107 Airport Rd. Westerly, RI 02891 (401) 596-0146 service@thorptrainer.com

Region II Administrator Welcomes USNS Comfort Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Boat in the ocean

It really became personal for me when the USNS Comfort arrived in New York City.

I looked across the river as I was driving in this morning and had a flashback to the morning 18 ½ years ago when I was told that a small plane had crashed into the Trade Center. Our lives all changed at that moment, just as they have now.

I remember having the USNS Comfort come then. However, we didn't need it for what we need it for now. We didn't need it for people who needed hospital care. We needed it for crisis counseling for a lot of fire chiefs and police officers who were really, really overcome with the grief they faced from the death of their friends and people that they worked with. And we needed it to house and feed federal workers who came to support New York City and the Nation.  I’ll never forget the feeling, and how perfect the names are, the "Comfort" and "Mercy." I was told their predecessors were here in 1918 for the pandemic we had then.

The federal government has always been here to support the city. The Army, the Navy, the Marines, they've always been here for us when we needed them. And they're here again for us now. I get flashbacks knowing that the city is under such stress now, and once again, it is personal for me. I spent 30 years in the fire department, so when September 11th happened, it was personal. Those lost were colleagues. They were leaders.  They were friends. Everyone was affected by September 11th. And that's what's happening now.

Everyone is affected by the coronavirus in one way or another - a friend, a relative, a loved one that you can't go and see because they're in quarantine.  I stopped to speak with a 100-year-old lady last week and stood six feet away. And I know everybody has put in this same care and effort.

I know how tough the people of this city are, and I’ve seen us take on some seemingly insurmountable challenges. Once again, we will take on this challenge together, even if its six feet apart. What we're all going through is strange, but it's necessary, and it is going to make a difference. The more we separate, the more everybody stays away, the better off we'll be and the faster we'll get out of this.

After September 11th, it seemed like every day we were fixing stuff, and it was getting slightly better. The grief, of course, was enormous, but the operation seemed to get slightly better every day. With this, we’re not there yet.

 Help has arrived and it's going to make a big difference. These visible signs of what our government is bringing to bear to help New York will help us defeat this pandemic. FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are working with the city and state to supply everything we possibly can to expand the medical capacity as quickly as possible.  We're working to find solutions and doing all we can to slow the spread and treat those who need help.

Your government will be here for you. I’m really proud to be part of it.

How You can Make a Difference

In times of uncertainty, helping others can have a significant impact.  To make the most of your contributions, it’s important to follow these guidelines for donating and volunteering responsibly. 

Donations

Financial contributions to recognized organizations are the fastest, most flexible, and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and frequently purchase through businesses local to the affected area, which supports economic recovery. Critical needs change rapidly, so do not collect or distribute donations of supplies without understanding community needs.

To find a list of trusted organizations supporting COVID-19 response efforts that can put your generous contributions of money, donations, and time to the best possible use, visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

If you would like to donate bulk medical supplies or equipment (not individual items or small qualities), please provide us details on what you are offering.

Volunteers

Don’t self-deploy to affected areas.  Trusted organizations operating in the affected areas know where volunteers are needed, and can ensure appropriate volunteer safety, training and housing. Volunteers can offer their services by registering as a member with National VOAD.   After registering, you will be contacted once resources are matched with unmet needs.

Licensed Healthcare professionals that want to volunteer can get information on eligibility, view credential levels by clinical competency and register with the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals in their state. Medical Reserve Corps  volunteers can help in different ways in their communities (call centers, drive through clinics, and more) by contacting a unit in their area.

Volunteers are also currently needed to donate blood. Many blood drives have been cancelled, impacting the supply. Blood donation centers have the highest standards of safety and infection control. To find where you can donate blood, visit the American Red Cross.

FEMA Leads Whole-of-Government Coronavirus Operations

FEMA continues taking aggressive and proactive steps to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Under the direction of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and our federal partners are working with state, local, tribal and territorial governments to execute a whole of government response to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the public.

 

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, five territories and two tribes are working directly with FEMA under the nationwide emergency declaration for COVID-19. FEMA is working with HHS to deliver additional supplies and ventilators. This includes using its Logistics Supply Chain Management System to procure and track commodities to supplement state and tribal purchases. FEMA also issued a $350 million Mission Assignment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of alternate care facilities in New York.

 

It is important that requests for assistance, especially for critical supplies, get routed through the proper channels as soon as possible. The most efficient way to identify critical gaps and get results:

 

  • Consistent with the principle of locally executed, state managed, and federally supported response, requests for assistance at the local and county levels should first be routed to their respective state.
  • Any needs that cannot be met by the state or tribe should then be sent to the respective FEMA regional office. FEMA regions will direct requests to FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. for fulfillment.
  • If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please email FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center.
     

All 10 FEMA regional response coordination centers have been activated to support response efforts. FEMA Regional Administrators are coordinating closely with their state, local, tribal and territorial governments to determine the type and level of support needed which could include the deployment of liaisons and Incident Management Assistance Teams.

 

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, review the guidance: 15 Days to Slow the Spread. To help the public distinguish between rumors and facts about COVID-19, visit the FEMA Coronavirus Rumor Control page.

Cyber Protection

We are more connected than ever. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, television and family gaming systems, etc., connect us in ways we never imagined. Criminals know the information accessed by your family is valuable. They can steal passwords, data, money, identities and make life miserable. 

FIVE REASONS YOU NEED CYBER PROTECTION: 

  1. Be Prepared 
  2. Your Family Is Important and Everyone is a Target 
  3. More Connections— More Risk 
  4. The Threat Is Real 
  5. Password Protected

Cyber Protection provides coverage for real-life scenarios that can harm those closest to you: 

  • Extortion Threat 
  • Social Engineering 
  • Cyber Bullying Response 
  • Identity Threat 
  • System Compromise 
  • Internet Cleanup 
  • Breach Costs 

Even worse than the financial losses and headaches of restoring data, is the threat of cyber bullying and reputational harm. Please call your account manager should you wish to discuss further.

Cyber Security Insurance?

Cyber security insurance protects businesses against targeted attacks and even the occasional misplaced laptop containing confidential material. The best cyber security strategy takes a three-pronged approach: prevent, detect and mitigate risk. 

Today’s business technology opens a world of possibilities but also raises some cyber security concerns. Threats of data breaches and computer hacks are real for all businesses, yet seven in ten businesses are not prepared for a cyberattack. With hackers becoming bolder and cyberattacks getting bigger and more frequent each year, business owners must take control of their computer security and protect themselves. 

Cyber security insurance provides both large and small businesses the coverage they need to protect one of their most valuable assets – data. 

Immediate Support After a Cyberattack: 

  1. Data breach response: This covers your cost of computer forensics, the notification of those affected, call center support for those affected, identity protection services and crisis management and public relations support. 
  2. Cyber Extortion: This covers the cost of expert assistance and ransom payment. 
  3. Data Recovery: This covers the cost to replace, restore, repair or regain access to your data after a data breach, security failure or extortion threat. 

Following Months After A Cyberattack: 

  1. Business Interruption: This covers losses from total or partial interruption of your business because of a data breach, security failure or extortion threat. 
  2. Dependent Business Interruption: This covers losses sustained due to a total or partial interruption of your business because of a data breach, security failure or extortion threat at an outsourced process or IT services supplier which you depend on to operate your business. 
  3. System Failure Business Interruption: This covers losses sustained due to the total or partial interruption of your business because of any unintentional or unplanned outage of your computer system not caused by a data breach or security failure. 
  4. Cyber Crime: This covers for the loss of money from your financial account due to fraudulent instruction by a third party. 
  5. Cyber Deception: This covers for the loss of money because of a social engineering or phishing attack against you which results in your voluntary transfer of money to an unintended third party. 
  6. Privacy and Security Liability: This covers claims made against you that typically arise from your failure to protect sensitive information, including subsequent actions by a regulator. 

Media Liability: This covers claims made against you that arise from the content of your website, social media and other promotional material.

Building a Culture of Cyber Preparedness

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month; a month to ensure all Americans are safer and more secure online. At FEMA, we are always focused on preparing ourselves, our partners, and the American people for the many threats and hazards we face as a nation. As the need for cybersecurity has grown, so too has our cyber preparedness efforts. 

 

In partnership with our colleagues at the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), we support numerous programs aimed at making the nation more resilient to cyber-attacks. In the past ten years, we have invested over $165 million in grant funding to bolster state and local jurisdictions’ cyber preparedness. While more can always be done, this funding addresses what we are seeing in national reports and assessments where cybersecurity is identified as a national area for improvement.  Our state and local partners are using the funding to develop cybersecurity plans and programs, provide training, conduct outreach and exercises, and acquire hardware and software, firewall enhancements, and closed emergency network infrastructure.

 

Just like a more traditional response to a natural disaster, we must also be ready to respond to a “cyber disaster” as a cyber-attack can trigger physical consequences. These physical consequences could result in significant impacts to governments, businesses, and individuals. Thus, we work with CISA and other federal agencies to ensure our response plans are coordinated and rehearsed regularly with our government and private sector partners.

 

Next year we are facilitating a national level exercise based on a major cyber-attack. The exercise, known as NLE 2020, will integrate several existing exercises, including CISA’s series of exercise modules called Cyber Storm. This will enable us to examine different phases of a connected incident through a unified and collaborative effort. The exercise participants will include all levels of government and the private sector.  We will examine each participants’ respective roles and responsibilities to respond to such an event. Our joint goal is to ensure this is the largest and most impactful cyber exercise for all our stakeholders.  Exercises, such as this large-scale event or the more frequent offerings led by CISA, are instrumental in increasing our level of preparedness for cybersecurity incidents.

 

We also provide our state and local partners with the technical skills they require to make their communities more secure and resilient to cyber-attacks. We offer over 20 online and in-person courses, focused on everything from network assurance and digital forensics, to information security and cyber incident response. Since 2004, FEMA has trained more than 87,000 federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officials on cybersecurity.

But cybersecurity does not fall squarely on the shoulders of government. Every American has a role to play, which is why this month is focused on raising awareness about what you can do to protect yourself at home, work, or school. Using complex and different passwords for your accounts, keeping your antivirus software and operating systems up to date, and scrutinizing emails before clicking on links are simple things that make a big difference. The theme of this year’s awareness month is “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” because these individual steps are often more important than technological solutions. Learn more about what you can do at Ready.gov/cybersecurity.

 

Preparedness is a team sport. Whether it be for natural disasters or cyber-attacks, it takes all of us to reduce our vulnerability to these risks. Given increasing cyber threats, we should strive to build a culture of cyber preparedness.

 

Daniel Kaniewski is deputy administrator for resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Agency’s Acting Deputy Administrator.

How Community Lifelines and Infrastructure Planning are Essential to Mitigation Plans

Author: 

October is National Community Planning Month. Community planners around the globe join the American Planning Association  in highlighting this year’s theme ofPlanning for Infrastructure that Benefits All”.  This year, the focus is on how well-planned infrastructure projects strengthen communities, boost the economy, expand opportunity, and promote equitable development. Infrastructure projects include transportation systems, housing, parks, dams and levees, and communication systems, among others.

The topic of well-planned infrastructure is especially relevant to FEMA’s mission as we continue to focus on increasing community resilience across the nation through mitigation activities.  A key area of focus is specifically  mitigating those infrastructure systems that are considered “lifelines.”

Lifelines are systems, like roads and power, that allow critical government and essential business operations to continue. Lifelines are essential to human health and safety, or economic security. They include police and fire departments, hospitals, power plants, arterial roads, grocery stores, and the cellular towers that connect everything. These often-interconnected systems are, simply put, essential for communities to keep the “lights on.”

The best way to protect lifelines is to include them in your state, local, tribal, or territorial mitigation plans. Over 20,000 communities across the country begin planning for resilient actions and projects in their hazard mitigation plans. Mitigation plans help decision-makers understand their risks from natural hazards and prioritize actions that will reduce the impacts of future events. Often, these actions include improving and investing in lifelines. For example, a mitigation plan can help identify infrastructure-protecting actions like:

  • Adopting and enforcing up-to-date building codes
  • Retrofitting and strengthening infrasturtucture to resist natural hazard damage
  • Raising roads and bridges to maintain dry access during flooding

Plans become a great source for mitigation projects when funding becomes available, whether it is from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program or another source.

Mitigation can and should be a part of everyday considerations, and the important role that planning plays is highlighted under FEMA’s recently released National Mitigation Investment Strategy. Often when people hear the words “hazard mitigation” their minds quickly jump to elevated homes and shelters for riding out storms, but those are only a few of the many great options for protecting where you live, work, and play.

By integrating mitigation plans with community planning processes, we can create safer, more sustainable neighborhoods that make mitigation a part of everyday life. For example, community planners can promote safe growth principles, protecting citizens by encouraging people to live in areas at lesser risk for flooding or earthquakes. Or when designing a new community park, developers could incorporate a drainage pond for storm runoff to reduce flood risks to nearby streets and housing. By including lifelines and risks to hazards in community planning decisions, you not only make your community safer from natural hazards, but more sustainable and resilient as well. 

Learn more about National Community Planning Month and those FEMA programs that work with community planners every day here:

For more information about National Community Planning Month, visit https://www.planning.org/ncpm/.

10 Safety Tips to Share with You During Fire Prevention Week

The frequency and costs associated with fires highlight the need to understand the major causes of home fires. With residential fires occurring every 88 seconds, it is important to identify risks early to prevent significant losses. In observance of Fire Prevention Week, Thorp & Trainer Insurance is sharing the 10 most common causes of home fires.

“Ever since organizations in the U.S. began tracking structure fires, we have been able to provide better suggestions to help prevent fire-related accidents,” said Howard Thorp, President of Thorp & Trainer Insurance. “We are hopeful that homeowners will be able to use these insights to help keep their families safe.”

According to the Insurance Information Institute, structure fires are more likely to occur on residential properties. While it is challenging to list every leading cause of home fires, certain causes are more likely to occur, the U.S. Fire Administration reports.

Here is the list of the 10 most common causes of home fires, and how to avoid them:

Distracted Cooking 

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Fires are more likely to occur around Thanksgiving and Christmas when hosts are busy entertaining guests.

Heating Equipment

Homeowners fire up their heating equipment every year without performing regularly scheduled maintenance. It is typically recommended to schedule an inspection of furnaces and boilers every year.

Barbeque

Hosting a barbeque can be dangerous if homeowners don’t understand basic safety precautions when using a grill. Flare ups, the placement of the grill, and improper propane maintenance could all lead to a home fire.

Inadequate Wiring

Electrical fires are among the top causes of residential fires, especially during the winter. As the days get colder, families may not realize that equipment like space heaters should never be connected to extension cords, which can catch on fire from being used improperly.

Electrical Equipment

Not to be confused with inadequate wiring, electrical equipment fires are usually referring to incidents where damaged wires cause sparks. Homeowners should always check the condition of cords. 

Careless Smoking 

While the prevalence of careless smoking has declined because less people smoke, cigarette butts are known to cause fires. Having an ashtray handy for guests to sit outside could help you prevent a fire.

Candles

With Halloween around the corner, homeowners should consider safer alternatives to lighting Jack-O-Lanterns. Homeowners should also be mindful of candles that are lit during other festive holidays.

Flammable Liquids

Turpentine and paint thinners are just a few of the flammable liquids that can easily cause a fire. Many DIY homeowners may not know how to properly handle these substances during projects, which could lead to a fire.

Christmas Light Decorations

If Christmas trees are not regularly watered, they can become dry and ignite from the heat generated from decorations. Fire safety experts always recommend that homeowners remove trees from their home as soon as the holiday is over.

Children Playing with Fire

Children may accidently cause a home fire because of their curiosity with flames. To help prevent this from happening, homeowners are encouraged to keep lighters and matches out of reach. As an added measure, homeowners can secure stove handles.

Understanding the common causes of fires can help homeowners identify and address potential risks for fires. As we head into the colder season, Thorp & Trainer Insurance encourages homeowners to be mindful of these hazards to help keep your family members and guests safe. If you have questions about your insurance policy, we encourage you to speak with one of our insurance agents at (401) 596-0146.

Financially Prepare for a Disaster

It only takes one storm, one flash flood, or one inch of water to cause significant damage to a home or business. September marks National Preparedness Month – a reminder to all of us that we need to be prepared for unexpected disasters and emergencies that can strike at any time.  One of the most important steps you can take to prepare for the next storm is to purchase flood insurance.

One year ago, this month, Hurricane Florence released record-breaking rain on the Carolinas and much of the Southeastern United States. The powerful storm dropped up to 35 inches of rain on eastern North Carolina alone, causing flash floods throughout the region. Florence survivors Tony and Rita Morello of New Bern, North Carolina lost everything, but they were prepared with flood insurance.

After the storm, it took Tony and Rita Morello days to get back to their home from a family reunion in Georgia. When the couple finally arrived, they discovered that everything in their home had been destroyed. The Morellos were left with nothing but the items in their suitcases and the clothes on their backs. The realization was devastating, yet the Morellos knew they had a flood insurance policy that would allow them to recover, rebuild, and get back to their routine.

As we know all too well at FEMA, disasters happen every day. National Preparedness Month is an opportunity for all residents to take simple steps today to reduce the impact of storms tomorrow:

  • Create a family emergency plan and talk to your children about what to do during a disaster.
  • Get involved with community preparedness efforts and sign up for alerts and warnings in your area.
  • Learn your evacuation zone.
  • Build a preparedness kit or “go-bag” with water, food, medications, clothing, and critical financial, medical, and legal documents.
  • Speak with your insurance agent to renew your policy or visit FloodSmart.gov to purchase a new flood insurance policy.

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. Purchasing or renewing flood insurance is one of the most important steps you can take to financially prepare for a disaster. Most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies do not cover flood damage, and just one inch of water in the average-sized home can cause more than $25,000 in damage. Insured residents, like the Morellos, can recover quicker and more fully from a flood than their uninsured neighbors.

Preparedness makes us more resilient as a nation, and it starts with you: individuals, families, and communities, taking the right steps to protect the life you’ve built.

What is Service Line Coverage?

Service Line Coverage is an optional endorsement which provides payment for loss or damage resulting from a service line failure. A service line constitutes underground piping and wiring that is located at the residence premise and produces a service, such as delivering water or power to the dwelling or other structure from a utility or private water supply. A service line failure is physical damage that results in a leak, break, tear, rupture, collapse or arcing of a covered service line. Without this endorsement, any cost of repair or replacement are the full responsibility of the homeowner.

Service Line Coverage can be purchased for less than $50 per year and is likely subject to a smaller deductible than on your existing homeowners’ policy. At Thorp & Trainer Insurance,

we are always looking for additional ways to safeguard our policyholders. To see if your policy is eligible for this unique coverage, please contact our office to discuss further.

Service Line Coverage is a relatively new and innovative endorsement that can be added to some homeowner’s insurance policies