My Sunday views #NatlPrep

Slightly different Sunday view for me.

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Great discussion with USSS today.

Great to see many local, state, and Federal partner agencies involved in safety/security for everyone in September – National Preparedness Month.

As you know, preparedness is everyone’s responsibility.

@rusnivek

 

Remarks by POTUS in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For Immediate Release August 23, 2016

 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

DURING TOUR OF THE FLOOD DAMAGE IN LOUISIANA

 

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

 

 

1:00 P.M. CDT

 

 

THE PRESIDENT: Well, to begin with, I just want to say thank you to the outstanding officials behind me who have been on the ground, working 24/7 since this flood happened. It begins with outstanding leadership from the top — with Governor John Bel Edwards. And we very much appreciate all the outstanding work he’s done. His better half, the First Lady of Louisiana, I know has been by his side every step of the way, and we are grateful for her. I know they’ve got their own cleaning-up to do because the Governor’s Mansion was flooded as well.

 

In addition, I want to acknowledge Senator Bill Cassidy; Senator David Vitter; Representative Garret Graves; Representative Cedric Richmond; the Mayor of Baton Rouge, Kip Holden; and somebody who I can’t brag enough about, one of the best hires I made as President — the Administrator of FEMA, Craig Fugate, who has done such an outstanding job not just in dealing with this particular incident, but has really rebuilt FEMA so that there’s a change of culture. And everybody knows that when a disaster happens, FEMA is going to be there on the ground, cooperating with state and local officials rapidly and with attention to detail, and keeping the families who’ve been affected uppermost in their minds. So we very much appreciate everything Craig has done.

 

It’s hard, by the way, for Craig to be here because he’s a Florida Gator — (laughter) — and he’s been seeing a lot of LSU T-shirts as we’ve been passing by.

 

I just had a chance to see some of the damage from the historic floods here in Louisiana. I come here, first and foremost, to say that the prayers of the entire nation are with everybody who lost loved ones. We are heartbroken by the loss of life. There are also people who are still desperately trying to track down friends and family. We’re going to keep on helping them every way that we can.

 

As I think anybody who can see just the streets, much less the inside of the homes here, people’s lives have been upended by this flood. Local businesses have suffered some terrible damage. Families have, in some cases, lost homes. They’ve certainly lost possessions, priceless keepsakes. I was just speaking to a young woman whose husband died shortly after the birth of her second child, and she was talking about how her daughter was trying to gather all the keepsakes that she had in her bedroom, but reminded her of her father. And that gives you some sense that this is not just about property damage. This is about people’s roots.

 

You also have a situation where there are a lot of kids who are supposed to start a new school year, and they’re going to need some special help and support for a while.

 

Sometimes when these kinds of things happen, it can seem a little bit too much to bear. But what I want the people of Louisiana to know is that you’re not alone on this. Even after the TV cameras leave, the whole country is going to continue to support you and help you until we get folks back in their homes and lives are rebuilt.

 

And the reason I can say that with confidence is because that’s what Americans do in times like this. I saw it when I visited displaced Louisianans when I came down here as a senator after Katrina. I saw it when I visited New Orleans for the 10th anniversary last year. I know how resilient the people of Louisiana are, and I know that you will rebuild again. And what I’ve seen today proves it.

 

I want to thank all the first responders, the National Guard, all the good neighbors who were in a boat, going around and making sure people were safe, showing extraordinary heroism — in some cases, risking their own lives. Governor Edwards, the state of Louisiana, the city, the parish governments, they’ve all stepped up under incredibly difficult circumstances.

 

I just want to thank the people on this block. As I was walking down, one woman at the end, elderly, she was on her own. She had just lost her daughter. But you had a young man next door who was helping out his father, but had also offered to help out that neighbor, so that she could salvage as much as she could and start the process of rebuilding.

 

With respect to the federal response, over a week ago I directed the federal government to mobilize and do everything we could to help. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate arrived here a week ago to help lead that effort. Secretary of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson visited last week to make sure state and local officials are getting what they need.

 

To give you a sense of the magnitude of the situation here, more than 100,000 people have applied for federal assistance so far. As of today, federal support has reached $127 million. That’s for help like temporary rental assistance, essential home repairs, and flood insurance payments.

 

FEMA is also working with Louisiana around the clock to help people who were displaced by floods find temporary housing. And any Louisiana family that needs help, you can find your nearest disaster recovery center by visiting FEMA.gov, or calling 1-800-621-FEMA. I’m going to repeat that: FEMA.gov, or 1-800-621-FEMA.

 

Now, federal assistance alone is not going to be enough to make people’s lives whole again. So I’m asking every American to do what you can to help get families and local businesses back on their feet. If you want help — if you want to help, Governor Edwards put together some ways to start at VolunteerLouisiana.gov. That’s VolunteerLouisiana.gov.

 

And the reason this is important is because even though federal money is moving out, volunteer help actually helps the state because it can offset some of its costs. Obviously, private donations are going to be extremely important, as well. We want to thank the Red Cross for everything they’re doing, but there are a lot of private, philanthropic organizations, churches, parishes around the state and around the country who want to help, as well. And that how we’re going to make sure that everybody is able to get back on their feet.

 

So let me just remind folks: Sometimes once the floodwaters pass, people’s attention spans pass. This is not a one-off. This is not a photo op issue. This is, how do you make sure that a month from now, three months from now, six months from now, people still are getting the help that they need. I need all Americans to stay focused on this. If you’re watching this today, make sure that you find out how you can help. You can go to VolunteerLouisiana.gov, or you can go to FEMA.gov. We’ll tell you, we’ll direct you — you can go to WhiteHouse.gov, and we’ll direct you how you can help.

 

But we’re going to need to stay on this, because these are some good people down here. We’re glad that the families I had a chance to meet are safe, but they’ve got a lot of work to do, and they shouldn’t have to do it alone.

 

All right? Thank you very much, everybody. God bless.

 

Q With the damage you’ve seen, what more help may they need from Congress in terms of emergency spending?

 

THE PRESIDENT: You know, we discussed that on the way down here. What you have is the Stafford Act provides a certain match. A lot of the homes have flood insurance, but a lot of homes don’t. And what Craig Fugate is doing, what I instructed him to do from the start, is let’s get money out as fast as we can. Because we know that there’s going to be a certain amount of assistance that’s going to be forthcoming, so there’s no point in waiting. We kind of make initial estimates and we start pushing stuff out. That helps us and helps the Governor and all these officials here do their jobs.

 

And then what we have to do is, as we fine-tune exactly what’s needed — when we know, for example, how much permanent housing is going to have to be built, when we have a better sense of how much infrastructure has been damaged, what more we need to do in terms of mitigation strategies — that’s when Congress I think may be called upon to do some more.

 

Now, the good news is, is that you’ve got four members of Congress right here, and a number of them happen to be in the majority, so I suspect that they may be able to talk to the Speaker and talk to Mitch McConnell. But in part because of the fine stewardship at FEMA and, frankly, because we’ve been a little lucky so far — and I’m going to knock on some wood — in terms of the amount of money that’s gone out this year, FEMA has enough money for now to cover the costs that can be absorbed.

 

The issue is going to be less what we need to do in terms of paying for the short term; it’s going to be the medium-term and the long-term rebuilding. Congress should be back in session right after Labor Day. By that time we’ll probably have a better assessment. And in the meantime, lawyers at FEMA will be examining what statutory flexibility we’ve got. And I know the Governor has been right on top of making sure that Louisiana gets everything that it can get in order to help rebuild.

 

Q Mr. President, do you worry about that process becoming politicized and the trip here becoming politicized?

 

THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t. First of all, one of the benefits of being five months short of leaving here is I don’t worry too much about politics.

 

The second thing I have seen, historically, is that when disasters strike, that’s probably one of the few times where Washington tends not to get political. I guarantee you nobody on this block, none of those first responders, nobody gives a hoot whether you’re Democrat or Republican. What they care about is making sure they’re getting the drywall out and the carpet out, and there’s not any mold building, and they get some contractors in here and they start rebuilding as quick as possible. That’s what they care about. That’s what I care about.

 

So we want to make sure that we do it right. We want to make sure that we do it systematically. But the one thing I just want to repeat is how proud I am of FEMA. Because if you think about the number of significant natural disasters that have occurred since my presidency began, you’d be hard-pressed to find a local official anywhere in the country, including those in the other party, who wouldn’t say that Craig Fugate and his team have been anything less than exemplary and professional.

 

And one of the things I did when I walked through each of these homes was ask, have you contacted FEMA? Have you filed? And uniformly they said that they had been in touch with FEMA; they had acted professionally; some of them had already been out here for inspections.

 

And I think that does indicate why it’s important for us to take the federal government seriously, federal workers seriously. There’s a tendency sometimes for us to bash them and to think that they’re these faceless bureaucrats. But when you get into trouble, you want somebody who knows what they’re doing who’s on the ground working with outstanding officials. And that’s true whatever party. And I could not be prouder of the work that FEMA has done.

 

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to still be folks who need more help, and that we’re not going to have some constraints statutorily, and Congress isn’t going to have to step up. But it does mean that the basic backbone, the basic infrastructure and architecture that we have in terms of disaster response I think has been high quality. And I’m very proud of them for that. And I want to publicly acknowledge that at the moment.

 

Thank you, guys.

 

END 1:13 P.M. CDT

—–

October has the big four: 3-9-5-NCAP #SURINDC

As National Preparedness Month closes, my October 2015 schedule is going to be very challenging. And as you know, I have to win. Here’s the plan:

First week: I’ll be in Carlisle, Pennsylvania presenting on Social Media in disasters. Pope out, Sur in! Glad to be back in Region-3.

Second week: I’ll be headed back to the Silicon Valley area presenting on social media specifically for large event planning and monitoring (because it’s all about the L right? Wait, it’s all about the 5-0 right?) I also hope to catch up to one of the VIPs at Intel. Since retiring from Emergency Management, his pro career intrigues me – so I believe some synergies could happen. Additionally, I get a chance to brainstorm with an extremely talented colleague from the NWS Sacramento office. I rant about “building relationships before an emergency” so I assure you that I am practicing what I preach. Love love LOVE me some Region-9!

Third week: I’ll be at Fairfield County (Ohio) Emergency Management Agency popping the G-290: Basic Public Information Officers Course and G-291: Joint Information Center / Joint Information System (JIC/JIS) courses. It will definitely be great to see my friend Director Kochis  and crews again – back in Region-5.

Fourth week: I’ll be presenting at FEMA HQ in Washington DC on social media. Yep, at the big house. OMG. This is a big presentation. Big. REALLY BIG. While at HQ, I am hoping to catch up with Lumpkins, Kamoie, FEMA’s Digital Engagement Team…and since we’re fresh off the heels of National Preparedness month grabbing a cup of coffee with my besties from ReadyGov and PrepareAthon. Love me some HQ preparedness action! Additionally, I am hoping to grab a few meetings with my friends at the Pentagon and NGA too. Special thanks to US Representative Fudge (OH-11) for some extra time with Congress and a stop at the White House. Yep. The White House. Again. #SURINDC NCAP region!

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It’s going to be a challenge month all October long.

Get it.

@rusnivek

Trump and I are doing this in August

That reminds me…

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…I have jury duty next week. Yes, we both are serving jury duty in August. Concidence? Hmmmm. Well, I definitely won’t be arriving to the court house in a limo.

Thanks to Trump for making a spectacle of every American’s civic duty.

Related note: The picture above is TOTALLY FAKE (My friends at CNN just rolled their eyes).

@rusnivek

August is all about Region V

After a quick visit to the White House in July, I realized that August will also be a busy month.

Akron, Columbus, Wauseon, Wisconsin, then back to Columbus and then to Geneva.

So yes, all month I will be in FEMA Region-V.

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If all goes well, September will include several trips to Region-III, but I’ll keep you posted.

Keep your head down peeps.

@rusnivek

Wednesday meetings at FEMA #SURINDC

As usual, I always make it a point to stop by FEMA HQ to meet with a few friends and teams working the FEMA magic.

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First stop was to see the crew leading the Ready Campaign. Lots to discuss including the measure of preparedness and how we can more heavily promote preparedness digitally within each community. We constantly need to access our information that we are pushing and additionally make sure that the information is specific and actionable…esp during a disaster.

The general public seeks solid information FROM MOBILE DEVICES during an emergency. We cannot convolute the message, it must be clear and concise.photo

Did you know FEMA’s Ready.Gov program was featured at the White House Innovation for Disaster Response Recovery Event on Tuesday during the presentation by Appallicious? Check out the event and pictures here.

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Mobile platforms must be easy to navigate and less cluttered. Almost everything is read on mobile platforms right? Duh! Esp since you can’t take/turn on your desktop computer while you are evacuating to an emergency.

Between meetings, I usually find a moment to take a funny picture with the hard-working FEMA pro, my friend Jana. She. Is. Hilarious.

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Short meeting with the Digital Team at FEMA to discuss social media efforts and promoting great programs like FEMA’s SocialHub and Twitter Alerts.

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But seriously, make sure you turn on your Twitter Alerts to get pertinent messaging from FEMA. It can be done from your mobile phone and it takes seconds to do.

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In the coming months, we will be exploring a few classes that we can help cross promote a few programs. And I hope I get chosen to teach the class at FEMA HQ.

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End of the day was spent chilling in the Executive Administration side of the house. And of course trying to catch a few moments with Craig.

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Whew…what a day!

@rusnivek

My day at the White House #WHSMEM #SURINDC #DisasterTech

The top Emergency Managers from across the country were invited to the White House on Tuesday July 29, 2014 for the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative. I am so fortunate to be invited to this momentous event.

The best-of-the-best Emergency Management officials met with leaders from the technology industry to discuss tools and general methods being used during disasters.

Wait, did you say the White House invited Kevin Sur? Yes. Official invite to the White House. Check!

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#OMG – #Holycow.

The event was coordinated by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and The National Security Council (NSC). This event will bring together technologists, entrepreneurs, and members of the disaster response community to showcase tools that will make a tangible impact in the lives of survivors of large-scale emergencies. The White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative was first launched by the Administration in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to find the most effective ways technology can empower survivors, first responders, and local, state, tribal, territorial, and Federal government with critical information and resources.

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Waiting in line to go through security was quite boring, but since I was with all the top Social Media Emergency Management peeps…it was only appropriate for us to take one of these.

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(From L to R) @schuback @sct_r @CherylBle @MaryJoFly @ENeitzel @rusnivek

#WHSMEM #SURINDC #DisasterTech

The morning was filled with 5 different workshops. I was selected to attend the User-Centered Design workshop that was to identify challenges where innovation can improve community preparedness and resilience.

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Great discussion amongst peers from all over the county including my friend Alicia Johnson (@UrbanAreaAlicia) who highlighted the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management new program SF72.

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My takeaways from the morning workshops? We need to continually evaluate the preparedness efforts in each community as there is no constant. Aside from quantifying preparedness (which is almost virtually impossible), we need to seek alternate ways to better serve our communities including ones who have distinct challenges.

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I have 3 specific items that I need to work on: Community Preparedness Evaluation tool/matrix, a tiered plan to reward “preparedness”, and Preparedness pack program. More on these possible programs later.

After a quick lunch, we headed to the main conference room.

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Before the event started, former FEMA Deputy Director Richard Serino and I were cracking jokes at dinner last night…so he decided to sit behind me and continue to poke fun/make jokes. So since he’s a tech guy, we decided on a #selfie to commemorate our time at the White House.

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If you ever get the chance to meet Rich in real life (IRL)…you should. He’s awesome.

Side note: As we were about to start, all of our mobile devices and cell phones were having small connectivity issues. I think I figured it out first…Marine-1 was inbound to the WH with POTUS for his press briefing on the South Lawn regarding the issues in Gaza.

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Back to our #DisasterTech event!

Senior Advisor to the White House CTO Brian Forde started out the afternoon session.

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And since this was a technology event, it was the US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park who gave the opening remarks. Additionally, the new DHS FEMA Assoc Admininstrator Joe Nimmich gave the keynote speech.

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Numerous Federal agencies and private companies presented their latest tools and apps that have been used. CTO Tony Surma from Microsoft Disaster Response who discussed the information they used from the Boston Bombing.

Side bar: Later in the afternoon, I got a chance to talk one-on-one to the folks from Boston regarding their response. Inspiring stories in the face of adversity…

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VP of Technology Kevin Busque from TaskRabbit and the Director of Public Policy and Civic Partnerships Molly Turner from Airbnb and my friends from San Francisco and Portland.

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Nice work Alicia!

Director of Public Policy and Market Development Padden Murphy from Getround, Technology Lead, NGA readiness, Response, and Recovery Group Raymond Bauer from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGIA), and Deputy Assistant Secretary William Bryan from the US Department of Energy (DOE) talking about the Lantern Live program.

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Government Partnerships Manager Ryan Mannion, SeeClick Fix, Associate Director for Natural Hazards Dr David Applegate from the US Geological Survey, Associate Division Director Dr. Paul Lemieux from the National Homeland Security Research Center at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), AAAS Fellow on Data and Innovation Dr. Meredith Lee from the US Department of Homeland Security, and Product Manager in Crisis Response and Civic Innovation Nigel Snoad from Google who gave a compelling update on their Crisis Mapping projects which have millions of live hits per minute. Nigel’s presentation was powerful and reminds all of us, hands down, that we need open standard data with every technology platform.

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Following Google was Technology Integration Officer Al Gembara at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) talking about his deployment to the Philippines and then CEO and Founder Yo Yoshida from Appallicious who pulled information from FEMA’s Ready.gov site during disasters for information on what to do.

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National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Dr. Karen DeSalvo from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Senior Director Maryfran Tyler from NPR Labs who had a great piece of hardware using preexisting technology for populations with disabilities in alerting using a tablet and a box device that works over radio…yes I said radio. If you haven’t seen it, you should. I think this one might be a must have for all EMs to participate in rolling out to their communities.

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IMHO, I didn’t like presentation given by Chief Information Officer Bryson Koehler from The Weather Channel because it gave the perception that private industry was taking over notification for public safety agencies. Ahem, to be clear, this is the job of the National Weather Service (NWS).

Following was presentations from External Affairs Specialist Kristin Hogan Schildwachter from the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, and Developer Evangelist Robert Lackey from Twilio.

Closing out the day, we heard from the Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers from DHS and the Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Rand Beers of the White House National Security Council.

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After these short presentations in the afternoon, we got a chance to talk to each of these companies and see their tech first hand. Overall, I have several favorites from today, but I believe that we as Emergency Management should continue to push for open data sharing and cross-platform compatibility.

Trust me, I get the private sector stuff…all about profit margins and of course making wads of money. After quick meetings with FEMA Administration including Administrator Fugate’s staff, we should continue to share for free what is right for all victims of disaster.

As far as I know, I was the only representative from Ohio to attend and I am truly honored to be invited to the White House to represent these great initiatives.

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Without question, I am excited to be a part of this technology that will no doubt one day save lives before, during, and after a disaster.

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@rusnivek