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Prepare for Hurricane Florence

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The time to prepare for Hurricane Florence is now. This powerful storm is expected to bring powerful winds, flooding, storm surge, and dangerous rip currents. Storm tracks can change swiftly, so it’s important to prepare now.

Basic services, such as cell service, power, and water, may be disrupted for an extended period of time.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Fill up your gas tank and stock your vehicle with supplies with food that does not need to be stored in a refrigerator and drinking water. Get refills of your medications now for any needed prescriptions.
  • Banks may be closed and ATMS may not work after the hurricane. Make sure you have cash on hand for basic needs.
  • If you are told to evacuate by local officials, do so immediately. If you are sheltering in place, move to a small, interior, windowless room for the best protection.
  • Know your evacuation route and shelter locations. To locate the nearest open emergency shelter, text SHELTER and your zip code (i.e. SHELTER 12345) to 4FEMA (43362). Message & data rates may apply.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio both provide emergency alerts, as does the FEMA app. (www.fema.gov/mobile-app)
  • Keep important documents in a safe, water-proof place or create password-protected digital copies that can be accessed remotely.
  • Before the storm, take pictures the inside and outside of your home to provide proof that your home and property was undamaged prior to the disaster.

Be sure to visit www.Ready.gov/hurricanes and download the FEMA App to get more information and safety tips.

Collaborating to Make Stronger Emergency Managers.

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7 representatives from the two agencies discuss training and education.
FEMA and Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED) conducted a 3-day summit on emergency management training and education on the EMI campus.  With support from USNORTHCOM, FEMA and CENAPRED will be entering into a long-term collaboration to strengthen emergency management training and education in both countries.  Download Original

Building a “Culture of Preparedness” and readying a nation for disaster isn’t limited to the United States.

A three-day summit at the Emergency Management Institute that focused on emergency management training and education continues the collaboration between FEMA and Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention.

Supported by the U.S. Northern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Branch, the two agencies agreed to a six to 10 year project that will strengthen emergency management training and education in both countries. They committed to sharing knowledge in emergency management training, exercises, and education to support and enhance the capacities of the each nation.

These bilateral engagements will support the development of civil preparedness/emergency management career roadmaps, standards, certifications, and resource typing in Mexico and provide expanded training materials and opportunities in the United States.

This will prepare officials in civil preparedness and emergency management, and related professions to be capable of leading disaster preparedness, risk reduction, and response operations at the federal, state, and municipal level in Mexico and the United States.

The United States and Mexico have collaborated on a wide variety of emergency management issues since 1980.  U.S. Northern Command has often served as a vital enabler of these engagements, bringing resources and expertise to bear on common problems.

Recent meetings in Mexico City provided our leadership with an awareness and understanding of many of the highly advanced systems that Mexico has developed over the past eight years.

Mexico has one of the most advanced earthquake early warning systems in the world, and developed a web-based national risk assessment system, the Disaster Risk Atlas, to help emergency managers understand the risks and vulnerabilities in a specific community.  It is also public-facing, allowing the general public to better understand the risk specific to their communities.

In a joint final statement, Center for Domestic Preparedness Superintendent Tony Russell and Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention Director Dr. Carlos Valdes said, 

“We view this inaugural meeting as the beginning of a lasting relationship that will foster great benefit for both nations and the region in emergency management and civil preparedness training, education and exercise preparedness.”

50 Years of Helping Survivors & Communities

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On Aug. 1, 1968, the U.S. Congress implemented the National Flood Insurance Act that created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Federal Insurance Administration within the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide flood insurance in communities that voluntarily adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances, which meet minimum NFIP requirements.

A lot has happened since the inception of the NFIP.

Durin  National Flood Insurance Program.  The home in the center is elevated above the flood water and the homes to the left and right are not.g the last 50 years, the program has identified flood hazards by mapping over 1 million miles of riverine and coastal areas; provided over $1 billion dollars in mitigation assistance grants, paid over $64 billion dollars in claims losses, and assisted states and territories to help their communities lower flood risks, increase resilience, and build capability through grants of more than $10 million annually.  In addition, over this time, 1,466 communities have taken actions and achieved higher than minimum standards for flood protection by participating in the Community Rating System.

The NFIP supports 5 million policies in over 22,300 communities, providing $1.27 trillion dollars in coverage. Last year, in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the NFIP received more than 125,000 flood insurance claims and paid out more than $9.1 billion dollars. That’s real money in the hands of survivors, allowing them to stay in their communities, repair their homes, and get back to work.

Over the past 50 years, the NFIP has been and continues to be committed to building a culture of preparedness by providing insurance coverage to close the insurance gap across the nation. Simply put, flood insurance is the best way for homeowners, renters, and businesses, to financially protect themselves from losses caused by floods.

As we celebrate the NFIP for its accomplishments, we also look forward to reaching FEMA’s Moonshots of doubling insurance coverage across the nation and quadrupling mitigation investments by 2022. This is an ambitious goal, and lots of works still needs to be done, but we are up for the challenge.  More insured survivors, means individuals and communities can recover faster.

Congratulations, NFIP, on 50 years of service to the American people!

Looking Back: The History of the National Flood Insurance Program

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August 1st marks the 50th anniversary of the National Flood Insurance Act, the guiding legislation of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The program provides flood insurance coverage to millions of households and small businesses in over 22,000 communities and also provides floodplain management and building codes to protect those communities from future flooding. We talk to David Maurstad, FEMA’s chief executive for the National Flood Insurance Program, about the history of the program and reflect on the public service of federal employees and private sector support that the program depends upon to support the American people. 

How to Safely Enjoy Your Summer Barbecues

Some of the most memorable summer moments occur when friends and family gather in the backyard for a barbecue.  These gatherings can make for a great summer; however, it is important to remember safety when barbecuing.

At Thorp and Trainer, we want to ensure this is your best and safest summer.  Please review the following safety tips to help keep everyone and everything safe at your next barbecue.

  • Clean the grill – The NFPA reported that 22% of structure fires were due to the grill not being cleaned. The 10 minutes it takes to clean the grill before use will not only make the food you’re grilling taste better, it will also protect you, your family, and your home.
  • Never abandon it – One in six backyard grilling fires begin when someone turns their back on the grill. Fire can spread quickly, but you can avoid this from happening by keeping your eye on the grill.
  • Keep the grill at a distance – An alarming 17% of grill-based home fires start because of the grill being placed too close to flammable material. Keep your grill away from walls, low overhangs, fences, dry grass, or anything else that is flammable.
  • Be cautious of whether it’s a gas or charcoal grill – It is important to inspect the propane tanks of gas grills before use. A spray bottle of soapy water can help spot tiny leaks – douse the suspect area with several sprays of soapy water and look for bubbles forming after the spray settles. Soap increases the surface tension of the water, making the bubbles formed by escaping propane gas persist for a few seconds and stack on each other, making it easier to spot leaks.
  • Trim excess fat – While fat is needed to keep the meat juicy and flavorful, if it is too fatty it can cause flare ups and fires. Keeping a spray bottle near your grill is a good idea to stop flare ups immediately, while they are still controllable.
  • Keep children away from the grill – Children under the age of five account for 35% of contact-type burns each year. While kids are playing in the backyard, they can easily forget to be cautious around a hot grill. Make sure your children are kept at a safe distance and that hot coals are disposed of properly and away from areas of play.

We are dedicated to helping you protect what matters most. Contact us at 596.0146 to discuss additional ways to safeguard your family and property.  At Thorp & Trainer, “Your Security Is Our Concern.”

Building a Culture of Preparedness with Reinsurance

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After every disaster, no matter where or what size, there is a marked difference between insured disaster survivors and disaster survivors without adequate insurance. The insured survivor can begin to repair and rebuild their home or business. The survivor without a flood insurance policy may face a far more uncertain future. While FEMA or other government or non-profit agencies may provide some assistance, it is typically geared toward immediate survival needs. The uninsured survivor may use up their savings, incur debt, or even lose their home or business.

Simply put, flood insurance is the best way for homeowners, renters, and businesses to financially protect themselves from losses caused by floods. However, across the nation many homes remain underinsured. For example, during Hurricane Harvey, nearly half of all flood insurance claims in the Houston area came from homes outside of the high-risk flood area. Approximately 80 percent of households impacted by the storm did not have flood insurance. This is why the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is laser focused on building a culture of preparedness across the nation.

 Reinsurance Backed by Capital Markets FEMA secured reinsurance that for the first time engages the capital markets, complemeting the NFIP’s existing traditional reinsurance coverage. Effective on August 1, 2018, FEMA entered into a three-year reinsurance agreement with reinsurance company, Hannover Re (Ireland) Designated Activity Company (DAC). Hannover Re acted as a “transformer,” transferring $500 million of the NFIP’s financial risk to capital markets investors by sponsoring the issuance of a catastrophe bond through a special purpose reinsurer. FEMA will pay $62 million in premium for the first year of coverage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of our risk management strategy, earlier this year, we secured $1.46 billion in traditional reinsurance coverage from 28 companies to cover any qualifying NFIP flood losses that occur in 2018. Reinsurance provides payouts when powerful storms like Hurricane Harvey strike. This reduces FEMA’s need to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to pay flood insurance claims.

In theory, this business decision is similar to an individual taking the responsible step of purchasing homeowner’s and auto insurance to manage their financial risk. They do not plan to experience a fire or car accident, and they probably won’t, but purchasing insurance meaningfully improves their financial security.

To complement the NFIP’s existing reinsurance coverage, FEMA recently secured additional reinsurance through a transaction that, for the first time, engages the capital markets. FEMA obtained this reinsurance coverage from Hannover Re, which transferred $500 million in NFIP risk to capital markets investors.

Combined with the January 2018 traditional reinsurance placement, FEMA has transferred $1.96 billion of the NFIP’s flood risk for the 2018 hurricane season to the private sector. This additional coverage is effective on August 1, for a period of three years. FEMA will pay $62 million in premium for the first year of coverage.

Whether or not a catastrophic flood event happens in a given year, purchasing reinsurance transfers NFIP risk to the private sector, improving long-term financial outcomes for FEMA, the U.S. Treasury, and federal taxpayers.

Ultimately, we are building a culture of preparedness. We are making all of our communities and nation more resilient. In securing reinsurance, FEMA is strengthening the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping Americans take the critical step of securing flood insurance. Our ambitious goal is to double the number of properties covered by flood insurance by 2022. As Administrator Brock Long says: “Insurance is the first line of defense for disaster recovery.”

5 Common Flood Insurance Myths

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 FEMA.gov

 

The National Flood Insurance Program has worked to protect the life you’ve built for the past 50 years and will continue to do so into the future.  Don’t let rumors and myths drive your decisions. 

 

Here are the five most common myths about flood insurance.

 

MYTH: I receive flood insurance through my homeowner's insurance.
FACT: Homeowner insurance policies do not normally cover flood damage. That is why the federal government backs the NFIP. You can purchase Federal flood insurance through an insurance agent or company. The average cost of a flood policy is about $700 per year.

MYTH: Even if my property did flood, it wouldn’t be by much.
FACT: Just five inches of water can cause at over $25,000 worth of damage.

MYTH: Flood insurance is only available for homeowners.
FACT: Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condos and businesses.  The best way to learn more is call your insurance agent or go to floodsmart.gov. 

MYTH: Only those who live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) can buy flood insurance.
FACT: If it rains in your community, it can flood in your community.  Anyone can buy flood insurance if you live in the more than 22,000 participating communities. A community voluntarily joins the NFIP by agreeing to adopt the NFIP’s minimum floodplain management criteria into its local ordinance. In exchange, flood insurance and other disaster assistance is made available to the community.  If your community does not participate in the NFIP, you can make a request for it to do so through your mayor, city council or county commissioner’s office.

MYTH: I don’t need flood insurance if I can get disaster assistance from FEMA.
FACT: A flood insurance policy responds to flood events that may not be severe enough to result in a Presidential disaster declaration. Before FEMA’s non-NFIP individual assistance becomes available, the flooding incident must be severe enough declared a federal disaster by the President. Federal disaster declarations are issued in less than 50 percent of flooding events. If a declaration is made, federal disaster assistance typically is in the form of a low-interest disaster loan, which must be repaid. Any grants that may be provided are not enough to cover all losses. For example, in Hurricane Harvey an average Individual Assistance grant from FEMA was $7,000, while the average NFIP claim was over $100,000. 

To get more flood insurance facts, visit floodsmart.gov or call your insurance agent.

(Pod)Casting a Line into New Digital Waters

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 The FEMA podcast. Now available. Download episodes on iTunes or fema.gov/podcast.
 

Are you a life-long learner, or do you enjoy discovering new topics you didn’t even realize you’d find interesting?

That seems to be the outcome for a majority of podcast listeners who access this popular digital platform in ever increasing numbers to listen and learn about an array of topics from hard-hitting news to how things work. Described as “Internet-radio-on-demand,” the world of podcasting has exploded in recent years as an easy-to-use, mobile source of information, as well as a rare, but welcome reprieve from the ever present smartphone or laptop screen.

For those intrigued by this emerging medium who live, work and breathe emergency management or those who like the idea of learning something new, FEMA’s podcast may just be for you.

Recently launched, the FEMA Podcast consists of 20 to 30 minute audio-only episodes, updated on a weekly basis with content covering a range of topics, including innovative ways FEMA is approaching emergency management, stories from communities that have rebuilt smarter and stronger after a disaster, and testimonials of successful disaster recovery across the nation.

The first episode features a discussion with Administrator Brock Long highlighting lessons learned from the historic 2017 hurricane season, and his vision for the agency moving forward. Additional episodes are already available to stream or download on FEMA.gov and Apple iTunes with new content posted every Wednesday.

If you like the podcast, make sure to subscribe! We welcome your comments, feedback and future episode ideas on our website, fema.gov/podcast.

Happy listening!

Preparing Emergency Managers for Hurricane Season

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A man points while explaining a point as people work on computers.
J.D. Boesch from <a href="https://www.fema.gov/region-vi-arkansas-louisiana-new-mexico-oklahoma-te... Region VI</a> instructs emergency managers on hurricane evacuation strategies at the Hurricane Preparedness for Decision Makers course at the National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida. (Photo by Dennis Feltgen). Download Original

Editor’s Note: Mr. Landsea had the unique opportunity through NOAA’s Leadership Competency Development Program to work at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. for three months.  While at FEMA, he contributed to both the training conducted by the National Hurricane Program as well as developing the “ground truth” for Hurricane Cora’s simulated landfall into Virginia.  

The 2017 hurricane season will be remembered for the extreme devastation it caused in Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida as well as our neighbors in the Caribbean.  While long-term recovery efforts continue, plans have been readied for the  2018 hurricane season.  No one knows how the United States will be affected by hurricanes this year, so plans must be prepared with the possibility that your community will be impacted.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency with federal partners, such as the National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, alongside state, county, and city emergency managers, have been working diligently to prepare for hurricane season.  This is done through training and outreach events coordinated by FEMA’s National Hurricane Program.  The program’s mission is to provide technical assistance to emergency managers and federal government partners for hurricane preparedness training, response and evacuation planning, and operational decision support.                                                

During this past winter and spring, the National Hurricane Program provided critical training for emergency managers that helps them to make well-informed decisions for the next hurricane. These life and death decisions include ordering evacuations of residents away from the coast, closing schools, and preparing their communities from hurricane-force winds, storm surge, fresh water flooding, and tornadoes. 

These trainings have resulted in hundreds of emergency managers receiving these crucial updates, and additional courses are scheduled for the summer.  Such training is an annual necessity due to the availability of new forecast products by the National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center, revised Hurricane Evacuations Studies (led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) due to increasing populations along the coast, changes and updates to decision support tools and capability, and job turnover in the emergency management community. Trainings also promote the availability of operational decision support and technical assistance through FEMA’s Hurricane Liaison Team (HLT). Embedded at the National Hurricane Center, the HLT facilitates the rapid exchange of critical information between the National Hurricane Center and the emergency management community.

A man stands in a classroom with students listening to a question.
Paul Morey from <a data-cke-saved-href="https://www.fema.gov/region-i-ct-me-ma-nh-ri-vt" href="https://www.fema.gov/region-i-ct-me-ma-nh-ri-vt">FEMA Region I</a> listens to a question from an emergency manager on hurricane evacuation strategies during the Hurricane Preparedness for Decision Makers course at the National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida. (Photo by Dennis Feltgen). Download Original

In addition to regular training, FEMA led the 2018 National Level Exercise for the simulated Category 4 Hurricane Cora that hit the Virginia coast and simulated a direct strike on Washington, D.C.  FEMA’s National Exercise Division led the planning and execution of this large-scale exercise, which was held from April 30 to May11, 2018.

While the 2017 hurricane season was quite active, FEMA and Emergency Managers in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia were – fortunately – not directly affected, so the exercise allowed emergency managers in those locations to test and execute their hurricane planning, response, and recovery actions.

The exercise provides the ability for all levels of government, private industry, and non-governmental organizations to examine how they protect against, respond to, and recover from a major Mid-Atlantic hurricane.

It is through these detailed, realistic exercises that existing hurricane plans can be examined before the next storm threatens the United States.  If gaps or problems are uncovered, they can be remedied so that FEMA and partners at the local, county, and state level can help people be safer and better prepared for when, not if,  a hurricane comes to shore. It is also an opportunity to revisit lessons learned from the previous hurricane season and implement them during the exercise.

As all levels of government, private industry, and non-governmental organizations prepare for hurricane season, the general public can and should become engaged with both hurricane preparedness training for your family and business.  Here are some on-line options for learning more about hurricane hazards and how to be prepared down to the neighborhood level:

  • Ready.gov (Plan ahead for Disasters.  Talk with your family.)
  • Red Cross (The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.​)
  • The FEMA App (Receive alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations.  Get safety reminders, read tips to survive natural disasters, and customize your emergency checklist.  Locate open shelters and where to talk to FEMA in person [or on the phone].  Upload and share your disaster photos to help first responders.)
  • COMET (The COMET® Program is a world-wide leader in support of education and training for the environmental sciences, delivering scientifically relevant and instructionally progressive products and services.)

       These efforts by FEMA’s National Hurricane Program and FEMA’s National Exercise Division are two of the ways that the nation will be more resilient the next time a hurricane threatens.

Building a Resilient Nation

My first day on the job at FEMA was the day Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. Since then I’ve seen firsthand the tireless efforts of FEMA’s dedicated workforce in supporting disaster survivors from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, the catastrophic California wildfires, and dozens of other disasters around the nation.

As we moved from immediate response and recovery to long term recovery, we reflected on the lessons from the 2017 disasters. In doing so, we contemplated not only how to increase our readiness for catastrophic disasters, but also how best to reduce impacts from future disasters. We soon realized that we needed to shift the way we as a nation think about disasters, so that together, we can be better prepared in the future.

As a result of our months-long after action review, we recently released our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. Goal 1 is to Build a Culture of Preparedness.

As the lead for this goal, I am proud to announce a new Resilience organization at FEMA to implement the vision set forth in the Strategic Plan.  FEMA Resilience includes our programs focused on preparing for disasters and making our nation more resilient.  By formalizing how we have been informally working together under Goal 1 as a unified organization, we believe we can drive risk reduction and enhance the nation’s resilience to disasters by leveraging several FEMA missions including mitigation, insurance, preparedness, grants, and continuity.

But to truly foster a culture of preparedness we must go beyond FEMA programs. We are engaging stakeholders—including federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial governments, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector and citizens—to join with us as partners in this effort.

So how do we join together to meet this goal? We will begin with four areas where we believe we can drive change at FEMA and beyond.

First, we need to acknowledge that during a disaster, individuals in the impacted communities are the first responders.  We need to empower and prepare individuals with lifesaving skills to help speed response and recovery efforts.  We also need to encourage citizens to be financially prepared for disasters.

Second, we need to reduce the financial burden of disasters to individuals, businesses, and governments by closing the insurance gap.  There is no more important or valuable disaster recovery tool than insurance.  This of course includes the National Flood Insurance Program.  But it’s not just flood insurance. All types of insurance have a role to play in reducing financial risk.

Third, we need to build more resilient communities to reduce risks to people, property, and taxpayer dollars.  This includes investing in mitigation.  The National Institute of Building Sciences recently released a study that found, on average, $1 spent on federally funded mitigation grants saves the nation $6 in future disaster costs.

Fourth, we need to assist communities with their continuity planning to ensure that essential government services function following a disaster.  This also includes issuing emergency alerts and notifications to ensure citizens are informed, and taking protective actions, during disasters.

FEMA has embraced the lessons from 2017 and has enhanced its readiness for catastrophic disasters. But only by working together, as a nation, can we reduce the impacts of future disasters. Our new Resilience organization will best enable FEMA to do its part to address this challenge, but we alone cannot achieve success. We are asking for you to join us in building a culture of preparedness—an ambitious, yet achievable goal.