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Blog Category: FEMA

Working to Ensure Americans Remain Connected When Disaster Strikes

Cross-post by Stephen Fletcher, Associate Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

With the start of summer comes the beginning of the hurricane season along much of the U.S. coast. And with hurricanes comes the increased possibility that communications could be disrupted.

Less than two years ago, Hurricane Sandy left a trail of death and destruction including disrupted communications for millions of people and thousands of businesses along the East Coast. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reported that about a quarter of cell sites across 10 states and the District of Columbia were knocked out of service during the peak of the storm.

As the Executive Branch agency primarily responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information issues, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has been working with other federal agencies to help Americans remain connected in the wake of natural disasters or other emergencies.

In its report released last August, the White House’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force called on NTIA and the U.S. Department of Energy to work with the FCC to develop recommendations that help facilitate improved resiliency for cell phone towers, data centers and other critical communications infrastructure in the event of a power disruption following a disaster. NTIA and the Energy Department expect to complete the recommendations later this year.

In the meantime, the FCC has developed some steps consumers can take to ensure they remain connected should disaster strike and power is lost. The recommendations, developed with the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), include charging your wireless phones and other wireless devices ahead of a coming storm and using text messaging instead of making a phone call to help alleviate network congestion during and after a storm strikes.

For more information on what to expect from the upcoming hurricane season, check out the latest predictions for the Atlantic and Central Pacific regions from NTIA’s Commerce sister agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Prepare for Severe Weather, Urge NOAA and FEMA

WWeather Preparedness Week logo

Be a Force of Nature: Know your risk, take action, be an example

NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have partnered again this year for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Severe weather is far more common than most realize. The five most dangerous severe weather hazards -- tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, floods and winter storms, can be powerful and damaging. While spring is considered the height of season, severe weather occurs in every month of the year and in all 50 states. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather related fatalities and more than 2,600 injuries.

“Severe weather can happen anytime, anywhere,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “We urge everyone to take steps in advance and to pledge to prepare, take action and share what you have done with others. You can find information on how to prepare for severe weather at Ready.gov.”

Be a Force of Nature - Every one of us can help our communities prepare for extreme weather by following these guidelines:

  • Know Your Risk:  The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Every state in the United States has experienced tornadoes and severe weather, so everyone is exposed to some degree of risk. Check the weather forecast regularly and visitReady.gov/severeweather to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family when severe weather strikes.

  • Take Action, Pledge to Prepare: Be a Force of Nature by making sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather. Pledge to prepare at Ready.gov. Fill out your family communications plan that you can email to yourself, put together an emergency kit, and keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.

Stay informed by having multiple sources for weather alerts such as a NOAA Weather Radio, Weather.gov, and Wireless Emergency Alerts. And, sign up for localized alerts from emergency management officials.

  • Be an example: Once you have taken action Be a Force of Nature by telling family, friends, and co-workers to do the same. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered through your social media network. Create a preparedness video and post on a video sharing site; post your story through your social media network and comment on a blog. Technology today makes it easier than ever to be a good example and share the steps you took to help us achieve the vision of a Weather-Ready Nation.

Join us today and pledge to prepare for the severe weather in our area.  More 

Acting Secretary Blank Visits New Jersey to Meet Business Owners Impacted by Sandy

Acting Secretary Blank and Acting Assistant Secretary Erskine survey a map of the Port of Newark

On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank traveled to New Jersey where she met with local business leaders for discussions about ongoing efforts to rebuild the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. During these conversations, she conveyed that the Commerce Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the administration are focused on providing businesses and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy with all available federal support. 

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, Acting Secretary Blank met with a group of businesses that were impacted by the storm. Dr. Blank then visited the Port of Newark in Port Newark, New Jersey, where she was briefed by officials on the status of port operations and the challenges moving forward. She heard from some of the port’s tenants, trucking companies, and freight mobility experts about the impact that the storm has had on their businesses, customers, and employees. Dr. Blank then took a tour of the port to observe the progress of recovery work that is currently underway.