The Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act directs the DHS Secretary to designate employees from throughout the Department to staff a Surge Capacity Force (SCF). During a declared disaster, the DHS Secretary will determine if SCF support is necessary. The Secretary will then authorize FEMA to task and deploy designated personnel from DHS components and other Federal Executive Agencies to respond to extraordinary disasters.
Together as One: DHS Employees May be Activated and Deployed
In very rare circumstances, a disaster of extraordinary size (such as September 11, Katrina, or Super Storm Sandy) may occur that would require DHS at-large to augment FEMA’s workforce. In exceptional circumstances, this volunteer employee force -- known as the Surge Capacity Force (SCF) – will be deployed to a disaster location to help FEMA with response and recovery.
To prepare, DHS trains SCF volunteers in four primary areas:
- Logistics, the storage and movement of critical materials in support of disaster response
- Community Relations, reaching out to the public about available disaster assistance programs
- Individual Assistance, providing aid to survivors
- Public Assistance, monitoring debris
As the program progresses and a disaster situation warrants it, other professional skills or additional training to help utilize those skills for specific disaster needs may be required.
Employees of DHS who want to help when the need is greatest volunteer for these assignments. This program is active across all of DHS, and successfully utilized more than 1,100 employees during Super Storm Sandy. The program will soon be able to include our partners from across the federal workforce, outside of DHS.
The goal: with the help of federal employees, we will be ready to respond to any event or to simultaneous events, no matter how large the impact. Being “on call” for your organization and your country is really what federal service is all about.
DHS Stands United to Help Those in Need
DHS currently has over 3,800 workers who have signed up to be a part of SCF. We would like to have 15,000 volunteer employees in this program. Volunteers who join will be on call for SCF for one year, with supervisor's approval.
Employees in the Surge Capacity Force remain in a paid status and continue to be paid by their Component for a normal 80 hour pay period. Overtime pay and travel costs will be paid by the Disaster Relief Fund to eligible employees consistent with applicable law and regulations when approved by Joint Field Office Supervisors.
Conditions will be challenging. If SCF is activated, it means that the disaster is catastrophic. Living conditions are often austere during deployments and include, but are not limited to, no running water, no electricity, sleeping in tents and weather extremes.
The Secretary of DHS will activate the SCF when a catastrophic incident exceeds the capacity of FEMA’s existing disaster workforce to respond. Volunteering is a unique opportunity for DHS employees to assist individuals in need during major disasters or emergencies and support DHS’s mission of protecting the American Homeland.