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Federal News

President Declares Disaster for South Dakota

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 21:15

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 South Dakota to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of June 17-24, 2015.

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Categories: Federal News

Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams Visit Oklahoma Neighborhoods

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 17:24

OKLAHOMA CITY – Disaster survivors in four newly designated counties in northeastern Oklahoma might soon see Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams knocking on their doors. The teams will be visiting residents in Adair, Cherokee, Delaware and Ottawa counties, which are among 12 counties recently approved for state and federal disaster assistance.

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Categories: Federal News

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station Exercise Process to be Discussed at Public Meeting

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 16:42

Kansas City, Mo. –The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region VII office announced today there will be a routine biennial exercise conducted with Omaha Public Power District for the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station in Nebraska on Aug. 4, 2015, followed by a public meeting.

Exercise participants will include: the states of Nebraska and Iowa; Washington County in Nebraska; Pottawattamie and Harrison counties in Iowa; and the Omaha Public Power District.

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Categories: Federal News

State and Federal Disaster Assistance Tops $40 Million for Recent Oklahoma Storms

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 16:33

OKLAHOMA CITY – To date, Oklahomans have received more than $40.7 million in grants, low-interest loans and insurance settlements from the federal government, helping to rebuild the lives of families and help out businesses affected by the severe weather and subsequent flooding during the period of May 5 through June 22.

Nearly 10,000 families have registered for assistance with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

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Categories: Federal News

Portlight Strategies and FEMA Partner to Address Disability Accessibility and Disaster Preparedness

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 15:50

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Portlight Strategies (Portlight) announced an agreement that will increase preparedness awareness for people with disabilities in the event of natural or man-made disasters. The agreement aligns with FEMA’s commitment to inclusive emergency management by partnering with disability organizations and community leaders who serve the whole community at the local level.

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Categories: Federal News

By the Numbers: More than $306 Million Flows to Texas Two Months After Flooding Disaster

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 15:20

AUSTIN, Texas – Federal dollars are flowing into Texas communities recovering from the May 4 through June 22 storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and floods.

To date, more than $306 million in federal grants, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans, and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims have been approved.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), partners in the state’s recovery, provide the following summary of disaster assistance efforts as of close of business July 29:

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Outlines a Decade of Progress after Hurricane Katrina

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 14:59

WASHINGTON – August 2015 marks the tenth year since the devastating 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Katrina was one of the strongest storms to impact the coast of the United States, causing widespread devastation and affecting an estimated 90,000 square miles along the central Gulf Coast states. Less than a month later, Hurricane Rita and then Hurricane Wilma in October made landfall compounding an already catastrophic situation.

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Categories: Federal News

New Simulations of 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes Show Strong and Prolonged Ground Shaking in Memphis and Little Rock

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 14:00
Summary: Computer simulations of earthquake shaking, replicating the quakes that occurred in 1811-1812 in the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ), indicate that future large earthquakes there would produce major, prolonged ground shaking

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 );

Computer simulations of earthquake shaking, replicating the quakes that occurred in 1811-1812 in the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ), indicate that future large earthquakes there would produce major, prolonged ground shaking. The 1811-1812 events were some of the largest in the United States since its settlement by Europeans, and the NMSZ spans portions of seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. 

Scientists from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the U.S. Geological Survey, San Diego State University, AECOM (formerly URS Corporation), and the University of Memphis simulated a set of 20 hypothetical, yet plausible earthquakes located along two currently active faults in the NMSZ. The hypothetical earthquake scenarios range in magnitude from 7.0 to 7.7, and consider various possible epicenters. 

”Based on our simulations, were the 1811-1812 earthquakes to repeat today, more than 8 million people living and working near the New Madrid seismic zone would experience potentially damaging ground shaking at modified Mercalli intensities ranging from VI to VIII,” said Leonardo Ramirez-Guzman, lead author of the paper that appears in the July 30 edition of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

“Strong ground shaking in the greater Memphis metropolitan area could last from 30 seconds to more than 60 seconds, depending on the magnitude and epicenter of a potential seismic event,” said Ramirez-Guzman, a professor at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and former USGS contract scientist.

The simulations also demonstrate the importance of fault rupture directivity (seismic energy focused along the direction of faulting), especially when combined with the wave channeling effects of the Reelfoot rift, a buried, northeast-southwest trending geologic valley in the NMSZ. In particular, future large earthquakes on the approximately 80-mile long NMSZ fault show strong shaking at vibration frequencies that pose a risk for mid-rise to high-rise buildings and tall bridges. This fault is thought to be responsible for the December 16, 1811 magnitude 7-7.7 earthquake. Some of the earthquake simulations showed strong shaking focused to the northeast as far as 100-200 miles away near Paducah, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana, and to the southwest 150 miles toward Little Rock, Arkansas. An example of this earthquake shaking focusing effect can be seen here.

While it’s not possible to know which direction a fault will rupture once an earthquake starts, knowing that there is an increased chance of strong shaking along these geologically-defined corridors is a valuable aid in better characterizing seismic hazard and minimizing earthquake risk.

Earthquakes pose a significant risk to nearly 150 million Americans. The USGS and its partners in the multi-agency National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program are working to improve earthquake monitoring and reporting capabilities via the USGS Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS). More information about ANSS can be found on the ANSS website.

Peak ground-motion variability for a magnitude 7.7 earthquake. Warmer colors indicate stronger ground motions. The stronger ground motions are extended further northeast and southwest caused by the channeling effect of the Reelfoot rift (RFR) The fault is displayed as a thick black continuous straight line, with the epicenter indicated by the triangle. (high resolution image 1.3 MB)

USGS Awards $4 Million to Support Earthquake Early Warning System in California and Pacific Northwest

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 12:00
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded approximately $4 million this week to four universities – California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, University of Washington and University of Oregon – to support transitioning the “ShakeAlert” earthquake early warning system toward a production stage

Contact Information:

Leslie Gordon, USGS ( Phone: 650-329-4006 ); Deborah  Williams-Hedges, Caltech ( Phone: 626-395-3227 ); Robert  Sanders, UCB ( Phone: 510-643-6998 );

Additional Contacts: Hannah Hickey, UW, 206-543-2580, and Jim Barlow, UO, 541-346-3481,

RESTON, Va.— The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded approximately $4 million this week to four universities – California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, University of Washington and University of Oregon – to support transitioning the “ShakeAlert” earthquake early warning system toward a production stage. A functioning early warning system can give people a precious few seconds to stop what they are doing and take precautions before the severe shaking waves from an earthquake arrive.

The USGS has additionally spent about $1 million to purchase new sensor equipment for the EEW system. These efforts are possible because of a $5 million increase to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program for EEW approved by Congress earlier this year.

Under the new cooperative agreements, the USGS and its four university partners will collaborate to improve the ShakeAlert EEW system across the west coast of the United States, and will continue to coordinate across regional centers in southern California, northern California, and the Pacific Northwest. The USGS and its university partners will continue development of scientific algorithms to rapidly detect potentially damaging earthquakes, more thoroughly test the system, and improve its performance. In addition, they will upgrade and construct approximately 150 seismic sensors to improve the speed and reliability of the warnings. They will also develop user training and education, and add additional test users. There are currently 70 organizations that are test users, from sectors such as utilities and transportation, emergency management, state and city governments, and industry.

In 2006 the USGS began funding multi-institutional, collaborative research to start the process of testing earthquake early warning algorithms on real-time seismic networks within the USGS Advanced National Seismic Network. Today, the ShakeAlert demonstration EEW system is issuing alerts to the group of test users across the U.S. west coast in California, Oregon and Washington. In California, this is a joint effort, where state legislation was passed directing the California Office of Emergency Services and USGS to partner on development of an early warning system. The new awards will expand the number of end users and is another step to improve the speed and reliability of ShakeAlert.  

During the August 2014 magnitude-6.0 South Napa earthquake, an alert was issued providing a nine-second warning to the City of San Francisco. During a May 3rd, magnitude-3.8 event in Los Angeles, an alert was issued 3.3 seconds after the earthquake began, meaning the warning was sent before the secondary, or “S” waves that have the potential for the strongest shaking, had even reached the Earth’s surface. An electronic alert message that travels at the speed of light can outrun the slower earthquake S-waves, providing valuable seconds of warning. Those few seconds of warning can be enough time to stop a commuter train or an elevator, open fire-house doors, stop delicate surgery and “duck, cover, and hold on.”

The plans for ShakeAlert were evaluated by a scientifically rigorous peer-review process: a panel of experts praised the progress achieved and recommended the proposed improvements. The successes of this effective ShakeAlert collaboration among the USGS and the universities led Congress to appropriate $5 million to the USGS in fiscal year 2015 to accelerate the process of migrating towards a public EEW system. In addition to USGS and university partners, the ShakeAlert system involves the participation of state and local governments, end users, and private-sector partners.

New Online Tool Tracks Water Quality in the Nation’s Rivers and Streams

USGS Newsroom Technical - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 10:00
Summary: A new USGS online tool provides graphical summaries of nutrients and sediment levels in rivers and streams across the Nation

Contact Information:

Jeff Deacon ( Phone: 603-226-7812 ); Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 );

The National Water-Quality Tool offers graphical forms of historical and current information about: water quality in the Nation's rivers and streams (top panel); nutrient loading in the tributaries of the Mississippi River (middle panel); and nitrate loads and yields in coastal rivers (bottom panel). (high resolution image)

A new USGS online tool provides graphical summaries of nutrients and sediment levels in rivers and streams across the Nation.

The online tool can be used to compare recent water-quality conditions to long-term conditions (1993-2014), download water-quality datasets (streamflow, concentrations, and loads), and evaluate nutrient loading to coastal areas and large tributaries throughout the Mississippi River Basin.

"Clean water is essential for public water supplies, fisheries, and recreation. It's vital to our health and economy,” said William Werkheiser, USGS associate director for water. “This annual release of water quality information in graphical form will provide resource managers with timely information on the quality of water in our rivers and streams and how it is changing over time.”

Graphical summaries of nutrients and sediment are available for 106 river and stream sites monitored as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Network for Rivers and Streams.

This tool was developed by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program, which conducts regional and national assessments of the nation’s water quality to provide an understanding of water-quality conditions, whether conditions are getting better or worse over time, and how natural processes and human activities affect those conditions.

Federal Disaster Aid to Local Governments Helping Rebuild Arkansas Communities

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 09:51

NORTH LITTL ROCK Federal officials today estimated more than $6 million in disaster assistance will help fund local governments’ storm recovery from this spring’s severe weather.

That funding is in addition to nearly $2 million in federal disaster assistance to date that has helped individuals, families and businesses repair property and replace essential possessions.

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Categories: Federal News

New England Maps Adding Trails

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 09:30
Summary: Several of the new US Topo quadrangles for New Hampshire and Vermont now display parts of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) and other selected public trails Newly released US Topo maps for New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island now feature selected trails and other substantial updates

Contact Information:

Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 ); Larry Moore ( Phone: 303-202-4019 );

Several of the new US Topo quadrangles for New Hampshire and Vermont now display parts of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) and other selected public trails. Also, parts of the new maps for Connecticut and Massachusetts feature segments of the New England National Scenic Trail as well as sections of the A.T. Further, all of these revised New England maps, to include new US Topo maps for Rhode Island, highlight significant additions to the new quads such as map symbol redesign, enhanced railroad information and new road source data.

“US Topo maps are the ‘gold standard’ for mapped information,” said Fred Dieffenbach, who coordinates environmental monitoring along the A.T. for the National Park Service, “And the inclusion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in this latest update illustrates the significance of this prized resource to the American public.”

For East Coast residents, recreationalists and visitors who want to explore the featured New England trails by biking, hiking, horseback or other means, the new trail features on the US Topo maps will be useful.

The Appalachian NST is a public footpath that traverses more than 2,100 miles of the Appalachian mountains and valleys between Katahdin, Maine (northern terminus), and Springer Mountain, Georgia (southern terminus). The Trail winds through scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands along this ancient mountain range. With more than 99% of the A.T.’s corridor on Federal or State land, it is the longest continuously marked, maintained, and publicly protected trail in the United States.

“The National Park Service has committed significant resources to understanding the environmental health of the lands and resources that characterize the Appalachian Trail along its entire length,” Dieffenbach continued. “It is extremely gratifying to know that its inclusion in the most recent update was a high priority, and clearly validates the efforts of all the people involved with the management of the A.T.”

The New England NST covers 215 miles from Long Island Sound across long ridges to scenic mountain summits in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The trail offers panoramic vistas and close-ups of New England’s natural and cultural landscape: trap rock ridges, historic village centers, farmlands, unfragmented forests, quiet streams, steep river valleys and waterfalls 

The USGS partnered with the National Park Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and other organizations to incorporate the trail data onto the updated New England US Topo maps. These two NST’s join the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail the North Country National Scenic Trail, Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, and the Arizona National Scenic Trail as being featured on the new US Topo quads. The USGS hopes to eventually include all National Scenic Trails in The National Map products.

Some of the other data for new trails on the maps is provided to the USGS through a nationwide “crowdsourcing” project managed by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).  This unique crowdsourcing venture has increased the availability of trail data available through The National Map mobile and web apps, and the revised US Topo maps.

During the past two years the IMBA, in a partnership with the MTB Project, has been building a detailed national database of trails. This activity allows local IMBA chapters, IMBA members, and the public to provide trail data and descriptions through their website. MTB Project and IMBA then verify the quality of the trail data provided, ensure accuracy and confirm the trail is legal. 

These new maps replace the first edition US Topo maps for these eastern states and are available for free download from The National Map, the USGS Map Locator & Downloader website , or several other USGS applications.

To compare change over time, scans of legacy USGS topo maps, some dating back to the late 1800s, can be downloaded from the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection

For more information on US Topo maps:

Updated 2015 version of the Mount Washington, New Hampshire quadrangle with orthoimage turned on. (1:24,000 scale) (high resolution image 1.1 MB) Scan of the 1893 USGS quadrangle of the Mount Washington, New Hampshire area from the USGS Historic Topographic Map Collection(1:62,500 scale) (high resolution image 1.8 MB) Updated 2015 version of the Mount Washington, New Hampshire with orthoimage turned off to better see the various trail networks. (1:24,000 scale) (high resolution image 1.2 MB)

The National Trails System was established by Act of Congress in 1968. The Act grants the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture authority over the National Trails System.  The Act defines four types of trails. Two of these types, the National Historic Trails and National Scenic Trails, can only be designated by Act of Congress.  National scenic trails are extended trails located as to provide for maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of nationally significant scenic, historic, natural, and cultural qualities of the area through which such trails may pass.

There are 11 National Scenic Trails:

  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  • Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
  • North Country National Scenic Trail
  • Ice Age National Scenic Trail
  • Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
  • Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
  • Florida National Scenic Trail
  • Arizona National Scenic Trail
  • New England National Scenic Trail
  • Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail