Outreach and Information Dissemination regarding Disaster Relief1
Hudak, Mary, Electronic Green Journal
Federal Emergency Management Agency's Goal
A Nation Prepared
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) goal is: to have a nation prepared for whatever comes along. That "whatever" most likely will be some natural phenomenon, such as an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, flood, or wildfire. Something that result in people's homes being destroyed or severely damaged. But since September 11, 2001, "whatever" must also include terrorists attacks.
External Affairs' Objective
Providing information about FEMA before, during, and after disasters
Communicating with the American public is one of FEMA's pivotal functions and the job of External Affairs. To better understand how External Affairs works, I've separated communications into three critical time periods: before a disaster, during a disaster, and following a disaster.
* Government Entities
* Constituent Groups
Just as critical as the time periods are the target audiences, those broad sub-groupings of what is commonly called the "general public" to which we send specific messages. The first are government agencies that are involved with disaster planning and response. These include state and county emergency management offices, local first responders (police, fire service, and EMS), and the host of other government agencies that are part of the federal response plan-the departments of Defense, Health & Human Services, Justice, and Transportation, to name just a few.
Members of Congress and constituent groups, such as state legislators and local government officials, are another critical audience; they are a key conduit for relaying disaster recovery information to the ones who need it most-the disaster victims.
The news media form another key audience; for it is most frequently through them that we are able to get vital recovery information to disaster victims, and life saving preparedness information to potential disaster victims. Besides the common thread of concerns about disasters, these audiences have one other thing in common-they all can use libraries as sources of reliable, accurate information.
Before the Disaster-Programs
* Individuals and Families
* Flood Insurance
* U.S. Fire Administration
* Disaster Response and Recovery
Before a disaster strikes, FEMA's emphasis is on preparedness programs and is directed to two specific audiences: local governments and individuals or families. During this period the message generally fits into one of four categories. First is mitigation, things that can to be done now to lessen the chance of damage or minimize the damage if some specific disaster occurs. This may be as simple as moving a furnace or water heater out of crawl space so flood water will not damage it; or in areas prone to wildfires, removing vegetation from around buildings and creating fire breaks.
Flood insurance information is directed to local governments and property owners. Local governments are encouraged to adopt and enforce minimum flood safety standards and to convince property owners to build above the base flood elevation and have flood insurance.
The U.S. Fire Administration's message is directed to the nation's fire departments and delivered through the scores of courses it offers at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
The emphasis to state and local government agencies is on planning and training for their disaster response and recovery efforts. None of us wants a disaster to occur, but it is comforting to know that our states, counties, and towns have planned and trained for the kinds of disasters that are more likely to happen in their area. …