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Low-interest Disaster Loans Help Fuel Texas Disaster Recovery

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 16:44

AUSTIN, Texas – Disaster recovery experts today urged applicants for federal assistance to complete a disaster loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Taking a loan is not required; completing the application can open the door to all federal assistance, including possible additional grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If approved, and a survivor does not accept the loan, it may make them ineligible for additional federal assistance.

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FEMA Offers Advice for Texans on Lessening Storm Damage in Jasper County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 16:43

AUSTIN, Texas – A team of specialists from FEMA will offer tips and techniques to lessen the impact of disaster-related property damage at Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Jasper County.

Specialists will be available at the following location:

Lowe’s: 900 W Gibson, Jasper, TX 75951

Available: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 15; 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17; and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, April 18 and 19.  

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FEMA Offers Advice for Texans on Lessening Storm Damage in Gregg County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 16:39

AUSTIN, Texas – A team of specialists from FEMA will offer tips and techniques to lessen the impact of disaster-related property damage at Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Gregg County.

Specialists will be available at the following location:

Lowe’s: 3313 N. Fourth Street, Longview, TX 75605

Available: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 15; 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17; and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, April 18 and 19.  

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Help Remains After Quitman County Disaster Recovery Center Closes

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 13:57

RIDGELAND, Miss. –The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced today that the Quitman County Disaster Recovery Center at the Marks Fire Department in Marks will close permanently Wednesday, April 27, at

6 p.m. However, disaster survivor assistance teams continue to canvass the area with information on available assistance, and survivors can still call the FEMA helpline.

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Federal disaster aid in Missouri tops $91 million

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 13:32

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – More than $91 million in federal assistance is helping Missourians rebuild and recover from floods and storms that struck in December and January. Rainfall brought historic flood levels along the Mississippi, Missouri and Meramec rivers resulting in flooding along the rivers and their tributaries.

In January, President Obama declared residents in 33 counties were eligible to receive disaster assistance. Between February and March, he designated 41 counties eligible for reimbursements for infrastructure damage.

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Understanding the FEMA Eligibility Letter

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 12:41

RIDGELAND, Miss. – All applicants receive letters from FEMA explaining the status of their applications and whether or not they are eligible for assistance from FEMA. Some may receive text messages about their application.

Take the time to read the document thoroughly. Sometimes people do not immediately qualify for financial help and the reason may be fixed simply. The following are some common reasons for not qualifying:

  • The applicant did not sign the required documents;

  • Proof of ownership or occupancy was not supplied;

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FEMA Offers Advice for Texans on Lessening Storm Damage in Gregg County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 11:05

AUSTIN, Texas – A team of specialists from FEMA will offer tips and techniques to lessen the impact of disaster-related property damage at The Home Depot in Gregg County.

Specialists will be available at the following location:

The Home Depot: 411 E Loop 281, Longview, TX 75605

 

Available: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, April 21-22; 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 23-24; and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, April 25-26

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Winners Announced in Visualize Your Water High School Citizen Science Challenge

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 11:00
Summary: In January 2016, U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency challenged high school students in 13 states to create compelling and innovative visualizations of nutrient data from open government data sources. 

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 ); Karl Haase ( Phone: 703-648-5818 );



In January 2016, U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency challenged high school students in 13 states to create compelling and innovative visualizations of nutrient data from open government data sources. 

Students from across the United States participated in the challenge, demonstrating their creativity and commitment to environmental stewardship. For the winning visualizations, students effectively used geographic information systems software (GIS) and water quality datasets to describe nutrient pollution in their local watersheds in innovative ways. 

Plant nutrients can be valuable in agricultural and urban settings, but too much at the wrong place or time will produce algal blooms, hypoxia, and other nutrient-related water quality issues that are particularly acute in the Great Lakes Basin and Chesapeake Bay Watershed. 

Today we are announcing the winners of the challenge. 

National Grand Prize
Understanding Eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay
Washington-Lee High School; Arlington, Va.

Chesapeake Bay Regional Prize
Nutrient Pollution, the Bay’s Biggest Threat
Poolesville High School; Poolesville, Md.

Great Lakes Regional Prize
Algae Affliction of Lake Erie
Father Gabriel Richard High School; Ann Arbor, Mich.

National Geographic Prize
Eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay: Fertilizer and Manure

Honorable Mention 
The Chesapeake Bay: A National Treasure in Trouble

Honorable Mention 
The Bonds of Water

The National Grand Prize winner is being awarded $2,500 and an opportunity to attend the Esri Education Conference in San Diego, CA in June. The Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes Regional Prize Winners are each being awarded $2,500. The National Geographic Prize winner is receiving a copy of the National Geographic Atlas of the World. All six winning visualizations will be published in Esri's 2017 Mapping the Nation book.

The Visualize Your Water Challenge is part of the broader work of the Challenging Nutrients Coalition. The coalition was formed in 2013 when the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy convened a group of federal agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations to seek innovative ways to address nutrient pollution. This challenge built on the activities of the Open Water Data Initiative, which works in conjunction with the President’s Climate Data Initiative, to further integrate existing water datasets and make them more accessible to innovation and decision making. 

Visualize Your Water involved students analyzing data and creating maps using online GIS software. In conjunction with President Obama's ConnectED Initiative supporting digital learning for every student in America, any US K-12 school can receive an ArcGIS Online school account for free from Esri.

The winners are being announced during National Environmental Education Week, a nationwide celebration of environmental education.

The GIS-based entry The Chesapeake Bay: A National Treasure in Trouble claims Honorable Mention in the Visualize Your Water high school citizen science challenge.

FEMA Offers Advice for Texans on Lessening Storm Damage in Orange County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 09:39

AUSTIN, Texas – A team of specialists from FEMA will offer tips and techniques to lessen the impact of disaster-related property damage at The Home Depot in Orange County.

Specialists will be available at the following location:

The Home Depot: 603 Strickland Drive, Orange, TX 77630

Available: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, April 21-22; 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 23-24; and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, April 25-26

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Farmerville Disaster Recovery Center Transitions to SBA Loan Center for Louisiana Survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 07:50

BATON ROUGE, La. – The disaster recovery center at the Willie Davis Recreation Center in Farmerville will transition to a Small Business Association (SBA) Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC) beginning Friday, April 22, at 8 a.m.

The new DLOC will be located at the Union Parish Courthouse, 100 East Bayou St., Suite 107 Farmerville, La. The center will open for business at 8 a.m. Friday, April 22. Its hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday.

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Free FEMA Advice Available at Local Home Improvement Store in Hattiesburg

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 17:27

RIDGELAND, Miss. – Are you repairing or rebuilding damaged property? Have questions about flood insurance? Want to protect your property from potential loss or damage from future disasters? FEMA mitigation specialists will be available in Hattiesburg to answer questions on building stronger.

Advisers will be available April 21-26 at the following location:

  • Lowe’s Home Improvement, 6004 U.S. Highway 98, Hattiesburg, MS 39402

The hours are: Thursday, noon to 7 p.m.; Friday through Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Categories: Federal News

Free FEMA Advice Available at Local Home Improvement Stores

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 17:24

RIDGELAND, Miss. – Are you repairing or rebuilding damaged property? Have questions about flood insurance? Want to protect your property from potential loss or damage from future disasters? FEMA mitigation specialists will be available in Oxford and Southaven to answer questions on building stronger.

Advisers will be available April 21-April 26 at the following locations:

  • Home Depot, 201 Home Depot Drive, Oxford, MS 38655

  • Lowe’s Home Improvement, 178 Goodman Road West, Southaven, MS 38671.       

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Disaster Recovery Centers Stress Accessibility for All

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 17:21

RIDGELAND, Miss. – Natural disasters are equal-opportunity when they pick their targets. In assisting survivors, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency/Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster recovery centers are just as impartial.

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President Amends Iowa and Nebraska Disaster Declarations

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 14:10

WASHINGTON –The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that the President has made additional disaster assistance available by authorizing an increase in the level of Federal funding for Public Assistance projects undertaken by the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa as a result of flooding during the period of May 24 to August 1, 2011 in Iowa and during the period of May 25 to August 1, 2011 in Nebraska.

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Most Wind Towers in Southern Great Plains Are Low Risk to Sandhill Cranes

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 13:47
Summary: Sandhill Cranes fly in close proximity to wind turbines near Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in east-central Wisconsin, but to date no crane mortality has been associated with turbines in this area. Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) The current placement of wind energy towers in the central and southern Great Plains may have relatively few negative effects on sandhill cranes wintering in the region, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published today.

Contact Information:

Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-526-6694 );



Sandhill Cranes fly in close proximity to wind turbines near Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in east-central Wisconsin, but to date no crane mortality has been associated with turbines in this area. Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)

The current placement of wind energy towers in the central and southern Great Plains may have relatively few negative effects on sandhill cranes wintering in the region, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published today.

Midcontinental sandhill cranes are important to sporting and tourism industries in the Great Plains, an area where wind energy development recently surged. Scientists with the USGS compared crane location data from the winters of 1998-2007 with current wind tower sites in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico prairies. Findings showed only a seven percent overlap between cranes and towers, and that most towers have been placed in areas not often used by cranes during the winter.

“Great Plains wetlands are critical to preserving valuable sandhill crane populations,” said USGS scientist Aaron Pearse, the study’s lead author. “Our findings can help managers minimize risks of future wind energy development to cranes by highlighting potentially hazardous locations.”

Using data from cranes tagged with satellite transmitters, the scientists estimated wintering crane distributions and habitat selection behaviors prior to and during wind tower construction, which began in 1999 but surged from 2004-2013. They then compared the early estimates with post-construction bird behaviors and current tower locations.

“Although about 50 percent of cranes in our study used locations that had wind towers nearby – within 10 kilometers, or about 6.2 miles – there were few instances in which high densities of cranes and high densities of towers coincided,” Pearse said.

The study further showed: 

  • A modest seven percent overlap between study areas visited by cranes during the winters of 1998-2004 and areas with wind towers constructed during 1999-2013;
  • When they spent time near wind towers, the wintering cranes maintained an average distance of 6.5 kilometers, or about four miles, from the towers;
  • Only five percent of wind towers in the Texas High Plains have been constructed in locations identified as highly preferred crane winter habitat; and
  • Wintering cranes generally selected wetlands or upland areas near wetland basins.

Eighty percent of the midcontinent sandhill crane population resides in the central and southern Great Plains for up to half of the year. Potential threats of wind towers to cranes include collisions and avoidance of areas near towers, which reduces available roosting and foraging habitat.

For more information about USGS sandhill crane research, please visit the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center website

How Climate Change Might Affect Polar Bears' Bodies

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 13:00
Summary: PORTLAND, Ore. — You really are what you eat. That’s the taking-off point for a new polar bear study, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey researchers with an assist from the Oregon Zoo — and published this week in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. Zoo polar bears help scientists understand effects of Arctic bears' shifting diets

Contact Information:

Paul  Laustsen, USGS ( Phone: 650-329-4046 ); Hova Najarian, Oregon Zoo ( Phone: 503-220-5714 );



PORTLAND, Ore. — You really are what you eat. That’s the taking-off point for a new polar bear study, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey researchers with an assist from the Oregon Zoo — and published this week in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.

As sea ice shifts in the Arctic, scientists have noted a corresponding shift in polar bears’ diets. In Western Hudson Bay, for example, sea-ice loss has been associated with declines in the consumption of benthic-feeding prey, such as bearded seals. In East Greenland, polar bears have increased consumption of hooded seals and decreased consumption of their more typical prey, ringed seals. 

The degree to which these types of changes are common throughout polar bear populations, and their implications on bear health, are not well understood. To determine whether bears are changing their diet in these remote Arctic regions, scientists are gathering baseline data from a couple of animals closer to home — Tasul and Conrad, two resident polar bears at the Oregon Zoo. 

“Science can sometimes be a slow process,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo’s North America and marine life areas. “And climate change is happening rapidly. Anything we can do to quickly gain information about how polar bears respond will help managers make critical decisions for protecting them in the wild.” 

Using a handy chemical tool called “stable isotopes” — which include the carbon and nitrogen atoms that exist in every living thing — researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey are revealing how polar bears, which currently boast the highest-fat diets of all the animal kingdom, process different types of meals. 

“This new tool is allowing us to use hair and blood samples to discover whether polar bear diets have changed since the ’80s, when we began keeping records,” said Dr. Karyn Rode, the USGS wildlife biologist who led the study. 

This is possible, Rode says, because when a polar bear eats a meal of seal, whale or walrus, it takes on that organism’s isotope load as well. 

These chemical markers can then be detected in the bears’ own tissue samples, such as their blood or hair, which grows at a predictable rate and reveals the bear’s past “dietary signature” — or what and where their meals were eaten, she says. 

But it’s not quite that simple. 

“It’s not just that a 50 percent salmon diet shows up as 50 percent salmon in the body,” Rode said. “Some gets routed toward body fat, some gets stored and some is transformed directly to energy. I need to understand how the bear body processes food before I can understand how different diets may affect them.” 

During data collection, the zoo bears participated in what zoo staff dubbed a “surf and turf” experiment — switching between marine and terrestrial foods. By comparing this new data to USGS archive samples from the Chukchi and Southern Beaufort Sea bear populations over the past 25 years, Rode and her team may reveal the effects of this new meal diversity on polar bears.

“We’re hoping to study their diets over time to explain potential changes in resource use as a result of climate-related changes in this sensitive Arctic ecosystem,” said USGS research biologist Craig Stricker. 

This project, conducted by the USGS Polar Bear Team, is part of the USGS’s Changing Arctic Ecosystems research on the effects of climate change on polar bears.

The zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects focused on saving animals from extinction include studies on Asian elephants, polar bears, orangutans and cheetahs. 

Support from the Oregon Zoo Foundation enhances and expands the zoo’s efforts in conservation, education and animal welfare. Members, donors and corporate and foundation partners help the zoo make a difference across the region and around the world.

The zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit trimet.org for fare and route information.

Mystery Solved: Traits Identified for Why Certain Chemicals Reach Toxic Levels in Food Webs

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 10:00
Summary: This model provides a new global tool for screening existing and new organic chemicals for their biomagnification potential. Hot colors (red, orange and yellow) indicate a high probability of biomagnification and cool colors (greens, blues) indicate a low probability of biomagnification.(USGS) Researchers have figured out what makes certain chemicals accumulate to toxic levels in aquatic food webs. And, scientists have developed a screening technique to determine which chemicals pose the greatest risk to the environment.

Contact Information:

Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 ); Heidi Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 );



This model provides a new global tool for screening existing and new organic chemicals for their biomagnification potential. Hot colors (red, orange and yellow) indicate a high probability of biomagnification and cool colors (greens, blues) indicate a low probability of biomagnification.(USGS)

Researchers have figured out what makes certain chemicals accumulate to toxic levels in aquatic food webs. And, scientists have developed a screening technique to determine which chemicals pose the greatest risk to the environment.

According to the study led by the U.S. Geological Survey, two traits were identified that indicate how chemicals can build up and reach toxic levels:  how easily a chemical is broken down or metabolized by an organism and the chemical’s ability to dissolve in water.

These traits account for how most chemicals concentrate, or biomagnify, in ever-higher levels as one goes up the food chain from its base to its top predators, such as fish, people, or polar bears. Chemicals that have the ability to biomagnify, such as DDT, can have adverse effects on human and wildlife health and the environment. 

“Chemical manufacturers and regulators can use this information to reduce the risks of harmful chemical exposures to ecosystems and the fish, wildlife and people who live in them,” said David Walters, a USGS research ecologist and lead author of the study. “By screening for these two characteristics, we can identify chemicals that pose the greatest risk of the thousands that are on the market and for new ones being developed.”

The study found that poorly metabolized compounds tend to remain in animal tissues and are passed up the food chain in higher, more toxic amounts as one animal is eaten by another and so on.  Likewise, compounds that don’t dissolve well in water accumulate in animal fats, ultimately exponentially increasing in top predators.

Beyond these chemical properties, the researchers found that certain ecosystems and food webs are more vulnerable to biomagnification than others. For example, extremely high biomagnification occurred in ocean food webs that include birds and mammals. The authors noted this may be in part due to longer food chains in these ecosystems  that is, many levels and kinds of predators - and because warm-blooded animals need to consume more food than do cold-blooded animals like fish. 

Building upon these results, the researchers developed a model of biomagnification based upon how chemicals metabolize and dissolve in water. The likelihood that a chemical would biomagnify was highest – nearly 100 percent -- for slowly metabolized compounds such as chlorinated flame retardants and PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, regardless of their solubility in water.

We need to learn from our previous mistakes and have more informed and responsible design and use of chemicals in the environment,” said Karen Kidd, a Canada Research Chair at University of New Brunswick Saint John and co-author of the study. “Our global review provides a straightforward approach for reducing the use of chemicals with the properties to concentrate through food webs.  This is a critical step for decreasing risks for humans and wildlife from potentially harmful chemical exposures in foods.”

Since the emergence of DDT as a global problem for wildlife in the 1950s and 60s, science has kept a close watch on the behavior of persistent organic pollutants, especially chemicals that may concentrate through food webs to potentially toxic levels in wildlife and humans. Many are resistant to environmental degradation and remain in the environment for decades. While biomagnification can be measured in the laboratory, said Walters, it is best determined by measuring how much the chemical increases with each step in the food chain in wild animal populations.

USGS research partners in this study, “Trophic Magnification of Organic Chemicals: A Global Synthesis,” include the Toxicology Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. The study is published in Environmental Science and Technology.

This research was supported by the USGS Ecosystems and Environmental Health Mission Areas, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Research Initiative, and the Canada Research Chair and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada programs.

26 Mississippi Counties Approved for Infrastructure Disaster Aid

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 16:10

RIDGELAND, Miss. – The state of Mississippi, local governments and certain private nonprofits in 26 Mississippi counties are now eligible to receive federal assistance to help cover expenses and repair damage associated with the severe storms and flooding that occurred March 9-29, 2016, according to state and federal officials.

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FEMA to Evaluate Readiness of Maryland and Pennsylvania

FEMA Region III News Releases - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 14:11

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will evaluate a biennial Emergency Preparedness Exercise at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. The exercise will occur during the week of April 25th, 2016 to assess the ability of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Maryland to respond to an emergency at the nuclear facility.

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FEMA to Evaluate Readiness of Maryland and Pennsylvania

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 14:11

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will evaluate a biennial Emergency Preparedness Exercise at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. The exercise will occur during the week of April 25th, 2016 to assess the ability of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Maryland to respond to an emergency at the nuclear facility.

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Categories: Federal News