New York Hurricane Recovery

Hurricane Sandy - New JerseyAs a follower of the FEMA blog, we found today’s post by Michael Byrne, Federal Coordinating Officer, to be an amazing reflection on the recovery efforts to support New Yorkers after Hurricane Sandy.  You can read the blog post at  New York, One Month After Sandy

In this short excerpt, Michael describes the support force used to help the city…

“The New York metropolitan area has over 15 million people and this is a city that is built vertically.  We knew immediately that having enough people would be a huge challenge. We had over 1200 people out in the field, going door-to-door in the damaged areas.  We had to activate the Department of Homeland Security surge capacity force to have enough people to do these sweeps.  This “surge force” consisted of over 1,100 employees from the agencies that make up DHS, such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard.  They are spending the nights on Merchant Marine training ships so we don’t take hotel rooms from survivors. I have been out to the ships and the sleeping conditions are austere, but the food is good.”   Read more…

For additional tips and resources, see our page on Hurricane Preparedness

Minimize Holiday Hazards

Christmas tree on fireAs the holiday season begins, most people are reminded of good times, beautiful decorations and great meals.  Sadly for some, it’s a reminder of how safety never takes a holiday.  In 2010, Christmas trees played a role in 250 fires and 14 deaths, and caused more than $13.8 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

This article and video by CBS News describes some specific things to look for as you prepare for the holiday season, including tips on how to buy a safe tree:

Don’t take any chances with old, or worn electrical decorations and don’t forget that children and pets see the world of holiday decorations differently than adults.  Those glass candy canes or gingerbread scented candles can be a dangerous hazard when they look and smell good enough to eat!

For more tips, visit our page on Disaster Preparedness Resources


Overwhelmed with your insurance claim process?

after the hurricaneAny disaster survivor can tell you that “after” a disaster is certainly not the ideal time to learn about what your insurance covers, and about the process to make a major claim.  The truth is many people don’t know until it’s time to make a major claim.  When there is a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, there are many factors that can affect your insurance claim process.

We found a helpful article that spells out some easy to understand facts and tips on what to do when you start your claim, and is especially helpful when reviewing your policy before you need it:  A 12-step plan for your Sandy insurance claim

See our list of Insurance Claim Resources to help you anytime.

Thank You Veterans…and Veteran Volunteers!

Veteran VolunteerDid you know that many veterans continue to protect and serve by volunteering in their communities?  Veteran talent is used in disaster preparedness and recovery.  Citizen Corps Councils across the country offer 3 ways that Veterans support their communities:

  1. Volunteer to support local response agencies
  2. Be an advocate for local emergency preparedness
  3. Be a leader in local emergency preparedness


Find out more here about Citizen Corps.

Flood dry-out companies can cost you an arm and a leg!

After a flood, you need to carefully consider what course of action you will take to repair your home.  Obviously, standing water needs to be extracted, but you need to determine if it is more cost effective to remove and replace water damaged drywall, cabinetry, flooring, or baseboards, rather than paying a dry out company to TRY and save them.

Companies that specialize in structural drying can charge very high rates for the daily use of their drying equipment and labor,  costs could add up to be far more than the value of the structural items they intend to try and save.

Get a firm estimate of any drying costs and a comprehensive scope of work BEFORE you authorize your home to be dried out.   Keep in mind that unless you have flood insurance, most insurance companies MAY NOT pay for damages that result from tidal surges, ground water seepage, river flooding, or surface water that enters a home.   That means if you do not have flood insurance, the costs to dry out your home will be an out-of-pocket expense.

In situations where mold has become an issue or where contaminated flood waters has damaged things like drywall, flooring, or other elements, you may find that tearing out and replacing the affected items can be more cost effective and a better method of restoration than spending money on drying, when you may have to replace the items anyway.

See more tips on Flood Preparedness

Can you imagine disaster-ready robots in our future?

disaster robotDisaster recovery teams often bring together a combination of human, animal and technology resources, but how about a walking robot or a cyborg cockroach?

  • This article from NPR Technology News, A Contest To Build A Disaster-Ready Robots, shows not only examples of robot designs that will help with faster and easier responses, but check out their video with an example of a robotic disaster response in 2020.
  • The National Geographic  Daily News features an article, Could Cyborg Cockroaches Save Your Life?, describing how these bugs can be used to help find earthquake survivors by steering them via remote control deep under rubble with little cameras and sensors on their backs.  This video shows an example of a remote controlled cockroach in action.

How will you protect your irreplaceable items before a disaster?

Family picturesAfter a disaster, there are two common household items people often wish they had planned for as part of their disaster preparedness and recovery plan.  These items typically have very little monetary value as far as insurance is concerned, but they usually have very high sentimental value.  The first item is family photo albums.  As part of your disaster preparedness plan, consider having copies made or scanning the photos and storing them in the cloud or on flash drives.  Put them in a fire proof safe, safety deposit box, or alternate location.  If you have negatives, these should be stored separately as well.

The second item disaster survivors regret losing are favorite cooking recipes.  Here again you can simply scan them and store them electronically, or take some time now to build a database of all of them and store them in the cloud or on flash drives.

Think about the things in your home that are irreplaceable, or have sentimental value, and create a plan to protect or recover them… before it’s too late!

Does your fire safety plan include your pets?

Dog fire safetyIt may sound strange but true, but hundreds of fires are started by pets each year.  If you are a pet owner, check out this article by the AKC on how to include your pets in your safety plans, and tips for preventing your pet from causing a fire.

It’s also important to consider how to account for your pets in the event of an emergency.  How will emergency responders know to look for your pet?  Consider a window cling for the front of your house where you can write how many pets are in the home.  If you travel with your dog in the car, include a sticker on your car as well.

Visit our Pet Preparedness Resources page for more tips and videos.

Here is an “odd but true” video of what happened when a dog attacks “cleaning supplies” in the kitchen.