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Satellite Media Tour Showcases National PrepareAthon! Day and #HurricaneStrong

On September 28, FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson and National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb joined forces for a satellite media tour to raise awareness about flood and hurricane preparedness. Starting at The Weather Channel, the tour swept through 20 U.S. communities, with Boston, Dallas, Hartford, Miami, Norfolk, Roanoke, and Shreveport among those jumping aboard America's PrepareAthon!

While reaching more than six million viewers, the duo highlighted critical information about flood insurance and hurricane mitigation while encouraging viewers to participate in FEMA's National PrepareAthon! Day by getting an insurance check-up.

“Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem,” said Dr. Knabb. “Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland. You need to find out what types of hazards could happen where you live, and then start preparing for how to handle them.”

Visit FLASH on Facebook to see photos and video clips of the satellite media tour and click here to visit and share information in the multimedia news release.

Atlanta Ready Business Workshop Focuses on Flood

From the list of speakers to the subject matter, participants at Atlanta’s Ready Business Inland Flooding Workshop praised the event presented by FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division, FEMA Region IV, FLASH, and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMHSA).

Representatives from organizations incuding Equifax, Georgia Department of Insurance, Georgia Tank Lines LLC, JPMorgan Chase, The Georgian Terrace Hotel, and UPS attended the workshop that focused on flooding threats to the region.

JPMorgan Chase Vice President Chanda Sukhanath remarked, “Flooding seems to be a catastrophe that is overlooked until it is too late. This was a great topic of discussion. [The] information provided can be shared with our employees.”

The September 20 event included speakers from FEMA Region IV, FLASH, the State of Georgia, Douglas County, and private sector businesses. All explained the importance of disaster preparedness with the reminder that developing a plan is just the first step.

To get the workshop started, GEMHSA Meteorologist Will Lanxton delivered a briefing about the different types of flooding and reviewed the September 2009 Atlanta flooding.

Anita Shipman, CEO and Co-Founder of Turning Point Accounting and Financial Services, shared the Ready Business Back-to-Business Self-Assessment tool, that focuses on potential flood impacts to staff, surroundings and structures of a business. In the afternoon, a tabletop discussion featured speakers sharing lessons learned from the Atlanta floods.

“One of the best practices,” said Wes Tallon, Director of Communications and Community Relations for Douglas County, “is to document everything with photographs.” “Recovery is not a sprint,” he added. “And storing photos and documents on a thumb drive and placing it in a safe location will provide businesses and organizations with a smoother path to recovery.”

Ready Business Workshops are available throughout the year in various locations. For more information, email info@flash.org.

USAA Sponsors WeatherReady Fest Drawing Thousands to Day of Learning and Fun

It’s not every day that you can make a tornado or a solar oven, or learn how FedEx airline pilots steer planes clear of thunderstorms. But approximately 3,500 adults and kids in Norfolk, Virginia did just that and more during WeatherReady Fest on Saturday, September 10.

The lively, something-for-everyone event was both fun and educational. Kids learned how to make a solar oven from a pizza box and a tornado in a bottle, how to harness the power of wind, and how to track a hurricane. Adults heard tips for hurricane-resistant homes and learned about the impact of sea-level rise on Hampton Roads. They also learned disaster and insurance tips from CAT 5 Sponsor and FLASH Legacy Partner, USAA. 

"Norfolk is a military community, so being here for our many members made perfect sense," said USAA Director of P&C Underwriting Jim Clifford.

“It was a wildly successful event that gave the exhibitors the chance to educate the community about weather safety and more,” said Project Specialist Caldwell Nystrom. 

Among the most popular events was a tour of the new field vehicle from The Weather Channel and the Command Bus used by Norfolk Emergency Management. The debut of The Storm Chasing Anthology with filmmaker Blake Naftel was also a big hit. Celebrities included The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Leadership Partner Bill Read, and Owlie Skywarn, the National Weather Service mascot.

Each year, WeatherReady Fest precedes the week-long National Weather Association Annual Meeting, which just celebrated its 41st anniversary. To view a video of the day’s activities, click here.

QuakeSmart Coming to Charleston, Memphis, and Washington, D.C.

Community leaders attending QuakeSmart Preparedness Workshops in October and November may not feel the effects of an earthquake and the workshop, but they will certainly learn how to reduce the impacts of future seismic events.

Attendees will learn how to identify their risks, develop a plan, and take action through the QuakeSmart Community Resilience Program, which provides businesses and organizations with step-by-step instructions and planning tools to perform nonstructural and structural mitigation.

The workshops will take place on:

FLASH is hosting the workshops in cooperation with two Legacy Partners – FEMA and Simpson Strong-Tie – as well as American Institute of Architects, CCS Group, Inc., Central U.S. Earthquake Consortia (CUSEC), Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, South Carolina Emergency Management Agency, USGS, and Worksafe Technologies.

For more information on the workshops, contact Barbara Harrison, or visit quakesmartcommunity.org to register.

Indiana to Host First Ready Business Power Outage Workshop

Does your business, community, church, or school have a plan in place to deal with power outage? If not, plan to attend a free, one-day workshop scheduled for Tuesday, November 1, and you will learn what to do. 

During the workshop, businesses and organizations will learn how to identify risk, develop a plan, and take action to mitigate impacts using the new Ready Business Power Outage Toolkit. The daylong event will address staff, space, systems, and community service steps for businesses to become disaster resilient.

FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division, FEMA Region V, and FLASH will present the workshop at the Newton County Government Center.

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

Partner Spotlight – Sara Yerkes, ICC Senior Vice President of Government Relations

It’s a good thing that Sara Yerkes employs a staff of 21. In her role as SVP of Government Relations for Legacy Partner International Code Council, Ms. Yerkes has a lengthy list of responsibilities. With her eye on building codes, she works closely with members of Congress and state governments as well as with local officials while also managing a high school technical program tool.

If there is one thing she would like people to know about building codes, it is that they are always changing to reflect new building technology.

“I’ve compared it to buying a new car,” she said. “You’re looking for a 2017 model and the car salesman tells you it is a 2017 model, but it was built to 2009 standards. Is that a new car?”

Promoting building codes is only one part of the job she has held for 16 years. She and her team also work to lobby government officials, represent ICC on policy matters, coordinate strategies to implement policies, make sure that action plans are accomplished, seek out opportunities to showcase ICC and expand ICC’s circle of influence both in the United States and in the world.

If that’s not enough, Yerkes also manages the ICC annual national campaign that supports Building Safety Month and the ICC High School Technical Program that teaches high school students how to navigate and use building codes.

Another major focus for ICC is resilience. While society recognizes the importance of protecting our planet, our natural resources and our built environment, that is not the complete definition of resilience according to Yerkes.

“In the last few years, there has been an increase in the realization that we not only need to consider how the environment impacts our buildings, but also how buildings impact the environment,” she said.

In that regard, Yerkes is excited about a new project that her organization has developed in partnership with many others.
“ICC is collaborating with many groups to create the nation’s first whole-community resilience benchmark,” she said. “It’s taking a look at what’s out there and making sure we talk about how resilient a building is – how fast can we get the roads cleared and open? What do schools have to do to operate, what does it take to get stores open? We’re looking for as much input as we can get.”

As part of this project, the Alliance for National & Community Resilience Institute is dedicated to providing the tools communities need to evaluate their capacity to withstand, respond to, and recover from hazards that threaten the social, economic, and environmental well-being of community residents and businesses.

“This is an all-inclusive project and we hope to have as many stakeholders participate as is possible,” she added.
Yerkes said she has always been interested in disaster safety. Prior to her present job, she held a similar position for 20 years with the National Fire Protection Association.

Over the past 10 years, she has also watched FLASH grow. “I met Leslie Chapman-Henderson when she managed our foundation, the ICC Foundation,” she explained. “[Leslie] also led the national campaign for Building Safety Month activities. We now work with FLASH on code adoption issues.”

When asked to prioritize her array of responsibilities, D.C.-based Sara Yerkes simply says "they are all fulfilling and rewarding."

FLASH Team on the Move

Today, FLASH announced that Michael V. Rimoldi, MPA, CBO, CFM, PhD (ABD) is joining the team as the Senior Vice President of Education and Technical Programs. Mike recently served as Chief Building Official for Hillsborough County, Florida, and enjoys a distinguished record, including service as a FLASH nonvoting board advisor, a “go to” subject matter expert for national news networks, and a long-time supporter of resilience. According to FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson, “Mike’s proven building code, construction, and outreach expertise are a perfect fit for FLASH. We are delighted to add him to our stellar roster.”

“I’m really looking forward to the new role”, Rimoldi said. “I have always believed in the FLASH concepts of protecting families and the homes they live in as that’s what the building code and good construction are all about”.

Mike’s new role sets the stage for growth across the team as well. Tim Smail will serve as Senior Vice President of Project Management and Development, Barbara Harrison will move to Vice President of Outreach; Zoe LaPointe will serve as Vice President of Communications; and Eric Vaughn will move to the role of Executive Vice President.

Please join us in welcoming Mike, and congratulations to the FLASH team for their years of service and dedication. 

Sponsorship Opportunities Now Available for the 2017 Annual Conference

Now is the time to join our sponsors, the International Code Council and Verisk Analytics, to help underwrite the 18th FLASH Annual Conference set for October 27- 29, 2017 in Atlanta. 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 is coming soon. View sponsorship opportunities here or contact Barbara Harrison for more information.