Champions of Change: Disaster Preparedness

Uploaded by whitehouse on 19.01.2012

Erin Hannigan: Good afternoon, everybody.
Welcome to the White House.
And for those of you viewing online, welcome as well.
My name is Erin Hannigan, and I work here in the Office of
Public Engagement at the White House.
I want to be the first to welcome all of you and
especially thank our Champions of Change who we are here to
honor today.
If we can just start with a round of applause for
all of them.
We're looking forward to a great event with our Champions.
And I would encourage everyone to learn more about our
Champions today by going to
Again, that's
Now, before we begin our discussion with our Champions,
we have some special guests.
First up is my boss Jon Carson.
Jon is deputy assistant to the President and Director of the
Office of Public Engagement.
Jon Carson: Thank you, Erin.
Welcome to the White House, everyone.
Welcome to folks following online, to our audience here,
but most of all, of course, to our incredible Champions of
Change who are here today.
A lot happens here at the White House.
A lot goes on in federal government.
But little that we do here is as important to us and as exciting
frankly as our Champions of Change events that we do every
week, which is a reminder that whatever is going on here in
D.C., whatever the debates of the day is,
every day across this country millions of Americans are making
a difference in their own community.
Millions of Americans are bringing people together,
finding solutions, making change.
And that's what the Champions of Change program is all about.
We've had many other Champions of Change events,
but I have to say this particular Champions of Change
event and the work that you do, I think, is so impactful.
People who are literally working to save lives in their
own community.
And I have an ask for all of you.
I have an ask for all of our Champions.
I have an ask for the people who are here in the audience and
those of you who are online, which is tell the story of what
you saw here today.
We need your help in expanding the number of people who
understand that they, too, can be Champions of Change; they,
too, can make a difference.
With everything that goes on in our country right now,
people need that reminder that they're our neighbors,
they're our friends, they're our co-workers who are making a
difference every day.
And especially to our Champions, tell that story.
Tell how you got involved.
Tell about the coalitions you've brought together to make your
communities more resilient, more prepared, safer,
because you will inspire others to believe that they
can do that.
You will inspire others with specific actions that they can
take to be a partner of it, to be a partner with the federal
government, with agencies like FEMA.
And you will be that spark that can provide and expand this
network of Champions of Change that we've created.
At this time, I would like to introduce someone who is just an
incredible member of the President's cabinet because of
the experience that she brings to it and the work she does
every day to keep our country safe, quite frankly,
but someone who understands what you do every day,
who understands the importance of what happens at that local
community and how to make the federal government a
partner with that.
So with that, I would like to introduce the Secretary of the
Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.
Secretary Janet Napolitano: Well, great.
Thank you, John.
And welcome to all of our guests,
including those of you watching online.
Each week, through the Champions of Change Program,
the White House honors the remarkable contributions of
individuals and organizations who make a real difference in
their communities.
We know that some of the best ideas for how to promote
positive change in our country don't come from Washington, D.C.
They come from our fellow Americans who are working on the
front lines in their states, in their cities,
and in their communities.
The Champions of Change Program honors the amazing work these
Americans are doing.
And today we are pleased to have 16 local leaders with us who
have been spearheading creative and effective initiatives to
better prepare their communities for disasters.
In the process, they are helping to build a more resilient nation
and a more secure homeland.
Now, we all know that disasters can strike at any time,
anywhere, and all of us have a role and a responsibility to be
prepared for them.
Over the past year, we have seen more billion dollar disasters
strike our country than ever before in our history.
They include devastating flooding,
the deadliest tornado outbreak in over half a century,
the first hurricane to make landfall on our shore since
2008, and thousands and thousands of smaller disasters
that impacted lives and communities each day.
Being prepared for these and other unexpected events
is critical.
Knowing what you would do if a disaster struck your home,
your business, the school where your children attend,
knowing what to do can save lives.
Having a disaster plan also can help local businesses and
economies bounce back more quickly,
which is key to a community's long-term recovery prospects.
The men and women we are honoring today know this better
than anyone.
They are doing the difficult work in their communities to
promote preparedness and, in the process,
they are changing lives.
Take Abby Solomon who we're honoring today on behalf of her
late husband, John Solomon.
John was a long-time advocate for emergency preparedness.
He was tireless in calling attention to ways that
individuals and communities can better prepare for
the unexpected.
John was a valued voice in the emergency management community,
one that we were very sad to lose.
And Abby, we would like to thank you and your family for
his service.
His daughters are here with us as well.
Let's give a separate round.
Let me, if I might, give a few other examples from
today's Champions.
Chad Stover of the Arkansas Department of Emergency
Management helps coordinate the Arkansas Citizen Corps Program
that trains citizens and volunteers for disasters
across the state.
There's Mark Benthien and Brian Blake who have organized public
earthquake drills known as ShakeOuts to help Americans from
all walks of life get ready for earthquakes.
Last Spring, I was fortunate enough to join a class of
students in St. Louis to participate in the Great
American ShakeOut, their shakeout drill.
And then only months later, many of us experienced our own
earthquake, the real thing right here in Washington and indeed up
and down the East Coast.
These and other Champions here today show us the impact that a
dedicated group of individuals can make before, during,
and after a disaster.
You are all our heroes.
On behalf of President Obama and the entire Obama administration,
I want to thank you for your tireless efforts to make the
country safer, to make our communities stronger,
and to help people of all walks of life.
You have set a remarkable example for your fellow citizens
to follow.
And in the process, you've helped us build a stronger more
resilient country.
You have done for others so much.
And we are so very, very grateful.
So on behalf of the President, on behalf of myself,
and on behalf of the entire nation, congratulations.
Now I would like to introduce Rich Serino.
Rich is the Deputy Administrator of FEMA.
FEMA does more on the ground every day across our country to
help the nation prepare for and respond to disasters
of all type.
And they've had to be very agile this last year.
At one point during the year, we had major federal disasters
pending in 28 different states.
It was one of those years.
You all helped and helped a great deal.
And FEMA was on its toes the whole time.
So it's my honor and pleasure to introduce Rich Serino.
Rich Serino: Thank you, Secretary.
It's truly a pleasure to be here.
Every time I get the opportunity to come here to the White House,
I probably, like you, pinch myself and say,
what am I doing here.
And I know what I'm doing here today.
I'm here to say thank you.
Thank you for what you do because you make a difference in
people's lives.
You really do.
How many people and how many jobs get a chance to do what you
do is truly make a difference in people's lives.
You do.
And for that, thank you.
Very much appreciated.
As we come here today and honor the folks that are standing here
-- and unfortunately someone who couldn't be here --
we are also honoring and recognizing the work that
everybody, everybody in this room, everybody online,
all the first responders, all the emergency managers across
the country that make a difference in people's lives.
And probably the most important people that make a difference
are the citizens, ordinary citizens that take the time to
help their neighbors.
Neighbors helping neighbors.
That's really what it's all about is really neighbors
looking down, looking across, looking up,
neighbors helping neighbors in their most critical time of need
when people have lost probably everything that they have,
when people need a hand that never ask for a hand.
And even when they don't ask for a hand,
the neighbor that comes there and helps pull them up in their
time of need.
And the work that you do does that.
So I really want to say, again, thank you.
And I also want to just take a minute to remember somebody in
the emergency management community that passed away
earlier today, Richie Sheirer who was the Director of
Emergency Management in New York City, led the 9/11 response,
did a lot of other things around anthrax when that happened in
New York City, passed away this morning.
So I just want to remember him as we recognize all of you,
as we continue to move on to help each other.
So next on the agenda is -- now we actually want to
learn from you.
As the Secretary said -- you know,
probably not the right building to say this in,
but some of the best ideas, you know,
certainly do come from the street,
come from people on the front lines.
Not many of the good ideas come from within --
it's called the beltway.
Okay, maybe a couple.
Speaker: Watch yourself!
Richard Sheirer: Yeah; watch myself, I know.
Thank you.
And before I came here, I spent my entire career in Boston for
30-something years and came here two and a half years ago.
And it's been great.
And I believe the best examples of how we can help further
emergency management, help further saves lives,
comes from people on the street.
So we'll have a little bit of panel discussion now.
And hopefully, all of us can learn from you.
Get a shoe horn here and squeeze right in.
Excuse me; excuse me.
But it really is great to be here and to take
this opportunity.
And, you know, I have a number of questions here that I'll
probably use, a couple of them, but probably more get into a
discussion, and really want to hear from you.
We'll start with Chad Stover, who's the Deputy Branch Manager
of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Homeland
Security Branch, coordinates the Arkansas State Citizens
Corps Program.
Next is -- and please forgive me when I mess up all
of your names.
Mark Benthian is the executive director of the Earthquake
County Alliance based out of California.
Brian Blake is the program coordinator for the central U.S.
earthquake consortium based out of Tennessee.
Herman Schaffer is the director of the Community Outreach at the
New York City Office of Emergency Management and cochair
of the New York Citizen Corps Council.
Carolyn Bluhm is the Emergency Management Coordinator and
Community Relations Specialists for the Denver Office of
Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
Mark Makowski is the outreach coordinator for the American Red
Cross of Greater Chicago.
Mike Ripley is the disaster response manager for the NBC
Universal Emergency Services and runs the NBC Universal Community
Emergency Response Team.
And Abby Solomon is here on behalf of her late husband,
John Solomon, creator of In Case of Emergency, Read Blog.
And I was interviewed a couple of times when I was in New York.
And mentioning New York and Boston,
we won't go too far there on some of the issues between New
York and Boston and the sports teams.
As far as what happened with the Patriots and Denver last week,
I'm sorry.
Not really but --
Tim's a good guy.
I like him a lot.
Speaker: He is!
Richard Sheirer: He is a great guy.
Tom's a little better.
Wait until we get to New York.
Chad, just on the Arkansas State Citizen Corps,
how do you harness the volunteers before, during,
and after the disasters?
Chad Stover: Well, you know, most all of our programs are volunteer driven.
And probably one of the most important things is to recruit,
you know, volunteers who want to be there and who are really
passionate about doing this.
And I think across the entire Citizen Corps spectrum,
we really do a good job of doing that.
For us, we have instituted, you know,
sort of a single place to sign up for being a Citizen Corps
volunteer or being a CERT volunteer.
And it sort of gives them one place to get information.
We have 22 Citizen Corps councils throughout the state.
So we feed that information.
So as the state office, We sort of play that coordinating role
in getting them information and getting them volunteers.
In the past four years that I've been with the agency,
we've had 12 federally declared disasters.
And those range from flooding events to evacuations to 125
mile tornado tracks.
So we use those volunteers quite often for donations management,
for search and rescue, just going by and checking on
their neighbor.
But really, that Corps volunteer,
that Corps prepared person is checking on the person next
door, making sure that their family is safe.
And that's really where it starts.
So those are the messages that we get to our volunteers,
to try to get it beforehand so they have the information,
know what to do when the disaster happens and then how to
help after it's done.
Rich Serino: Now, one of the issues I hear a lot when people talk volunteers
is people really want to help during the disaster.
Like everybody wants to help during.
And then Citizen Corps people, all right,
I would like to join it, but I don't have the time to do it
ahead of time, or I really don't want to make the commitment,
I'll be there when the emergency happens,
but I really don't want to prepare for it.
How did you get people involved?
Chad Stover: Well, you know, our local Citizen Corps councils are
really where the boots are on the ground.
And they know their communities really well.
One of the interesting things that we see are our volunteer
fire departments, which the majority of our state runs on
volunteer fire departments, those are also the people that
we help train in CERT.
So they're families, they're teachers,
all of those sort of auxiliary people in the community who know
what's happening.
Those are the ones that come in to help.
Whenever we see people who don't really have the time,
one of the initiatives that we're going to be working on for
this next year is to sort of do a shortened CERT training type
activity that's, you know, maybe four hours or eight hours,
give them the highlights so they don't have to spend, you know,
five weeks in class trying to get a 20, 25 hour course.
And it really does allow them to be able to respond to it so that
we have trained volunteers, ones who actually know how to help
and not necessarily sort of be in the way.
All volunteers are good, and we need them.
So we just need to be better at plugging them into our message
and being prepared.
Rich Serino: Thank you.
Depending on time, we'll come back because I have about ten
questions I want to ask.
And if I don't ask you here, I'll ask you afterwards.
For Mark, how does the Earthquake County Alliance use
its public awareness campaign to reach the whole community and
drive the public from awareness into action?
Mark Makowski: Well, you know, I'm fortunate to work for the Southern California
Earthquake Center, NSF and USGS Center.
It's this broad community of people from across the country
working together.
And we took that to create this Earthquake County Alliance.
From the beginning, we wanted to include as many types of people
as possible, not only the emergency managers but the
scientists, the engineers, and also the local, you know,
people in their communities from the very beginning.
And that then spread to the beginning of the Great
California ShakeOut where we said,
How do we include everyone in a drill, like the whole community?
From the very beginning, we really worked hard to make sure
that everybody could see their place in such an activity.
It was connected in with a big exercise that might
normally happen.
But we wanted to say, let's have five million people,
and that just sounded crazy.
But in that first year, we were able to have that many people
participate, from schools to business organizations like NBC
Universal and other awardees here.
And I think from that perspective, of opening it up,
have everybody be able to participate in something and
make it easy and fun for them to do so,
it has been really amazing to see how other parts of the
country have wanted to pick this up.
Like in the Central U.S. and else where.
So it has been really rewarding to be able to work with so many
type of people as well.
Richard Serino: If you could pick the top like two or three things that really
helped get to that five million people,
what was it that really get the people to get involved?
Say yeah, that is a good thing to do?
Chad Stover: Well, are certainly, a big start and a big part of the shake out
everywhere is working with schools.
So and we really had this vision, that the schools,
that the students would be able to go home to their families and
share what they are learning.
And maybe one day -- and this is actually happened.
We have heard stories of the kids go home and say we have had
an Earthquake drill today and the parents say so did we at our
business on the same day.
And they are then able to have that conversation about what
they need to do at home.
So that is what we are really trying to bring forward in that
changing of the culture of preparedness.
Richard Serino: All right.
I think getting kids in school and bringing it home,
it is amazing what the kids can get you to do that nobody else
can get you to do, you know.
And that's not when they are just young, by the way.
That is even when they get older.
For Brian, the Great Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium
sponsors shake out exercise.
It involves the whole of the community.
Tell us a little bit about the Central U.S. part.
Brian Blake: Yeah.
Before I start maybe, I would like to say it is a great honor
to be here among all of these other panelists who are
innovators and leaders in disaster preparedness and also
to represent CUSEC on behalf of our board of directors,
staff and the national Earthquake hazard
reduction program.
Which is really one of the big, big drivers behind things like
the shake out.
Richard Serino: You have been in Washington how long now?
Brian Blake: Nope. Never --
Richard Serino: No, no, I mean -- the reason I asked that is,
you used an acronym.
And like in Washington, you have to talk in acronyms.
So the CUSEC, so just for those who may not know it --
Brian Blake: It is the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium.
Richard Serino: Great.
Brian Blake: My organization.
So the shake out, though, is basically a broad based public
outreach campaign designed to teach people what to do,
during an Earthquake.
And we do this through grass roots outreach,
traditional outreach, media, we use a lot of --
of techniques like Mark talked about,
really getting into the schools and getting them involved.
In the central U.S. we are successful through a lot of
innovations that they did in California with the --
the shake out starting with the Earthquake country alliance.
We used -- we didn't use.
We partnered with -- with state emergency management agencies,
in 11 states in the central U.S. to ultimately reach more than
three million people with -- with Earthquake related
information in a place that Earthquakes aren't really a
topic -- a daily topic amongst the community.
So we did -- we did a whole lot through --
through the centralized website where we encourage people to
sign on and register and show that they are doing something
towards getting prepared.
And it is -- yes.
The next shake out is February 7th, 2012,
if you are interested.
Richard Serino: It is February 7th.
Brian Blake: Yeah.
Richard Serino: And what would you say was probably the biggest barrier,
the biggest problem that you encountered during this
whole process?
Brian Blake: I would say -- I would say getting started was one of the
big problems.
We had tossed the idea around for a long time with our --
our partners at the states.
But once they took it on and they saw we could reach a lot of
people, they really ran with it.
We had almost ten thousand drills,
individual Earthquake drills go on last April.
For instance, in Indiana we had close to 600,000 people
participate in the drill, almost half of the students in
K-12 participated.
So once we got over the initial barrier of trying to get off the
ground, we were able to really see some good success.
That was all due to our partnerships with our states.
Richard Serino: So somebody more or less saying, let's just do it to start,
which is the biggest barrier.
Brian Blake: That's right.
Richard Serino: Now, if somebody wanted to get involved on February 7th --
Brian Blake: Yes.
Richard Serino: -- what should they do?
Brian Blake: We encourage everyone to go to,
and sign up to register.
It is a -- it basically just a two minute commitment to do a
drop cover and hold on activity, which is the recommended
activity to protect yourself during an Earthquake.
So --
Richard Serino: And two minutes will be well spent for those of us who lived
through an Earthquake in DC that grew up in Boston where we don't
have Earthquakes.
And we weren't sure exactly what to do.
Trust me, taking that, will help out.
Not that any of us did that.
New York City is the home to many diverse communities.
Herman, how is New York City Citizen Corps Council working to
engage the whole community preparedness?
Herman Schaeffer: Sure.
Let me just also reiterate, how much of an honor it is to be
here with all of these great folks.
And just to learn from each other,
because I think that is something that I think is really
important for this process and also to be able to move forward
with a lot of things.
As you said, New York City is incredibly diverse and it has
you know -- you know 8.4 million people.
So it is a lot of people we are working with and a lot of
different ways of reaching out to people.
We also are very blessed to have tons of organizations that may
or may not be interested in this.
But at least you can use them to --
to gain access to the community.
And I just like to put a plug in there,
because I love the Citizen Corps Council.
I have been working with them since 2000 -- 2005.
And there is no better program out there within the emergency
community to be able to engage the whole community.
It allows for you to have a centralized place where people
can relate to government.
And if you just have to make sure you are open to everything
-- to it.
You can build partnerships with individuals.
You can use resources and leverage other people's
resources which may even be just simply a list of people who you
can reach out to and engage in a conversation.
And from very early on in our Citizen Corps Council,
we were really focused on vulnerable communities and we
did a lot of mapping.
We have got a great GIS department.
And we -- we sort of looked at the vulnerable communities that
I think we would really be interested in working with.
And we chose youth, special needs,
and immigrants and limited English proficient individuals.
So we developed task forces and we invited people to be part of
a task force to develop projects and we have saw a lot of
gain from that.
And we sort of laid a pretty good foundation for us
to work with.
And last year we have done a whole lot of stuff with
that foundation.
Just a few things I would like to just point out here is that
we did special needs symposium, where we invited care givers,
we invited consumers to talk in the same room.
And we had 130 people come in.
And we didn't say, okay, this is what you should do.
We asked the questions.
So this is what we are doing, how does this engage with you?
And what can we do better on?
And so we put together a white paper and issued it to
everyone who came.
And said, okay, this is what we discussed.
And so it enables you to have that conversation with
individuals on a very personal level.
We also have a disaster volunteer conference.
We really support our volunteers there.
And what we did was we really wanted to do is cross
cultural communication.
And we said, okay, these are our suggestions on how you can
engage your own community.
And we followed it up.
And I also run this CERT program,
community emergency response team program for New York City.
And with the CERT program, we are really --
it is difficult.
I think someone said it earlier today is that people are looking
for the emergency they want to respond to.
So instead of waiting for that, we said okay,
something you can do every single day in your community is
reach out and discuss this with them.
It is not just teaching personal preparedness,
but it is engaging community.
And so we developed a program called command disaster networks
where we task the teams with going out and talking to their
community and putting together a list of a network that they can
use in any time of emergency.
And it is just a fantastic way of getting volunteers out there.
And John was one of our volunteers and probably the most
vocal on a national level, but also such a leader within the
CERT community to be able to reach out and --
and provide guidance to other volunteers who are looking for
ways to be able to get back into the community.
So that is sort of how we engage our community.
But all of the nexuses, the Citizen Corps Council,
and bringing everyone together to have that conversation.
Richard Serino: One of the things that you said struck me was the fact that you
had to be open.
And to listen to what people had to say.
Do you have an example of something that you are maybe
doing or thinking of doing, but then listening and open to what
people said, you said we were -- you realize you are going down
like a 180-degrees the wrong way.
I know it happened to myself in Boston a couple --
but I wanted to -- in New York, I would suspect it may have
happened once or twice.
But the government was thinking one thing and everybody else was
thinking something else.
Herman Schaeffer: We -- our volunteers are very active in telling us exactly
what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.
And I really do think that, you know, having that access
is incredible.
And it is just going back to the special needs symposium,
you know, we have a lot of resources for people to use.
But listening to their ways of, it is not working or it is
working or you need to provide us more guidance with that.
And I don't have a specific example,
but out of that came a lot of good discussion that can be used
and brought back to our planning division.
Where we say, okay, this is what we think is going on.
And really this is what they see it being.
So I mean, that open conversation really is so
important to have in government.
And being -- also being open to receive criticism.
Because I don't know if everyone is ready for that.
But you know, it is the best way for you to learn.
And if something is not working, the last time you want to find
out is during an emergency.
Richard Serino: Very well said.
I couldn't agree more.
Carolyn, you have also reached out to engage diverse
communities in the Denver, metropolitan area.
What insight have you gained from that?
Carolyn Bloom: Well, one of the insights that I have gained through this whole
process of the last five years is to developing the
relationships in order to engage the community.
Rachel Coals is one of the people that I really have to
thank, because she came to me.
She says, Carolyn, this is what I want to do.
And I said, what do you need me to do?
And off we went.
She is very great at getting into the communities and being
part of those communities.
I had the tools and the trainers to come in and teach the
program for her.
So we were working on the CERT programs.
In order for our diversed populations to actually own
their own CERT teams they don't belong to Denver.
They belong to the communities in which those communities serve
their own communities.
So by doing that, we have taken some of what has been classified
in the past as our vulnerable communities and turned them into
very powerful, very strong communities in order to take
care of themselves and work together.
We had our own disaster drill.
We had it in several different places.
We had the emergency management or emergency operations center
open that they called to.
And we had the Korean church and we had the mosque and we had
just so many different partners that have come to the table to
work with us.
Actually, do the drill.
One of them did the drill and did the full size exercises at
the same time because St. Cajetan's Catholic church
has developed their own CERT team of 60 people.
And they put their own people to work during fairs and
pilgrimages and -- and things like that.
So we also work with the LDS church that they are coming to
the table.
And we are working strong with them.
All of the honorable mentions from Colorado,
which was five Honorable mentions for this particular
program, we all know each other.
We all work together.
We all enjoy being together and running things together.
And developing those relationships that we need.
One of the things that we do in Denver, is --
is give the power back to the people,
because we know that we are not going to be able to do it all.
They are going to be there to help their neighbors and having
the neighborhoods helping the neighborhoods.
The church is helping the neighborhoods.
The -- all of the groups just coming together to take care of
their own group, it makes our life so much easier.
And you know, because we have in Denver,
we have five people who work for the office of
emergency management.
And we have a million people to serve in and out of our city.
That is 200,000 per one individual in
emergency management.
And these offices that are -- my co worker, co people up here,
there is no difference, they have the same amount of --
of balance that I have.
So we need the volunteers.
We need people to take care of their communities.
We need the volunteers who you are going to hear from one of
them shortly.
But we have that capability of building strong community and it
comes down to the point that we are only as strong as our
community in Denver is.
So if we have the people behind us, we are going to do great.
Richard Serino: What has struck me with you and everybody so far,
is the passion that you have for this.
And this is not an eight hour day job.
Carolyn Bloom: No.
Richard Serino: Really?
But where do you get that passion from?
Carolyn Bloom: My -- my first event was hurricane Andrew in -- in 1992.
And then I went back into private industry and fell and
bumped my head on a motor cycle in 2004.
And got up and about a couple of weeks later,
I looked at my husband and I says,
I have to do something with a purpose.
I have to do something with a mission,
I have to give back to our community.
He said, quit your job.
I said, oh, God, you gotta be -- you got to be kidding me.
So I was blessed with the opportunity to take four months,
evaluate where I needed to go, where God needed to point me and
with that I actually have a job with the government that pays me
to do my mission in life, to help take care of God's
children, no matter how they worship.
How grateful can you be for that?
And it just -- it never stops.
So that is where I get my passion from.
Richard Serino: Thanks.
I know what you mean, it is not like a job sometimes.
Carolyn Bloom: It is not a job.
Richard Serino: Some days maybe.
Engaging the youth in emergencies and preparedness
really have benefits that go much beyond just that one child
or whoever is getting the families involved,
and everyone else involved.
And you know, getting their friends and --
how did the Red Cross in Chicago really engage the youth?
Mark Makowski: I think we are flexible.
We go to where the kids are, whether that is school or church
group or after school program.
We try to teach you know at least one class every day.
You know, so it is not the 192 days that Chicago public schools
are in school but it is 365 days a year,
we find kids somewhere where we are going to roll out our suite
of programs.
So we have 11 different offerings and we can typically
find something that works for -- for a kid whether they are
pre-kindergarten all the way through high school.
So I think it is important for us to be flexible.
And we couldn't do it without the support of the
partners we have.
The state of Illinois and the emergency management folks
support our programs.
And we couldn't do it without our AmeriCorps members.
You know, our AmeriCorps members are our boots on the ground in
addition to our volunteers and they are you know teaching
thousands of youth each month in you know water safety,
or fire safety, or being home alone.
You know, we have programs, we have needs in our community.
And we work to identify those on a regular basis.
Richard Serino: You mentioned AmeriCorps and you know Chicago like any major
urban area and unfortunately and throughout the country there is
low income areas.
And people that have you know not a lot.
And we talk preparedness and people sometimes think
preparedness costs a lot of money.
But sometimes it doesn't.
How do you -- how did you deal with that in the low income
areas and using AmeriCorps?
Mark Makowski: It is interesting.
We had a conversation last week about you know the lower income
families think that being prepared costs more.
So we really tried to work to identify places that need our
services, whether it is providing smoke alarms and
carbon monoxide detectors or providing a kit.
Or just sitting down in someone's home and saying this
is what you need to do to prevent a fire in your house.
And we are constantly looking to serve new communities.
We served 13 counties in Northeastern Illinois and
Northwestern Indiana and we are constantly looking for different
ways to make our programs flexible to their needs.
Richard Serino: Great. Thanks.
We encourage people a lot of times to be prepared at home,
in transit, but also in the work place.
Mike, how did you -- what prompted NBC universal to --
to implement the CERT program?
Mike Ridgely: I think my business has been pretty proactive in the disaster
preparedness arena.
For decades NBC Universal has -- has had some kind of program in
place and you know, we had a core group of people that wanted
to help on a daily basis in a disaster, whatever it was.
So CERT finally came along and it made a lot of sense to
implement that program in our business.
We actually implemented it in 1991 prior to the FEMA release
of the national standard.
We went off of LA City's model.
And it is -- it has turned out to be a great program for
our business.
It allows to be prepared over all as a business.
It makes us self sufficient in a disaster.
Our employees then can take that knowledge and go home.
They are prepared at home.
And we also encourage them to join their community groups.
You know, get the word out, be prepared at home.
Join your local CERT teams.
And today we have over 250 active CERT member volunteers on
the studio lot in universal city.
So it has been a great program for our business.
Richard Serino: That's great.
What are some of the successes that you had with or examples of
things with the CERT teams?
Mike Ridgley: We have an incredible amount of talent on our lot being a movie
studio obviously.
Richard Serino: You mean other kinds of talent?
Mike Ridgley: Yeah.
You know, you should come see our disaster drill.
It's like a movie set.
It's really fun.
But we have, like I was saying, a very great senior leadership
that gives us the ability to put on these programs and I think it
starts with our people.
We have a very, very dedicated group of volunteers and together
we've put together various programs that have enhanced the
CERT program such as a pediatric model for the CERT curriculum.
We have developed what's called a Rapid Intervention Team.
The fire service has been using it.
We have a CERT model one now.
We have also done various other modules with the basic CERT
training which has really, really enhanced our programs
including commercial search and rescue,
high-rise search and rescue and a lot of different things.
And next year I'm excited because we have a group working
on various other new and exciting things that we
obviously share with our communities as well.
Richard Serino: Thanks.
Abby, your husband provided not just New York,
but the nation with really an invaluable resource "In Case of
Emergency" and the blog and what he did and how he did it and the
outstanding work and dedication that he had really set an
example for lots of folks on how to,
on what to do and how to do it.
And for anybody who really wants to make a difference as he did,
how would you suggest somebody that wanted to carry on
that legacy?
Abby Solomon: Okay.
So I'm going to read because obviously this was his work and
I'll be more comfortable and also --
but anyway, but I wanted to start by thanking everyone for
this honor on behalf of my daughters Sarah and Rebecca and
our family.
And for all the work all of you do every day to keep us safe.
As I said, it's difficult for me to know exactly what John would
suggest, but I can tell you most definitely what he would have
loved, which is to be here with all of you.
He would have been so exhilarated to hear the exchange
of ideas that has gone on over the last two days as part of the
FEMA and the Champions of Change event.
This is exactly what John felt needed to happen: communication.
John's blog was about connecting people in all parts of
preparedness, sharing ideas and encouraging them.
He realized that in order to be a truly prepared nation all
levels of government, businesses, media,
as well as citizens, needed to communicate and work together.
I thought I'd tell you a little bit about John's journey and
maybe that would be helpful.
In September of 2001, John was working as a journalist and we
were living in New York City when 9-11 happened.
We had a one-year-old daughter and soon another on the way.
And I began feeling unsafe and telling John I felt unsafe and
nagging him or whatever a wife does sometimes.
Anyway, in an effort to protect our family,
he did what he so often did, he began researching.
And he realized that it was topic that fascinated him and
one where he might be able to make a real difference.
So he started out writing a book on citizens' preparedness and
soon realized how complicated the subject was and how pressing
the need was and is for solutions.
The blog was intended to be research for the book but what
John soon understood is that preparedness is a field of
constant change and the blog suited this.
He could report, interview and showcase these changes instantly
and always with a sense of humor.
He read, interviewed, attended and corresponded with everyone
and anyone in the preparedness and resiliency fields.
He began volunteering for our local community emergency
response team where he could gain practical experience while
aiding his fellow New Yorkers.
John's blog "In Case of Emergency" read blog began as a
desire to prepare this family and grew into a passion to
prepare every family in America.
Six months into his blogging John was faced with his own
emergency when diagnosed with leukemia.
For the next two years he continued to work with such
determination on preparedness in his blog.
As soon as the doctor told him he was in remission,
he was on a plane to a preparedness conference
in Colorado.
And his last summer, when he was suffering severely from
complications from a bone marrow transplant,
he took the train to the Red Cross Emergency Social Data
Summit here in Washington and I will tell you it was a highlight
for John in his life.
The exchange of ideas, the working together to move forward
and create a safer nation was what mattered so much to him,
as the John D. Solomon Preparedness Award matters so
much to our family.
I thank you again for this award for helping to keep John's work
and memory alive and for the work you all do on behalf of
our nation.
Richard Serino: And I just want to take really a minute to say something mainly
to your daughters, that your dad really made a difference in
hundreds and thousands of people's lives and helped save
lives across this country from the work that he did.
He's truly a hero.
Oh, still got time.
That's great.
Now, I won't pick on New York yet, I'll pick on -- no.
I just want to, you know, FEMA is grappling with a lot of the
same issues as a lot of you have dealt with and we have talked
about whole community for the last, you know, year or so.
And in coming from a city of whole community for us was
something was that we had really been doing for a while.
Never called it whole community, it wasn't, you know,
a shock that you had to bring together, you know,
the faith-based community, you had to bring together the
private sector.
It may have been a shock to some people in this town.
But as we do that and we look to bring together all different
aspects, some of the things that struck me out of, you know,
I was just writing down different phrases and words that
people said, that struck me was that people needed to have,
be open, they need to be flexible, they need to listen.
People in emergency management seem to have that passion and
it's centered around people.
What advice would you give us at FEMA and people who work in this
building on what we can do to help further the cause of
emergency management and preparedness?
And I'll throw that open to anyone.
Mark Benthien: I would say to continue to offer support for preparedness
programs but also reach across to different areas of emergency
management, mitigation, preparedness response,
all of those things tie in together.
We want to continue to have balanced programs and we really
need support from the top to make that happen.
Brian Blake: And, Rich, what I'll say is one of the important pieces of all
of the work that we do as sort of continuity,
things that our predecessors have worked on,
things that will happen after we leave,
we sort of build on all of these programs.
And when we make minute changes or when we change funding or
when we change focus, sometimes the work that's been happening
for ten or 15 years gets lost.
And I think that's probably one of the most important things
that we do is build that preparedness model for citizens,
for volunteers to say no matter what happens,
these are the activities that you need to do.
And this work has to continue, you know,
without the folks at this table and sitting in the audience,
people lose that message and they don't get it.
So if we can continue to have these type programs going
forward, I think that is probably what's best helpful.
Carolyn Bloom: One of the programs approximately two years ago that
came to Denver and was throughout the whole--
that visited several large cities across the United States
was informing the faith-based organizations of their abilities
and capabilities and what we need to utilize them.
That program went on one time and I would love to see that
FEMA or FEMA regions develop that program,
bring it back out to our communities.
And give us the opportunity to help you market that program.
Get the word out on the streets, because that's where we live is
on the streets.
And get that information out there so we can start showing
the small church who has a pantry that that pantry,
we want them to do the same thing during a disaster.
We just want them to do it a little bigger.
And not ask them to step out of their comfort zones.
And that way we'll have the opportunity to build more
resilient communities.
We have a Food Bank of the Rockies that's an
amazing organization.
They have approximately a thousand different pantries in
the Metro area.
Those thousand pantries can be our distribution points for food
distributing and water distributing and we don't have
to invent a new distribution point.
And that's only one thing.
But if FEMA can bring those types of seminars or summits or
whatever you want to call them, you don't even have
to feed them.
You just bring the experts and let them identify what they can
do to help us build our community to be more resilient
then we'll need less national resources at the time of a
big event.
We can start utilizing our hometown folks and building our
own cities back up to where they need to be which is what I
believe the Stafford Act has in mind anyhow.
Richard Serino: I agree.
I think that you hit it on the head.
I think we have to look at what is in the communities on a
day-to-day basis.
And you mentioned food pantries and I think unfortunately in
probably almost every church, faith-based synagogue, mosque,
whatever, there is some sort of food pantry in every town across
this country.
I wish there wasn't because that tells us that, you know,
people are in severe need.
But the fact that they're there and how to just get people's
head wrapped around in the faith-based community,
they have a role.
Something similar that years ago we had issues with the community
health centers in Boston and did some things in New York as well
with community health centers saying you have no role with us,
we don't do brain surgery.
And it's like, well, we don't want you to do brain surgery.
We want you to do what's in your community each and every day to
take care of people who speak the language who you understand
the community.
And that's what the faith-based community does as well.
And to take that to the next level.
So I hear the faith-based community, I hear that we,
you know, working with the youth,
continuing the preparedness and reaching out and working with
the businesses, I think I'm hearing that.
Go ahead.
Chad Stover: And I just want to add the important of supporting research
into natural hazards and other hazards.
You know, the shakeout started with a big effort led by a
Dr.Lucy Jones at the USGS to develop a scenario for what
might happen on the San Andreas Fault and that was so enormous
and it showed all the businesses and the fire services and
everybody what might happen.
And we all looked at how do we involve so many people,
but also that we wouldn't be able to do it all ourselves.
So that is where we really looked at how do we involve the
whole community.
And across California now we have these, you know,
three groups across the state, in Southern Cal Bay Area and
North Coast because it has to get down to the grassroots level
and still involve all those people.
But the balance that we found between research and effectively
grassroots activism is really key where you can take that
research and get it down to people who really are making the
decisions on a daily basis.
Richard Serino: Great.
Anybody else?
Mark Makowski: Yeah, I mean, I was just going to say is that I think
integrating into everyone's lives, daily lives,
just finding ways of not making --
of making sure it's not something they feel like they
have to, like, do separate, you know,
and that works for businesses, that works for schools,
that works for individuals, just finding a way to say, you know,
there is a lot of different ways people get messages.
How do we get the emergency management,
emergency preparedness message into all of those
different resources.
So it's not something that's separate.
It's something that's integrated with everyone else.
And also I think someone mentioned it as
well, like, youth.
I think that's a great way of getting in there.
And I think that we're on the right track of that with
engaging the youth and finding more resources for that.
Richard Serino: Well, great.
Well, thank you, very much.
I really appreciate this.
This has been helpful for me.
I hope helpful to people in the room and the people that are on
the web as well.
So there is going to be another group coming.
So can I make an executive decision and tell everybody if
they want to take their name tag as a souvenir, please do!
Erin Hannigan: We're just going to get repositioned here for just
a second.
(inaudible cross-talk)
Erin Hannigan: All right.
I think that first panel was a great discussion.
I think they all deserve another round of applause for that
first panel.
And thank you to Richard for moderating the panel and for
your passion and leadership on this topic.
But we have another special guest who will moderate in the
second panel.
We're honored to be joined by Richard Reed who is Special
Assistant to the President.
And Homeland Security Director for Resilience Policy with the
National Security Staff.
So I'll let him talk it away!
Richard Reed: Awesome.
Well, thank you all.
Rich, you set the bar, I will try not to disappoint.
And in the last piece is without Rich or Richard as a first name
you can't be a moderator.
So change your names if you like.
I appreciate the opportunity to be here.
You folks are actually representing exactly what we are
trying to do on behalf of the President and certainly
Secretary Napolitano and others across the federal family net is
to build and sustain a more resilient nation.
From where I sit here I spend every day thinking about
preparedness activities and response activities.
I have a directorate that deals with everything on the left of
boom, so before bad things happen.
And then we deal with everything on the right of boom.
So we spend a lot of time with our colleagues in the
interagency community and certainly across the country
trying to understand better what is it that you are doing in your
communities, how are you building and sustaining
resilience, how are you doing that in partnership with others.
And so I very much appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with
you here, to learn from you here,
and to think about how we can collectively,
as the President has said in his preparedness policy,
it is an all of nation approach.
It is everybody has a role.
Everybody has a responsibility.
Everybody can contribute to building and sustaining a
better, a stronger and more resilient nation.
So what I'd like to do is take a second quickly to introduce the
distinguished panel members here,
provide a little bit of background in terms of who's who
in the zoo, as I like to say, and then spend a little bit of
time with some questions and answers.
So Michael Smith is here with us.
You can pick him out of the crowd with the uniform,
the Chief of the Fire Department of San Manuel Reservation which
lies at the intersection of several fault lines along the
foothills of the San Bernardino mountains.
He operates the San Manuel CERT and the Tribal Emergency
Response Teams.
So thank you, sir, for being here,
and we very much look forward to chatting with you.
Greg Shrader is Executive Director of the nonprofit "Be
Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies," BRACE,
in the State of Florida and certainly that's a state that
needs to be ready all the time for all kinds of weather-related
and non-weather- related emergencies.
Wendy Freitag is here with us and she's the External Affairs
Manager of the Washington State Military Department responsible
for public outreach and engagement.
Thank you for being here.
Todd Pritchard is with us as well,
he's the Emergency Coordinator for the Wisconsin Emergency
Management and directs the Statewide Ready Wisconsin
Preparedness Campaign.
So thank you for coming as well.
And sorry about those Packers!
Todd Pritchard: We're still in mourning, yes, thank you.
Richard Reed: Nobody's safe up here!
Brenda Gormley is with us today and we're that thrilled from
Denton, Texas.
I've been there many times.
As a Texas Community Emergency Management Response
Team Program.
And so definitely look forward to hearing from that.
Julia Simpson is with us as well,
Homeland Security Planner for St. Clair County Homeland
Security and Emergency Management and coordinates the
County's Citizenship Corps Program.
Darlene Foote, the Director of Communications for Cobb and
Douglas County Public Health and creator of the Public Health
Safety Village Project.
So thank you, very much, for coming.
Look forward to hearing about that.
David Mack is coordinator for the Racine County Office of
Emergency Management and routinely works with the
faith-based community to ensure that we have capabilities across
that entire sector.
And Venus Majeski, down on the end,
Director of Development and Community Relations for the New
Jersey Institute for Disabilities,
and leads the Alianza Emergency Preparedness Project Plus.
And so we will spend a little bit of time,
but certainly if you don't mind in joining me again thanking and
congratulating our Champions.
So Michael, if we could, sir, I'd like to start with you and
just get a sense of how the use of technology and innovative
resource management is being applied to increase response
capabilities during disasters of which you've had some pretty
significant events this year.
Michael Smith: Absolutely.
Richard Reed: This past year.
Michael Smith: Yeah, some well realize disaster central, basically,
we're at the confluence of several faults,
a major floodplain and wild fires, which we can talk about,
too -- it's a relatively small jurisdiction but in the ten
years I have been there, we've had three
presidentially-declared disasters.
So we're no stranger to that.
But yeah, our strategy for developing preparedness
capability and capacity is to identify a couple of initiatives
each year so that we're sort of in a continuous quality
improvement model, that each year we push the bar a
little higher.
And 2011 was really a technology year for us,
so we took a couple of initiatives that were
tech-based, and one was a computer program that allows us
to notify tribal citizens and employees,
it's called "Send Word Now," and that,
people can go on a registry, we have about 60% saturation of our
community right now, which is pretty good,
and they can pick how they want to be notified, by voice,
cell phone, home phone, text message, email,
and it gives us a direct conduit into their homes,
into their computers to provide warning messages,
to provide training reminders, to provide evacuation messages,
anything that's germane to the emergency management function.
So to supplement that, we built a Wi-Fi grid over the
entire jurisdiction.
So there's Wi-Fi computer access over the whole San
Manuel reservation.
And hand in hand with that, we have something called net
notify, which allows us emergency managers to create a
pop-up on anybody who's logged on to a San Manuel computer or
getting their Internet provider through our Wi-Fi system to pop
up a message.
So you'd be surprised how many people we can just send a pop-up
to say there's a traffic collision at such and such
intersection, please route your vehicle traffic accordingly.
How many people see that pop-up, both employees,
we have 3,500 employees and tribal citizens as well.
So those were two big -- two big initiatives.
The other great thing about the Wi-Fi grid is it allowed
responders to have a robust backbone for
interoperable communications.
So an incident commander in the field can not only reach out and
touch citizens and employees where they are at that moment,
but they can access technical resources,
Internet resources and other responders on a variety of
technological platforms to mitigate an incident.
Speaker: And was this a partnership with the service providers as well as
with the responders?
Speaker: Absolutely.
I would say the biggest partnership was our
internal stakeholders.
We have an IT department, our public works department and --
the greatest dividend in my tenure has been developing a
group of stakeholders that is committed to
emergency management.
And these specific initiatives are merely symptomatic of that
nexus of stakeholders that have buy-in into preparedness,
that have buy-in into mitigation,
that are fully committed to us being a resilient and
safe community.
Speaker: That's a great example.
Thank you very much, and look forward to hearing the next
evolution of the two or three new technology innovations for
the next year.
And, Rich, I hope you're taking notes because we can
use that here.
Speaker: I want to switch to Greg.
And walk us through what is BRACE,
how has it and how does it maintain strong relationships
with the public and the private and the faith-based,
which are three very different interconnected and interrelated
communities of interest, not altogether necessarily heading
in the same direction at the same time.
So I'm interested to know how you cracked that nut.
Speaker: BRACE serves as the COAD, or Community Organization Active in
Disaster in Escambia County, Florida,
but we also serve as the citizen corps coordinator for Escambia
County, the City of Pensacola, and the Town of Century,
and every partner involved with our organization is also a
citizen corps member.
We also serve as the CERT coordinator in each of those
three communities, and find that engaging the entire community,
the faith-based community, the business community,
the public sector, the private sector are critical components
to advance readiness, advance resilience in our community.
We have partners like Rebuild Northwest Florida that's
mitigated or hardened over 5,000 homes in our community.
We've got partners like the Early Learning Coalition that's
worked with the Red Cross and faith-based community and other
partners to establish a childcare for first
responders initiative.
We found after Hurricane Ivan that first responders couldn't
respond to their duty stations because they were faced with the
impossible choice of choosing between the care of their
children and responding to their duty stations.
We've now established a childcare facility that's in a
safe structure with many, many partners that ensure those
individuals that are on the front lines and protecting our
community can do so with peace of mind knowing that their
children are going to be well taken care of.
We serve as the emergency support function 15 lead or --
for volunteers and donations in our community,
and have had the opportunity to deploy individuals to oil spills
and other events over our history.
We have 61 faith-based partners in our community that have
agreed to serve in one or more of 12 different roles the day
after, the week after, and the month after a disaster.
So as you can see, it takes the entire community to be ready and
resilient for the next event.
Speaker: I agree with you, appreciate that.
I -- I'll share with the group, and Rich was definitely part of
making this happen when we -- every year we provide the
President a hurricane briefing led by the scientists from NOAA
that provide the predictions on what they think the hurricane
season is going to bring.
And we have done this for presidents across the history of
the office.
And normally it's -- it's not a great event in the sense of
everybody gets excited about it.
It's a pretty at some level depressing kind of thought about
hurricane season coming, but the good news is you have an
opportunity to demonstrate to the President how we're
prepared for it.
So over the years we've done it in a variety of ways.
I think the first briefing we did for the President was with
his cabinet officials to say here's how department X,
Y and Z is preparing and what they're doing.
And the next year we did it with --
certainly with Rich, Craig Fugate and the FEMA regional
administrators, Tim Manning as well,
to talk about what FEMA was doing and how they were thinking
about it.
And every year we finished it, I would get the question from my
boss, John Brennan, that said, hey, how do you think we did.
I said, wow, we did pretty good.
He goes, well, that's great, let's do better next year.
This is how I know I need to my job this year,
because next year I don't think we can do better.
But this year we did a briefing for the President where it
involved more nonfederal partners at the table than there
were federal partners.
Secretary Napolitano, Administrator Fugate,
that was about the extent of the federal presentation at the
hurricane briefing.
Beyond that, it was the governor from North Carolina,
the gentleman who runs the Southern Baptist convention,
Gail McGovern from the Red Cross,
the Vice President of Verizon, and lots of other sort of
nonfederal entities to say here's how we support national
preparedness, here's how we're prepared to support response to
hurricanes because it is -- there is an inherent federal
responsibility, but there's also a shared responsibility across
the communities in which we all live.
And so I thought that was almost what I heard you say here,
was that you have really leveraged the capabilities
across to create -- to create something bigger than the sum
of its parts.
Speaker: We certainly have found that that has been true.
I spoke earlier about responding to an oil spill.
Within 30 hours of activation for the Deep Water Horizon oil
spill, because we have partnerships with 450
organizations, we were able to mobilize over 950 volunteers,
register them, orient them, equip them and deploy them to
cover 32 linear miles of beach to be able to do a pre-impact
cleanup to mitigate the impact on our beaches once the oil
actually reached our shores.
And we've been involving young people in our efforts,
and certainly young people were involved in that effort.
And I applaud FEMA's forward thinking in the areas of
youth preparedness.
Speaker: Great, thank you.
And again, the feeling and the belief in this administration is
that the answers and some of the best solutions to some pretty
common problems, I think I said earlier,
don't necessarily lie in the federal community,
they actually lie out in the state and local communities.
And so I wanted to turn to Wendy and just get sense if you can
tell us how that work prepares neighborhoods to be resilient
for disasters and emergencies and sort of this Map Your
Neighborhood program that you all developed.
Speaker: Well, thank you for the opportunity.
This is a great honor to be here.
And really it's an honor to accept this award on behalf of
my talented external affairs team that are back today putting
into practice in Washington State the Map Your Neighborhood
program we believe --
Speaker: In their snow shoes.
Speaker: Yes, in their snow shoes from door to door.
We've had an unusually winter storm that's hit our state.
And we believe that today neighbors are out helping
neighbors, which is what is the cornerstone of our program known
as Map Your Neighborhood.
It was I think brilliantly conceived by a woman by the name
of Dr. Luann Johnson who experienced disaster firsthand
by going through the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake,
and she recognized from that experience that --
that there was a period of time, she refers to it as the golden
60 minutes following a large-scale event that emergency
responders, despite their best efforts,
cannot reach everyone and cannot reach certain neighborhoods.
And so the program really was built with the concept of
allowing people to help each other.
So it's, you know, the neighbor-to-neighbor helping
concept, and it teaches them and gives them a checklist of things
that they can do to be most effective on checking on each
other, establishing a neighborhood care center,
knowing what skill sets exist in that neighborhood.
A neighborhood consists of approximately 15 to 20 homes.
But it gives everyone a role.
And I think that's what makes the program very appealing.
It's now in 38 states, it's in three countries,
and I think it gets back to the most human basic need,
which is to be part of the solution and not part of
the problem.
And to really give people a role I think that, you know,
we are a great resilient nation and we've survived many things
in our history.
And so I think that that's built into our DNA,
but I think that that's the great thing that we need to do
in our preparedness programs, is figure out ways to plug in
everybody that wants to have a role,
because we know that we need everyone to help us after a
disaster, particularly a large-scale disaster.
And so I think that's the success of the program.
I think it also is built to be aware of people's time,
we have a very -- people are very busy in their lives,
and so it takes 90 minutes, it takes one person stepping
forward to be -- to fill a leadership role,
to be a facilitator and bring their neighbors together and to
go through this training and to give them some sort of order and
checklists that allows them to be able to serve and have a role
following disasters.
Speaker: All right.
I think that's wonderful.
I think we -- we've often had this debate about the way we
think about this nation of first responders,
and we have seen from, you know, events here domestically
all across the country, from events in places like Haiti and
certainly in Japan that really the first responder is the
family member, the neighbor, the church member,
the person you saw at the grocery store that is there to
help lend a hand if, indeed, they have the sense of
what to do.
Speaker: Yep, absolutely.
Speaker: And I think it's the training programs that you offer in that
respect that at least provide people enough information to do
something and to be part of the solution.
So I applaud your efforts for that.
Speaker: Thank you.
Speaker: I think that's absolutely great.
I wanted to -- extending sort of this notion on the
side of the House, as a nationwide awareness campaign
and tool really designed to help educate and empower folks,
Americans and certainly can be used in other societies as well,
to prepare for emergencies.
And there is -- there is a nuance difference between ready
and resilient.
Ready are the things that you know you need to do.
Resilient is the ability to do those things.
And so I would challenge us to think about ready in terms of a
state, and resilient in terms of an evolution of that state.
So that's my foot stomper for today.
But, Todd, you've done a lot of great work in Wisconsin,
recent efforts to prepare, and certainly have some of the
roughest winters in the country every year,
so I'd be interested in your thoughts.
Speaker: Well, thank you.
I'm so honored to be here.
You're right.
I think the Ready Wisconsin Campaign is really an extension
of FEMA's Ready Campaign.
We really localize it to our state.
And we use it as a platform to not only get people to our
website, which if you are out there is
But it's also to -- to use that and also social media and more
conventional media to get the word out,
to really get this ingrained into our culture that we need to
be prepared.
So we get out messages on a daily basis telling people
what's coming, what's going on.
And then we use our media partners.
We've had great success at putting together some really
awesome media campaigns.
We had Matt Kenseth, the NASCAR driver, Wisconsin native,
and we asked him, would you do a campaign for us on getting an
emergency winter kit in your car?
And he said, absolutely.
And so we shot this spot, it was very low budget,
but it got the message across.
And we gave out kits on our website,
we encourage people to just put a simple little kit together
in their car.
So it's one of those things just do one thing,
it's not going to be a whole lot of money,
and it got such a great response.
And then I think the other thing Herman hit on in the first panel
is it's all about the kids.
And getting to those students out there,
because it's the kids who are going to change our society,
we're not going to do it, right?
And they're going to pester us to do it.
So I want to just thank FEMA so much for the STEP program.
We were able to do it as a pilot project in Wisconsin last year,
we had 2,400 students sign up.
We have 5,500 students for this year.
Just amazing.
Every corner in the state.
It's a -- if you don't know what that is,
it's Student Tools for Emergency Planning, it's a very turnkey,
you send them a box, it's got all the printed material,
the teachers don't need to do anything,
it doesn't cost them a dime, and you can teach from one hour up
to even eight hours of material.
And those kids, it's amazing, we went to some of the STEP
schools, and the kids' eyes just light up.
They each get an emergency kit, like a starter kit,
and they can take that home and tell their mom and dad,
this is what the kid is, look at what I got,
how are we going to get our family ready, mom and dad.
And that's kind of the start of that huge conversation that we
need to be doing across the country.
So I think it's just been an outstanding program,
and I really hope we can spread it all across the nation.
Speaker: That's outstanding.
Thank you very much.
And sort of dovetailing off of that, to Brenda,
but as a volunteer, sort of in a separate stepped up to help not
only identify and establish, but to train volunteers and teams in
the community.
And so the question to YOU is what do you tell others who want
to establish and sustain -- we have lots of volunteer programs
that have started off and fizzled out,
we have some that kind of got through the theoretical part
about starting up but never actually got anywhere.
So what was the magic that you were able to find to not only
start it, to sustain it.
Speaker: Thank you.
I think the biggest magic was have the passion in your heart,
believe in what the program is, have the education behind it,
take all the classes, there's a million classes online from
FEMA, and then know what you're talking about.
And I've been very fortunate in Denton County that I had the
support from not only our FEMA region 6,
but also our judge and our emergency manager,
Joseph Casolas [phonetic], who is here in the audience with me,
but they let us be a part of the family.
We're not just a volunteer.
We're there to help them before a disaster, during the disaster,
and after the disaster.
And one thing I really love about it is that they treat all
of my volunteers, and I have over 500 of them,
as part of the family.
If they come into the building, they're welcome,
there's no questions.
They give us the trust to do what we can do with the training
that they help provide for us.
And without that training, it helps our citizens, you know,
to know what to do.
My grandmother had a saying that we grew up on,
if you can't take care of yourself,
how do you expect somebody else to take care of you.
And that's the way we were raised and that's in my heart.
The CERT program came along, I was a VIPS volunteer,
the CERT program came along and I studied it and went to class
and thought, man, this is back to neighbor helping neighbor,
taking care of each other, taking care of our family.
And that was my passion.
And so several years later, I'm very fortunate in our North
Central Texas council of governments,
we have a regional citizen corps council,
and we have gotten all the citizen corps groups together,
we've gotten rid of boundary lines, we've trained together,
we're able to go to each other's training, each other's drills,
we help each other, not only in time of no disasters,
but during a disaster, or if I need help,
I can pick up the phone and call somebody and say hey,
send me some more bodies.
And that are there for each other.
Speaker: It's amazing.
It speaks volumes to not only the leadership,
but also to the sense of cohesion in the community to
sustain that activity, because I believe that you as sort of the
drum beat leading the effort is part of it,
but the other part of it is folks buying in,
owning their responsibility and sustaining it.
I think that's outstanding.
And so for that I wanted to swing over to Jodi and sort of
talk about how the Citizen Corps Council,
particularly in St. Clair County,
engaged the public in what can only be described as a fun and
innovative way, which is, by the way, not easy to do.
Speaker: Not very much at all.
Well, first of all I want to say I'm very blessed to be here
representing St. Clair County emergency management.
We have a great group of people with, you know,
very diverse backgrounds, and I think that that's the key to get
started anywhere, because the networking that can come out of
that is just really, really, priceless.
And, the Citizen Corps Council is noticing that there still
today is a really big disconnect between what citizens expect
following a disaster and what we are able to provide.
And I think with government, you know, it's hey,
we got to push this harder at them and we are going to do this
and we are going to do that, when really,
it's all about serving them.
And we should be doing what they recommend and getting
them involved.
So we try to brainstorm new ways to bring the public up and start
dialect and conversations with them.
And we did that with social media, Facebook,
being I'd say primarily the strongest one for us.
And it was really -- it just seems like a great way,
not only like a redundant alert and warning system, but, also,
it's a great platform for the community to be able to speak
with us and give us suggestions and even if they have disaster
pictures that they'd like to throw up,
that's a great opportunity to do that.
So, we wanted to get started with that, and we did.
And then following that we had our first video and ad contest.
And like you say, you know like, with government,
it seems like we are always trying to recreate the same
message in a new way and we are really boring at it.
So, we thought, hey, we need to change this up.
We actually invited the community to get involved and we
had a lot of kids get involved and make videos,
62 and PSAs and then print materials.
And what they were able to come up with is just nominal.
It's a great way to get the message across in new fresh,
exciting ways and so much better than we could do it.
And their work really can hold your attention.
But at the same time, they are getting themselves educated in
whatever topic they are working on as well as their
friends, family.
And then we put them on You Tube and Facebook and try to get them
a lot of recognition.
In fact, I got the video contest winners an interview on a local
cable TV show.
They were really thrilled about that.
And then each of them, their video was going to play before a
local movie theater as a 62nd video before every single movie
for a month.
And our youngest winner who is 13,
he found that out and his jaw just dropped.
And he said, I can't believe the publicity I'm getting,
and so it's really exciting.
That's the way it should be.
It should work for everybody.
And I think the bottom line is, hey,
we are here to serve our communities and our local people
and our residents.
And so why not listen to them and try to follow their lead?
Speaker: I got to ask you the question, you sort of hear that laundry
list of things and immediately what comes to mind is how do you
afford to do that?
And yet, you were able to do it at a very low cost.
Speaker: Yeah, that was one of the best parts about it.
We actually had donated Best Buy gift certificates and who
doesn't want one of those, right?
So really good price for the kids.
And, I know that we've -- we've done video PSAs before and they
can cost over $1,000 to have somebody produce one for you,
where we got all of these submissions that didn't cost
us anything.
We've got to recognize the people that did win prizes.
And then also we have these to use throughout the year for
different months, different themes,
and also can share it with other communities, other regions,
even at the state level.
So, I mean it's an open, open source for everybody to use and
it really just costs what people donated for private.
So it was great all the way around.
Speaker: That's interesting, thank you, thank you very much.
So Darlene, I kind of wanted to turn to you and sort of get the
southern perspective, because that's where I come from and I'm
interested in how you were able to sort of develop the hands-on
approach to educating not only the youth,
but also the broader public in that area of the country,
in terms of health preparedness.
And then specifically, how was the County was able to
demonstrate the utility of that in terms of increased
health deficiencies.
Speaker: Okay.
Well, I'd also like to say that it is an honor to be here on
behalf of Cobb & Douglas Public Health.
And the way that we've done this is by meeting our young people
where they are.
And we've done this by utilizing an interactive state of the art
system that engages our young people.
And, to teach them about emergency preparedness and
public health issues.
And in just a few examples of some of the things that we have,
there are five modules and they are housed in a public health
building, and that's part of safety village which is a mini
replica of this city.
And basically what we teach them is things like hand washing.
And we don't use the typical happy birthday song,
but we use a rap.
And so, they rap and they wash their hands,
and the walls move and soap comes down as they wash their
hands and the floors move.
So that's one.
The other thing we do is we talk about our germs,
and they get to smack and stomp any anthrax on the floors.
And who doesn't love that?
And then we would go a step further and we teach them the
things that need to go in the emergency kit.
And so they are pulling on the wall.
Things that go into the emergency kit.
And the kids on the floor are dragging them with their feet.
And then there are things, okay, so you have sodas and you
have water.
So they have to choose which is better.
We all might like sodas more, but,
the water is what we want them to choose.
And then we explain to them that this is what you want
in your kid.
And we also have a couple of other modules.
One is the importance of getting vaccines.
And we want kids to not be afraid.
We want them to understand.
Because again we try to come at their level.
So we want them to understand that this is important and you
guys need to understand you're going to be healthier in the
long run for this.
And the final module is gets them moving.
It's the kids bop shuffle, and they got to dance and move.
And again it's all interactive.
We are really excited with what's happening with this
because the kids are excited, and quite frankly,
the adults are too when they go through.
And, it's right, right now, this program,
is being pushed out to 20,000 children.
Actually I'll say this, 20,000 children will be going through
this program.
This is and the Department of Education has made this part of
the required curriculum.
So when you teach a child, you reach the family.
When you reach the family you impact the community.
When you impact the community, you can change the world.
And so that's what we believe that we are going to do with
this program.
So we are excited about it.
And just a little bit about the cost.
The nice thing about this is that it's all a partners,
all about partnerships.
We didn't -- we didn't start -- we didn't create this.
Cobb County looked at safety villages and they thought it was
a good way to go to get the kids into one place instead of the
fire department going out to different places.
So now they bring all the children to them.
They already had that established.
We just took advantageous of that.
And so now our building is a part of this,
so it didn't cost us anything.
An architect donated his time to do the building for us.
We got a grant from the CDC to do the inside.
So it's all about partnerships and we just couldn't do anything
without the partnerships and that's what makes it cost less.
And again the impact.
We would never be able to reach these children otherwise.
Our message might get to a few, but it probably wouldn't get to
most of these people.
So you know, we believe we are changing the world.
Speaker: That's impressive.
I love that story.
I sort of -- we talk here a lot about building capabilities
across the nation.
And how do you do that?
I'm a pretty simple guy by virtue of southern
reference earlier.
But in my mind it's like a box of LEGOs.
You know, these are the capabilities that we have.
These are the relationships.
And the communities that we have are in this box.
And if you need to build a dinosaur,
you put them together in such a way as you build a dinosaur.
If you need a dump truck, you go back to the same set of
capabilities and put them together in a different way,
leveraging the Department of Education, leveraging CDC,
leveraging community expertise, leveraging and targeting kids
where they are at I think is smartly using the box of LEGOs.
And so we can all learn from that.
David, I want to sort of turn to you in terms of this notion of
faith-based engagement.
And I will share with all of you and Rich, and in fact,
Tim could also echo this.
When the President had his -- when he conducted and
participated in the national level exercise last year,
we did, as you may know an exercise on what would happen if
we had a catastrophic earthquake along the new Madrid
Seismic Zone.
And so, at the end of that exercise,
after having gone through several days of activities and
interaction with state locals and our federal partners,
the President from the situation room was on a video
teleconference with all eight governors and sort of went
through the list of how's it going and this that and
the other.
At the very end when we all thought that was going to be the
end of the conference, the President went back to say to
each governor, tell me how you've engaged the faith-based
communities and to integrating it into your response
capabilities, and this is sort of that notion of the first
responder is often somebody not in a uniform.
And he was very interested in that.
And so I look forward to hearing your thoughts on that.
Speaker: Well, I've been at this for over 20 years.
And we've used a whole community concept,
probably for the last 20 years.
Mostly out of necessity, most of our offices are small, one,
two people offices.
And so we need engage the community.
And one of the most important resources in a community is the
faith-based organizations out there, our churches,
our synagogues, our mosques.
But yet, there's challenges to reaching those communities,
because they are not a homogenous group.
There's a lot of independent churches out there.
You have little pockets of associations, but it's --
a lot of times going at it one by one.
And two things led up to this.
One was after something big would happen,
whether it was our own community or even hurricane Katrina,
churches would call and they would either ask the question,
what do I do if this happens to us, or how can we help?
And oftentimes the first thing they wanted to do is collect
clothes and food.
And I'd have to explain wait a minute, stop,
you know that's not necessarily what's needed at this time.
The other thing that happened was my own church in 2008,
we had a rare January tornado in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin doesn't typically get tornadoes in January,
we get snowstorms.
But we had an unseasonably warm day two tornadoes sprung up in
cable TV Kenosha County to the south of mine.
My home church was in Kenosha at the time on the
north side there.
And, the first tornado hit the west side of Kenosha County.
The second tornado hit in the city of Kenosha and it
hit our church.
It was an EF-1, but it was enough to do a million dollars
worth of damage.
It took 10 months for the church to rebuild.
And there were a lot of challenges.
They didn't have a plan.
They didn't have a recovery plan,
but they were able to survive it and with the lessons learned
they also were able to add some things into the rebuilding
of the church.
So we put on a workshop last January and brought the pastor
of per house of Assembly of God to talk about his experience
with the tornado, how it impacted them,
some things that other pastors should consider,
and we led the churches through a would be at that taught them
how to develop an emergency response plan for fire, tornado,
intruder, things like that.
The second piece was developing a church recovery plan and we
basically took the open for business model out of Florida
there and used that.
And then we talked about them about developing a church
outreach plan.
If something bad happens in your community,
how could you assist us?
What are your strengths?
And we gave them several examples to start thinking about
so that they could then run with that.
Speaker: That's impressive as well.
I think you know, just in terms of we all looked for the forced
multiplier, and the thing that can be added to that thing we
are doing to sort of add the value.
And I think that's a great example of that.
The other piece -- I wanted to swing down to Venus and sort of
talk a little bit about the problem involving struggling
with in a lot of different ways in terms of those members of our
communities that have access and functional needs beyond sort of
what one would anticipate for a normal response to any kind of
an emergency.
And while one size does not fit all in all of these cases,
there are special accommodations that need to be thought about
in advance.
And so, Venus you've done a lot on project plus,
I think that's demonstrated a solid way forward and
approach for this.
But I was just wondering if you could walk us through that.
Speaker: Sure, and, at the our program, Alianza Emergency
Preparedness Plus.
It's really not about seeing or differentiating people as having
special needs because it's viewing the community as
one community.
And as Commissioner Fugate has mentioned and Marcie Roth at the
Department of her office integration,
it's about baking this in to make us one community.
And at my agency where I've been for more than two decades in the
New Jersey institute for disabilities,
that's what we believe.
We are one community.
And so, we take a very personal approach.
We will meet with people, one-on-one, go into their homes.
And really let them direct their plan.
What is it that they need to meet an emergency?
Because we all know what's best for ourselves and for
our family.
We can offer some resources and guidance.
But it goes beyond that plan.
What we do then is encourage our participants to become a part of
the community as it relates to preparedness.
We've encouraged our families to take certain courses and they
have graduated certain courses to become volunteers in the Red
Cross and the Salvation Army across the board,
so that we see them neither as special or needy,
but as contributing to the community.
And I think that that's really that the barrier that we're
trying to break.
And I think probably my job will be well done when no one is
surprised that a person with a disability is able to
be certified.
When no one is surprised that a person with a disability is
contributing back to their community,
that's the core of what we do, and we've been very successful,
our families are wonderful participants.
The staff that go into the homes are extraordinary in the level
of care that we have.
But it's a matter of truly understanding that those
barriers should not exist.
It's believing that.
It's understanding that people are people first.
And the disability is not what gives them their characteristic,
it's who they are.
And that's what we try to do at Alianza.
Speaker: That's wonderful.
Well, again, thank you very much.
And I do believe we still have more work to do,
not only in that area, but all areas across the table.
I'm confident with you Champions and others out there and future
Champions that there are more good news to befall all of us.
Recognizing that we are running close up on time,
and I'm starting to get the funny signal from the sign --
-- which I appreciate.
I just to want to say again on behalf of myself and certainly
the President, the administration and all of us
here today, I would like to thank you all for inviting me to
moderate this panel.
I've taken copious notes and my staff will be much saddened by
the fact that I'll have -- lots of questions --
-- afterwards.
But again, to extend my admiration, congratulations.
And most importantly, my appreciation for what you as
Champions and certainly heroes, for not only us,
but those to follow us, the President has called upon all
Americans to serve this nation and their communities.
And you really are the paragons of that fundamental value
of service.
And for that you deserve our thanks at a minimum and
certainly lots more beyond that.
I think Champions of Change at least from my perspective does
indeed represent the tide that rises on boats.
And so I think the more we can find ways to support the unique
and innovative and creative ideas that you have,
not only here but across the country,
the better off we'll all be.
So with that I will turn it back to you and thank you all
very much.
Erin Hannigan: Thank you, Richard.
And thank you to the second panel.
I thought it was a great discussion.
And I know a lot of our staff here in the room are taking
notes and looking forward to the follow-up from this discussion.
I also want to thank our speakers and our moderators
again for taking part in this event.
Also, a special thank you to the FEMA staff who helped make all
this happen.
But finally, I wanted to remind everyone here in the audience
and watching online to learn more about our Champions.
You can go to
learn more about their stories and hopefully be inspired to do
similar work in your communities.
And before we go, I wanted to just give one last thank you to
our Champions for their work and for those doing the important
work like this around the country.
So thank you very much.