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DHS and FBI Release Joint Technical Alerts on Malicious North Korean Cyber Activity

November 14, 2017 - 9:52pm

Today, DHS and FBI released a pair of Joint Technical Alerts (TA17-318A and TA17-318B) that provide details on tools and infrastructure used by North Korea to target the media, aerospace, financial, and critical infrastructure sectors in the United States and globally.

The North Korean government malicious cyber activity noted in these alerts is part of a long-term campaign of cyber-enabled operations that impact the U.S. Government and its citizens. Working closely with our interagency, industry and international partners, DHS is constantly working to arm network defenders with the tools they need to identify, detect and disrupt state and non-state actors targeting the networks and systems of our country and our allies.

Earlier this summer, DHS and FBI released a technical alert and malware analysis report (MAR) of a malware variant, known as DeltaCharlie, used to manage North Korea’s distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) botnet infrastructure.  The U.S. Government refers to all of this North Korean malicious cyber activity as HIDDEN COBRA and it is published on the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center’s (NCCIC) U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team’s (US-CERT) website at www.us-cert.gov/hiddencobra.

On a daily basis, we share information about cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and other risks and the NCCIC is our primary hub for these important activities. Specifically, it occurs through the automated sharing of cyber threat indicators; the production of analytic reports and alerts containing threat and vulnerability mitigation information; and direct exchanges with analysts in the network defense community.

With our industry and government partners, we are looking to enhance our collaboration and partnerships across the globe to counter North Korea and another state or non-state actor’s malicious cyber activity, and we hope that, over time, public information sharing – such as the report today – will become a routine component of cooperation to address shared cyber threat.

Entities that find signs of this malicious cyber activity should report it to DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) or FBI through CyWatch or its local field offices.

Topics:  Combat Cyber Crime, Cybersecurity Keywords:  cyber security, cybersecurity activity, dhs, Korea, malware, National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, NCCIC, US-CERT Public Affairs

Leadership: From Active Duty to DHS

November 9, 2017 - 4:20pm

Each Veterans Day, we honor the men and women who have given so much to protect our freedom and liberty. We remember their courage and dedication and thank them for their sacrifice.

Many of the missions of the Department of Homeland Security align with the deep sense of service and security that is fundamental to those who serve in our armed forces. We are proud to have more than 54,500 veterans—nearly 28% of our entire workforce—at the Department of Homeland Security.

In October, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke kicked off Leadership Year, a year-long initiative to encourage leadership at every level of the Department. In honor of Veterans Day, and in conjunction with the Leadership Year, we asked veterans serving across the Department to share their thoughts on leadership and discuss how the values and principles of leadership learned in active duty apply to a career at DHS.

Below, we feature four veterans who are continuing their service to our country at DHS. Here are their thoughts on leadership:

Jimmie Jaye Wells

Jimmie Jaye Wells (Major General, USA, Ret.) is celebrating 1-year of civil service and 37 years of federal service and is the Deputy Federal Security Director for the Transportation Security Administration in Honolulu.

  1. What does “Serving People, Serves Mission” mean to you?

    To me, serving people is an honor—our stakeholders, traveling public, airport and carrier management, elected officials, and especially our officers. In my role, that is for officers in 4 time zones of the Pacific from Guam to Samoa and across the Hawaiian Islands.

  2. How have you taken lessons about leadership from your active duty service and applied them in your DHS career?

    My most vital lesson from my decades of military service was to become a servant leader. We face challenges of vast vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Character, competence and commitment loom large as the most critical functions to help me transition to our TSA values of innovation, integrity and all important team spirit and meet these challenges.

  3. What have you learned about leadership now that you are a DHS employee?

    I have learned that TSA officers, like Soldiers, love our nation. They have an incredible desire to be good and faithful stewards of our citizens’ trust in them. As TSA and DHS are young organizations, we need to double-down as leaders to earn their trust. The 2018 theme of Leadership is spot-on.

  4. What is your favorite quote about leadership that reflects these values?

    My favorite quote about leadership that reflects these values is as follows: “Standards Based, Data Driven, People Focused.” If I follow these six simple words, everything falls into place.

Brandie Jackson

Brandie Jackson (Sergeant, USMC) is celebrating 8 years with DHS/ICE/HSI and is the Special Assistant to the Acting Deputy Director, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  1. What does “Serving People, Serves Mission” mean to you?
    As a Marine, and now as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Director, I have always lived by “People first…Mission Always”! Taking care of each other as coworkers, supervisors and subordinates; it has always been instilled in me to take care of one another, as we are all here to support the Mission. You cannot be successful in completing the mission, regardless of what it is, without taking care of your PEOPLE!
  2. How have you taken lessons about leadership from your active duty service and applied them in your DHS career?
    The Marine Corps taught me the importance of knowing myself and seeking self-improvement. There is always room to grow no matter the level you reach in your career, both in Active Duty and Civil Service. It takes loyalty, decisiveness, unselfishness, knowledge, initiative, and many other traits to be a LEADER.
  3. What have you learned about leadership now that you are a DHS employee?
    Your subordinates are a direct reflection of your leadership. Leading by example and taking care of your people is what gets the job done effectively and efficiently. Effective communication is key!
  4. What is your favorite quote about leadership that reflects these values?
    “Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. Its quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride, and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” -General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps
Marecus B. Matthews

Marecus B. Matthews (USMC) is celebrating 9 years with DHS and is a Supervisory CBP Officer for US Customs and Border Protection.

  1. What does “Serving People, Serves Mission” mean to you?
    Our mission is people – protecting people within our borders and protecting our way of life.  “Serving People Serves Mission” means that as public servants, our mission of anti-terrorism and protecting our borders is directly correlated with serving the American public.
  2. How have you taken lessons about leadership from your active duty service and applied them in your DHS career?
    There are many parallels between the military and Customs and Boarder Protection. Some of the lessons I have carried over about leadership revolve around leading from the front, never asking people to do something you wouldn’t do yourself, accomplishing the mission but taking care of the people that accomplish the mission, setting the example, always seeking knowledge and self-improvement, and having high but manageable expectations for your people. I apply these to my duties every day. CBP has some of the best and brightest people in the Federal government, and these people need to be fostered in the best manner.
  3. What have you learned about leadership now that you are a DHS employee?
    You have to be willing to make the hard decisions as well as the easy ones. You have to be willing to bear responsibility for failures as well as successes. Leadership is a privilege.
  4. What is your favorite quote about leadership that reflects these values?
    “In other words, don’t expect to always be great. Disappointments, failures, and setbacks are normal part of the lifecycle of a unit or a company and what the leader has to do is constantly be up and say ‘we have a problem, let’s go and get it.’” Colin Powell
Christopher A. Humphries

Christopher A. Humphries (USAF) is celebrating 15 years with the Federal Government and is the Associate Center Director of the Texas Service Center for US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  1. What does “Serving People, Serves Mission” mean to you?
    If you put people first, they will take care of the mission. The mission cannot be carried out without the people you are expected to lead. Surround yourself with great people and empower them to accomplish the mission.
  2. How have you taken lessons about leadership from your active duty service and applied them in your DHS career?
    At the end of the day, we all want to be valued and respected. Break the golden rule by not treating people how you want to be treated, but instead treat them how they want to be treated. In the Air Force and DHS I have learned to put rank and grade aside and see the person first. Place value on the individual first and you can't go wrong.
  3. What have you learned about leadership now that you are a DHS employee?
    Leadership transcends everything that we do, across all walks of life. It’s a calling that many have undertaken and have made their way into our history books. We don’t get to hear about all of the success stories that take place in DHS.  Trust me they happen, stop look and listen for them.  You don’t have to look far.
  4. What is your favorite quote about leadership that reflects these values?
    You never know how the little things you do can make a big impact on others… Like it says in this quote “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen” – John Wooden
Keywords:  Veterans, Veterans Day Public Affairs

Sharing Critical Information to Protect the Networks and Systems We All Rely Upon

October 31, 2017 - 2:44pm

By Jeanette Manfra, Assistant Secretary, Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, Department of Homeland Security

It’s fitting that October, which is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, has also been an extremely busy month for the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity information sharing operations. In the field of cybersecurity, DHS shares timely, accurate information far and wide with our partners and constituents so that they can take proper action to protect themselves.

On October 16, our partners at the Software Engineering Institute’s CERT Division reported to DHS that researchers had disclosed a major weakness in the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol that secures nearly all wireless network traffic, and named the exploit technique KRACK, short for “Key Reinstallation Attack” The vulnerabilities are in the 802.11i protocol, which means that any standards-compliant implementation of WPA2 is likely to be affected.

That morning, shortly after being notified by CERT, DHS’s US-Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a public alert to ensure that information about the vulnerabilities reached as wide an audience as possible.

When vulnerabilities like KRACK are discovered and disclosed, it is critical that DHS share this information widely and as quickly as possible so that our partners and constituents can be aware of the risk and take steps to protect themselves. In the case of KRACK, if exploited, an attacker within range of a Wi-Fi network can view network traffic that users assume to be protected by WPA2 encryption. If additional layers of transport security (such as HTTPS) are not in place, an attacker could capture email, chat messages, photos, or other user information like credit card numbers and passwords.

To prevent the attack, users and administrators must update affected products as security updates become available. Individuals should also identify which WiFi enabled devices they are currently using (the CERT Vulnerability Note contains a list of affected vendors) and ensure that the necessary updates are applied. There is no one patch for all affected devices. Some Wi-Fi enabled devices that people might overlook are televisions, home security systems and wearable devices. In those cases, users should check for customer support information from the device manufacturer.

That same day, DHS issued a Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 18-01 to all federal departments and agencies. This directive, titled “Enhance Email and Web Security,” mandates the use of specific cybersecurity best practices at all agencies, including DMARC and HSTS. HSTS, or HTTP Strict Transport Security, is a way to force the use of HTTPS. This way, even if wireless frame-level encryption is bypassed—as it is in KRACK—traffic with the HSTS website is protected against snooping, modification or injection. DMARC, or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance, is a way to protect against domain spoofing in email messages, in which a cyber actor uses a fake email address disguised to look like an authentic one.

Later in the same week, on October 20, we released a joint Technical Alert based on collaborative analysis between DHS and the FBI on Advanced Persistent Threat activities targeting critical infrastructure, particularly the energy sector. In the alert, we provide a detailed description of the actors’ tactics, techniques and procedures, including in-depth technical analysis of various phases in the Cyber Kill Chain. We also included several sets of Indicators Of Compromise (IOCS) in the Structured Threat Indicator Expression (STIX), a common language used in disseminating cyber threat information, to help cybersecurity professionals detect and defend against these activities in their own networks.

As these examples show, information sharing is a key part of DHS’s important mission to enhance the awareness of new vulnerabilities and malicious cyber activities. DHS actively collaborates with public and private sector partners every day to share actionable information gleaned from research, network defense, cybercrime investigations, and incident reports. Without this collaboration, we would be less able to inform our partners and constituents on emerging threats and appropriate mitigation strategies. We applaud security researchers who disclose vulnerabilities in a thoughtful and coordinated manner, which has the effect of increasing security of the entire internet ecosystem. We also greatly appreciate the feedback we receive from our partners on products like our Technical Alert, so that we can continuously hone our processes to better help network defenders do their job. As National Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to a close, DHS is ready to continue sharing valuable operational information and working together to make a safer, stronger Internet for all Americans.

 

Topics:  Cybersecurity Keywords:  CERT, Cybersecurity Jeanette Manfra

Need a Job? Consider a Career in Cybersecurity

October 26, 2017 - 5:14pm

Cyber crime is one of the biggest threats to the United States’ national security. As the number of large-scale data breaches and cyber attacks continue to rise year after year, there is an increasing need for dedicated cyber professionals to protect our nation, businesses, and individuals from cyber threats.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), and DHS is bringing attention to the need for properly trained cybersecurity professionals capable of securing internet systems.

Are you or someone you know interested in a career in cyber? Cybersecurity employers are looking for individuals who:

  • enjoy figuring out how things work, which can be as simple as taking apart toys and electronics;
  • enjoy looking at a problem from new angles and finding a unique solution; and
  • are enthusiastic and can adapt to evolving subject matter

You can learn more about cybersecurity careers at DHS on this DHS.gov web page. For more information on cybersecurity studies, training, and workforce development visit www.niccs.us-cert.gov.

DHS is doing its part to make the internet safer for everyone by participating in NCSAM. Learn more about NCSAM 2017 and how you can be cyber safe at https://www.dhs.gov/ncsam

To receive cybersecurity tips year round, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect and become a Friend of the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign.

Topics:  Cybersecurity Keywords:  cyber security, cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Awareness Month Public Affairs

Hurricane Thank You

October 24, 2017 - 9:31pm

This year’s hurricane season has tested our nation.  It has tested the endurance of our first responders.  It has tested the capacity of government at all levels to respond.  It has tested the faith of survivors who have lost everything.     

But as I have traveled to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico, I have been amazed and humbled by the strength of our nation and the compassion of our people.  Everywhere I go, I have seen neighbors helping neighbors, first responders saving lives, and federal, state, and local officials working together to rebuild communities. 

In these times that we are tested, we have the chance to demonstrate the best of our humanity.  I want to personally thank those members of our federal family who have deployed to the front lines of these disasters to help our fellow Americans.  Whether you have helped clear debris from roadways, helped establish order in a shelter, or helped a survivor navigate our federal assistance programs, you have made a remarkable difference.  You have sacrificed your own comfort and routine to serve those in desperate need, and I commend you. 

I would also like to thank those who continue to carry out the day-to-day missions that keep our country strong.  When a teammate deploys to the frontlines of a disaster, their usual work doesn’t go with them—but it still needs to be done.  Taking on these additional responsibilities, and allowing your colleagues the freedom to deploy, demonstrates the unity of effort we strive for every day. 

Our nation faces a long and difficult road to recovery, and hurricane season is not over yet.  We will continue to be tested, but we will continue to overcome.  Thank you all who have served for your selflessness and your sacrifice; I am very proud to serve with you. 

Elaine Duke,
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security

With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.

Topics:  DHS Enterprise, Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  Acting Secretary Duke, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, disaster relief, Elaine Duke, emergency response, federal response, FEMA, Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, natural disasters Elaine C. Duke

DHS: Challenge Yourself to Do More to Stay Safe Online

October 23, 2017 - 9:34pm

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month 

We are connected to the internet for almost every part of our daily lives. Whether it’s the electric grid, our healthcare records, or our social media presence, we are extraordinarily reliant on this global network. But this connection is not without risks. 

We’ve seen the damage that cyber incidents can do, from compromising your personal data to wreaking havoc on international markets. Recent ransomware incidents have caused widespread disruption and significant economic loss. 

It’s not just international businesses or government networks that are under attack. If your computer, smart phone, or tablet connects to the internet, you are also at risk. If you have a smart appliance, like a home thermostat, baby monitor, or television, it’s also vulnerable to cyber threats. 

This is why cybersecurity is one of DHS’s core missions.  Each day our men and women work so hard to keep our country safe from the growing frequency, scale, and sophistication of cyber threats. 

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Challenge yourself to do more to protect yourself online.  It’s not complicated but it does take discipline – not just in October, but year-round.

  • Use strong passwords, and change them often.  Strong passwords consist of letters, numbers, and special characters.  Whenever possible, use multi-factor authentication – sometimes called two-step verification – as an extra layer of security beyond just a user name and password.  Many online services including email, social media, and online banking offer this extra protection for free.  To learn more visit https://www.lockdownyourlogin.org/.
  • Update your software.  It’s important to use the latest version of software, and install patches and updates to prevent older and vulnerable versions of software from being compromised.  This includes software for your home computer, your mobile devices, and anything else that is connected to the internet. 
  • Avoid phishing schemes.  Look out for suspicious or unsolicited emails, and don’t open their links or attachments. If an email sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 
  • Treat your personal data like money.  Be careful how much you share, and with whom you share it.  Control and limit who can see your personal information online by checking the privacy and security settings on your accounts and apps.    
  • Help other people improve their cybersecurity.  Visit staysafeonline.org to learn more about how to stay safe online and get involved at home, work, school and in the community.  If you’re interested in a career in this growing and exciting field, there are numerous resources available at the Department of Homeland Security’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies. 
  • Get involved.  Companies, researchers, and others can get more involved in cybersecurity by reporting incidents, indicators, malware, and vulnerabilities to DHS and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (https://www.us-cert.gov/nccic).

These are only a few ways you can help make cyberspace more secure. Throughout the month, the Department of Homeland Security will promote cybersecurity in the workplace, discuss cybersecurity and smart devices, encourage people to consider a career in cybersecurity, and talk about how we protect critical infrastructure from cyber threats. You can get involved by visiting dhs.gov/ncsam.

By practicing strong cybersecurity habits every day, and encouraging others to do the same, you can help us all be safer online, and help keep our country secure. 

Topics:  Cybersecurity Keywords:  Cybersecurity, cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Awareness Month, cybersecurity tips Public Affairs

Staying Safe in a "Smart" World

October 16, 2017 - 6:42pm
Is your refrigerator putting your home network at risk? We live in a world of “smart” objects, where things like thermostats, coffee pots, and refrigerators are connected to the internet. We carry around smart devices like phones, and we even wear them in the form of fitness trackers and medical devices. This complicated internet ecosystem offers us tremendous benefits, but it also poses unique risks.    As technology continues to evolve and advance through all aspects of our lives, it is critical to use internet-connected devices in safe and secure ways. These devices pose various privacy and security challenges because they collect personal information about the user which could potentially be accessed by others. The user is responsible for understanding what information these devices collect and how it is being shared.    October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), and DHS is joining with its partners across the country to highlight the importance of cybersecurity to individuals of all ages and all segments of the community.    Follow the simple tips below to secure any object or device that connects to the internet and sends or receives data automatically:    
  • Read privacy policies and know what information an app or device will collect to determine if you really want to share such information.
  • Keep any device that connects to the Internet free from viruses and malware by updating the software regularly.
  • Understand privacy settings to control how much information a device or app will display publicly about you.
  • Set strong passwords, and change them regularly. 
DHS is doing its part to make the internet safer for everyone by participating in NCSAM. Learn more about NCSAM 2017 and how you can be cyber safe at https://www.dhs.gov/ncsam.   To receive cybersecurity tips year round, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect and become a Friend of the Stop.Think.Connect.Campaign.   Topics:  Cybersecurity Keywords:  cyber security, Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Awareness Month Public Affairs

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October 10, 2017 - 7:18pm

DHS is proud to observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Each October, we celebrate the varied contributions and accomplishments of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is, “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”

During the announcement of this year’s theme, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta stated, “Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs. Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation.”

At DHS we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive workforce, embracing the talents of individuals with disabilities. We offer trainings for managers on hiring, retaining, and advancing employees with disabilities; promote information about reasonable accommodations and resources available to employees; hire through the Schedule A appointing authority; participate in the Department of Labor’s Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), which connects federal employers with highly motivated students and recent college graduates with disabilities; and participate in the Department of Defense’s Operation Warfighter to provide opportunities for wounded, ill, and injured service members.  

Throughout the month of October, DHS will engage in a variety of activities to educate our workforce on disability employment issues. These activities include a department-wide NDEAM event on Oct. 12 that will be held at the Transportation Security Administration’s headquarters building in Arlington, Virginia. The program includes morning and afternoon workshops and a keynote address. Exhibitors will also be onsite. Click here for more information about the event.

We encourage you to participate in department-sponsored NDEAM activities throughout the month of October.  To learn more about how to participate in NDEAM events and discover ways you can promote its messages—during October and throughout the year—please visit www.dol.gov/ndeam.

Topics:  Civil Rights Civil Liberties, DHS Enterprise Keywords:  disabilities, disability, individuals with disabilities, people with disabilities, persons with disabilities Cameron Quinn Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Cyber Security Awareness Month Is Here

October 10, 2017 - 4:23pm

You do not have to be a computer expert to understand the basics of cybersecurity. Even small actions can make a huge difference in keeping you safe online. As cybercrimes like scams, frauds, identity theft, and network breaches continue to increase, it is more important than ever to know how to protect yourself in the cyber world.

  October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and DHS’s Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign and its partners across the country are highlighting the importance of cybersecurity and online safety.     It is easier than you think to practice good cybersecurity every day. DHS encourages you to take these simple steps towards greater cybersecurity:
  • Secure PIN and Set Strong Passwords. Stow away and secure all PIN numbers, being mindful to not leave them on desks or unlocked drawers. No one should be able to guess your password–especially on your most sensitive accounts, like your email or bank account. Your passwords should be at least eight characters and include a mix of numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters. You should also use different passwords for all your online accounts. Follow Departmental password policies for work accounts, and do not share your passwords with colleagues or anyone else.
  • Update Your Software and Operating Systems. Cyber criminals often target vulnerabilities in outdated software and operating systems. Protect your devices from the threat of malware by installing the latest updates.
  • Protect Your Privacy. How much information about you exists online? Take a look at all of your social media platforms to be sure they are not revealing too much information. Your birthday, address, phone number, and email address should all be kept private, and your photos and posts should only be visible to friends. Make sure your privacy options are set to the strictest level.
DHS is doing its part to make the internet safer for everyone by participating in National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Learn more about how you can be cyber safe at https://www.dhs.gov/ncsam. It is your responsibility to report potential attack attempts.   To receive cybersecurity tips year round, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect, and become a Friend of the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign.   Topics:  Cybersecurity Keywords:  cyber security, Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Awareness Month, cybersecurity tips Public Affairs

Overview of Federal Efforts to Prepare for and Respond to Hurricane Maria

September 30, 2017 - 1:04am

FEMA Public Affairs

(Español) On August 25, 2017, FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) was fully activated to a Level I with all emergency support functions operational, including Department of Defense (DoD) liaisons in preparation for Hurricane Harvey. The NRCC remains at a Level I activation. Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Maria, federal personnel were already positioned on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in response to Hurricane Irma.

These personnel included federal coordinating officers and Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) on both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and staff from FEMA’s Caribbean Area Division.  Additional resources and personnel were strategically located out of the storm’s path, including ships from the Department of Defense. After the hurricane passed, those additional federal resources and personnel recommenced flowing in, as part of a unified federal response. The below is a summary of mobilization of resources and personnel:

Sunday, September 17 – Pre-Landfall
  • FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) remains fully activated with all emergency support functions operational, including Department of Defense (DoD) liaisons.FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • FEMA has a Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) and Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) co-located with the Governor on St. Croix, as well as liaisons on St. John and St. Thomas that will remain in place throughout the storm’s potential landfall.
  • FEMA has an FCO and Incident Management Assistance Team co-located with key staff from the Caribbean Area Division at the FEMA Distribution Center in Puerto Rico, who will remain in place throughout the storm’s potential landfall.
  • DoD Civil Authority Information Support(CAIS) element assisting with communication and outreach support to communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The U.S. Army Area Support Medical Company and the U.S. Air Force Ground Surgical Team operating in St. Thomas are sheltering aboard the amphibious ship USS Kearsarge and will return to U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria passes.
  • The Department of Transportation, through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is working on the relocation and protection of the mobile air traffic control tower at St. Thomas airport ahead of the storm.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is prepositioning assets in Puerto Rico, including storm surge and rapid deployment gauges, to support water-level measurements and flood forecasting.
  • FEMA temporarily repositions the remainder of the federal employees in the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to resume operations as quickly as possible, while also freeing shelter resources for island residents.  
  • , including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), personnel deployed to support Hurricane Irma response efforts will ride out the storm on the USS Kearsarge just off the coast of the islands. They will be ready to continue existing operations as soon as the storm passes.
Monday, September 18 – Pre-Landfall
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • President Donald J. Trump issues federal emergency declarations for the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in advance of Hurricane Maria’s landfall.
  • FEMA and federal personnel remain co-located with the Governor on St. Croix, as well as liaisons on St. John and St. Thomas that will remain in place.  FEMA and federal personnel also remain in place and in close coordination with the Governor of Puerto Rico. 
  • Two Type 1 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams, two canine teams, one logistics package, and one Type 4 US&R team in Puerto Rico.
  • FEMA’s efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands include an increased push of commodities over the last several days to Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) points of distribution to ensure residents have extra food, water, and supplies ahead of the storm. 
  • U.S. Virgin Islands has six open shelters, with additional shelters scheduled to open prior to the storm’s potential landfall.
Tuesday, September 19 – Storm Approaches Landfall in U.S. Virgin Islands
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.  FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • FEMA and federal personnel remain co-located with the Governor on St. Croix, as well as liaisons on St. John and St. Thomas that will remain in place.  FEMA and federal personnel also remain in place and in close coordination with the Governor of Puerto Rico. 
  • One Type 4 FEMA US&R team and one canine team to arrive in Puerto Rico.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) deploys one Disaster Medical Assistance Team to Puerto Rico.
Wednesday, September 20 – Storm Makes Landfall in Puerto Rico
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.  FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • President Donald J. Trump issues major disaster declarations for the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
  • FEMA and federal personnel remain co-located with the Governor on St. Croix, as well as liaisons on St. John and St. Thomas that will remain in place.  FEMA and federal personnel also remain in place and in close coordination with the Governor of Puerto Rico.
  • HHS activates National Disaster Medical System Definitive Care Reimbursement Program, which reimburses medical facilities and hospitals for the medical care costs of patients medically evacuated following disasters.
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is coordinating airlift and deployment of four Quick Response Teams to San Juan post landfall to conduct forecasted security measures.
Thursday, September 21 – Post-Landfall
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.  FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • There are more than 3,500 federal staff on the ground in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands supporting response and recovery operations from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
  • Two FEMA US&R task forces and support resources are in Puerto Rico conducting reconnaissance and search and rescue. An additional team is on St. Croix conducting search and rescue and reconnaissance.
  • Commodities in FEMA’s Puerto Rico Distribution Center include more than 274,000 meals, 25 generators, and more than 500 cots.
  • USACE completes a Blue Roof install on Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. Additionally, USACE has 27 generators on hand in St. Thomas with additional commodities to be delivered when conditions permit.
  • HHS declares a public health emergency in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Four additional DMATs will arrive in Puerto Rico on September 22.
  • Vessels are loaded for U.S. Virgin Islands with 1.3million meals, 2 million liters water, 30 generators, 6,000 cots.
  • There are six U.S. Navy helicopters stationed and three Marine Osprey aircraft in the Caribbean.
  • More than 700 National Guard are mobilized to Puerto Rico and more than 900 National Guard are mobilized to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Western Area Power Administration, in coordination with Department of Energy, deploys an eight-member advance team in Puerto Rico.
  • Department of Interior Office of Law Enforcement has 50 personnel in Puerto Rico.
  • Air support (MH-60s) and other assets from the amphibious ships USS Kearsage and USS Oak Hill  begin performing search and rescue flights and aerial damage assessments over U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and assist with restoration of damaged airfields.
Friday, September 22
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.  FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • There are more than 7,000 federal staff, including 280 FEMA staff, on the ground in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands supporting response and recovery operations from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
  • Four FEMA US&R teams and support resources are in Puerto Rico, and one US&R team is in U.S. Virgin Islands conducting reconnaissance and search and rescue. These task forces assist in the rescue of 65 individuals, searching 45 buildings. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is conducting search and rescue operations in St. Croix, and in the surrounding waters. 
  • National Guard Bureau (NGB) has 1,600 service members in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
  • Vessels loaded with commodities are arriving or awaiting port opening and clearance with an air bridge to deliver commodities to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • More than 70 Federal Law Enforcement Officers are in San Juan supporting search and rescue and medical teams. Three ATF Quick Response Teams (QRT) are arriving to join the four QRTs operating in San Juan.
  • USACE and other supporting agencies have completed several temporary power installs on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and completed nearly 100 inspections. Additional generator support is en route. USACE has 120 responders in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) is assessing 80 leased/owned properties.
  • USS Kearsarge/26th Expeditionary Unit Amphibious Ready Group (MEU ARG) aircraft including helicopters and MV-22s, continue damage assessments over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and complete patient evacuation movements from St. Croix to nearby facilities.
Saturday, September 23
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • The Department of Transportation announces three airports are open for military and relief flights in Puerto Rico and two airports open for military and relief flights in the U.S. Virgin Islands.One port is open with restrictions in Puerto Rico and five ports are open with restrictions in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Support for federal response continues from the amphibious ships USS Kearsage and USS Oak Hill including search and rescue flights, aerial damage assessments, logistics support and route clearance for U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
  • There are six commercial barges transporting meals, water, generators, cots and other commodities to Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The SS Wright is carrying 1.1 million meals and one million liters of water to the islands.
  • The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is transporting 124,000 gallons of diesel fuel to Puerto Rico, with arrival anticipated in the coming days.
  • There are 180 American Red Cross volunteers and staff in the Caribbean.
Sunday, September 24
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.  FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • Federal partners establish a fuel distribution site in San Juan for federal and local entities to support first responder and critical facility needs.  
  • The port of San Juan re-opened for daylight operations and other ports are undergoing assessments.  On St. Thomas, the ports of Crown Bay, Cruz Bay, East Gregerie Channel, Red Hook, and West Gregerie Channel are open with restrictions while other ports are being assessed.  On St. Croix, the ports of Krause Lagoon and Limetree Bay are open with restrictions while other ports are being assessed. 
  • The Department of Energy is coordinating with industry on mutual aid for Puerto Rico, and transported crews from New York Power Authority to support damage assessments.
  • Eight FEMA US&R task forces are stationed in the Caribbean.
  • At the federal staging area in St. Croix, there are more than 43,000 liters of water and more than 20,000 meals available for distribution by territory officials.
  • USACE and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continue to survey damaged channels and ports in Puerto Rico.
  • DoD CAISE re-inserted into the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with communication and outreach support and DoD Area Support Medical Company re-inserted to U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with medical support needs.
  • DoD assets from amphibious ships USS Kearsage and USS Oak Hill continue support for search and rescue flights, medical evacuation, aerial damage assessments, logistics support, port surveys and route clearance for U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Monday, September 25
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.  FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • There are more than 10,000 federal staff, including more than 700 FEMA personnel, on the ground in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands supporting response and recovery operations from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
  • Nine FEMA US&R task forces are stationed and conducting operations in the Caribbean. FEMA US&R task forces saved or assisted 516 individuals. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is conducting search and rescue operations in St. Croix, and in the surrounding waters. 
  • Officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico establish points of distribution for survivors to get meals, water, and other commodities. The National Guard supports commodity distribution. 
  • Power is restored to Centro Medico Hospital in San Juan and San Pablo Hospital in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
  • Fuel arrives for several hospitals in Puerto Rico running on generators: Ashford Presbyterian, Pavia Santurce, Pavia Hato Rey, San Francisco, and Clinica Metro Pavia. The Schneider Regional Medical Center mobile hospital in St. Thomas was re-established.
  • DLA, U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. Navy, and USCG, in coordination with the private sector, provide federal support for fuel transportation via air and sea logistical support.
  • FEMA, working in coordination with federal partners, provide more than 1.5 million meals, 1.1 million liters of water to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria’s landfall.
  • HHS and DoD conduct medical evacuations for more than 100 patients from the islands to the continental United States. Medical evacuations from the islands will continue. Additionally HHS medical teams are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • NGB has more than 4,300 Guard members on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands taking part in security and support operations. The Air National Guard is focused on transporting food, water, and communications capabilities as well as rapidly increasing airlift into affected areas.
  • A Coast Guard mobile communications convoy is en route to Puerto Rico to help improve communications across the storm-impacted area. Coast Guard personnel continue to deliver critical FEMA relief supplies to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • DoD assets from the USS Kearsage and USS Oak Hill continue support for response efforts including search and rescue flights, medical evacuation, aerial damage assessments, logistics support, commodity lifts, port surveys, and hospital assessments with HHS for U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Tuesday, September 26
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.  FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • FEMA is delivering food and water to points of distribution and regional staging areas in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.
  • American Red Cross (ARC) mobilizes to Puerto Rico 9,000 comfort kits and several thousand of tarps, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and hand sanitizer. To U.S. Virgin Islands, ARC will also send tens of thousands of bags of rice and beans with cots, blankets, comfort kits, tarps, trash bags, sponges, hand sanitizer, and insect repellent.
  • Corporation for National and Community Service deploys two AmeriCorps to Puerto Rico and four Disaster response teams for Save the Children support.
  • Ten FEMA US&R task forces are stationed and conducting operations in Puerto Rico. FEMA US&R task forces have saved or assisted 557 individuals and five pets, while searching over 2,600 structures.
  • There are currently 32 points of distribution for commodities in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • More than 180 Federal Law Enforcement Officers are in San Juan and the U.S. Virgin Islands supporting search and rescue, medical teams, and other federal responders. 
  • In support of Hurricane Maria relief and reconstitution operations, the U.S. Government established temporary air traffic flow management procedures for flights into San Juan International Airport in Puerto Rico. Roosevelt Roads and Aguadilla Airports in Puerto Rico are open for military and relief flights during daylight.
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operations personnel are onsite in St. Thomas to evaluate, fix, and install FAA equipment, in support of air traffic control operations.
  • USCG identifies eight ports with some restrictions in Puerto Rico, and nine open in U.S. Virgin Islands with restrictions. USCG reports the ports of Guayanilla, Salinas, and Tallaboa are fully open, and the ports of San Juan, Fajardo, Culebra, Guayama, and Vieques are open with restrictions in Puerto Rico. The ports of Crown Bay, Charlotte Amalie, East Gregerie Channel, West Gregerie Channel, and Redhook Bay on St. Thomas, the ports of Krause Lagoon, Limetree Bay, and Frederiksted on St. Croix, and the port of Cruz Bay on St. John are open with restrictions. Other ports are undergoing assessments.
  • 14 DoD flights arrived September 25 to deliver water and meals, helicopters, communications equipment, additional security forces, and communications and contingency response units for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • USACE coordinates transportation of more than 300 FEMA or DLA generators from across the U.S. to meet anticipated requirements in the islands. In Puerto Rico, the team completes 27 of 32 requested temporary power assessments of critical facilities. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, USACE completed 90 of 131 requested temporary power assessments of critical facilities and began generator installations.
  • DoD assets from the USS Kearsage and USS Oak Hill continue support for response efforts including logistics support, route clearance, port restoration, and hospital assessments with HHS for U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Wednesday, September 27
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.  FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • DoD expands its response, and sustainment forces to augment those already on the ground to support the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and FEMA. 
  • FEMA and its federal partners continue 24-hour operations to reach inaccessible areas of Puerto Rico to reach survivors, provide fuel to hospitals, and re-open. 
  • FEMA US&R task forces have saved or assisted 841 individuals and five pets, while searching over 2,600 structures. FEMA US&R is also conducting operational assessments of hospitals in Puerto Rico.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ten members providing security to two FEMA ships.
  • DoD CAIS is assisting with communication and outreach support to communities in Puerto Rico.
  • Half of the dialysis centers in Puerto Rico are open and accessible for patients.
  • USACE is conducting assessments and planning for power grid restoration in Puerto Rico, and addressing the 1.4 million cubic yards of debris across the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • In Puerto Rico, fuel is delivered to 19 hospitals for power generators. Fuel continues to be delivered to hospitals and other locations around Puerto Rico.
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority drinking water system is back online, and other drinking water systems on the islands are top priority for receiving generators.
  • 17 chainsaw teams (34 individuals) and one Incident Management Team (IMT) (23 individuals) from the Department of Agriculture United States Forest Service arrive in Puerto Rico to conduct emergency road clearance and manage logistics.
  • To bolster the delivery of fuel throughout Puerto Rico, 100 delivery trucks were dispatched by the DLA.
Thursday, September 28
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • FAA reports Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) accommodated 25 commercial flights and processed 5,000 ticketed passengers.
  • Two generators are installed at Concordia Fresh Water Pump Station and the Herbert Grigg Shelter.
  • Recovery efforts are now supporting more than a dozen commercial passenger flights per day at SJU in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • The Concordia potable water pump station is online in St. Croix.
  • FEMA search and rescue teams have accessed 90 percent of Puerto Rico, conducting search and rescue operations and helping to assess hospitals.
  • All municipalities in Puerto Rico have been reached by FEMA US&R, the Department of Health and Human Services, Commonwealth officials, and/or the National Guard.
  • Additional National Disaster Medical System staff arrive to support hospital assessments and medical needs of these in Puerto Rico.
Friday, September 29
  • FEMA’s NRCC is fully activated with all emergency support functions operational.FEMA holds daily video-teleconference with leadership across various departments and agencies.
  • There are more than 10,000 federal staff representing 36 departments and agencies, including more than 800 FEMA personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands engaged in response and recovery operations from hurricanes Maria and Irma.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) made $40 million available to the PR Highways and Transportation Authority (PHRTA) for emergency relief work to impacted roads.
  • In Puerto Rico, 56 of 68 hospitals are partially operational, and one hospital is fully operational.
  • FAA reports SJU begins international commercial service with two flights.
  • The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has limited handout mail service available today at 49 locations in Puerto Rico, which represents 43 percent of all post offices on the island. 41 of these locations are also able to provide postal retail services. Limited handout mail service, along with limited retail service, begins today in St. Croix. Limited mail service continues in St. Thomas. On St. John, limited mail service continues with no retail services available.

 

Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, emergency response, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Maria, natural disasters

Service Dog Gunner Provides Invaluable Services to Tampa HERO, iGuardian

September 26, 2017 - 2:00pm
When Justin Gaertner gets married in October, his dog “Gunner” will be by his side. It’s only right, as Gunner has been by the side of Gaertner, a computer forensic analyst with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa office, since 2012.     Justin Gaertner and his full-time service dog Gunner. (Photo courtesy of ICE Public Affairs)   Gaertner was injured in an improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day 2010.  He lost both of his legs above the knees and experienced severe damage to one of his arms. When Gaertner was in the hospital, facility dogs would come around the hospital and calm the patients. It was a welcomed change from the normal routine.   “All you’d see were doctors and nurses all day and people who’d come in and ask different types of questions. The dogs would come in and just lay on top of you,” Gaertner said. “I thought that was really calming.”   Although Gaertner enjoyed the company of the facility dogs while in the hospital during his rehab, he didn’t believe that a full-time service dog would be beneficial to him. His primary focus was getting up and moving. It was not until Gaertner started the transition out of the hospital that he applied for a service dog.   After a year and a half of boot camp with Gunner, a Belgian Shephard specifically trained for Gaertner and his disability, the two were paired together when Gaertner settled back in Tampa.   “I couldn’t have asked for a better dog,” Gaertner said. “We instantly connected. He was my stabilizer. If I would stumble, he would be my cane. He was my balancer with my prosthetics. He knows the difference of my being in a [wheel]chair versus not being in a chair.” Gaertner joined HSI in October 2013 as a Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) Child Rescue Corps intern. He was one of the 17 interns to graduate from the inaugural class.   “It gave me a second chance to serve my country. Without this program, I don’t know where I would be in life right now,” Gaertner said of the HERO program. “I fought hard to get back overseas with my platoon and once that wasn’t happening, I was able to find a way to keep serving my country.”   Gaertner’s training to become a computer forensic analyst took place at the HSI Cyber Crimes Center (C3) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. Gunner was right there throughout the process and became well known around C3 as the office dog.   Gunner’s role would soon expand beyond being “just” Gaertner’s service dog and the office dog at C3 and HSI Tampa.     Justin Gaertner's dog Gunner provides invaluable services. (Photo courtesy of ICE Public Affairs)   Gaertner does presentations in the Tampa area on behalf of Project iGuardian, HSI’s national cyber safety campaign to help protect kids from online sexual predators. Gunner would become one of the “faces” of the iGuardian brand. A kid-friendly representative that was aimed to soften the image of iGuardian from the serious-faced agents and criminals used to brand the program.    “When Gunner shows up he becomes the star,” Gaertner said. “The kids often lose interest in a presentation, but when he shows up, they love him. We always get compliments from the teachers.”   In crowded areas such as schools and other venues where Gaertner presents on behalf of the agency, Gunner provides a boundary between someone who’s paying attention to him and to Gaertner. When the pair travels, Gunner always keeps people away at a distance.   Gunner’s seven years old now, and a lot has changed over the past few years. As he’s aged and Gaertner has become more independent, a lot of things he trained for are not used anymore. Yet, he’s still there, working to help Gaertner and be a symbol in the agency’s fight against online predators.   “There’s not one place he hasn’t gone. When I walk he’s right there and the same thing when I’m in my chair,” Gaertner said. “He’s gone on rides with me at Disney World and every single time I fly for work, he’s right there in between my legs.”   Topics:  Immigration Enforcement Keywords:  Canine, Canines, ICE, immigration enforcement Public Affairs

National Preparedness Month - You Are the Help Until the Help Arrives

September 21, 2017 - 2:27pm

September 17-23 is the third week of National Preparedness Month. During this week, we ask that you take some time to practice and refine your family emergency plans. Often you are the help until help arrives. That's why practice makes perfect! Practice your plans by completing an exercise, workshop, or training.

In addition, check out the below information that can help prepare you and your family for the unexpected.     Did you know that a person with severe bleeding can die from blood loss within five minutes, before trained medical responders can arrive?  Though many severe injuries from gunshots, explosions, or traumatic accidents are not survivable with any amount of care, for others, the difference between life and death is a race against the clock—a race to treat the injury before blood loss claims a life.   Bystanders can play a critical role in survival by slowing or stopping blood loss long enough for the injured person to reach advanced medical care.      Recently, the Department of Homeland Security, along with other government agencies and private sector organizations, joined the effort to launch Stop the Bleed, an initiative to give individuals the knowledge to act quickly and save lives in those critical first few minutes.   Stop the Bleed and initiatives like it teach people to follow a few basic steps to control blood loss. These lessons, like CPR training, can transform bystanders without medical training into "immediate responders" to help the wounded survive long enough to get medical care. Actions as simple as applying pressure to the wound using a t-shirt or towel (or even your hands) can help save lives.   The Office of Health Affairs offers Stop the Bleed training to employees across the Department. If you would like to learn more about this lifesaving initiative or to set up training for your office/component, send a message to stopthebleed@hq.dhs.gov.  
  Another aspect of being prepared includes being financially ready before an emergency happens. Strengthen your financial preparedness:   
  • Check your insurance coverage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage or losses from flooding. If you are not insured for flood damages, talk with your insurance agent.      Information on flood insurance is also available at FloodSmart.gov. Remember, it takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to take effect, so act now to protect your family in the future.

The better we prepare our families, the better they are able to respond to the disaster and you can remain mission focused when our nation needs us the most.

Visit ready.gov/September for more tips and information. Remember, each step we take to become better prepared will make a real difference in how our families and communities will respond and persevere when faced with the unexpected. A prepared people is a prepared nation.

Topics:  Plan and Prepare for Disasters Keywords:  National preparedness, national preparedness month, preparedness Public Affairs

DHS's Claire Grady Discusses Efforts to Curb Terrorist Recruitment Online At the 2017 United Nations General Assembly

September 21, 2017 - 1:27am

Today, Claire Grady, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), joined United Kingdom Prime Minister May, Italy Prime Minister Gentiloni and French President Macron at the United Nations General Assembly to discuss efforts to curb terrorist recruitment online. Ms. Grady’s remarks as prepared are below.

Good evening.

I’d like to thank our UK allies for arranging this event, the tech companies who are on the digital front lines of this fight, and the nations in this room who recognize the threat and are stepping up to address it.

Make no mistake: we have entered a new age of terror.  As the number-two official in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, I see it firsthand every day.

The battleground is not confined by geographic borders.  It is now in our backyards, and the threat has spread virally.

Yet too often we come to these forums…talk about the threat…and then we go home to business as usual.

But while we talk, our enemies are plotting in real-time.  We cannot respond in slow motion.

That is why today, I implore all of you to replace complacency with concrete action.

We are not talking about ordinary criminals abusing internet platforms.

We are in the middle of a war, and terrorists are threatening our lives…our livelihoods…and our way of life.  And we must address it together.

For the tech companies, right now their content is on your websites, they are recruiting on your apps, and they are exploiting your innovation to incite violence.

So today I propose three urgent lines of effort to counter the threat.

First, we need to ramp up community awareness.

Before terrorists have a chance to reach our people online, I urge all governments and social media companies to make citizens aware of the threat.

This includes outreach at all levels through awareness campaigns, intelligence products regarding trends, training for frontline defenders and civic leaders, and interactive engagement for young people.

Second, we must focus on actively countering terrorist recruitment itself.

We must find better ways to counter their propaganda with truth and to empower credible voices that will dissuade potential terrorist recruits from violence.

The tech companies have made progress.  But I will repeat what has been said:  we urgently need you to do more.  You must establish a clear leadership of the GIFCT potentially through a rotating chairmanship.

You must measure your success by outputs, and not inputs—by how much harder you’ve made it for terrorists to exploit your websites and apps.

And you must find better ways to work with governments and smaller companies.  Not just through sporadic big events, but in actionable ways that result in rapid takedowns of terrorist content and that keep your platforms from becoming virtual terrorist safe havens.

Finally, we need more early warning to know when individuals are plotting with terrorists online—and before they commit acts of violence.

This requires building trust between communities and law enforcement, expanding “See Something, Say Something”-style campaigns, and ensuring there are confidential tip lines and easy tools for the public to report suspicious activity online.

The bottom line is that we cannot surrender the digital battlespace to violent extremists.

Instead, in this age of crowd-sourced terrorism, we must fight back by turning the crowd against them.

Thank you.

 

Topics:  Combat Cyber Crime, Cybersecurity, Preventing Terrorism Keywords:  cybercrime, cybersecurity, terrorism prevention Public Affairs

Canada and FEMA Work Together to Assist Hurricane Survivors

September 13, 2017 - 2:40pm
In keeping with a tradition of cross-border emergency assistance, the Government of Canada offered its assistance to the United States following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.   After receiving Canada’s offer to support Harvey relief efforts, FEMA’s International Affairs Division, in consultation with Mass Care experts in the National Response Coordination Center, identified select pediatric supplies including cribs, pillows, and baby formula as being a critical need for many survivors.  Responding to a formal request from FEMA, our Canadian counterparts then began to procure the list of target commodities and supplies.   On September 3, a Canadian C-130 Hercules military transport plane delivered over 27,000 pounds of relief goods to FEMA at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. FEMA then donated the supplies to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) through the Salvation Army for distribution to shelters and survivors.      Above, US personnel move cargo scheduled to be delivered to hurricane survivors. (Photo credit: Canadian Department of National Defense)   FEMA implemented the International Assistance System to facilitate acceptance of the Canadian offer. The International Assistance System is a set of policies and procedures used by the federal government to manage foreign donations and resources after a presidentially-declared disaster. The system provides mechanisms for reviewing and receiving foreign offers of assistance to the federal government, as well as requests for international resources made by the federal government following major domestic disasters. Diplomatic concerns, operational need, and regulatory requirements are among the many considerations that FEMA and interagency partners consider when evaluating foreign offers of assistance.   By coordinating the dedicated efforts of response support staff, interagency partners, the Salvation Army, and our Canadian allies, FEMA succeeded in transferring international aid to survivors in need.   Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, emergency response, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, natural disasters Public Affairs

DHS Selects Winners of a New Nuclear Forensics Research Award

September 11, 2017 - 9:53pm

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) selected Colorado State University (CSU), in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the University of Texas at Austin (UTA), partnering with the Air Force Technical Applications Center as the first DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) Nuclear Forensics Research Award (NFRA) recipients. The Nuclear Forensics Research Awards support cutting edge research in nuclear forensics. Nuclear forensics allows the United States Government to identify those responsible for a terrorist nuclear attack.

Last month, DNDO visited faculty and students at both CSU and UTA to launch their research projects. In addition to supporting critical research, the NFRA will provide technical education and mentorship to students. This is part of DHS’ efforts to fill a critical gap in the Nation’s nuclear forensics workforce. Programs like this one ensure that our Nation will have exceptionally skilled scientists equipped to execute this mission well into the future.

The NFRA is an excellent opportunity for students, faculty, and laboratory staff to conduct research and build relationships in order to facilitate future collaboration. To learn more about how to apply for the Nuclear Forensics Research Award please visit our webpage. The next award cycle will begin in the fall of 2017 and can be found on www.grants.gov.

Keywords:  DNDO, federal grants, Nuclear Forensics James F. McDonnell

National Preparedness Month - Make an Emergency Plan

September 6, 2017 - 3:39pm

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), an opportunity to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. The theme for this year’s observance is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”  In addition, NPM is broken down into weekly themes to help keep you and your loved ones prepared:

  • Week 1:  September 1-9, Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
  • Week 2:  September 10-16, Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
  • Week 3:  September 17-23, Practice and Build Out Your Plans
  • Week 4:  September 24-30, Get Involved! Be a part of Something Larger

This week's theme is, Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area.  Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find. If you don't already have an emergency plan, use the below tips that can help you and your family reunite if a disaster strikes.

Step 1:  You can start to make a plan by discussing these 4 questions with your family, friends, or household.

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my shelter plan?
  3. What is my evacuation route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Step 2:  Consider specific needs in your household.
As you prepare your plan, tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Create a personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.  Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment.  Keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:

  • Different ages of members within your household
  • Responsibilities for assisting others
  • Locations frequented
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
  • Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
  • Languages spoken
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Pets or service animals
  • Households with school-aged children

Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan
Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use them as a guide to create your own.

Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household

This step is simple, make sure you practice your plan with your family/household. Practice makes perfect and can save lives if ever a disaster strikes!

Sign up to receive local alerts and warnings; download the FEMA App which is available in English and Spanish, to receive weather alerts, safety tips and disaster resources. You can also set reminders to take important steps to prepare your home and family for disasters, such as changing your smoke detector batteries and practicing fire escape plans.
 
Visit Ready.gov/September for more tips and information. Each step we take to become better prepared will make a real difference in how our families and communities will respond and persevere when faced with the unexpected. A prepared people is a prepared nation.

Topics:  Plan and Prepare for Disasters, What You Can Do Keywords:  family preparedness, National preparedness, national preparedness month, preparedness, ready.gov Public Affairs

ICE Deploys Over 200 Personnel to Assist with Hurricane Harvey Rescue Efforts

September 5, 2017 - 2:31pm

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deployed approximately 200 law enforcement personnel from Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) and Special Response Teams (SRTs) around the country to provide security for search and rescue teams and to assist with search and rescue operations in Southeast Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey. 

Photo left, badge from a Homeland Security Investigations Rapid Response Team uniform. Photo top right, water collected by ICE employees to be distributed to individuals affected by Hurricane HarveyPhoto bottom right, ICE employee organizes water to distribute to individuals affected by Hurricane Harvey. (Photos courtesy of ICE Public Affairs)

  About a dozen additional non-law enforcement ICE employees are also on their way to Texas as members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Surge Capacity Force (SCF) to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with hurricane relief efforts. ICE anticipates that several dozen more employees will eventually be deployed.   “I’m extremely proud of the men and women of ICE who have stepped up to provide life-saving assistance to those in need,” said ICE Acting Director Thomas D. Homan. “I have the utmost admiration for those who volunteer to forgo the comfort of their homes and families to help others in distress.”   Teams from ICE offices in Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Houston, the National Capital Region (NCR), New York, Newark, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Los Angeles and Tampa are already participating in search and rescue and security operations. Teams from San Francisco, Boston, Puerto Rico and remaining personnel of NCR are on standby.   Photo above, ICE employees assist a family in Texas. (Photo courtesy of  ICE Public Affairs)   Conditions on the ground are extremely difficult, including polluted flood waters and an inability to reach everyone who needs assistance, according to Special Agent Dan Rasmussen from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Houston and the commanding officer of Houston’s RRT. He and his members have rescued over 100 people in distress using a repurposed military vehicle and a Ford F-250 pickup truck. “When they thank you for getting them out of that situation it’s very rewarding,” Rasmussen said.   “I couldn't be more proud of our teams responding to Hurricane Harvey. These officers dropped everything and drove cross country to help in any way they could,” said Caleb Vitello, ERO SRT unit chief. “They knew they were going to be in extremely hostile conditions, working long hours, sleeping in their cars, and eating MREs. Even knowing this, literally every team was knocking down my door requesting to be the first one deployed.”     Photo above, ICE personnel prepare their rescue equipment. (Photo courtesy of ICE Public Affairs)   “There’s no telling how long they're going to be out there or what they're going to face but every one of them is committed to do whatever it takes to help the victims of this disaster,” Vitello said.   Each team, comprised primarily of HSI special agents and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers,
has as many as 25 specially trained, volunteer members who may be activated to provide disaster assistance when requested by FEMA.   Additional RRTs and SRTs made up of personnel from various ICE offices are preparing to be deployed.   Photo left, ICE team of agents and officers discuss their plan of action upon arriving in Texas. (Photo courtesy of ICE Public Affairs)    ICE is also staging generators, fuel trucks, food, water, and mobile communication units in strategic locations to assist with response efforts.   In light of the hurricane, ICE’s highest priorities are to promote life-saving and life-sustaining activities, the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the impacted area, the maintenance of public order, the prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and the speedy recovery of the region.   Immigration enforcement operations are not being conducted at evacuation sites, or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks.   Topics:  DHS Enterprise, Disaster Response and Recovery, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, emergency response, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, ICE, natural disasters Public Affairs

Keeping Children Safe after Hurricane Harvey

September 4, 2017 - 3:17am

This is a difficult time for those who have had to evacuate their homes as well as for those who have been able to return and see the damages to their homes.

Although Hurricane Harvey has passed, there are still many hazards to be mindful of as a result of the extensive damage left in its wake. Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S., and causes billions of dollars in damage each year for families and businesses.

It is important for parents and guardians to follow the recommendations below in order to keep their children safe and at ease through the wait and associated cleanup.

Addressing the Emotional Impacts of a Disaster

The amount of damage caused from a disaster can be overwhelming, the destruction of homes and separation from family and friends can create a great amount of stress and anxiety for children. It is important not to overlook how this storm affects the children who live in these areas and who have lost their pets, favorite toys, or other cherished treasures. They may not fully understand what is going on.

To help children recover or cope with the situation, here are some helpful tips to make them feel safe again:

  • Limit TV Time: Intense media coverage of disasters can frighten young children and disturb teenagers as well.
  • Keep To A Routine: Help your children feel as if they still have a sense of structure, which can make them feel more at ease or provide a sense of familiarity. When schools and child care open again, help them to return to normal activities including going back to class, sports and play groups.
  • Make Time for Them: Help kids to understand that they are safe and secure by talking, playing and doing other family activities with them. To help younger children feel safe and calm, read a favorite book or have a relaxing family game or activity.

Don’t forget that it’s all right to ask them questions about the situation. Spend some time talking to them about the events, let them know it is okay to ask questions and to share their worries and reactions to the situation. It is also good to let children know, without overwhelming them with information, what is happening in the family, with their school, and in the community.    

Parents and guardians should answer questions briefly and honestly and ask their children for their opinions and ideas. Visit nctsn.org/trauma-types/natural-disasters for more ideas on how to reassure children they are safe.

Here is some information to help you prepare for future disaster events:

Flood Water Safety
  • Constantly watch your children to prevent playing in or around floodwaters. It doesn't take long and it doesn't take much water for children to drown. In many cases, children who drowned had been out of sight less than five minutes and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • Know where the ground is exposed and keep children from playing around drainage ditches, ways or storm drains as they can fall in, get stuck, or cause a drowning hazard.
  • Be aware of what’s in the water as children playing in contaminated standing water can become sick or be bitten by snakes, rodents and other wildlife.
  • Watch for live wires or power sources as electricity from streetlights and downed power lines may be active. Children who come into contact with these power sources, whether through standing water or direct contact can be given a deadly shock.
  • Learn more online at www.ready.gov/floods.
Power Outage Safety
  • Lock the door. Many people filled their bathtubs and buckets with water to use for drinking or washing. Keep everything in one bathroom and lock it off from toddlers who might climb in. This can pose a drowning hazard.
  • Be mindful if using candles. Batteries may start to run out and people may resort to using candles. Make sure to watch small children around them and don’t forget to blow them out.
  • Turn off vehicles. In order to recharge cell phones and other electronics, people may run their cars in order to use car chargers. Be sure children don’t climb in the car and shift it into gear.
  • Leave it out in the open. If you have a gas/propane powered generator never run it in the basement or closed garage.
  • Learn more online at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/power-outage.
Fun for Children
  • Board games: Pick games that don’t end too quickly. Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Monopoly are great games to play at any age. Even cards games such as Go Fish, War or Concentration can bring hours of fun.
  • Musical Chairs: If you have power and three or more children you can play a game of musical chairs. Bean bags, folded blankets or pillows can be used as chairs if space is limited.
  • Simon Says: A game of Simon Says helps children work on their listening skills and can help relieve some of the energy that's bottled up inside.
  • Exercise: Include activities kids may do in gym class, including jump rope, push-ups, jumping jacks and stretching exercises. This is great for expelling energy for those kids who are stuck indoors.
  • Build a fort: Pile up those pillows and blankets, and let them build their fantasy fort freely. This could relieve their stress, and yours.
  • Draw or paint: Every child, young or old, enjoys being creative.
Useful Links
  • www.ready.gov/coping-with-disaster
  • Save the Children: go to www.savethechildren.org and search “Tips to Help Kids Cope with Disasters.”
  • American Academy of Pediatrics: go to www.healthychildren.org and search
    • “Helping your Child Cope”
    • “Talking to Children about Disasters”
    • “How Children of Different Ages Respond to Disasters”
    • “How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning” and
    • “Flash Flood Recovery”.
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network: www.nctsnet.org
Topics:  Disaster Response and Recovery, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disasters Keywords:  disaster relief, emergency response, federal response, FEMA, Flooding, Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, natural disasters

Eight Things You Probably Didn't Know About TSA

August 31, 2017 - 2:18pm
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) protects the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. TSA was created after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, when – driven by a desire to prevent future attacks – tens of thousands of people joined TSA and committed themselves to its mission. TSA is responsible for screening approximately two million passengers a day, over 700 million a year, at nearly 440 U.S. airports. Over 44,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are responsible for the security of more than 20,000 domestic flights and 2,000 outbound international flights per day. TSOs screen 1.3 million checked items and 4.9 million carry-on items for explosives and other dangerous items daily. Here are some things you might not know about TSA:     Photo above, Officers complete passenger screening at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. (Photo provided by TSA Public Affairs)   1.   TSA works with international partners to secure transportation not only in the U.S. but around the world. In fiscal year 2016, TSA conducted 135 foreign airport assessments and nearly 1,900 inspections of air carriers offering flights directly to the U.S. from other countries. Information gathered during these visits enables TSA to identify specific vulnerabilities at last point of departure airports and develop strategies to reduce risk. In support of these efforts, TSA has 49 representatives who directly communicate with its foreign partners.   2.   Federal Air Marshals are on board an undisclosed number of flights to detect, deter and defeat criminal and  terrorist activities in the air. TSA deploys Federal Air Marshals on U.S.-flagged aircraft throughout the world, 365 days a year. The Federal Air Marshal Service is made up of law enforcement officers who receive specialized training to prepare for a unique and challenging working environment. Federal Air Marshals in the aviation sector operate in tight quarters at 30,000 feet and must meet some of the most demanding firearms requirements in federal government service.   3.   Passenger screening begins with Secure Flight. TSA has 20 integrated layers to create a much stronger, safer system. You may not know that screening actually begins long before you arrive at the airport. After an individual makes a reservation, his or her name is checked at TSA’s state-of-the-art Secure Flight facilities – the first line of defense in ensuring that a known or suspected terrorist does not board an aircraft. The Secure Flight program collects the personal information necessary to conduct effective matching. Secure Flight then transmits screening instructions to the airlines to identify low-risk passengers eligible for TSA Pre✓®, individuals to be placed on the selectee list who are designated for enhanced screening, and those who will receive standard screening.   4.  TSA sends volunteers to disaster locations, such as the areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. TSA joins other DHS components and federal agencies to help FEMA with response and recovery support. These employees travel to disaster regions to provide assistance as part of the Surge Capacity Force. Nearly 700 TSA employees were deployed to the areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Starting just before Harvey hit land, TSA’s Critical Incident Management Group worked around the clock to assist Federal Security Directors and Federal Air Marshals in affected areas with logistics and coordination. Canine, VIPR, and Transportation Security Support Teams also made their way to Houston in support of local and federal efforts. Also, because of the support from National Deployment Officers around the country, TSA stood prepared to get airport security up and running in Houston after Harvey swept through the region.   5.   TSA also oversees the nation’s surface transportation system. TSA is known mostly for its screening operations at U.S. airports, but did you know that TSA is also responsible for safeguarding the surface transportation sector? That’s over 4 million miles of roads, more than 611,000 bridges and nearly 140,000 miles of railroad tracks. TSA also supports maritime security efforts along approximately 12,000 miles of coastline and over 25,000 miles of navigable waterways.   6.  TSA secures and protects the nation’s pipeline system. Did you know that TSA plays an important role in protecting the country’s 2.7 million miles of natural gas and oil pipelines? It even has a representative stationed in Anchorage, Alaska to lead the effort. Ninety-seven percent of the nation’s transportation sector runs on fuel from pipelines, and pipelines supply fuel for electrical generation and home heating needs. TSA works closely with the pipeline industry and provides them with guidelines and training materials for pipeline companies to increase security awareness and preparedness.   7.   DHS operates a laboratory where TSA tests explosives detection systems. In April 2017, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate opened a new Test & Evaluation Laboratory building in Atlantic City, N.J. At this new facility, TSA has more lab space to test explosives detection systems. One of the laboratory’s primary responsibilities is to provide independent tests and evaluations of commercial explosives detection equipment and certify them for potential deployment in checked baggage and checkpoint environments.   8.  Veterans comprise a large percentage of TSA’s workforce. Approximately 22 percent of TSA employees served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and in 2016, more than 62,000 military veterans participated in a survey that found TSA to be one of the top 10 veteran-friendly employers in the country.   Photo above, TSA agent inspecting ID before passengers enters checkpoint.(Photo provided by TSA Public Affairs)   TSA regularly engages veterans through targeted programs and events that underscore TSA’s support of our veterans.      For more fun facts about TSA please visit: https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2017/08/25/did-you-know-21-factoid-nuggets-you-might-not-know-about-tsa.   ### Topics:  Transportation Security Keywords:  Transportation, TSA Public Affairs

Secret Service Rescue Swimmers Volunteer with Local Children

August 31, 2017 - 2:07pm
The U.S. Secret Service Rescue Swimmer program is designed to prepare special agents and officers to successfully perform a variety of rescue and emergency medical skills in the open water. Agents who have been awarded the Rescue Swimmer designation are assigned to protective missions involving protectee water activities.    Those agents and officers also take time to have a little fun. Once a year agents assigned to the Bush Protective Division and the Secret Service’s Portland, Maine Resident Office, volunteer their time to work with special needs surfers in Kennebunk, Maine. This August the agents, once again, were present at Gooches Beach to carefully watch the surfing activities of those with special needs.       Above, A USSS Rescue Swimmer works with a surfer in Kennebunk, ME. (Photo Credit: USSS Public Affairs)     Above, A USSS Rescue Swimmer teaches a child how to surf. (Photo Credit: USSS Public Affairs)   The Rescue Swimmers used this opportunity to help those with disabilities partake in fun water activities. During the day, USSS Rescue Swimmers taught the children basic surfing techniques and water safety. The USSS volunteers helped the children experience a day of joy and excitement and provided a sense of community at the same time.    ### Topics:  Maritime Keywords:  US Secret Service, volunteer Public Affairs

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