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Homeland Security

DHS' Progress in 2011: Ensuring Resilience to Disasters

Highlighting Our Progress in 2011: Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides the coordinated, comprehensive Federal response in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency while working with federal, state, local, and private sector partners to ensure a swift and effective recovery effort. The Department’s efforts to build a ready and resilient Nation include bolstering information sharing and providing grants, plans and training to our homeland security and law enforcement partners.


FEMA team member surveys damaged building

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assists our state and local partners by coordinating the core federal response capabilities needed to save and sustain lives and protect property in communities overwhelmed by the impact of a disaster. As of December 31, 2011, FEMA has supported 99 major disaster declarations, 29 emergency declarations, and 114 fire management assistance declarations. These included the response to Hurricane Irene that impacted 14 states, fires in the Southwest, earthquake on the East Coast, flooding in North Dakota, and devastating tornadoes that hit the Midwest and South.
  • DHS made more than $2.1 billion in federal preparedness grants available in FY 2011 to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, non-profit agencies, and the private sector in strengthening our nation's ability to prevent, protect, respond to, recover from, and mitigate terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.
  • FEMA supported more than 100 exercises in all 56 states and territories to further enhance preparedness and response capabilities. These events included training and exercise planning as well as tabletop, functional, and full scale exercises focusing on improvised nuclear device workshops, and hazardous materials response.
  • Following the deadly tornadoes that devastated the South and Midwest in the spring of 2011, FEMA deployed a team of experts comprised of building science engineers, grant specialists, communication and environmental specialists, and emergency managers to work with state and local officials to streamline the environmental review and grant application process for construction of safe rooms and community shelters.
  • DHS announced the release of the country's first-ever National Preparedness Goal, required under Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8. The goal sets the vision for nationwide preparedness and identifies the core capabilities and targets necessary to achieve preparedness across five mission areas laid out under PPD 8: prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. To support this effort, DHS completed the first Strategic National Risk Assessment, which helped identify the types of incidents that pose the greatest threat to the Nation’s homeland security.
  • FEMA released the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) which was developed in partnership with stakeholders representing local, state, tribal and federal governments, private organizations, professional associations, academic experts, and communities recovering from disasters. The NDRF defines how federal agencies will work together to best meet the needs of states and communities in their ongoing recovery, by aligning key roles and responsibilities among all our partners.
  • FEMA provided continuity guidance and training to thousands of federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners to enhance their preparedness and reduce vulnerability to terrorist attacks and other hazards
  • FEMA supported the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut—the largest-ever, multi-state earthquake drill in the United States, and the first major drill to take place along the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). More than three million Americans across eleven states participated. Additionally, FEMA, in collaboration with federal, state, regional, local, international, non-governmental, and private sector partners, led the National Level Exercise 2011 which simulated the catastrophic nature of a major earthquake in the NMSZ region.
  • FEMA created the FEMA Think Tank, a new forum designed to generate innovative ideas for strengthening the emergency management field and improving our nation’s capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
  • DHS launched the Resilience STAR pilot, a voluntary certification program that aims to make homes and buildings more secure and resilient to all hazards. The RESILIENT Homes Pilot brings DHS together with local officials, private sector insurers and builders, and community leaders in risk-prone communities to rebuild private residences recently destroyed by hazards such as tornados and floods.
  • Providing the American public with new ways to prepare for and recover from disasters, FEMA launched a FEMA app for smartphones, and a new social media tool enabling people to sign up for text message updates. The FEMA app contains preparedness information for different types of disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, information on how to stay safe and recover after a disaster, and an interactive map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations and shelters.
  • The DHS Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) developed and commercialized the Board Armour™ Backboard Cover for Emergency Medical Services personnel, which reduces contamination and cleaning issues related to reusable equipment that protects both the patient and the responder by preventing the spread of disease.
  • In 2011, S&T developed and provided Controlled Impact Rescue Tools (CIRT) to the National Urban Search & Rescue Response System. CIRT substantially reduces the time required to breach reinforced concrete walls, helping first responders reach trapped victims.
  • DHS launched a Department-wide training course for all employees to help build personal resilience and foster a culture of support and wellness.
  • FEMA released the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Training Program, the national standard to train and educate emergency responders. FEMA also released the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Guideline for the Credentialing of Personnel as the national standard to validate the identity, affiliation, skills, certifications, licensure and authorities of emergency response personnel.
  • FEMA, in collaboration with state, local, tribal officials, established the Emergency Management Training and Education System (EMTES), which provides specialized and technical training, executive and managerial training, strategic leadership training and training for fire and law enforcement communities.
  • FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administered the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS is a national alert and warning system established to enable the President of the United States to address the American public during emergencies. This test was the first time a top-to-bottom review of the entire system had ever been undertaken. The nationwide test successfully generated a comprehensive set of data and identified areas of improvement to help strengthen our national emergency communication system. FEMA and the FCC will incorporate the lessons learned from the test and will continue to work toward a robust, resilient, and fully accessible next generation of emergency alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the public.
  • Through its Citizen Corps Council Program, FEMA helped train more than 428,000 individuals as part of the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). Overall, more than 1.3 million CERT volunteer hours were recorded in 2011.
  • FEMA supported more than 176,000 Citizen Corps Council volunteers throughout the U.S. and its territories who are working to prepare their communities for disaster and emergency events. In total, more than 3 million volunteer hours were recorded through these registered Councils. Citizen Corps works with local communities as well as national affiliate partners, such as CERT, offering resources and materials promoting whole community planning, disaster preparedness education, training, exercises, and volunteer programs and activities.
  • FEMA completed the redesign of its flagship Web portal and citizen preparedness website Ready.gov, making the site more accessible.

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Highlighting the Department's Progress in 2011

Last Published Date: September 10, 2014
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