Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

Don’t Wait. Communicate. – "National Preparedness Month" is Here

Every September, individuals, businesses, and organizations across the United States join FEMA to present National Preparedness Month, and focus on disaster preparedness as a year-round priority. And, last year's successful theme, “Don’t Wait, Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today,” is back again for 2016.

One of the signature activities this year is a social media campaign designed to strengthen the nation’s preparedness profile. Anyone can join, and this new Social Media Toolkit contains key marketing and preparedness messaging you can use to help spread the word.

Weekly themes for 2016 National Preparedness Month are:

  • September 4    Preparing Family & Friends
  • September 11  Preparing Through Service
  • September 18  Individual Preparedness
  • September 25  Lead up to National Day of Action-Sept. 30

To learn more about National Preparedness Month, visit www.ready.gov/september.

White House Resilience Leadership Continues with Focus on Smart Finance

On August 3, FLASH President & CEO, Leslie Chapman-Henderson joined the White House Forum on Smart Finance for Disaster Resilience along with an array of public and private partners to highlight innovative finance options for disaster mitigation and community resilience.

The event focused on new investment vehicles and incentive programs as well as creative partnerships to leverage resources and motivate pre-disaster mitigation, smart building and more. The gathering drew leaders from banking, financial services, and the insurance industry to work with thought leaders from academia, and nonprofits like FLASH.

According to Presidential Senior Advisor Brian Deese, "the public sector can't drive the scale of change needed alone – we need private innovation." Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for Resilience Policy Alice Hill added, "Everyone agrees resilience is right thing to do."

To learn more about the innovative ways that states, local communities, and private entities are investing in disaster resilience, and to view the keynote presenter, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, click here.

Texas State Collaborative Convenes at Capitol on Codes and Science

On August 16, Legacy Partners FEMA and State Farm sponsored the latest Texas State Collaborative (TSC) meeting, Strategies to Build Texas Resiliency, and brought together more than 50 partners to learn about state-of-the-art science available to improve disaster resilience.

With a focus on better building codes and practices, the day opened with presentations from science leaders, including Leadership Partner/former National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read on recent flood events; FEMA flood expert John Ingargiola on advances in flood mitigation, building codes, and standards; National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Mark Fox with an overview of the North Texas tornado outbreaks; and Tim Marshall of Haag Engineering with a report on post-event damage observations after the December 26 Garland tornado.

Dr. John van de Lindt of Colorado State Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning discussed new high-wind building science advances, and Texas Coalition for Affordable Insurance Solutions Executive Director Beaman Floyd led a philosophical discussion of tactics and strategies that could better advance the cause of resiliency.

The afternoon included presentations from Tiffany Smith of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) on the Fortified code-plus program, and insights from Julie Shiyou-Woodard of Smart Home America on plans to bring Fortified to Texas. Texas House Rep. Paul Workman addressed flood impacts on his local Travis County constituents, and Camille Garcia of State Farm led a panel discussion on education solutions to drive adoption and enforcement of current, model building codes and standards.

Justice Jones of the Austin Fire Department summed up the impact of the meeting, “When the scientific community, building community, and state and local leaders collaborate, resiliency happens.”

If you would like to learn more or join the TSC, contact Barbara Harrison.

ReadyBusiness Workshop Waves Through Lower Rio Grande Valley

On August 17, FLASH joined the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) Development Council, FEMA Region VI, and FEMA HQ to present the first Inland Flooding ReadyBusiness Workshop in Weslaco, Texas at the LRGV Development Council Offices.

More than 40 representatives from organizations such as Arise, the City of Edinburg, Edinburg Police Department, SafeGuard Insurance, Teracore, Texas Crisis Resiliency Team, Texas Department of Insurance, and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley attended the workshop, which focused on threats to the flood-prone region. 

After a brief welcome by LRGV Development Council Executive Director Ron Garza, and FEMA Region VI Program Manager Bill Bischof, FLASH Senior Vice-President Tim Smail introduced the ReadyBusiness Toolkit and Workshop series.

National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith addressed the region’s flooding threat and commented, “Imagine eight feet of water on this street. It can happen, and we need to prepare.”

Afternoon highlights included Abraham Padron of SafeGuard Insurance Agency sharing lessons learned from past area floods, and Rob Glenn of FEMA’s Private Sector Division facilitating a scenario-based discussion designed to reinforce participant knowledge gained at the workshop.

Next ReadyBusiness Workshop Slated for September in Atlanta

FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division, FEMA Region IV, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, and FLASH will host area businesses and organizations at Atlanta’s first ReadyBusiness Workshop on Tuesday, September 20.

During the workshop, businesses and organizations will learn how to identify risk, develop a plan, and take action to mitigate impacts using the new Inland Flooding ReadyBusiness Toolkit. The daylong event will address the staff, surroundings, space, systems, structure, and services of a business or organization.

The workshop is free, however advance reservations are required, so please click here to register​, or contact Tim Smail for more information.

New Home Now Underway for Superstorm Sandy Survivor in Breezy Point

As of August 11, Diane Hellriegel is one step closer to a new #HurricaneStrong home. The residence will not only replace her original 1955 structure—damaged beyond repair in Hurricane Sandy—but will serve as an education project to promote disaster-resilient construction across the United States.

The new resilient, energy-efficient concrete home is a signature element of the National Hurricane Resilience Initiative #HurricaneStrong, and is bringing together a strong public/private partner lineup.

Project sponsors include FLASH, Portland Cement Association, BASF Corporation, Huber Engineered Woods, Kohler Generators, Malbro Constructions Services, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. All of these partners have joined local architect Illya Azaroff of +LAB architect PLLC who is committed to helping the lifelong Breezy Point resident return to her community after leaving nearly four years ago.

The home will feature coastal construction using a variety of innovative materials that include insulated concrete form (ICF) walls, closed cell spray polyurethane foam, Zip Systems Roof Sheathing and Tape, a whole-home generator, James Hardie siding, and a lightning protection system. The home will have a solid concrete foundation and an elevated living space to resist flooding and high winds while boosting energy efficiency and fire resistance.

According to FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson, “Rebuilding this home will not only help the Hellriegel family, but will raise awareness about the many available options for durable, disaster-resilient construction." 

Visit the Breezy Point Flickr page to follow the visual library as the build progresses, and for more information, email Tim Smail.

Partner Spotlight – Kohler Generator’s Melanie Tydrich

Kohler Co. knows what its customers want – comfort, craftsmanship, and convenience. Best known for its bath and kitchen products, Kohler also offers a line of standby generators that can keep a family or business safe and going strong when disaster strikes.

“We introduced the first automatic standby generator in 1920,” said Melanie Tydrich, who leads the team for strategic marketing, channel, and marketing communications for residential, light commercial, and portable generators. “Our generators back up everything from hospitals, data centers, nuclear power plants and airports to homes and small businesses,” she said.

On the FLASH board for five years, Tydrich said Kohler believes its generator product was only part of a solution to the bigger issue of overall preparedness.  She searched for how the company could get more involved in the movement and was told that she needed to talk to FLASH. 

“It was great advice,” she said. “We talked to Leslie [Chapman-Henderson] and her team, we came to some annual meetings and started getting involved with some smaller sponsorships. It became obvious that we found an organization that was truly dedicated to making it approachable and achievable for families to become safer in their homes and more resilient in the face of disaster. FLASH is saving lives and communities, and we wanted to be a part of that.”

With the company’s involvement, Kohler also learned more about its customers.

“The primary reason that home and business owners purchase a generator is to protect themselves and their properties from disaster, so it was natural for us to be interested in resilience,” Tydrich said.

The more they learned about their customers’ behaviors, Kohler discovered that they were purchasing the product after the disaster was over, instead of beforehand when it could have saved them from hardship and allowed them to help their neighbors and community weather the storm better and recover faster.

“We realized there was a lot more to resilience than selling our product, and a lot more work to be done to encourage proactive rather than reactive behaviors to keep people safe and build resilient communities,” she said.

Tydrich has learned that resilient building isn’t just strengthening the structure, it also looks at the resilience of the critical systems within the building.  “Obviously, ensuring the integrity of the structure is job one,” she said.  “However, if a home or business stands, but the critical systems that protect the building and its occupants fail, we have not achieved true resilience.”

More and more home and business owners understand that a small investment in resilience will pay for itself many times over during and after a disaster strikes.  “That payback is in dollars, time, safety, and peace of mind,” she added.

As part of its commitment to FLASH and its partners, Kohler is providing backup power for the Breezy Point #HurricaneStrong Home project. 

“We are a small part of this project, but we are very excited that we were able to participate, because it not only provides a Hurricane Sandy survivor with a resilient home, but it will serve as an educational project to show people across the country how they can achieve disaster-resilient construction for their own homes.”

Tydrich, who previously held senior marketing positions in companies including The Gillette Company, Newell, and Applica Consumer Products, advises those who think they may be interested in FLASH’s work to attend the 2017 FLASH Annual Conference to learn more to help your family and your business.

Sponsorship Opportunities Now Available for the 2017 Annual Conference

Now is the time to join our first sponsor, International Code Council, and help underwrite the 18th FLASH Annual Conference, October 27- 29, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. Through sponsorship, your organization will be recognized by the Nation's foremost voices in the disaster safety and resilience movement. 

Planning is now underway for this exciting event, and a call for presentations will be issued shortly. 

View sponsorship opportunities here or contact Barbara Harrison for more information.