Thursday, May 24, 2012

FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System

Mobile wireless emergency alerting capabilities will be available nationwide through participating carriers

WASHINGTON - Hurricane Season begins June 1, 2012, FEMA is providing additional tools for federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officials to alert and warn the public about severe weather. Using the Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS, which is a part of FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, this structure will be used to deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to wireless carriers for distribution to the public.

The CMAS system will allow the National Weather Service to soon begin issuing WEAs for the most dangerous weather through participating wireless carriers directly to cell phones. The alerts will be broadcast by cell towers much like an AM/FM radio station, and cell phones within range will immediately pick up the signal, provided they are capable of receiving these alerts. The availability of WEA alerts will be dependent on the network status of the wireless carriers and handset availability, since not all cell phones can receive WEAs. People should check with their cellular carriers to see if WEA alerts are available in their area.

"The wireless emergency alert capability provides an additional opportunity for the public to receive life-saving information needed to get out of harm's way when a threat exists," said Timothy Manning, FEMA deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness. "The public also has a critical role in their personal preparedness. There are a few simple steps that everyone can take to be prepared, like knowing which risks exist in your area and making a family emergency plan. Information and resources to help individuals and families prepare can be found at"

WEAs will look like a text message, and will automatically appear on the mobile device screen showing the type and time of alert along with any action that should be taken. The message will be no more than 90 characters, and will have a unique tone and vibration, indicating a WEA has been received. If an alert is received, citizens should follow the instructions and seek additional information from radio, television, NOAA Weather Radio, and other official sources for emergency information. Citizens should only call 911 in a life threatening situation.

Only authorized federal, state, local, tribal or territorial officials can send WEA alerts to the public. As with all new cellular services, it will take time for upgrades in infrastructure, coverage, and handset technology to allow WEA alerts to reach all cellular customers.

FEMA urges individuals and businesses to take action to prepare themselves in advance of severe weather and hurricanes such as taking the pledge to prepare at This is the first step in making sure you and your family is ready for an emergency. This includes filling out your family communications plan that you can email to yourself, assembling an emergency kit, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.

With the start of hurricanes season it is even more important to know your risk, take action, and be an example. While hurricanes often offer some warning that a threat is approaching, severe weather can occur at any time and in any place, including high winds, inland flooding, severe storms and tornadoes.

For more on family preparedness, visit for more planning information and safety tips.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Career Opportunities: Advancement Project

Advancement Project ...Just Democracy!


Community Participation: Taking Control and Creating Change

Creating Change is the People’s Job

We—not just the president—have to be the agents of change in our society. How do we extend our electoral organizing beyond the elections?

by Deepak Bhargava   posted May 23, 2012

There is a grumble being repeated in some progressive circles. It goes like this: “President Obama has been a disappointment. But what’s the alternative?” It’s usually followed by a sigh and a plea for work to save the “few minor” things we did get done in the last three years.

But this grumbling is largely wrong. Some of the disappointment is understandable. For instance, on the President’s watch, thousands of immigrant families have been torn apart by inhumane deportation policies
Even so, our achievements are by no means minor. The stimulus contained the largest expansion of anti-poverty programs in a generation, health care reform is already expanding coverage for millions of people, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been consigned to the history books, and efforts to slash Medicare and Social Security have been held in check.

From where I stand, something more interesting is going on. We’ve examined ourselves and found a fundamental weakness: We placed too much hope and faith in the president. It was a mistake, but not because this president has somehow betrayed us. He’s done what presidents do: governed under all the stresses of competing pressures.

Abolitionists gave us abolition, not Lincoln. The civil rights movement gave us voting rights for blacks. The suffragette movement gave women the right to vote.

It was a mistake because we—not just the president—have to be the agents of change in our society. Electoral victories without sustained movements will never address inequality, poverty, or any of the major issues we face. Abolitionists gave us abolition, not Lincoln. Powerful movements focus on issues, not on presidents.

The civil rights movement gave us voting rights for blacks. The suffragette movement gave women the right to vote. The gay rights movement gave gays the right to marry and put an end to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Union victories created the modern middle class.

Increasingly, those who are engaging in this more interesting conversation are asking: How do we extend our electoral organizing beyond the elections?

This is a far more exciting question because answering it correctly will give us a chance at the real prize: building a society governed by progressive values and policies that move us all forward together. 
At the Center for Community Change, we’ve been doing this with immigration policy. We are turning outrage over the administration’s massive deportations into action to enhance the power of immigrants in our society. Our “Change Takes Courage” campaign holds the White House accountable for tearing families apart. At the same time, we send a clear message to all those who oppose immigration reform by making our voter registration and voter turnout work be first and foremost about raising the power of immigrants to make sure their voices are heard in all ways, not just at the ballot box.

So the grumbling is waning as enthusiasm for the 2012 election is rising, because we are starting to figure out that elections aren’t really about candidates—they are about us, about what we can be doing to create change, and about the society that together we all hope to build.  

Deepak Bhargava wrote this article for Making it Home, the Summer 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Deepak, one of the YES! Breakthrough 15, is executive director of the Center for Community Change, which builds the power and capacity of low-income people, especially people of color, to have an impact on improving their communities and the policies and institutions that affect their lives. The CCC strengthens, connects, and mobilizes grassroots groups to enhance their leadership, voice, and power.

U.S. Humanitarian Assistance: Honduras.

Honduras: Missouri Army Guard Soldiers celebrate building a schoolhouse for Hondurans

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Walter Van Ochten
U.S. Army South

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy South's Task Force Tropic, commanded by Army Lt. Col. Robert L. Jones, Missouri Army National Guard, and Leonidas Matamoros, a community leader who had been instrumental in getting this project for his community, thanked each for their mutual help in building a school, in Micheletti, Honduras, May 8, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Walter Van Ochten)(Released)open link in new window download hi-res photo

NACO CORTES, Honduras (5/23/12) - The oppressive Central American heat and humidity did not dissuade a crowd of more than 200 Honduran citizens from Micheletti in joining in the festivities May 9.

U.S. Army South’s Task Force Tropic, commanded by Army Lt. Col. Robert L. Jones, Missouri Army National Guard joined with Micheletti key community leaders and San Pedro Sula officials for a “First Stone” ceremony at the site of a two-room school that is under construction as part of U.S. Southern Command’s Beyond the Horizon 2012.

Beyond the Horizon 2012 is a U.S. Army South planned exercise that deploys military engineers and medical professionals to Honduras for training, while providing services to rural communities. BTHs are conducted annually in the U.S Southern Command area of responsibility and are part of its humanitarian and civic assistance program.

The local leaders got a tour of the partially finished schoolhouse and bathroom.

Jones along with project manager, Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Vitale, 294th Engineer Company, 203rd Engineering Battalion, 35th Engineering Brigade; San Pedro Sulas’ vice-mayor Dr. Reiner A. Laitano; project manager for all villages at San Pedro de Sula, Dunia Jimenez, Preecidente de Patronatos, San Pedrd Sula, and Col. Calixto Tejada Honduran 14th Infantry Battalion executive officer, grabbed some shovels and dug into the earth symbolically displaying the commitment they have to the people living in this community.

Jones then stood in the midst of the large crowd as the Honduran officials gave speeches showing their gratitude to the Americans for their effort in building the school.

Once they finished, Jones stepped forward from the crowd to return the favor, his words echoed those of the Honduran speakers by stating he was “to the local community for their support of his Soldiers' training and commitment to the schoolhouse under construction.”

Before he said those words, on his way to the microphone, he encountered Leonidas Matamoros, a community leader who all day long had been leading his community in cheering and applauding and had been instrumental in getting this project for his community.

Jones stopped and with a hardy handshake and a bear hug the two thanked each for their mutual help in building the school.

The day, however, wasn’t just for the dignitaries and the commanders; it was for all those standing out in the heat, humidity and sun whose partnership is bringing a new school to this community.