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FEMA Bulletin Week of August 31, 2020

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Week of August 31, 2020

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In this Edition:

Important Dates & Reminders

Sept 2

Webinar on Disaster Public Assistance Purchasing 2 p.m. ET

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Webinar for Mitigation Planning 1 p.m. ET

September is National Preparedness Month

Each September, National Preparedness Month reminds us how important it is to prepare for disasters. For the next four weeks, National Preparedness Month will highlight easy-to-follow steps that your family can take to improve preparedness at home. This week, the theme is Make A Plan.


Take time this week to make a plan to be ready for disasters and emergencies that could impact you. This includes ensuring your plans consider impacts the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could have.


When making your plan, consider:


  • Include a plan for all members of the family, children, youth and adults and seniors in developing a family emergency plan.
  • Tailor your plan to your household’s specific needs, such as care of children, seniors, pets or other specific needs like medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home. Visit for details.
  • Collect and secure critical documents (such as financial, insurance, medical and other records) in a safe place so you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.
  • Complete the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help you prepare financially and get tips to help reduce the financial impact disasters.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts in your area to receive life-saving information from your state and local municipality.


For more information on how to Make a Plan, visit



President Trump, Administrator Gaynor Survey Hurricane Laura Damage, Meet with State and Local Officials

Administrator Gaynor speaks to a Hurricane Laura survivor in Lake Charles, Louisiana

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor talks with a Hurricane Laura survivor in Lake Charles, Louisiana


Last week, President Donald Trump visited Orange, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the wake of Hurricane Laura. Accompanied by FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor and Region 6 Regional Administrator Tony Robinson, the President surveyed hurricane damage and met with state and local officials during his trip.

FEMA is leaning forward with its federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners to mobilize teams and supplies to support a state-managed, locally executed response to impacts from the storms in the Gulf and the wildfires out west. FEMA and its federal partners remain fully postured to support impacted states and meet state-identified requirements.

FEMA continues to conduct damage assessments and is processing survivor Individual Assistance Grant Program applications in Louisiana. To further support response and recovery, FEMA has deployed more than 550 employees to the impacted areas, including Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams, Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) and National IMATs. The teams are supported by hundreds of employees at FEMA headquarters, FEMA reservists and regional staff.


Additionally, FEMA pre-positioned commodities to the area ahead of landfall including 3.5 million meals and 1.6 million liters of water. FEMA continues to move food, water and tarps for distribution to the states from distribution hubs in both Louisiana and Texas. In Louisiana, more than 29,000 electrical line workers from mutual assistance networks are working to restore power and an interagency team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Environmental Protection Agency are assisting state and local authorities to address the needs of water and waste water facilities. USACE has launched its Blue Roof program in Louisiana, and residents can sign up for the free program online or by calling 888-766-3258.

Administrator Gaynor Surveys California Wildfire Damage, Visits with State and Local Officials

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor surveys wildfire damage in California

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor surveys fire damage in California.


This week, Administrator Gaynor traveled to California to survey fire damage and support state and local officials as they respond to the recent wildfires.

While there, Administrator Gaynor and Region 9 Regional Administrator Bob Fenton met with Governor Gavin Newsom and state emergency management personnel to discuss the federal assistance available to help people and communities recover.

FEMA Offering Webinars on Disaster Public Assistance Purchasing

FEMA is offering a series of free online webinars for Public Assistance applicants impacted by Hurricane Laura. This one-hour training will help participants understand how to purchase in compliance with federal rules during emergencies such as Hurricane Laura and other exigent circumstances.


FEMA provides financial assistance to state, local, tribal and territorial governments, houses of worship and other non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education and other non-federal entities. All FEMA grant programs are subject to the federal procurement rules. The rules simplify and expedite the procurement process in order to more quickly meet recovery needs in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.


These webinars are open to the whole community and will be offered though Adobe Connect.

The phone-only conference line and access code for all webinars is 1-800-320-4330, 428092#.


Webinar dates, times and training links:


  • Sept. 2              2 p.m. ET            Training Link                    
  • Sept. 3              3 p.m. ET            Training Link                    
  • Sept. 8              10 a.m. ET          Training Link                   
  • Sept. 9              11 a.m. ET          Training Link                   
  • Sept. 10            2 p.m. ET            Training Link                    
  • Sept. 11            3 p.m. ET            Training Link     


FEMA Announces Proposed Revision to the Public Assistance Appeals Process

FEMA is proposing 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).


DRRA Section 1219 amended Section 423 of the Stafford Act to provide a right of arbitration for certain applicants who dispute FEMA’s determination on their Public Assistance application, including eligibility for assistance or repayment of assistance.


The rule would allow an applicant or recipient to use arbitration in lieu of a second appeal or in cases where an applicant has had a first appeal pending with FEMA for more than 180 calendar days.


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.


Under FEMA’s current regulation, an applicant or recipient may make a first appeal to the FEMA Regional Administrator. If the applicant or recipient is not satisfied with the result of the first appeal, they can submit a second appeal to the FEMA Assistant Administrator for the Recovery Directorate. The result of the second appeal is the final decision from FEMA. If the applicant or recipient does not submit a second appeal within 60 days, the result of the first appeal is the final agency determination.


Applicants choosing arbitration would have their case heard by a panel of judges with the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals.


FEMA Launches New Preparedness Training for Community-Based Organizations

FEMA launched a new preparedness training, “Organizations Preparing for Emergency Needs,” or OPEN. The new training is designed to empower Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to prepare for incidents and increase resilience in the face of a disaster. CBOs play a huge role in the daily lives of millions of Americans. They are the food banks, childcare centers, shelters and houses of worship that make communities stronger.  


OPEN is both a self-guided online course for individuals and a downloadable instructor-led course designed to help organizations take preparedness steps. The OPEN training will walk participants through ten preparedness actions. CBOs can take these preparedness actions to improve their organization’s resilience.


The 10 preparedness actions are:


  • Understand risks
  • Mitigate risks
  • Identify the people you serve
  • Determine essential activities
  • Consider the supply chain
  • Safeguard critical information
  • Establish a communications plan
  • Cross-train key individuals
  • Formalize plans
  • Regularly test and update plans


If participants wish to learn more about a certain preparedness action, they can refer to one of the many resources listed in the training. Some resources include:


Learn how you can empower your CBO to prepare for disasters by visiting


Open Training

FEMA Announces Regulation Update for the FMA Grant and Mitigation Planning Programs

On Aug. 28, FEMA published for public comment in the Federal Register updates to the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program and mitigation planning regulations to synchronize the requirements enacted by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12). 


In addition, FEMA is replacing substantially similar terms and definitions in BW-12 to better align with the Code of Federal Regulations Title 2 part 200: Uniform Administrative Guidance.


This update of outdated terms and definitions also impacts FEMA’s Property Acquisition and Relocation for Open Space, mitigation planning and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program regulations.


Since the passage of BW-12, FEMA has implemented these updates and is in now making the changes administratively in statute.


The 60-day public comment period is open until Oct. 27. Visit and provide comments to Docket ID: FEMA-2019-0011.


FEMA Co-Hosts a Webinar for Mitigation Planning

On Sept. 8, the Natural Hazards Center and FEMA is hosting a mitigation webinar highlighting how ArcGIS can assist with mitigation plans. The webinar, “ArcGIS Capabilities for Mitigation Planning: A StoryMap and Other Technological Advances” features the state of Indiana’s planning efforts.


The presentation will focus on how ArcGIS capabilities support each phase of a hazard mitigation planning process, from performing a detailed risk assessment, to collaborating across stakeholder groups and sharing mitigation project information with the public.


Webinar participants will learn how The Polis Center at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, use their work on the State of Indiana’s 2019 mitigation plan update using Hazus analysis tools, ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS StoryMaps.


The team created a successful government–university partnership that incorporated feedback of dozens of stakeholders into a finished product, Landslide Guide for Residents of Puerto Rico.



For a full list of presenters, visit the Natural Hazards Center Making Mitigation Work webinar series page.


FEMA Podcast Episode 73: Women in Emergency Management

In March, FEMA joined the nation in celebrating Women’s History Month. To commemorate the month, and to honor the contributions of the many women serving in Emergency Management, FEMA hosted a panel discussion on “Women in Emergency Management: Riding the Tides of Change.” This episode of the FEMA Podcast, which aired on Women’s Equality Day, Aug. 26, features a conversation with the four incredible women that participated in that panel. These women share their candid thoughts on the early days of FEMA and emergency management and how women have and will shape the evolution of disaster response, recovery and preparedness.


fema podcast

Upcoming Deadlines and Reminders

FEMA Offers Webinars for Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants

FEMA is offering informational webinars for Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant applicants. There will be two webinars on avoiding application pitfalls at 2 p.m.ET on Sept. 1 and Sept. 2.  Any prospective state, tribal or territorial applicant can attend. Register on FEMA Adobe Connect.


Each webinar topic will be recorded and available online at a future time. For additional updates or more information, visit


FEMA Public Comment Period for Debris Monitoring Guide

FEMA is releasing an interim “Debris Monitoring Guide.” The guidance is now open for public comment. It includes several changes that incorporate updated requirements to comply with the “Procurement Disaster Assistance Team 2019 Field Manual.”


The interim guide and accompanying comments matrix are available on the FEMA website. FEMA will accept public comments submitted using the accompanying comments matrix until Sept. 17. For questions or suggestions about the guide, send an email to

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