FEMA Podcast: Financial Preparedness

When folks hear about disaster preparedness, regardless of the hazard, we often do not focus much on the financial aspect or financial preparedness. This week, Allen Becker, the host of the radio program, Retire Right Radio joins the FEMA Podcast to discuss the importance of putting yourself in the best position to bounce back financially from disaster.

 

The FEMA Podcast is a new audio program series available to anyone interested in learning more about the Agency, hearing about innovation in the field of emergency management, and listening to stories about communities and individuals recovering after disasters. The FEMA Podcast is available on Apple iTunes to stream or download. Approximately 20 to 30 minutes in length, the podcast will be updated with a new episode on a weekly basis. By subscribing, new episodes will automatically update on a listener’s device. For more information, visit www.fema.gov/podcast.

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FEMA Releases Updated Public Assistance Policy and Program Guidance

On April 26, 2018, FEMA released a new version of the Public Assistance Policy and Program Guidance (PAPPG). On February 9, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123). The Act includes a provision amending the Robert T. Stafford Act in a manner that largely codifies the changes related to houses of worship which were made in the last version of this Guide in January 2018.

 

The new PAPPG updates language to match the new law; adds houses of worship as eligible private nonprofit facilities, distinct from community centers; clarifies that houses of worship cannot be deemed ineligible because leadership or membership in the organization operating the house of worship is limited to persons who share a religious faith or practice; removes the exclusion of buildings and items used primarily for religious purposes or instruction from the definition of eligible private non-profit educational facilities; and makes clear that these facilities are eligible regardless of their religious character or use for religious instruction.

 

The new PAPPG also clarifies that new construction under the Public Assistance program is prohibited in Coastal High Hazard Areas.

 

FEMA will continue to update the guide on an annual basis, as necessary, and is always looking for policy feedback. Please send any policy recommendations to FEMA-PAPolicy@fema.dhs.gov.

Mission Possible: Emergency Response for Cultural Heritage Institutions in Puerto Rico Webcast

Department of Homeland Security Unveils Strategy to Guide Cybersecurity Efforts

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a strategy outlining the Department’s approach to identifying and managing national cybersecurity risk. The DHS strategy details a Department-wide approach to address the evolving threats to our nation’s cyber and critical infrastructure security.

Directed by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, this strategy addresses strategic and operational goals and priorities to successfully execute the full range of the DHS Secretary’s cybersecurity responsibilities. The intent is for this strategy to enable the harmonization and prioritization of DHS planning, programming, budgeting, and operational activities across all DHS cybersecurity mission areas. It will focus on coordinating departmental cybersecurity activities to ensure a unity of effort.

“The cyber threat landscape is shifting in real-time, and we have reached a historic turning point,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Digital security is now converging with personal and physical security, and it is clear that our cyber adversaries can now threaten the very fabric of our republic itself. That is why DHS is rethinking its approach by adopting a more comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. In an age of brand-name breaches, we must think beyond the defense of specific assets—and confront systemic risks that affect everyone from tech giants to homeowners. Our strategy outlines how DHS will leverage its unique capabilities on the digital battlefield to defend American networks and get ahead of emerging cyber threats.”

The Department’s strategy sets forth a five-part approach to manage national cyber risk aimed at ensuring the availability of critical national functions and fostering efficiency, innovation, trustworthy communication, and economic prosperity in ways consistent with our national values and that protect privacy and civil liberties.

  • Risk Identification: Assess the evolving national cybersecurity risk posture to inform and prioritize risk management activities.
  • Vulnerability Reduction: Protect federal government information systems by reducing the vulnerabilities of federal agencies to ensure they achieve an adequate level of cybersecurity.
  • Threat Reduction: Reduce national cyber threats by countering transnational criminal organizations and sophisticated cyber criminals.
  • Consequence Mitigation: Respond effectively to cyber incidents to thereby minimize consequences from potentially significant cyber incidents through coordinated community-wide response efforts.
  • Enable Cybersecurity Outcomes: Strengthen the security and reliability of the cyber ecosystem by supporting policies and activities that enable improved global cybersecurity risk management and execute departmental cybersecurity efforts in an integrated and prioritized way.

The goals and objectives set forth in this strategy are designed to ensure that DHS maximizes its unique resources to accomplish impactful policy and operational outcomes.  A core guiding principle underlying the DHS strategy approach is collaboration across the cybersecurity community, including with our partners in the federal government, state and local governments, industry, and the international community. By working closely with our partners, the Department believes that cyberspace can be made safe and secure enabling the functioning of government, the delivery of essential services, and the betterment of the lives of the American people.

Learn more on the strategy here.

IMMERSED: Providing Users With a Flood of Information

May 2018 is National Building Safety Month. This year’s theme is “Building Codes Save Lives.” Each week of National Building Safety Month highlights a different component of building safety; week two focuses on “Advancing Resilient Communities Through Science and Technology.”

 

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster, which is why it’s critical for community leaders to be equipped with the information, tools and skills needed to take mitigation action and build resiliency. To help educate community leaders about the value of being prepared for the worst, FEMA created a virtual reality experience about flood and resilience called IMMERSED.

 

Using technology to place users at the center of a flood crisis, IMMERSED allows them to assess damage in a community and see the benefits of mitigation first-hand. By working through simple tasks, users experience a major flood event in a realistic manner. After experiencing IMMERSED, users are encouraged to explore additional information about mitigation actions and are provided details on grants and other available programs to support communities.

 

FEMA’s Building Science Branch creates guidance and materials to develop the most up-to-date and technologically advanced building codes for new construction and the repair of existing buildings. It converts research into practice through its Mitigation Assessment Teams and through the publication of technical manuals that optimize technology and aid in the development of safe and secure structures.

 

Science and technology are leading the way for designing and constructing safe, efficient and resilient homes and buildings. If you are considering renovating, remodeling, or building from the ground up, look for the latest technology and ensure it is based on the codes and standards that put safety and efficiency first.

 

For more information visit the International Code Council’s Building Safety Month webpage. And to learn more about the IMMERSED experience, subscribe to the FEMA Podcast on iTunes, which features the virtual reality program in the next edition tomorrow, May 9, 2018.

 

A National Approach to Investing in Mitigation

Strengthening the nation’s ability to withstand disasters with limited loss reduces our risk. Building a culture of preparedness, including expanding mitigation actions – the most effective way to improve resiliency – is a primary goal of the 2018-2022 FEMA Strategic Plan.

 

After the release of a 2016 Government Accountability Office report identifying the need for a coordinated, government-wide investment strategy for resilience and mitigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tasked the Federal Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG) to develop a National Mitigation Investment Strategy (NMIS). The intent of the NMIS is to improve coordination and awareness of natural hazard mitigation products and resources in order to reduce the nation’s exposure to risk.

 

The Draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy includes a series of recommendations to make the nation less vulnerable and better equipped to respond to natural hazards. The MitFLG engaged with all levels of government and invited the public to comment on the draft. Feedback was received from January 11, 2018 through March 11, 2018, and came from several key stakeholders including, private businesses, citizens, vulnerable and at-risk populations, critical infrastructure sectors, non-profit, academic, and philanthropic organizations.

 

The group accepted input and involvement from all national stakeholders involved in disaster resilience, including federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private organizations, and the general public, and heard many perspectives on mitigation with specific feedback on the investment strategy. Several common themes emerged, including making mitigation less complex and more easily understood; expanding funding for mitigation; better integrating mitigation into disaster preparedness and recovery; and improving infrastructure resilience.

 

The MitFLG will revise the draft and anticipates providing a final NMIS in December 2018. While public comments are still being reviewed in detail and a final NMIS will be released by the MitFLG in the fall of 2018, the Draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy can be viewed online. For more information about NMIS and the importance of investing in mitigation, read a FEMA blog post written by Dr. Daniel Kaniewski.