare communities; and discusses best practices, lessons learned, and areas needing improvement.

While you might think that response activities following the Boston Marathon bombings are a far cry from the emergency preparedness and response goals of the State Heritage Emergency Partnership (SHEP) program, many of the best practices noted in the report are consistent with SHEP’s goals. They include developing and maintaining pre-existing professional relationships, formal mutual aid agreements, and effective collaboration to maintain situational awareness.

The full report is posted here on the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency website.

FEMA Releases New State Mitigation Plan Review Guide

FEMA recently announced the release of the new State Mitigation Plan Review Guide (“Guide”). The updated Guide clarifies federal regulations that apply to FEMA; policy; and guidance around state hazard mitigation plan for state agencies and other officials developing mitigation plans. The Guide helps ensure a consistent plan review process for FEMA and the states that aim to improve the analysis and integration of evolving risks, such as climate change. The Guide will go into effect in approximately one year on March 6, 2016, for all state mitigation plans submitted to FEMA for review and approval. The transitional period allows time for FEMA and the states to work together to support their familiarity and understanding of the updated Guide. Indian tribal governments should follow the Tribal Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning Guidance.

We bring this to your attention because states will need to take a holistic approach and include not only emergency management, but also the sectors of economic development, land use and development, housing, health and social services, infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources, in their planning process and mitigation program, where practicable.

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NJCAR in the Driver’s Seat

Back in January, we posted an article about the formation of New Jersey’s state-level cultural heritage emergency network, the New Jersey Cultural Alliance for Response (NJCAR). The network’s activities continue in high gear. Michele Stricker, Associate Director of Library Support Service at the New Jersey State Library, has agreed to serve as the Chair of NJCAR. Four standing committees have been established – Membership, Information Resources, Program, and Development – and each chair will be selecting members for their respective committees. On February 17, 2015, the NJCAR By-laws were adopted by a unanimous vote. The by-laws are available on NJCAR’s new website.

NJCAR has already planned two activities for New Jersey – two intensive hands-on disaster response and recovery workshops to increase practical knowledge through a simulated disaster, and a statewide summit to introduce NJCAR to cultural institutions and emergency responders at the local and regional levels. The trainings and summit will be held at regional police and fire training centers in north, south, and central New Jersey to increase participation by local emergency responders.

Heritage Preservation is proud to be one of NJCAR’s founding organizations.