Tag Archives: FEMA

FEMA Website on Your Cell Phone (Your Mobile Emergency Plan)

FEMA-logo-m.fema.govFEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recently launched m.fema.gov, a skinnier version of its disaster information Web site developed specifically for mobile cell phones. The site provides vital information about floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms and other emergencies and answers to key questions like “How do I keep my family safe?” and “How do I return home safely?”

Of course, a bigger question is how reliable are cell phones in the aftermath of a disaster? This varies based on the scale and location of the emergency, the data provider, and other factors. There is no guarantee your phone carrier will be available, but it helps to know this resource exists in the first place.

Below is the video from FEMA making the announcement:

FEMA plans to expand and improve the site to allow individuals to apply for federal disaster assistance, check their application status or update an existing application.

With hurricane season beginning June 1, FEMA also launched a hurricane page at m.fema.gov/hurricanes.htm. It offers helpful ideas on how to prepare for a hurricane, how to stay safe during a hurricane, and how to recover in the aftermath of a hurricane.

Flood Preparation: How to Use Flood Maps and Prepare

Historic rainfall and flooding in the Northeast this year has reminded us that, despite the danger of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, floods are the most common and widespread threat in the United States.  Flooding can happen anywhere, but of course it’s much more likely to occur near bodies of water like rivers, lakes and streams.

FEMA-flood-map-searchThe most common question for anyone concerned about flooding is usually: Do I live in a flood-prone area?  Fortunately, FEMA has made this research quite simple.  FEMA’s Map Service Center provides detailed flood maps of neighborhoods all over the U.S.

How to find your flood map:

  1. Simply go to http://msc.fema.gov
  2. At the top left of the home page, enter your address (see screenshot to the right)
  3. Although it may be a little slow to load, a detailed map will appear in a new window.  The buttons on the left allow you to zoom in and out and pan across the map down to your specific street address. (see example map below)

flood-map-tool-FEMA

Flood Preparation

Whether or not you live in a designated flood area, understanding how to prepare for a flood is wise and simple.  Consider these three important steps:

  1. Protect Your Possessions
    Create a flood file with information about all of your possessions and place it in a secure place like a safe deposit box or waterproof container.
    The file should include:

    • Copies of insurance policies with your agent’s info.
    • A full inventory of your possessions, including video, photos, and receipts.
    • Copies of all other critical documents.
  2. Prepare Your Dwelling
    • Ensure your sump pump is working and don’t forget a battery-operated backup.
    • Clear debris from drainage spouts and gutters.
    • Raise electrical components (switches, sockets and circuit breakers) at least one foot above your projected flood elevation.
    • Place the washer, dryer, furnace, and water heater on blocks at least one foot above the projected flood elevation.
    • Move all valuables and important documents to high ground.
  3. Create a Family Emergency Plan
    • Buy or create an emergency kit with drinking water, food, first aid, blanket, radio, and flashlight.
    • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family.
    • Designate an out-of-state family member or friend to be your emergency family contact.
    • Don’t forget a plan for your pets.

(Compiled from FloodSmart.gov)

Disaster Declarations (coming to a county near you)

FEMA_logoDon’t misunderstand me.  I’m not a pessimist and I don’t foretell the future.  I was simply surprised to see the frequency of Major Disaster Declarations in the U.S. in 2009 as recorded by FEMA.  The list is mostly populated with severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding.  But it also includes fires, mudslides, and even ice jams in Alaska.

FEMA has supplied a fascinating map of the United States, showing all the presidential disaster declarations from 1964-2007.  It shows you the counties that have experienced the most disaster declarations and even breaks down the disasters by type for each of the 10 disaster regions.

presidential-disaster-declarations

This map might make you think twice about where you live.  But hopefully it encourages us all to be a little more prepared for when that next disaster strikes.