TRENTON, N.J. -- Disaster assistance to New Jersey survivors of Hurricane Sandy by the numbers as of April 1:Language English
NEW YORK – April 13 is the deadline to register for possible federal disaster assistance and to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan to help New York recover from Hurricane Sandy.
As the registration and application deadline nears a week from Saturday, more than $3.1 billion in disaster assistance has been approved for survivors.
That figure translates into families getting back into their homes and schools, businesses reopening, and neighborhoods beginning to move forward.Language English
LAFAYETTE - Tiny sea creatures no bigger than a thumbtack are being credited for playing a key role in helping provide healthy habitats for many kinds of seafood, according to a new study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and U.S. Geological Survey.
The little crustacean “grazers,” some resembling tiny shrimp, are critical in protecting seagrasses from overgrowth by algae, helping keep these aquatic havens healthy for native and economically important species. Crustaceans are tiny to very large shelled animals that include crab, shrimp, and lobster.
The researchers found that these plant-eating animals feast on the nuisance algae that grow on seagrass, ultimately helping maintain the seagrass that provides nurseries for seafood. The grazers also serve as food themselves for animals higher on the food chain.
Drifting seaweed, usually thought of as a nuisance, also plays a part in this process, providing an important habitat for the grazing animals that keep the seagrass clean.
“Inconspicuous creatures often play big roles in supporting productive ecosystems,” said Matt Whalen, the study’s lead author who conducted this work while at VIMS and is now at the University of California, Davis. “Think of how vital honeybees are for pollinating tree crops or what our soils would look like if we did not have earthworms. In seagrass systems, tiny grazers promote healthy seagrasses by ensuring algae is quickly consumed rather than overgrowing the seagrass. And by providing additional refuge from predators, fleshy seaweeds that drift in and out of seagrass beds can maintain larger grazer populations and enhance their positive impact on seagrass.”
USGS scientist Jim Grace, a study coauthor, emphasized that seagrass habitats are also quite beneficial to people.
“Not only do these areas serve as nurseries for commercially important fish and shellfish, such as blue crabs, red drum, and some Pacific rockfish, but they also help clean our water and buffer our coastal communities by providing shoreline protection from storms,” Grace said. “These tiny animals, by going about their daily business of grazing, are integral to keeping healthy seagrass beds healthy.”Comparison of algae fouling on eelgrass with and without grazers. Copyrighted photo courtesy of Matthew Whalen/UC Davis. Copyrighted photo courtesy of Matthew Whalen/UC Davis. (High resolution image)
In fact, the authors wrote, if not for the algal munching of these grazers, algae could blanket the seagrasses, blocking out sunlight and preventing them from photosynthesizing, which would ultimately kill the seagrasses. Seagrass declines in some areas are attributed partly to excessive nutrients in water bodies stimulating excessive algal growth on seagrasses.
“Coastal managers have been concerned for years about excess fertilizer and sediment loads that hurt seagrasses,” said J. Emmett Duffy of Virginia Institute of Marine Science and coauthor of the study. “Our results provide convincing field evidence that grazing by small animals can be just as important as good water quality in preventing nuisance algae blooms and keeping seagrass beds healthy.”
The USGS scientists involved in this study serve as members of a worldwide consortium of researchers examining the health of seagrasses. This research by Virginia Institute of Marine Science and USGS researchers is the first in a series of studies worldwide on seagrass ecosystems.
The study, “Temporal shifts in top-down versus bottom-up control of epiphytic algae in a seagrass ecosystem,” was published in the recent issue of Ecology, a journal by the Ecological Society of America.
The USGS is expanding the involvement of volunteers to enhance data collection about structures for The National Map.
This program, known as The National Map Corps, focuses on encouraging citizens to collect data relating to structures by both adding new features and/or correcting existing data within The National Map database. These structures can include schools, hospitals, post offices, police stations and other important public places.
Collaborative pilot projects in Colorado were recently used to test the concept of crowd-sourcing. While the project is on-going, early indications point to positive results and show the success of using TNMC volunteers to enhance data sets.
Over a trial period of ten months, 143 volunteers collected, improved, or deleted data on more than 6,400 structures in Colorado. The volunteers’ actions were accurate and exceeded USGS quality standards. In the Colorado pilot project the volunteer-collected data showed an improvement of approximately 25 percent in both location and attribute accuracy for existing data points. Completeness, or the extent to which all appropriate features were identified and recorded, was nearly perfect.
The significant results of the Colorado pilot have led to a phased, nation-wide expansion of the crowd-sourcing /volunteer project. The states in the first expansion of TNMC are: Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, West Virginia
After an evaluation of the quality and procedures of the first group of states, the second set will be made available. Ultimately, by the end of 2013, the third batch of states will complete the expansion of the program.
"The response by volunteers in Colorado exceeded our expectations both in terms of the number of volunteers and the quality of the data they collected”, said Kari Craun, the Director of the USGS National Geospatial Technical Operations Center. “The Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) community represents a fantastic, untapped resource to assist USGS in maintaining data that are part of The National Map.”
While some familiarity with the area that a volunteer chooses is helpful, one doesn’t have to live near a particular place to contribute. The tools on TNMC website, along with ancillary information available on the Internet, are generally sufficient to edit a distant area.
There have been several instances of crowd-sourced geographic information making significant contributions to research and databases in government, private sector, and non-profit organizations. The goal of the TNMC is to provide data for the nation’s primary federal mapping agency in its effort to provide accurate and authoritative spatial data via the web-based National Map.
The citizen geographers/cartographers who participate in this program will make a significant addition to the USGS’s ability to provide accurate information to the public. Data collected by volunteers become part of TNM Structures dataset which is available to users free of charge.
Without a network of volunteers, the desired information would not be collected this year and the existing data would not be updated. TNMC volunteers perform important work that otherwise will not be accomplished in the foreseeable future.
Becoming a volunteer for TNMC is easy; go to the National Map Corps website to learn more and to sign up as a volunteer. If you have access to the Internet and are willing to dedicate some time to editing map data, we hope you will consider participating!
Twenty-five years of monitoring and studying Alaska's volcanoes by the Alaska Volcano Observatory have improved global understanding of how volcanoes work and how to live safely with volcanic eruptions. Timely warnings from AVO throughout its 25-year history have helped reduce the impact of erupting volcanoes, protecting lives, property, and economic well-being.
On April 1, the Alaska Volcano Observatory, a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, will mark its 25th anniversary.
"Since 1988, AVO has responded to over 70 eruptive events from Alaska’s 52 historically active volcanoes," said John Power, USGS geophysicist and scientist-in-charge of AVO. "Many of these eruptions affected local and international air traffic, oil production, the fishing industry, municipalities, businesses, and citizens."
The primary volcano hazard in Alaska is airborne ash that endangers aircraft flying the busy North Pacific air routes connecting North America and Asia. The hazard played out dramatically on December 15, 1989 when a wide-body passenger jet encountered an ash cloud from Redoubt Volcano and lost power in all four engines over the Talkeetna Mountains. Fortunately, after more than 4 harrowing minutes of descent, engines were restarted and the plane landed safely in Anchorage. This near-tragedy prompted renewed international efforts to more effectively address the hazards of airborne volcanic ash.
In addition to endangering aircraft, volcanoes near population centers can pose significant hazards to infrastructure and communities from ash fall, lahars, and other rapidly flowing mixtures of hot rock fragments, fluids, and gases.
AVO has developed a far-reaching volcano monitoring program in Alaska and partnered with federal, state and municipal agencies, to improve warnings of volcanic eruptions. AVO led the development of the standard Aviation Color Code to communicate hazards in a simple, consistent manner; this warning system is now endorsed by the International Civil Aviation Organization for use by volcano observatories worldwide. AVO pioneered cooperative programs with volcanologists in the Russian Far East, also home to dozens of explosive volcanoes that threaten aircraft, to create a system to warn the aviation industry of eruptions in Kamchatka and the Kuriles.
Over 25 years, AVO expanded from an early focus on just Cook Inlet volcanoes to a current monitoring and research program that includes daily observations of all 52 historically active volcanoes in Alaska. To address the aviation hazard, AVO expanded ground-based monitoring networks from Cook Inlet to volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands. Throughout the years, AVO and its colleagues developed innovative ways to track earthquake activity, ground deformation, and volcanic gas output, and analyze satellite imagery in the harsh Alaskan environment. Geologic studies of volcanoes and eruptions by AVO scientists provide insights into eruptive histories, information needed to assess future hazards and inform planning efforts.
AVO issues daily and weekly updates of volcanic activity in Alaska. The most recent information along with a wide range of volcano information, real-time data, and images is available on the AVO website. Volcanic activity notices are also served through Twitter @alaska_avo.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute turns observations into information, from the center of the Earth, to the center of the Sun. Visit the UAFGI website for more information.
The Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys determines the potential of Alaskan land for resources, groundwater, and geologic hazards. More information is available online.
TRENTON, N.J. -- Survivors of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey now have until May 1 to register for disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and return Small Business Administration disaster loan applications.Language English
DENTON, Texas — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded $6.75 million to the state of Texas for construction of four community safe rooms in the city of Pharr in Hidalgo County, Texas
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) will pay 75 percent or $6,750,000 of the combined $9 million cost.
The concrete, dome safe rooms, which will also serve as multi-purpose community centers, will be 20,000 square feet each and should provide protection from storms and tornadoes for the people of Hidalgo County.Language English
TRENTON, N.J. -- Replacing lost or damaged records is an important step in recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
While it can seem like a challenging task, the good news is that many vital records are relatively easy to replace. Check the list below to find out where to obtain official copies of your lost or damaged documents.
Insurance: Contact your insurance agent for copies of your policies, recent billing records and cash-value statements.Language English
NEW YORK — New York survivors have until April 13 to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and return their applications for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Disaster assistance to New York survivors of Hurricane Sandy:Language English
NEW YORK – FEMA and New York State disaster recovery centers in Nassau and Suffolk counties will change hours of operation beginning Monday, April 1.
Beginning Monday, Nassau and Suffolk disaster recovery centers will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All centers are closed on Sunday.
The five centers are:
Freeport Recreation CenterLanguage English
NEW YORK – To assist families who are still struggling to locate housing after being displaced by Hurricane Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today they will reinstitute the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), a unique rental assistance program that provides temporary rental payments directly to landlords to help families displaced by disasters. DHAP-Sandy will help families find intermediate housing as they rebuild their lives.Language English
TRENTON, N.J. -- Hurricane Sandy survivors in New Jersey who do not return their Small Business Administration disaster loan applications could be missing out on valuable funds for their recovery.
Returning SBA disaster loan applications is a critical step for homeowners and renters who registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be considered for federal loans or grants that could be valuable recovery assets.Language English
NEW YORK — Since Hurricane Sandy struck New York, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved more than $806 million in Public Assistance grants to reimburse state, tribal and local governments and eligible private nonprofits for costs relating to emergency response, debris removal and repairing or rebuilding damaged public facilities.Language English
DENTON, Texas – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate has sworn in Tony Robinson as the new FEMA Region 6 Administrator.
“Tony has provided leadership and oversight during more than 50 federally-declared disasters, including Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav and also the Loma Prieta Earthquake,” said Fugate. “As Administrator for Region 6, I have no doubt Tony will build on his exceptional record in service of disaster survivors and the residents of this region in the years to come.”Language English
People living near asphalt pavement sealed with coal tar have an elevated risk of cancer, according to a study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Much of this calculated excess risk results from exposures in children, age six or younger, to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the sealant.
"The increased cancer risk associated with coal-tar-sealed asphalt (CSA) likely affects a large number of people in the U.S. Our results indicate that the presence of coal-tar-based pavement sealants is associated with significant increases in estimated excess lifetime cancer risk for nearby residents," said E. Spencer Williams, Ph.D., principal author of the study and Baylor University assistant research scientist at the Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.
Researchers from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and the U.S. Geological Survey in Austin, Texas, are the first to report on the potential human health effects of PAHs in settled house dust and soil in living spaces and soil adjacent to parking lots sealed with coal-tar-based products.
"Exposure to these compounds in settled house dust is a particularly important source of risk for children younger than six years of age, as they are expected to ingest this material at higher rates," Williams said. "This indicates that the use of coal-tar-based pavement sealants magnifies aggregate exposures to PAHs in children and adults in residences adjacent to where these products are used and is associated with human health risks in excess of widely accepted standards."
Data on PAHs in settled house dust used for this analysis were published previously by the same authors. In that study, settled house dust and parking lot dust were sampled for 23 ground-floor apartments in Austin, Texas. The parking lot surfaces adjacent to the apartments were coal-tar-sealed asphalt, asphalt-based sealant over asphalt pavement, or unsealed concrete. Concentrations of PAHs were 25 times higher in house dust in residences adjacent to coal-tar-sealed pavement compared to those with other pavement types.
"This study was the first to find a strong association between a product or a behavior and PAHs in house dust," said Barbara Mahler, the USGS research hydrologist who oversaw the study.
For this study, doses and risk associated with residences adjacent to unsealed asphalt lots were considered relative to those adjacent to (CSA) parking lots. Benzo(a)pyrene concentrations in CSA-affected settled house dust were high relative to those reported in most parts of the U.S. where coal-tar-based sealcoat is not used (California and Arizona). Data for PAHs in coal-tar-sealed asphalt-affected soils and unsealed asphalt-affected soils are available from samples from New Hampshire and suburban Chicago.
The analysis did not consider exposure to the dust on the pavement itself, which has PAH concentrations 10s to 100s of times higher than those in house dust or soil, or inhalation of air over sealed pavement.
"Over time, about half of the PAHs in the sealcoat are released into the air, and concentrations in air are extremely high, particularly in the hours to days after application," said Peter Van Metre, USGS research hydrologist and author of two papers on volatilization of PAHs from sealcoat.
Sealcoat is a black, shiny substance sprayed or painted on the asphalt pavement of parking lots, driveways, and playgrounds to improve appearance and protect the underlying asphalt. An estimated 85 million gallons of coal-tar-based sealant are applied to pavement each year, primarily east of the Continental Divide in the U.S. and parts of Canada. Coal-tar-based pavement sealants are 15 to 35 percent coal-tar pitch, which has been classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Over time, the dried sealant is worn away from pavement surfaces, and the resulting mobile dust particles can be transported into nearby homes.
"Although the analysis presented here is based on a limited dataset, the results indicate that biomonitoring might be warranted to characterize the exposure of children and adults to PAHs associated with coal-tar-based pavement sealant," Williams said. "Further investigation is also needed into the impacts of coal-tar-based pavement sealants on PAH concentrations in indoor and outdoor environments."
To learn more about Baylor University and their nationally ranked research program, visit their website.
WARWICK, RI--Spring is just around the corner, and it is the ideal time to start home repairs. For many Rhode Islanders, this year's springtime repairs include repairing damages from Hurricane Sandy, the Blizzard of 2013, or other severe weather events.
Rhode Islanders who sustained damages from recent severe weather events can call 2-1-1 for a referral to a Long Term Recovery Group or to other disaster aid resources. Information about smart and safe rebuilding is available on the FEMA website, according to FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer James N. RussoLanguage English
NEW YORK – Sandy survivors need to watch out for people trying to take advantage of their most vulnerable moment. There are a few simple steps survivors can take to protect against fraud and ensure they’re dealing with honest people.
When receiving offers for state or federal aid
Identity thieves are always looking for ways to find their next targets, and some are using offers of state or federal aid to steal personal information from disaster survivors.
It is important to know that:Language English
NEW YORK – At the request of the State of New York, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved a 15-day extension for Hurricane Sandy survivors to apply for disaster assistance.
Survivors now have until April 13 to register with FEMA and to return their disaster loan applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration.Language English
Washington – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is seeking nominations for participants in the Agency’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC).Language English
ATLANTA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking for youth leaders who are dedicated to public service, who are making a difference in their communities, and who want to expand their impact as national advocates for youth disaster preparedness.
Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 interested in strengthen the nation’s resiliency against disasters may now apply or be nominated to serve on FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council. Participants will represent the youth perspective on emergency preparedness and share information with their communities.Language English