‘AFR’ Headline Archives

FEMA Implements New Disaster Grant Obligations Process

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by Jessica Unger | AFR

FEMA will be implementing a new process to award Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program project funds to grantees for disasters declared after March 1, 2015. After this change is initiated in the financial management system, grantees will be able to see project-by-project obligations and disbursements. Grantees will also be required to request and draw down funding by project.


Benefits of this new disaster grant obligations process include enhanced controls for both FEMA and grantees, simplification of data analytics and a streamlined reporting process. This enhancement to the system will assist grantees in tracking funds on a project-by-project basis. It will also allow FEMA to better understand which funds are being drawn down and for which purposes. This will allow a more transparent platform for tracking funds, required quarterly reporting and audit purposes.


This new process will not be applied retroactively to prior disasters. Previously, FEMA obligates Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds into a single large account where grantees can draw down funds from. Disasters declared before March 1, 2015 will not be affected by this new change and will continue to operate as they always have in a lump sum format.


A webinar will be held on February 25 at 1 p.m. ET to provide an overview of the system enhancement as well as training on how to use the new interface and draw down project funding. Participants can join the webinar via Adobe Connect or by dialing 1-800-320-4330 and entering 455513 for the conference PIN.



USACE Releases North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study

Posted on: February 20th, 2015 by Jessica Unger | AFR, SHEP

In January, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study. The goals of the study, authorized under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, Public Law 113-2 are to reduce flood risk to vulnerable coastal populations, and promote coastal resilient communities to ensure a sustainable and robust coastal landscape system, considering future sea level rise and climate change scenarios. The study area, encompassed approximately 31,200 miles of coastline.


Please visit here to learn more about the study.



QuakeSmart for Business

Posted on: February 20th, 2015 by Jessica Unger | AFR

“With earthquakes, it’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.” This video message from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) illustrates the unpredictability of earthquakes and the impact tremors can have on businesses. Therefore, it is important for business owners to take steps to the ensure safety of their employees and customers.


FEMA and FLASH created the QuakeSmart Community Resilience Program to walk business owners through a step-by-step process to:


– Identify their risk by completing the “Back to Business” self-assessment;

– Develop a plan to reduce potential injury and property damage (mitigation); and

– Take action using the QuakeSmart Business Toolkit.


In addition, the program allows employers to apply for recognition as a member of the QuakeSmart Community. Benefits of participating in the program include:


– A QuakeSmart Resilient Community Member window cling to announce to customers and employees that you’ve taken steps to secure your business;

– A QuakeSmart Resilient Community Member web badge to display on your company website; and

– A sample news release to announce your participation in the QuakeSmart Community Resilience Program.


The Small Business Association estimates that 75 percent of organizations without a continuity plan will fail within three years of a disaster. Get prepared by joining the QuakeSmart Community Resilience Program today! Employers can also find valuable information in the America’s PrepareAthon! Prepare Your Organization for an Earthquake Playbook, which provides businesses with tools and resources to support preparedness discussions, tabletop exercises, and more.



Community Outreach and Preparedness with CERT

Posted on: January 22nd, 2015 by Jessica Unger | AFR

Volunteering, like disaster preparedness, is a year-round activity. If members of your community are looking for opportunities to give back this year, consider encouraging them to join your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Team members receive training in basic medical operations, light search and rescue, and many other useful disaster skills. After competing their training, CERT volunteers may support their communities in a variety of different ways before, during, and after emergencies, including by providing information to the public, conducting residential checks, supporting traffic and crowd control efforts, staffing emergency operations centers, and more. CERT teams are typically sponsored by fire departments, police departments, or other local emergency management agencies that provide training to and manage volunteers.


There are more than 2,300 CERT programs nationwide that help their communities in a variety of different ways. Watch this video showing the Bridgewater, MA CERT in action during a recent blizzard that left the town without power; then check out FEMA’s blog and CERT Newsletter archives highlighting other great activities from teams around the country.


Learn more about CERT, find a team in your area, and encourage community members to start volunteering today. If a program doesn’t exist in your area, you may be able to help create one by contacting your State’s Point of Contact. Participating in a CERT team will not only allow you to meet with other preparedness-minded community members, but will provide opportunities to connect and work with emergency management personnel.



FEMA Introduces New Data Visualization Tool

Posted on: January 14th, 2015 by Jessica Unger | AFR

As part of the commitment to increasing the transparency and accessibility of data, FEMA introduced a new interactive tool to allow the public to explore currently available FEMA grant data. The tool, available at www.fema.gov/data-visualization, allows the public to see a visual representation of the agency’s federal grant data as it relates to fire, preparedness, mitigation and public assistance. The tool also visualizes disaster declarations by state, hazard and county.


The tool is in BETA because FEMA is seeking comments on how it can be improved, so comments and suggestions are welcome. FEMA will continue to add data and update the visual based on feedback in the coming months.


The OpenFEMA data used in the visualization were derived from the publicly available datasets on www.fema.gov and www.data.gov. FEMA is committed to updating these existing datasets in a timely manner and as feasible, to provide new datasets for our external partners to manipulate and use. Click the image below for more information.




American Museum of Natural History Emergency Plan Tested by Fire

Posted on: December 29th, 2014 by Jessica Unger | AFR

The American Museum of Natural History, home to some of the most well-known collections in the world, dealt with a fire that took place on December 12 and put those collections at risk. The fire necessitated the evacuation of the museum and damaged displays and artifacts in the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians. Having up-to-date and practiced emergency plans enabled staff to react quickly and prevent further damage to their collection. The hall was reopened to the public in time to accommodate the holiday crowds. To learn more about the fire and how the AMNH responded, click here.

The National Endowment for the Humanities Recommits to Alliance for Response

Posted on: December 12th, 2014 by Jessica Unger | AFR

Heritage Preservation is delighted to announce that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has funded two more years of our Alliance for Response (AFR) initiative. Since 2003, we’ve connected cultural stewards at more than 800 museums, libraries, archives, and historical institutions with their local first responders and emergency managers.


This next phase of Alliance for Response will continue to focus on the goals that were outlined over a decade ago: (1) to bring Alliance for Response to additional cities, (2) to sustain cooperative disaster assistance networks and partnerships with emergency professionals, and (3) to help emergency responders appreciate the value and vulnerability of cultural and historic resources. Our city-based approach has been highly effective, but there are so many cities out there – and so little time. In Phase VI of AFR, we’ll pilot a regional approach by conducting a forum in Harrison County, Mississippi, and in the Capital District in Upstate New York. We’ll also conduct six webinars to bring additional training to existing networks and encourage inter-network communication via the AFR blog.


So comment away! Let us know what online training you’d like to receive and how Heritage Preservation can help you connect cultural stewards with emergency managers in your community.

Hold the Weather Jokes – Things are Getting Serious

Posted on: December 8th, 2014 by Jessica Unger | AFR

From record snowfalls in Buffalo, New York, to unseasonable lows in other regions to strange shifts in weather from bitterly cold to pleasantly warm – everyone is feeling it. A report out of the World Bank Group reveals that these weather occurrences will very likely become the new normal. This is a result of global warming. In the report titled Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal, the World Bank Group explains the real tangible impacts of global warming. Read more here.


Stormproofing the City

Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by Jessica Unger | AFR, New York City, NY

Is New York City ready for future natural disasters? That’s the question posed in this series by The Guardian, where experts share their knowledge of what NYC is doing to prepare for natural disasters since Hurricane Sandy. The series will interview scientists, emergency practitioners, and others in an effort to paint a complete picture of the many people working to prep the Big Apple for coming storms.



Call for Bloggers

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by Jessica Unger | AFR

November is coming soon, and so is National Blog Posting Month! Join us in creating content for Alliance for Response, and share information, events, and successes with other networks and the continually expanding audience AFR reaches. Whether you have a member who is your dedicated blogger, you solicit guest contributions, or members take turns posting, let’s get writing!


Right now is the perfect time to begin developing posts that aren’t time sensitive; you can post them regularly in addition to posting news and events for your region or city. We’ve seen an increase in AFR’s presence in social media, as many networks have taken to Facebook and Twitter. These are great methods to share posts from the AFR website, too.


Help us keep AFR’s website a relevant resource and a portal for networks to gain inspiration from each other. And your efforts can potentially lead to the creation of new AFR networks.


If you’re interested in blogging for AFR, please contact Katelin Lee at klee@heritagepreservation.org.