FEMA offers e-mail updates

The hurricane season kicks off next month. Do you need alerts
about preparation for impending storms? Want to learn more about
floods and how to prepare? Or do you need assistance in recovering
after a tornado?

If so, you might want to sign up to receive e-mail updates from
the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Since September 2007, FEMA has been offering a digital
subscription management service — powered by GovDelivery
— that lets it e-mail thousands of people when urgent
situations arise. GovDelivery is an e-mail and digital subscription
services provider for the public sector.

Some other agencies that use the GovDelivery platform include
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental
Protection Agency, Internal Revenue Service, and Defense, Health
and Human Services, Homeland Security and Treasury departments.

FEMA has sent more than 11.5 million e-mail bulletins so far to
71,000 subscribers, who sign up for an average of 6.1 subscription
items each, said Eugene Luke, an emergency management specialist at
FEMA’s mitigation division.

Subscribers to the free service can choose from 96 specialized
areas, including items from CDC, Customs and Border Protection, DHS
and the Transportation Security Administration. Currently, 1,000
subscribers are signed up for 80 or more items, Luke said.

When users sign up to receive e-mail alerts, FEMA captures the
subscriber’s e-mail address, ZIP code and state or territory.
“This enables us to send bulletins to subscribers in a
disaster area declared by the president, by county, state, or
territory,” he said. “Many of our subscribers sign up
for notifications such as emergency and major disaster declarations
and news releases.”

“GovDelivery for FEMA.gov is a relatively new service, and
FEMA has not yet implemented a policy for generating special
bulletins to subscribers in declared disaster areas,” Luke
said. Those bulletins could supplement other lines of communication
and include information on issues such as how to obtain aid, the
federal response and rebuilding after the disaster, he added.

“As we increase the number of GovDelivery subscribers to
FEMA.gov, any notification system that FEMA decides to implement
will be more effective and reach more people,” Luke said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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