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Surge Capacity Force

Surge Capacity Force logoIn the aftermath of a catastrophic event, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) turns to its Surge Capacity Force, a cadre of federal employee heroes who help affected communities by supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) urgent response and recovery efforts. The Surge Capacity Force is made up of Federal employees from every Department or Agency in the Federal government.

Wherever you work in the Federal government, you can help individuals, families, and communities get back on their feet when disaster strikes by joining the Surge Capacity Force.

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke activated the Surge Capacity Force. We are currently deploying Surge Capacity Force volunteers from throughout the Federal government to support disaster survivors in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Are you a Federal employee? Do you want to help survivors of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria? Join the Surge Capacity Force today!

Am I eligible to deploy through the Surge Capacity Force?

As a permanent, full-time, or temporary full-time Federal employee, you are eligible to participate in the Surge Capacity Force if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are a current Federal employee with an HSPD-12 PIV card.
  • You possess a Government-issued travel card.
  • You have the ability to deploy to the field within 24 hours' notice.
  • You have your immediate supervisor's approval to participate.

Specialized skills are not required to volunteer. Everyone has skills to provide assistance to those in times of need. However, if you have specialized expertise that may be helpful, we ask that you please identify those particularly relevant skill-sets when you sign up and when you deploy.

What Can I Expect Once Deployed?

The Surge Capacity Force is only activated when the incident is catastrophic. Living conditions are often austere during deployments and may include, but are not limited to: no running water, no electricity, sleeping in tents or other non-conventional forms of housing (e.g., ships), and weather extremes. In the aftermath of a disaster, housing is often in low supply, and limited hotel space is needed for disaster survivors. Conditions can be challenging.
Deployments last no more than 45 days, though they can be shorter if the mission is completed.
Pay & Benefits
Surge Capacity Force volunteers continue to be paid by their home Department/Agency while they are deployed in support of FEMA. FEMA will reimburse your Department/Agency for all eligible travel and overtime. As a federal employee, both your health care coverage and worker’s compensation will remain with you during deployment.
Due to the extraordinary nature of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, we are taking measures to expedite deployment and consolidate initial training with just-in-time orientations in the field. Upon arrival to the personnel mobilization center in Anniston, Alabama, you will receive all relevant training and guidance for your specific assignments before being re-deployed to the field.

How Do I Sign-Up?

Contact your Department/Agency Surge Capacity Force coordinator. If you do not know who that is, you can email and we will connect you with your Department/Agency coordinator.

History of the Surge Capacity Force

The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-295) established the Surge Capacity Force to deploy Federal employees in the aftermath of a catastrophic event to help support response and recovery efforts. DHS activated the Surge Capacity Force for the first time in 2012 in support of Hurricane Sandy. More than 1,100 (non-FEMA) DHS employees deployed to New York and New Jersey to supplement FEMA’s substantial disaster workforce.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in September 2017, Acting Secretary Duke activated the Surge Capacity Force for the second time. This time expanding the program to the entirety of the Federal Government, over 2,000 Federal employees have already deployed as of September 21, 2017.

Last Published Date: September 25, 2017

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