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Marine Expeditionary Unit Embarks for the Philippines

U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionar...

U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit await land transportation in Guinsaugon, Philippines, February 21, 2006. U.S. Marines from 31st MEU are assisting in the humanitarian relief efforts following the February 17, 2006, landslide in the village of Guinsaugon on the island of Leyte. U.S. Navy photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, Okinawa, Nov. 17, 2013 – Approximately 900 Marines and sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, part of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, aboard the USS Germantown and USS Ashland dock landing ships are heading for the Philippines to join U.S. and Philippine forces in support of ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts as part of Operation Damayan, which means “lend a helping hand” in Filipino.

“Our condolences are with the people of the Philippines, who have
experienced incredible loss as a result this horrific disaster,” said
Marine Corps Col. John Merna, the 31st MEU’s commanding officer. “The
Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU, along with our counterparts of
Amphibious Squadron 11, have trained extensively for these types of
missions. By working with the (armed forces of the Philippines) during
recent exercises, we have built lasting relationships that will better
help us to ease the suffering of our Filipino friends.”

The 31st MEU recently completed a regularly scheduled patrol of the
Asia-Pacific region and was in the midst of unit turnover when the order
was received to support Operation Damayan.

Marines from the 3rd MEB, along with supplies and equipment, have
already been sent to the affected region with more expected to follow in
the coming days.

It has been reported that Typhoon Haiyan has impacted nearly 7
million Filipinos. The storm has destroyed 150,000 homes across the 41
provinces in the Philippines.

President Barack Obama pledged
U.S. support to the Philippines on Nov. 14. At that time, he noted, one
of the United States’ core principles “is when friends are in trouble,
America helps.”

While the scope of the disaster
is still being assessed, the duration and extent of the 31st MEU’s
operations will depend on requests from the government of the
Philippines and the priorities of the U.S. Agency for International

“The Marine Corps as a whole,
and the 31st MEU in particular, has had a long-standing relationship
with the people of the Philippines,” Merna said. “It’s an important
mission anytime we do something like this, but when it’s a close friend
and ally, it makes it that much more serious for us and we’ll stay as
long as we’re asked to.”

In October 2012, the 31st MEU
trained in various locations in the Philippines with that country’s
military during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2012, a bilateral training
event designed to enhance interoperability and response during missions
such as this.

The 31st MEU and its partner,
the U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 2, have responded to four
humanitarian assistance disaster relief situations during the last five
years. The Marines and sailors have a robust air, ground, and maritime
transportation capability, as well as medical and dental health
services, distribution services, and engineering assets ready to provide

The 31st MEU includes more than
2,200 Marines and sailors and is comprised of four elements: the Command
Element; Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines; Marine
Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265; and the Marines’ Combat Logistics

The 31st MEU provides a
forward-deployed, flexible, sea-based force capable of conducting
amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency
operations in the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only
continually forward-deployed MEU and it remains the Marine Corps’
force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific.

FEMA Urges Residents to Continue Monitoring Conditions as Tropical Storm Approaches Gulf Coast

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Federal Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heavy Rains and Flooding Possible in Some Areas

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through
its national response coordination center in Washington, D.C. and its
regional offices in Atlanta, Ga., and Denton, Texas remains in close
coordination with states potentially affected by Tropical Storm Karen.
According to the National Weather Service, tropical storm conditions are
expected along areas of the Gulf Coast as early as this afternoon and
into Sunday.

“Residents along the Gulf Coast are encouraged to continue to monitor
local conditions and follow the direction of local officials,” said
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  “As the storm continues to move toward
land, residents may begin to experience strong winds and flooding.
Remember that conditions can change with little or no notice.”

Based on applicable legal requirements and consistent with its
contingency plan, FEMA has recalled currently furloughed employees
necessary to serve functions of the agency that protect life and
property as they prepare for potential landfall of Tropical Storm Karen.

FEMA has recalled staff necessary to deploy four incident management
assistance teams (IMAT), including a national incident management
assistance team (IMAT), to potentially affected states. Each IMAT is
supported by its defense coordinating element staffed by the Department
of Defense.  Liaison officers are currently positioned in emergency
operations centers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi to
assist with the coordination of planning and response operations.
Additional teams are on standby and available for deployment as needed
and requested.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate spoke with Alabama Governor Robert
Bentley, Florida Governor Rick Scott, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal,
and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant this week about ongoing efforts to
prepare for Tropical Storm Karen. Fugate reiterated that Gulf Coast
states have the full support of FEMA and the rest of the federal family
in advance of the storm making landfall. Fugate’s calls were preceded by
outreach from FEMA’s Regional Administrators to emergency management
officials in potentially impacted states.

According to the National Weather Service, a tropical storm warning
remains in effect from Morgan City, La. to the mouth of the Pearl River.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected within 36 hours.  Also, a tropical storm watch remains in
effect for metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Maurepas, Lake Pontchartrain
and from east of the mouth of the Pearl River to Indian Pass, Fla. A
tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible,
generally within 48 hours.

Severe Weather Safety and Preparedness Tips for Potentially-affected Gulf Coast areas:

  • Have important supplies ready to sustain you and your family, if
    needed. This includes water, a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra
    batteries, cell phone charger, medicines, non-perishable food, and
    first aid supplies.
  • History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly,
    so FEMA encourages coastal residents to monitor weather conditions and
    take steps now to get prepared for potential severe tropical weather.
  • Tropical storms can bring high winds and heavy rains, so listen to local officials and follow their instructions.

through its regional offices in Chicago, Ill and Kansas City, Mo., also
is monitoring the storms affecting and potentially affecting areas of
the Central U.S., including portions of Iowa and Nebraska, and has been
in touch with state and local officials. FEMA deployed a liaison to the
emergency operations center in Nebraska and activated an incident
management assistance team (IMAT), positioning the team for immediate
deployment should assistance be requested by the states affected.  FEMA
continues to stand ready to support the states, as requested.

For more information on preparing for hurricanes, severe weather and
other natural disasters, and what you can do to protect yourself and
your family, visit www.Ready.gov or www.listo.gov.
Information regarding emergency preparedness and what to do before and
after a disaster can also be found at m.fema.gov or by downloading the
FEMA app from your smartphone’s app store.

Follow FEMA online at blog.fema.gov, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate’s activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does
not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Harris County CERT Recognized for Work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

English: Harris County 1910 Courthouse Español...

English: Harris County 1910 Courthouse Español: Palacio de Justicia de 1910 del Condado de Harris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Harris County, TX) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognized the Harris County Citizen Corps’ deaf and hard of hearing Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program with an Honorable Mention, in the 2013 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, for its dedication to making our communities safer, stronger and better prepared for any disaster or emergency.

“This CERT program is empowering the deaf and hard of hearing community that wants to learn about disaster preparedness,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.  “Our whole-community approach builds better prepared communities throughout Harris County.”

Harris County Citizen Corps, in partnership with Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management and the Houston Center for Independent Living are collaborating to provide training for the deaf and hard of hearing.  Deaf CERT training began in 2009; in September 2012, Harris County Citizen Corps introduced the first CERT Basic Training Course lead by a deaf instructor.

“The deaf and hard of hearing community faces unique challenges; learning how to protect themselves and their families during an emergency should not be one of them,” added Emmett.  “We will continue to offer training opportunities to all the residents of Harris County.”

The 2013 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards honor the innovative practices and achievement of individuals, Citizen Corps Councils, and non-profit, faith-based and private sector organizations around the country.  FEMA received close to 200 entries from 39 states and the District of Columbia.

Harris County Citizen Corps Program membership includes 17,606 trained volunteers involved in 248 Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), 21,537 volunteers from 24 Volunteer in Police Service (VIPS) agencies, 3,291 volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), 5,515 volunteers from the 336 neighborhoods participating in the USA on Watch program and 24 Fire Corps agencies.

Past Harris County Citizen Corps awards include the 2012 Jack Colley Leadership Award for exemplary leadership and service to communities in the State of Texas, Honorable Mention in the 2010 National Citizen Corps Achievement Awards–Celebrating Resilient Communities, the 2009 National Citizen Corps Council Achievement Award for Volunteer Integration, the 2007 President’s Call to Service Award, the 2006 Governor’s Volunteer Award for Community Capacity Builder and the 2003 Best Practices for Innovation Award from the Texas Association of Counties.

Forest Service Ends Current MAFFS Activation

A MAFFS II tank on display in 2008

A MAFFS II tank on display in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BOISE, Idaho – The U.S. Forest Service, through the National Interagency Fire Center here, has decided to end current military C-130 Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System operations as of the end of the day on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013.

MAFFS aircraft and crews remain available for recall if the wildland fire situation dictates.

In a notice to the Department of Defense issued yesterday, the Forest Service said wildland fire activity had begun to moderate, and that, along with the increased availability of civilian air tankers, has allowed the release of the military aircraft, their crews and ground support personnel.

Two MAFFS C-130s, both from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, had remained on duty at McClellan Air Tanker Base outside of Sacramento, Calif., following the release of three others by the Forest Service yesterday evening. Those aircraft, one from the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, based in Cheyenne, Wyo., is slated to fly home from McClellan today. The other two, both from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, will stand down at their home airfield at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Port Hueneme, Calif., where they had operated in recent days.

Since the year’s initial activation on June 11, MAFFS crews have flown 572 missions and made 535 drops utilizing 1,375,981 gallons of Phos-Chek fire retardant. This summer, they have fought fires in Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the USFS. MAFFS modules are loaded into the cargo bays of military C-130 aircraft. Following USFS lead planes, military aircrews can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant from the MAFFS modules along the leading edge of a forest fire in less than five seconds and cover an area a quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, ground crews at a MAFFS tanker base can refill the modules in less than 12 minutes.

An interagency DoD and USFS program, MAFFS provides aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the Forest Service. The military AEG exercises control over MAFFS resources at the direction of the USFS.

Four C-130 Wings perform the MAFFS mission, each providing two MAFFS-capable aircraft and the air and ground crews needed to operate them. They are the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, in Colorado.

U.S. Northern Command is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities. USNORTHCOM provides DoD capabilities for disaster response operations in support of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Interagency Fire Center, and state and local officials.


FED - FEMA | Federal Emergency Management Agency

FED – FEMA | Federal Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Inventorchris)

N.J. — As Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey last October,
many residents who had lived in harmony with the oceans, rivers and bays
of New Jersey for decades found themselves in life-threatening

The emergency inspired hundreds of heroic acts. Among them:

  • In Brick, a couple who were lifeguards saved some 50 people from the floods.
  • A Vespa-riding school teacher carried gas and emergency supplies for people in desperate need of help.
  • An off-duty nurse delivered a baby by the side of the road.
  • A volunteer firefighter braved chest-deep water to rescue his neighbors.

In all of the areas impacted by the storm, people performed extraordinary acts of bravery and compassion.

Neighbors helped neighbors, community volunteers including first
aiders and firefighters worked around the clock to rescue those in need
and protect the safety of their neighbors.

And as the wind, rain and flood waters, receded, a veritable army of volunteers joined forces in the recovery effort.

As the one year anniversary of this historic storm approaches, it is a
good time to remember and celebrate the role of volunteers in helping
the residents of New Jersey meet the enormous challenges they faced in
the weeks and months of recovery that followed the storm.

To date, 507 volunteer organizations have participated in the
recovery effort in New Jersey. Of those, 124 have reported 166,598
volunteers who have contributed 951,731 hours worth $26.8 million.

“In a disaster such as Superstorm Sandy, the efforts of volunteers
are critical to the recovery,” said Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating
officer for FEMA in New Jersey. “The work of volunteers contributed
substantially to helping New Jerseyans respond to the challenges they
faced and begin their recovery.”

A coalition of volunteer organizations, the National Voluntary
Organizations Active in Disaster
(VOAD), has worked with federal, state
and local agencies to provide a wide range of services to New Jerseyans
as they moved forward with their recovery.

FEMA supported their efforts by identifying populations with access
and functional needs, identifying available federal assistance programs
and providing coordination and donations management. Together, the
agencies form a Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG). FEMA’s Voluntary Agency
Liaisons work with the voluntary groups at the state and local levels
and also refer people to the LTRG for help with specific needs.

The voluntary organizations’ work includes helping with flood debris
cleanup as well as home repairs and reconstruction, providing short-term
food, clothing and shelter assistance, and counseling services.

Among the local and national VOAD organizations that have been active
in the continuing recovery are: the American Red Cross, the Community
Food Bank of New Jersey, Church World Service, World Renew, UMCOR
(United Methodist Church), Mormon Helping Hands, Operation Hope, United
Church of Christ, Catholic Charities, NECHAMA (Jewish Response), ICNA
(Muslim Humanity) Rebuilding Together, Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran
Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Services, the Salvation Army,
certain United Way organizations as well as faith-based volunteers from
numerous other denominations, individual churches, synagogues and

Sandy survivors who are still in need of assistance with their recovery may access available resources online at www.nj211.org/hurricane.


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.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate’s activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not
endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA Corps Graduates First AmeriCorps Members

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Federal Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON – After completing 10 months of service to disaster survivors around the country, the nation’s first class of FEMA Corps members will be honored at graduation ceremonies in Vicksburg, Miss., and Vinton, Iowa this month.

FEMA Corps is an innovative partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to enhance the nation’s disaster response and recovery capacity while expanding career opportunities for young people.

Established as a new unit within the existing AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), FEMA Corps engages young adults ages 18 to 24 to provide 10 months of full-time service on disaster response and recovery projects.  More than 300 members of the inaugural FEMA Corps class will graduate at ceremonies in Vicksburg on June 6 and Vinton on June 13.

“These FEMA Corps members have made a real difference in FEMA’s disaster response and recovery efforts,” said Richard Serino, FEMA Deputy Administrator. “They have brought incredible energy and enthusiasm for community service, directly impacting the lives of disaster survivors and paving a path for future FEMA Corps teams.”

“I am so proud of the work AmeriCorps members have done as part of FEMA Corps and the positive impact they have had for disaster survivors,” said Wendy Spencer, CNCS CEO. “Through their selfless service, they have helped thousands of survivors move forward with their lives and blazed the trail for future FEMA Corps teams to make an even greater impact.”

FEMA Corps teams from the two campuses were integral in the response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Sandy. Teams were on the ground in New York and New Jersey in the first few days following the hurricane and provided direct assistance to disaster survivors by working at Disaster Recovery Centers and going door-to-door in impacted neighborhoods providing disaster information. FEMA Corps also provided assistance in 20 other states including Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Florida during their 10 month assignment.

The joint partnership between FEMA and CNCS is a five-year program that that will engage thousands of FEMA Corps members in all aspects of emergency management by responding to disasters across the country. Their service has contributed to delivering disaster assistance in a more expedited way by combining their resources and technology to help register disaster survivors in person. Their highly visible FEMA Corps uniforms also have let impacted communities and disaster survivors know that FEMA is present and helping to meet their needs.

As part of their service, FEMA Corps graduates will receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to help them pay for college or pursue other learning opportunities in and out of emergency management.

“Being able to serve and to directly help disaster survivors in their greatest time of need has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined when I signed up for the program,” said Margarita Andryushchenko, FEMA Corps Team Leader.  “The experiences my team members and I have had over the past 10months will stay with us forever.”

In addition to FEMA Corps campuses in Vicksburg and Vinton, FEMA Corps is also based out of Denver and Sacramento, Calif., and in the fall the campus in Baltimore, Md. will inaugurate its first class. A second class of FEMA Corps members from Vicksburg and Vinton will also begin in the fall.

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. For more information, visit FEMA.gov

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

LAFD Sends Command Staff to Assist with Oklahoma City ( Moore) Tornado


Erik Scott, Spokesperson Los Angeles Fire Department

OKLAHOMA CITY – Members of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Command Staff are sent to assist those affected by the devastating tornado in Oklahoma City.

On May 20, at 3:56 pm EDT, a tornado developed near Newcastle, OK (pop. 7,847) and swiftly moved ENE across Moore (pop. 56,315) before dissipating at 4:36 pm EDT. The tornado was reported to be a mile wide with winds of at least 166 mph creating widespread damage and casualties.

In support of the national response to the events that occurred in the Oklahoma City Metropolitan areas of Moore and Newcastle, two members of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Command Staff have been activated and are being sent to Oklahoma as members of FEMA’s overhead command team. California Task Force One (CA-TF1) has not been activated. However, LAFD Urban Search and Rescue Teams are standing by.

One OutFor more than two decades, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has helped organize and support a system of regional Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Forces available for mobilization by State and Federal government on an as-needed basis.

Comprised of specially trained and equipped local firefighters and other certified responders, this nationwide network of 28 FEMA USAR Task Forces includes eight in the Golden State, two of which are maintained here in Los Angeles County (CA-TF1: Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) & CA-TF2: Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), similar sounding but separate organizations).

The LAFD along with FEMA urge residents in impacted areas to listen carefully to instructions from their local officials and take the recommended protective measures to safeguard life and property while response efforts continue. Listen to state, local and tribal officials who ask you to remain in shelters, homes or safe places until they give the “all clear” to travel. Roads are very likely to be damaged or blocked by debris, and traffic jams slow emergency managers and first responders as they attempt to reach hard-hit areas.

We encourage individuals in the affected areas following a disaster to monitor local radio, TV stations, the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov or a NOAA weather radio for the latest weather and emergency information.

We strongly remind all that NOW is the time to get prepared for tornadoes and other disasters such as earthquakes that threaten the Los Angeles area.

There are tools and resources available online to help you prepare for, respond to and recover from any type of disaster. Visit www.ready.gov to learn more. The Spanish language site – listo.gov. Those with a Blackberry, Android or Apple device can download the FEMA app to access safety tips, shelter locations, and more.

Member’s of the Los Angeles Fire Department hearts go out to those affected by the devastating tornado and we tip our helmets to all First Responders, particularly those bravely assisting in Oklahoma this week, which is National Emergency Medical Services Week (May 19-25, 2013).