An interagency team has produced a technology that can detect a human heartbeat buried in rubble. The technology, called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response, was developed for search-and-rescue missions by the Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate together with NASA.
Two Republican and two Democratic members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced Oct. 22 a bill reauthorizing Federal Emergency Management Agency salaries and expenses through fiscal 2016. It would authorize FEMA to spend $972,145,000 annually each year of salaries and expenses from the current fiscal year through fiscal 2016.
"FEMA proactively prepared for Sandy, overcame staffing and operational challenges, overcame staff management issues, used a variety of sourcing mechanisms, and effectively coordinated response activities," the DHS OIG concludes in a newly released report.
As governments and relief organizations use crowdsourcing to respond to disasters, trust in the knowledge created from collective intelligence will determine whether such efforts are successful or unsuccessful, finds a paper recently published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Lack of workers' compensation for civilian volunteers to urban search and rescue teams makes it difficult to recruit engineers, doctors and dog handlers, said Bob Kahn, the central region sponsor agency chief for Federal Emergency Management Agency urban search and rescue program. The teams locate, rescue and medically stabilize people trapped in confined space--usually as a result of structure collapse during a natural disaster, but also as a result of transportation incidents, collapsed mines or trenches. The teams are self-supporting for 72 hours.
Insufficient funds for the new fiscal year caused the much of the federal government to close on Oct. 1. In addition to somewhere between one-third and half of federal employees being furloughed, many federal websites are also on a hiatus. The response from federal web managers, however, appears inconsistent.
More than one employee in 10 will be furloughed from the Homeland Security Department should Congress fail to approve a funding measure by midnight Monday--and some offices within DHS will see nearly all staff prevented from coming to work. The reasons for the variance are due to the different funding mechanisms and missions of DHS components.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's budget request for the coming year didn't include any new funding for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant program because it's duplicative and because states tended to spend money received through it on planning, a FEMA official told a Sept. 19 House panel.
The National Flood Insurance Program reform law passed into law last year doesn't give the federal government authority to delay or lessen rate increases, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. "If I had a way to do it based upon anything other than the technical implementation of the program, I don't see it," he said.
More than 300 people remain unaccounted for as federal assistance has begun to go out to victims of recent flooding in Colorado, Joseph Nimmich of FEMA said during a House hearing Sept. 18. The flooding has destroyed at least 1,600 homes, and thousands more are endangered. Some sewage and wastewater facilities were likely destroyed as well.