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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Acting FEMA Head Urges Public To Assess Their Risks, Communications In Advance Of Hurricane Season

April 10th, 2009 · No Comments

Acting FEMA Administrator Nancy Ward speaking at the National Hurricane Conference in Austin, Texas on Wednesday underscored the need for the general public to do their own risk and communications assessments as storm season approaches. And, she said in an interview now on FEMA’s YouTube channel that the agency would be continuing to expand its use of social media applications to help them do it.

“I think that the theme I have heard all throughout today has been the dialogue that we need to continue to have with the public both as citizens and the media in our advisories to citizens. Preparedness is the key,” said Ward. “People need to understand the risk environment they live in, they need to understand where they get their warnings and advisories that there is imminent storm or hurricane approaching…” 

Increasingly, the sources of those warnings and advisories, according to Ward, are new social media tools and technologies. ”There are so many ways the public gets their information today,” said Ward. “We need to continue to seek out communications tools outside the traditional forms of media.”

One of those tools FEMA employed at the hurricane conference is YouTube where it has just posted a number of brief interviews with federal, state and local officials talking about their initiatives to improve public preparedness as well as their takeaways from the five-day event. In one of the videos (below), Dr. Michael Brennan, one of the National Hurricane Center’s 10 specialists who issue storm forecasts and warnings, talks about some of the new web-based resources available to the public to get information about oncoming weather-related emergencies:


National Hurricane Center’s  Senior Hurricane Specialist Dr. Michael Brennan 

There was one other nugget from FEMA’s social media coverage at the conference that I wanted to mention. In response to a question on Twitter from #kc5fm to FEMA’s public affairs office #femainfocus:  ”What was the best takeaway from #nhc?” The answer (in 140 characters or less): “Takeaways from #NHC — Need for better public communications and explanations of what warnings really mean for action.”

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Tags: Federal Emergency Management Administration

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