FEMA releases revised Preliminary Damage Assessment Guide

Today, FEMA released the revised Preliminary Damage Assessment Guide (PDA Guide) and its accompanying Preliminary Damage Assessment Pocket Guide (PDA Pocket Guide). The updated PDA Guide adjudicated comments received from a one-year public comment period that closed on June 8, 2021. The revised guide is effective as of October 1, 2021. A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) is the mechanism state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal governments use to determine the impact and magnitude of damage following a disaster and the resulting unmet needs to individuals, businesses, the public sector, and communities. The primary objective of the PDA is to collect information, conduct analysis, and provide situation awareness to state, territorial, or tribal government leaders to determine whether the impacts of a disaster warrant a disaster declaration request under the Stafford Act. The PDA guide establishes a framework for how emergency management officials, at every level of government, document and validate details of damage following a disaster. The guide includes a concept of operations, defined roles and responsibilities, recommended methodologies, and the documentation and data required to validate damage.

FEMA updates Flood Insurance Manual

This month, FEMA released the updated edition of the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Flood Insurance Manual, one month before it’s effective date. The manual presents guidance for FEMA’s new rating methodology, known as Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action. The manual updates existing NFIP underwriting policies and processes to enable effective and consistent program implementation of the new rating methodology. Risk Rating 2.0 provides more accurate flood insurance premiums, better communicates flood risk to individuals and promotes action to mitigate against flooding. FEMA will roll out the rates to the new methodology in a two-phase approach. In Phase I, new NFIP policies beginning Oct. 1 will be subject to the new rating methodology and existing policyholders eligible for renewal will be able to take advantage of immediate decreases in their premiums. In Phase II, all remaining policies renewing on or after April 1, 2022, will be subject to the new rating methodology. To complement the NFIP Flood Insurance Manual, FEMA released an Industry Transition Memorandum to explain how transitioning from the legacy rating plan to the new methodology will occur and provides business, data, and information technology guidance for NFIP insurers and vendors on how to accomplish that transition.

Book edited by IAEM member, Michael Fagel, CEM, available on Sept. 27

The Second Edition of Principles of Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) will be released on Sept. 27. Among its three editors is IAEM member, Michael Fagel, CEM. The highly anticipated second edition provides an updated understanding of the coordination, operation of EOCs at local, regional, state, and federal operations. Contributions from leading experts provide contemporary knowledge and best practice learned through lived experience. The chapters collectively act as a vital training guide, at both a theoretical and practical level, providing detailed guidance on handling each phase and type of emergency. Readers will emerge with a blueprint of how to create effective training and exercise programs, and thereby develop the skills required for successful emergency management. Along with thoroughly updated and expanded chapters from the first edition, this second edition contains several new chapters. The book can be pre-ordered now.

FEMA announces new interim policy for Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant Programs

On Aug. 27, a new interim FEMA policy began requiring certain structures in Special Flood Hazard Areas to conform to higher flood elevation standards if they use Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant funds. FEMA published the Partial Implementation of the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard for Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs (FEMA Policy FP-206-21-0003) to better align with Executive Order 14030 Climate-Related Financial Risk, which aims to strengthen resiliency nationwide. This new standard is in the fiscal year 2021 notices of funding opportunity for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) programs. In addition to BRIC and FMA, it also applies to the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for any major disaster declared on or after Aug. 27 and assistance authorized for all 59 COVID-19 disaster declarations. In addition, the interim policy applies to HMGP Post Fire for any Fire Mitigation Assistance Grant declarations issued on or after Aug. 27. 

Dedication to Ms. Adelina Kamal

August 27th marked the end of the tenure of Ms. Adelina Kamal as the Executive Director of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) AHA Centre.

Under the leadership of Ms. Adelina since 2017, the Centre has grown from strength to strength and come into the expansion stage, while continuously thriving, learning and transforming. As a widely respected personality, Ms. Adelina has brought the AHA Centre’s engagement beyond the region. As the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, she is always remembered as a leader and mentor who never stops to encourage her team’s progress and growth.

In 2018, while responding to multiple emergencies, the Centre, at the same time, also received an 80% increase of annual and equal contributions of ASEAN Member States to the AHA Centre Fund and received the prestigious Asian of the Year Award from the Straits Times. It was the year where the Centre finally harvested the seeds planted during the formative years as it tested all the coordination mechanisms and exercised almost all aspects of One ASEAN One Response for the first time. This has led to the Centre exercising ASEAN-UN interoperability, facilitating assistance beyond ASEAN, and moving into the recovery stage through the establishment of the ASEAN Village in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Dedication Videos:

Expert Voices on Atrocity Prevention: Episode 5

Earlier this year the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect launched a new podcast, Expert Voices on Atrocity Prevention, featuring one-on-one conversations with practitioners to provide a glimpse of the personal and professional side of how they approach human rights protection and atrocity prevention. 

In this episode, we sat down with Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW). During the episode, Omar discusses government attempts to derail HRW’s work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including his deportation from the country in 2019, and HRW’s recent reporting that the Israeli government’s policies and practices amount to the crime of apartheid. We also discuss the Commission of Inquiry on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory recently mandated by the UN Human Rights Council.

The podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud and YouTube.  Please subscribe for new episodes.

FEMA Revises Regulation Governing Public Assistance Appeals Process

On Aug. 16, FEMA published a final rule in the Federal Register which revises regulations to implement the new right of arbitration as part of the agency’s Public Assistance appeals process. Arbitration was authorized by the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA).

To be eligible for Section 423 arbitration, a Public Assistance applicant’s request must meet all three of the following conditions:

  • The dispute arises from a major disaster declared after Jan. 1, 2016.
  • The disputed amount exceeds $500,000 (or $100,000 if the applicant is in a rural area, defined as areas with a population of less than 200,000 and outside of an urbanized area).
  • The applicant properly submitted a first appeal of FEMA’s determination to their regional administrator for their FEMA region and has either received an appeal decision that is not yet FEMA’s final agency determination or has not received an appeal decision 180 calendar days from FEMA’s receipt of the appeal request.

The regulation revision includes changes to the PA appeals process as well.  For disasters declared on or after Jan. 1, 2022, applicants and recipients must submit appeals electronically and FEMA will no longer accept hard copy first or second appeal submissions.  FEMA will also issue appeal responses electronically.

The regulation requires that applicants submit appeals within 60 days from the date of FEMA’s determination (rather than the date it receives notice of the determination as is current practice); grantees will have 120 days from the date of FEMA’s determination to submit an applicant’s appeal along with its recommendation. The new regulation also requires that second appeals be submitted directly to FEMA headquarters, rather than the Regional Administrator. 

FEMA Announces Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for COVID-19 Declarations

FEMA announced a significant investment in climate resiliency by authorizing $3.46 billion for the 59 major disaster declarations issued due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

With the growing climate change crisis facing the nation, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will provide funding for states, tribes and territories to maximize their investment in mitigation measures that result in safer and more resilient communities. This new funding will allow communities across the nation to further develop capacity and take mitigation actions that will foster greater resilience and reduce disaster suffering.

Across the country, Americans have witnessed the enormous and devastating effects of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and other events. The increasing duration, intensity and severity of such disasters, which are exacerbated by changes in population, land use and weather patterns, are alarming and highlight one of the most important emergency management challenges facing the United States. The impacts of natural hazards on communities, families, individuals and our economy make it imperative to invest in creating infrastructure and communities more resilient to natural hazards.

FEAM encourages state, local, tribal and territorial governments with significant vulnerabilities that lack the resources to invest in mitigation to leverage the funds being authorized through Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

For more information, visit FEMA.gov.

ADA Helps FEMA and Partners Create a Path to Independence for People with Disabilities

On July 26, FEMA commemorated the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by federal agencies and federally funded programs.

In addition, the ADA ensures that FEMA and its partners have a strong foundation to work together to serve disaster survivors with disabilities and ensure equitable access to services and programs, while preserving and promoting the independence of people with disabilities.

Disability partners are part of the agency’s whole community approach and work alongside FEMA. These partnerships, such as between the National Council on Independent Living (NICL) and FEMA, enable the agency to create a path to independence for people with disabilities impacted by disasters.

To learn how the ADA supports equity and independence for people with disabilities, and how FEMA is helping people with disabilities before, during and after disasters, check out the partner blog with NICL on FEMA.gov.

FEMA releases CERT position documents

FEMA has released National Qualification System Job Titles/Position Qualifications and Position Task Books for three National Qualification System Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) positions. The three positions are CERT chief, CERT team leader, and CERT volunteer. These resource typing documents will facilitate the sharing of deployable CERT positions at all jurisdictional levels.