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Federal News

Local, State and Federal Partners Working Closely, Individually With SR 530 Slide Survivors as Recovery Continues in Washington

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 19:10

BOTHELL, Wash. – Local, State, and Federal partners continue working one-on-one with survivors of the State Route 530 Slide in Washington to ensure they receive all of the disaster assistance for which they may qualify.

To that end, Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – including bereavement and program area specialists – are meeting in person with survivors to learn more about their short-term and long-term needs due to the slide.

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Categories: Federal News

A Few Winners, But Many More Losers

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:00
Summary: Dramatic distribution losses and a few major distribution gains are forecasted for southwestern bird and reptile species as the climate changes, according to just-published research by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of New Mexico, and Northern Arizona University. Southwestern Bird and Reptile Distributions to Shift as Climate Changes

Contact Information:

Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 );



Dramatic distribution losses and a few major distribution gains are forecasted for southwestern bird and reptile species as the climate changes, according to just-published research by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of New Mexico, and Northern Arizona University.

Overall, the study forecasted species distribution losses – that is, where species are able to live – of nearly half for all but one of the 5 reptile species they examined, including for the iconic chuckwalla. The threatened Sonoran (Morafka’s) desert tortoise, however, is projected to experience little to no habitat losses from climate change. 

Breeding bird ranges exhibited greater expansions and contractions than did reptile species. For example, black-throated sparrows and gray vireos are projected to experience major gains in breeding habitat, but pygmy nuthatches, sage thrashers and Williamson sapsuckers are forecasted to experience large losses in breeding habitat, in some cases by as much as 80 percent. Thus, these three species might be expected to experience large future population declines.

The iconic pinyon jay is expected to experience from one-fourth to one-third loss in breeding habitat in the future, as its welfare is tied to declining pinyon pine habitat.

“Not surprisingly, whether a species is projected to be a winner or a loser depends primarily on its natural history and habitat needs and requirements,” said USGS scientist Charles van Riper III, the lead author on the study. “Land managers should be aware of these potential changes so that they can adjust their management practices accordingly.”

To conduct the study, scientists coupled existing global climate change models with newly developed species distribution models to estimate future losses and gains of 7 southwestern upland bird species and 5 reptile species. The study area focused on the Sonoran Desert and Colorado Plateau ecosystems within Arizona, western New Mexico, Utah, southwestern Colorado and southeastern California, but also included the rest of the Western United States. Focal wildlife species included resident and migratory birds and reptiles, which make up most of the vertebrate biodiversity in the region. 

Temperatures in this region are projected to increase 6.3-7.2 F (3.5–4°C) within the next 60–90 years while precipitation is projected to decline by 5–20 percent.

“Changes of this magnitude may have profound effects on distribution and viability of many species,” noted Stephen T. Jackson, director of the Interior Department’s Southwest Climate Science Center. “Temperature matters a lot, biologically, in arid and semi-arid regions."

One very practical result of the project is a website with a series of range maps projecting the potential effects of climate change on bird and reptile distributions in the Western United States for three different time periods in the next 90 years. These predictions can help managers and policy makers better prioritize conservation effects, van Riper said.

“Wildlife resource managers need regionally specific information about climate change consequences so they better identify tools and strategies to conserve and sustain habitats in their region,” said Doug Beard, director of the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center that supported the project.  “Managers can use these results to help plan for ways to offset projected effects of climate change on these species.”

Detailed Bird Species Projections:

Overall: Black-throated sparrow and gray vireo are projected to experience major gains in breeding habitat.  In contrast, pygmy nuthatches, sage thrashers and Williamson sapsuckers are projected to experience large losses in breeding habitat.  Thus, these three species might be expected to experience large future population declines. (Note: species are linked to their in-depth report summaries.)

  • Black-throated sparrow: breeding range projected to increase by 34-47 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Gray vireo: breeding range projected to increase from 58-71 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Virginia’s warbler: breeding range projected to decrease slightly, by 1.5-7 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Sage thrasher: breeding range projected to decrease by 78 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Pinyon jay: breeding range projected to decrease by 25-31 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Pygmy nuthatch: breeding range projected to decrease by 75-81 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Williamson’s sapsucker: breeding range projected to decrease by 73-78 percent between 2010-2099.

Reptiles

Overall: Future climate change will negatively affect the distributions of reptiles in the Western and Southwestern U.S. The one exception is the Sonoran desert tortoise, which is forecasted to expand, and, if a decrease happens, only by about one percent.

Reptiles can’t move as easily as birds nor can they regulate their body temperature, so they can only move minimally in response to changing climates.  The authors found that the greater the projected distributional gain or loss in a reptile species was directly tied to the warmth of its current range.  Thus, the less mobile reptiles will be more greatly affected by increasing temperatures.

  • Plateau striped whiptail: range projected to decrease by 42 percent, assuming no dispersal, or by 17 percent, with unlimited dispersal, between 2010 and 2099.
  • Arizona black rattlesnake:  range projected to decrease between 32 and 46 percent between 2010 and 2099.
  • Sonoran desert tortoise: The Sonoran (Morafka’s) desert tortoise is the only species of reptile for which projections do not include a decrease in suitable habitat by 2099 but only when unlimited dispersal is assumed.  When assuming no dispersal, a slight one percent decrease is forecasted in the extent of suitable habitat.
  • Common lesser earless lizard: ranged projected to decrease by 22-49 percent from 2010 to 2099.
  • Common chuckwalla: projected ranges are likely to decrease by between 13 and 23 percent between 2010 and 2099.  

The report, Projecting climate effects on birds and reptiles of the southwestern United States, is authored by Charles van Riper III, USGS; James Hatten, USGS; J. Tom Giermakowski, University of New Mexico; Jennifer A. Holmes and Matthew J. Johnson, Northern Arizona University; and others.

For more information about the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, please visit its website.

 

Nation's Authoritative Land Cover Map New and Improved

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:48
Summary: Just released, the latest edition of the nation’s most comprehensive look at land-surface conditions from coast to coast shows the extent of land cover types from forests to urban areas Detailed Reference Based on Landsat Images

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 571-230-6831 ); Collin Homer ( Phone: 605-594-2714 ); Tom Holm ( Phone: 605-594-6127 );



A Triptych of Urban Growth, NLCD 2001-2011

These three panels of cyclical data (2001, 2006, 2011) from the National Land Cover Database depict intervals of land cover change in the vicinity of Spring Valley, a suburb of Las Vegas, NV. NLCD 2011 (right panel) shows the expanding intensity of the developed impervious surface area (shades of red) during the 10-year period. Las Vegas continues to be one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation. (High resolution image 3.4 MB)

Just released, the latest edition of the nation’s most comprehensive look at land-surface conditions from coast to coast shows the extent of land cover types from forests to urban areas. The National Land Cover Database (NLCD 2011) is made available to the public by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners.                    

Dividing the lower 48 states into 9 billion geographic cells, the massive database provides consistent information about land conditions at regional to nationwide scales. Collected in repeated five-year cycles, NLCD data is used by resource managers and decision-makers to conduct ecosystem studies, determine spatial patterns of biodiversity, trace indications of climate change, and develop best practices in land management. 

 “America’s land and waters face unprecedented challenges from natural disasters, climate change, development pressures, and population growth,” said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. “Prudently using our public lands and developing our energy potential, while protecting our natural resources at the same time, requires a keen appreciation of how the landscape is changing over time and the causes of those changes. The digital view that the National Land Cover Dataset affords us is sweeping, yet amazingly precise. It is one of the most important tools, for the Department of the Interior or any other land or water manager, in fostering an impartial perspective of landscape dynamics.”

 Based on Landsat satellite imagery taken in 2011, NLCD 2011 describes the land cover of each 30-meter cell of land in the conterminous United States and identifies which ones have changed since the year 2006. Nearly six such cells — each 98 feet long and wide — would fit on a football field. Land cover is broadly defined as the biophysical pattern of natural vegetation, agriculture, and urban areas. It is shaped by both natural processes and human influences.

NLCD 2011 updates the previous database version, NLCD 2006. The NLCD program is designed to provide five-year cyclical updating of our nation's land cover, similar to the cyclical population updating done by the U.S. Census. 

NLCD is constructed by the 10-member federal interagency Multi‑Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC)

“The ongoing 20-year collaboration of the consortium is a model of cooperation among government entities,” said Matt Larsen, USGS associate director for climate and land use change. “Combining resources from MRLC member agencies to provide digital land cover for the Nation is the best kind of teamwork. It not only advances land change science, but it saves taxpayer money.”

The range and the spatial accuracy of NLCD have made it essential to thousands of expert users. The carefully calibrated data enables managers of public and private lands, urban planners, agricultural experts, and scientists with many different interests (for instance, climate, invasive species or hydrogeography) to identify critical characteristics of the land and patterns of land cover change, informing a variety of investigations from monitoring forests to modeling water runoff in urban areas. 

NLCD 2011 products depict 16 classes of land cover in the lower 48 states, define the degree of surface imperviousness in urban areas (impervious surface extent — concrete, asphalt, etc. — serves as a marker for urban environmental quality), and quantify the amount of tree canopy cover (essential for applications dealing with wildfire, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity). 

Additionally, NLCD editions from 2001 to 2011 have been integrated to provide a 10-year land cover change comparison for our nation at five year intervals. Having a decade of change information readily available for any location enables users to better understand the trajectory of land cover change patterns and provides specialists with critical information to advance the understanding of land cover change processes.

NLCD 2011 products will be also released for Alaska later this year. For more information on NLCD and to download NLCD data free of charge, visit the MLRC website

New DNA Tool Helps Scientists Identify Invasive Species of Aquatic Plants

USGS Newsroom Technical - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 07:00
Summary: A new DNA protocol developed by the U.S. Geological Survey helps biologists distinguish between native and invasive species of aquatic vegetation that have almost identical appearances

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 571-230-6831 ); Nancy Rybicki ( Phone: 703-648-5728 );



A new DNA protocol developed by the U.S. Geological Survey helps biologists distinguish between native and invasive species of aquatic vegetation that have almost identical appearances.  Until now, measuring the dispersal of these various invasive plants has been hampered by confusion about where and when the plants arrived. 

Invasive aquatic plants from Korea, Brazil, and the Indian subcontinent have been spreading through U.S. waterways for decades. The new DNA protocol will help biologists identify species, track their progress, and provide facts to local managers who can develop appropriate control measures.

“When invasive plants appear in a body of water, local people naturally are alarmed” said Nancy Rybicki, the USGS biologist who teamed up with molecular biologists to develop the new DNA testing technique. “Enormous amounts of money are spent on control. Some species may look very nearly identical, but they have unique reproductive and growth characteristics. Identification, the first step for control or eradication, needs to be precise.” 

Co-author and previous USGS employee, Mary Voytek has had extensive experience with the use of molecular tools for microbial identification. In the case of microbes, there are established standards for identification using portions of an organism’s DNA. Not so with plants. It was difficult to know where to start.

The authors were able to develop a simple protocol that was verified on voucher specimens and tested on numerous plant samples. The environmental implications of the results were clear as new information on the range and recent history of these invasive species was revealed.

Using this new protocol, Rybicki determined that hydrilla arrived in both the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay earlier than previously thought, a finding that revises earlier ideas of how it was first introduced into the area. 

The authors found that hydrilla was in the Potomac River in 1976. Thus, the original introduction of hydrilla to the Potomac was not from National Park Service experiments conducted in 1980 at Dyke Marsh on the tidal Potomac River as previously thought.  It is probable that hydrilla was already present, but was misidentified. It may still be undiscovered in many locations today.  

The two biotypes of hydrilla, one first introduced into Florida and the other first introduced into Washington, DC, are both spreading toward Canada, well beyond their predicted range.

 “We anticipate that hydrilla will continue to move into colder regions, including, the Great Lakes, where a native plant called elodea is common,” Rybicki explained. “Without DNA verification, misidentification of the two plants is likely.” 

DNA analysis to identify underwater grasses, a service provided at the USGS lab in Reston, VA, enables quick identification of these species.  Future use of DNA analysis will likely reveal that many more misidentifications have occurred and are waiting to be discovered.  Positive identification is the key first step in any discussion of management options to deal with invasive species. 

Learn more

Rybicki, N. B., Kirshtein, J. D., and Voytek, M. A., 2013, Molecular techniques to distinguish morphologically similar Hydrilla verticillata, Egeria densa, Elodea nuttallii, and Elodea canadensis, Journal of Aquatic Plant Management, v. 51, p. 94 -102.

Corresponding author, nrybicki@usgs.gov

Ecological Research on Wetlands and Submersed Aquatic Vegetation

National Research Program  

USGS Ecosystems

USGS Water Resources

 

 

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Oregon Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 17:14

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Oregon.

Assistance for State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Oregon

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 17:12

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Oregon to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter storm during the period of February 6-10, 2014.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA, K-State and Other Organizations Partnering to Prepare Students for Future Disasters

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 14:11

Media Contacts:

FEMA News Desk       Federal Emergency Management Agency, Region VII          (816) 283-7095

Lynda Bachelor          Kansas State University, HandsOn Kansas State                  (785) 410-4599

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for State of Washington Disaster Recovery

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 19:06

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s major disaster declaration issued for Washington.

Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include as Required:

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Washington

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 19:03

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Washington to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by flooding and mudslides beginning on March 22, 2014, and continuing.

This assistance is in addition to the support provided under the Presidential Emergency Declaration granted on March 24, 2014.

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Categories: Federal News

Now is the Time to Buy Flood Insurance

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:45

DENVER —With mountain snowpack high and rainy months on the way, now is the time to buy flood insurance, say state and federal emergency management officials.

In most circumstances, there is a 30-day waiting period from the time the policy is written and the premium is paid until the policy goes into effect. That means a policy purchased today, April 2, would not go into effect until May 2. It also means that a policy purchased a few weeks from today might not be in effect when spring runoff starts.

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Categories: Federal News

East Poplar Brine-Contaminated Groundwater Plumes Continue to Move

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 11:00
Summary: A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey describes the extent and movement of contamination in the East Poplar oil field area in northeastern Montana

Contact Information:

Joanna Thamke ( Phone: (406) 457-5923 ); Bruce Smith ( Phone: (303) 236-1399 );



HELENA, Mont. – A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey describes the extent and movement of contamination in the East Poplar oil field area in northeastern Montana. The contamination in shallow groundwater and the Poplar River is brine, which is saltier than seawater and is a byproduct as part of the process of extracting crude oil in the East Poplar oil field. The study determined likely source areas, brine plume extents, and movement of the plumes.

For more than half a century, millions of gallons of brine have been produced along with oil from the East Poplar oil field on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Until recently, the waste brine was placed in pits and ponds or injected into the ground through deep disposal wells and has made its way to the shallow groundwater and the Poplar River.  Currently, the only approved method of brine disposal is to inject it deep into the ground.

When the brine mixes with the groundwater in the area, it often makes the water unsuitable for domestic purposes. Groundwater was previously the only available source of potable water to the area, and provided water for household wells and the city of Poplar’s public water-supply wells. Currently, treated water from the Missouri River about 20 miles upstream of the city of Poplar is piped to the city and nearby residents.

"There are many brine sources in the study area, resulting in multiple plumes.  Some plumes remain in the groundwater for decades and have merged together, making it difficult to identify original sources," said Joanna Thamke, USGS hydrologist and lead author of the report. She continued, "this is important in development of water management practices, such as optimally locating wells in the future."

The USGS study, conducted in cooperation with the Fort Peck Tribe's' Office of Environmental Protection, shows that the brine contaminated groundwater is generally moving towards the southwest, eventually discharging into the Missouri River.

"This information will be used by the Fort Peck Tribes to direct future natural resource conservation efforts," said Deb Madison, Fort Peck Tribes' Environmental Programs Manager, who also added "the Fort Peck Tribes care deeply about these natural resources for today and for future generations."

Copies of "Delineation of Brine Contamination in and near the East Poplar Oil Field, Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Northeastern Montana, 2004–09" are available online.

FEMA Region III Promotes Pet Preparedness in April

FEMA Region III News Releases - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 10:11

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its regional office in Philadelphia has kicked off the 2014 Petpared Initiative to encourage pet owners to be more resilient in the face of disasters. 

The goal of the Petpared Initiative is to increase the number of citizens who understand the hazards that are most relevant to their family and pets; know the corresponding protective actions to take, and to encourage everyone to practice a real-time action to increase their preparedness.

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FEMA Region III Promotes Pet Preparedness in April

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 10:11

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its regional office in Philadelphia has kicked off the 2014 Petpared Initiative to encourage pet owners to be more resilient in the face of disasters. 

The goal of the Petpared Initiative is to increase the number of citizens who understand the hazards that are most relevant to their family and pets; know the corresponding protective actions to take, and to encourage everyone to practice a real-time action to increase their preparedness.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA to Evaluate Readiness of Pennsylvania and Maryland

FEMA Region III News Releases - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 09:58

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 7th 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 Pennsylvania and Maryland

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 09:58

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 7th 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

FEMA Releases Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps for Ocean County, NJ

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 09:00

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Friday, March 28, 2014, released Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Ocean County that reflect the latest refinements to the ongoing analysis of flood hazards. This release is the next step in the coastal Flood Insurance Study update. The Preliminary FIRMs replace the Preliminary Work Maps for Ocean County that were released in June of 2013 as an interim product.

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Categories: Federal News

No Foolin' -- You Can Contribute to National Mapping

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 04/01/2014 - 09:00
Summary: This April marks the one year anniversary of the USGS's The National Map Corps (TNMCorps) transition from a small regional pilot project in the heart of Denver, Colo., into a very successful nation-wide project The National Map Corps celebrates one year of crowd-sourcing successes in collaborative mapping.

Contact Information:

Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 ); Pat  Phillips ( Phone: 703-648-5931 ); Elizabeth McCartney ( Phone: 573-308-3696 );



Order of the Surveyor’s Chain, the first of several TNMCorps recognition awards, is conferred to volunteers who collect at least 25 points. (High resolution image) Theodolite Assemblage badge, currently the highest TNMCorps recognition award, is earned by collecting more than 2,000 points. (High resolution image)

This April marks the one year anniversary of the USGS's The National Map Corps (TNMCorps) transition from a small regional pilot project in the heart of Denver, Colo., into a very successful nation-wide project.  During the past year, civilian volunteers in every state have increasingly provided accurate mapping data to the National Geospatial Program's publically available application called The National Map

Using crowd-sourcing techniques, TNMCorps' Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) project engages citizen scientists to collect manmade structures data including: schools, hospitals, post offices, police stations and other important public buildings. 

By The Numbers:

Over the past year TNMCorps has achieved the following significant milestones:

  • 1,422 – volunteers
  • 42,009 - contributions (counts each person’s edit per single point)
  • 33,698 - unique points edited (individual structures)
  • 50,696 - total number of edits (the sum of all edits made by volunteers)
  • 50  - number of states involved
  • 18 - number of volunteers who have earned more than 500 points
  • 4,691 -  state with largest number of edited points; Colorado 

"This project has proven that we can count on volunteers to provide quality information to be included in authoritative government databases", said Kari Craun, Director of the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center. "The people that have contributed their time are performing a community service by ensuring key structures data are available publically." 

Becoming a volunteer for TNMCorps is easy; go to The National Map Corps project site to learn more and to sign up as a volunteer. If you have access to the Internet and are willing to dedicate some time editing map data, please consider participating. Participants can earn badges and public recognition by submitting a series of points. 

While some familiarity with the area that a volunteer chooses is helpful, you do not have to live near a particular place to contribute. The tools on TNMCorps website, along with ancillary information available on the Internet, are generally sufficient to edit a distant area. 

See for yourself how much fun participating can be. Go to The National Map Corps home page and give it a try. 

Status map showing the location and density of volunteer submitted structure edits. (High resolution image)

FEMA Releases Preliminary Work Maps for Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties, New Jersey

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/31/2014 - 15:57

LINCROFT, N.J. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released Preliminary Work Maps for Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties, NJ that reflect the latest refinements to the ongoing analysis of coastal flood hazards.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of North Carolina Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/31/2014 - 15:56

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of North Carolina.

Assistance for State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

Language English
Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for North Carolina

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/31/2014 - 15:54

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of North Carolina to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter storm during the period of March 6-7, 2014.

Language English
Categories: Federal News