your emergency kit. Check
for expired food, water, or batteries in your emergency kit and
replace if necessary. Look over this checklist of emergency supplies
and add what you may be missing. Don’t hesitate to add other
supplies based on your individual needs.
New ICPD Director Focuses
on Ensuring Emergency Readiness
Levy is no newcomer to emergency preparedness. He was named Director
of FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division
(ICPD) in December 2020 after a decade of service with the
Agency. Aaron had served as Acting Director since September
2019. He has also worked as ICPD’s Deputy Director and in other
positions across FEMA.
"Initially, what drew me to [FEMA] was
an opportunity to be part of a team that was rethinking emergency
management in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was an exciting
time. I quickly realized that the Agency’s mission, ‘helping people
before, during and after disasters,’ gave me a sense of purpose that
I was lacking in my professional life.”
Aaron says he is particularly drawn to ICPD
because “it is the only team in FEMA focused on preparing individuals
and community organizations, rather than FEMA’s traditional state,
local, tribal and territorial partners, for disasters. It’s a dream
job for someone who loves their country, believes in FEMA’s mission,
and appreciates the opportunity to work alongside the most talented,
focused, and dedicated staff in the entire U.S. Government.”
Aaron counts the creation of a research
program that focuses on human behavior as one of ICPD’s most
important recent achievements. An increased focus on research helps
ICPD understand what programs and tools help prepare people. The
annual National Household Survey shows the
public continues to be better prepared for disasters, he notes.
Aaron attributes some of these improvements
to FEMA laying the groundwork for emergency readiness. He sees other
factors as well.
“I think the increase in the number and type
of disasters has made preparedness a ‘kitchen table’ issue for many …
families,” he says. “Second, organizations ranging from Silicon
Valley startups to small, local [nonprofits] are focused on
developing cutting-edge resources to help people be better prepared.”
ICPD focused on a new reason to prepare in
2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the country, ICPD
stepped up to assist. Several staff members deployed to FEMA’s
National Response Coordination Center to support the Agency’s
response. Remaining staff members “led a Herculean effort to revamp
our protective action guidance for pandemic
preparedness,” Aaron says.
Aaron notes that staff also worked to ensure
FEMA’s new Organizations Preparing for Emergency Needs
(OPEN) training addresses pandemic hazards. The training
focuses on 10 key actions that nonprofits, faith-based organizations,
and small businesses can take to be prepared to operate during
Promoting OPEN is just one of several goals
Aaron has for 2021. The release of an updated Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP)
curriculum is another. STEP, which is aimed at students in grades
four and up, teaches youth about preparing for disasters and
emergencies. The curriculum engages them in activities like making
emergency kits and family communication plans. STEP is part of a broader youth program that is “a
priority because building a culture of preparedness starts with our
Nation’s youth,” Aaron says.
The work to refocus on financial resilience,
which teaches and informs individuals how to save money to prepare
for disasters, will also continue in 2021.
“Encouraging [people] to set aside money for
a disaster is a noble objective that our team has been working toward
over the last two years. However, many Americans are struggling to
put food on the table during this difficult time.”
Aaron has asked ICPD “to work with our
partners to figure out how we can encourage [folks] to take steps,
such as buying insurance and ensuring that their financial
information is organized before a disaster hits.” He also wants the
Division to engage with FEMA’s Office of Response and Recovery so
that FEMA can better educate people about the limitations of [the
Agency’s] assistance programs.
Aaron asks people to email ICPD at FEMA-Prepare@fema.dhs.gov
if they have suggestions or ideas that can help the Agency achieve these
Like everyone, ICPD’s Director is looking
forward to a healthier 2021 and a resumption of in-person activities.
“In 2020, we did our best to leverage Zoom
and other online platforms to stay in touch with and build
connections with new stakeholders” he says. Once a majority of
Americans receive the COVID vaccine, I hope to get back on the road
again and meet in person with our partners across the country!
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to
surge across the country, two volunteer groups are teaming up to
help. Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs),
sponsored by FEMA, and the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC),
organized by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, are working
together to tackle a range of health needs. Some partnerships are new
and formed during the pandemic, while others have existed for years.
The CERT Program educates volunteers about
preparing for hazards that may affect their area. It also trains
members in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety,
search and rescue, and helping with medical needs. MRC volunteers
include medical and public health professionals, as well as other
community members without healthcare backgrounds. MRC units engage
these volunteers to strengthen public health, improve emergency
response capabilities, and build community resiliency. Read more...
CBOs: Determine Essential
Activities Now to Ensure Smoother Sailing During a Disaster
Have you ever thought about how
your organization would stay operational during a disaster or
unplanned incident? Whether your community-based organization is a
nonprofit, small business, or faith-based organization, a key part of
preparedness planning is determining the activities you need to do to
stay open. Taking the time to map out your basic functions now will
be helpful when rushing to maintain services during an emergency.
YPC Alum Mathew Mayfield
Puts Preparedness to Work
Matthew Mayfield may have finished his work
with FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) in 2015, but his zeal
for emergency readiness and response continues. Since participating
in the YPC, he has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in public
health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He has
also obtained his emergency medical technician (EMT) license.
“The YPC definitely set me on a good track
and has actually opened a few doors for me. It gave me another
passion—for not only the first response side of emergency services
but the preparedness portion. Teaching is now one of my favorite
things,” he says.
gave me a better grasp on how to look at the bigger picture and be
two steps ahead of any possible issue when problem solving.”
While in the YPC, Mayfield was part of a
group of 15 teens from across the country working on national and
local projects. Read more...
for the Youth Preparedness Council Starting on January 18
Do you know a teen who has a passion for
preparedness? FEMA will soon begin accepting applications for its 2021 Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) from
youth in grades 8-11. Since 2012, FEMA has brought youth from across
the Nation together. Each year, teens apply to the YPC for an
opportunity to join FEMA in encouraging emergency preparedness. Teens
serve on the YPC for two years.
As part of the YPC, members can build
leadership skills and represent their schools and communities. They
also share their perspectives, feedback, and opinions with FEMA. The
YPC gives youth the chance to meet peers from across the country and
work on projects, such as preparedness fairs for their communities. A virtual
summit in July gives members a chance to meet each other and hear from
FEMA experts. Read more...
Member Featured on School System Website
Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) member Devangana Rana’s work on the council
and in her community recently caught the attention of her Illinois
school district. She was featured in an article and video which was posted on the website
of her school district. Rana, who was born in India, discusses how she
uses FEMA materials to inform international students about disasters
that they may face in the Midwest that they may not have experienced in
their home countries. She also talks about being named a winner of the
National Call for Kindness Contest. With this award, she received a
$1,000 grant to help host events that celebrate different cultures and
assist international students and their families new to the United
Out with the old and in with new habits! On
this new year, make a plan to put your finances on the right footing.
We’ve listed some actions you can take for the first few months of
the year to help you get started.
January: Fill out the EFFAK
FEMA’s Emergency First Aid Kit (EFFAK)
offers guidance on organizing and securing important documents. It
also provides advice on managing finances, offers insights on credit
scores, and describes what to expect should a disaster strike your
community. All of this can help you prepare for both big incidents
and minor emergencies.
Fillable forms and checklists allow you to
organize your documents and contacts in PDF form. The EFFAK is
available in English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean,
Vietnamese, Spanish, and large print versions. Read more...
Disclaimer: The reader recognizes
that the federal government provides links and informational data on
various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse
any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services, or products.
Please let us know about other events and services for individual and
community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by