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Mitigation Position in North Dakota

At the State of North Dakota:

Vacancy Announcement

Temporary Mitigation Grant Program Specialist
Department Of Emergency Services – Adjutant General

Location: Bismarck
Salary: $16.00 – $18.00/hr
Closing Date: September 12, 2011
Position Number: 540-9999
Requisition Number: None
Status: Full-time, Temporary (no benefits)
Type of Recruitment: Internal/External
Date Posted to Web: August 22, 2011

Minimum Qualifications:

Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management, Public Safety, Business or Public Administration, Geology, Engineering, Accounting or a closely related field.  Or, an Associates degree in one of the above listed areas and two years of professional work experience related to emergency management with specialized knowledge in hazard mitigation project implementation or federal grant management.  Successful completion of the interview process, reference checks and background investigation are required.

Application Procedures:

Applicants must submit a cover letter, State of ND Application Form (SFN 10950) and a detailed resume.  Application materials can be mailed to Office of the Adjutant General, ATTN:  Cindy Pazdernik, PO Box 5511,  Bismarck, ND 58506-5511 or e-mailed to or faxed to (701) 333-2067 ATTN: Cindy.

Application forms are available from any ND Job Service office, Human Resource Management Services, or on the web at  Application materials must be received at the Human Resource Office, Bldg 030, Fraine Barracks by 5:00 pm on the closing date indicated.

Applicants who are residents of North Dakota and eligible to claim veteran’s preference must include Form DD214.  Claims for disabled veteran’s preference must include Form DD214 and a letter less than one year old from the Veteran’s Affairs Office indicating disability.  Claims for preference as the eligible spouse of a disabled or deceased veteran must include Form DD214, a marriage certificate, and a letter less than one year old from the Veteran’s Affairs Office indicating disability, or the veteran’s death certificate.

Contact Cindy Pazdernik at (701) 333-2082 for more information or if you need accommodation or assistance in the application or interview process.

Summary of Work:

Provide administrative support for emergency and disaster response for the Department of Emergency Services with direction from the State Hazard Mitigation Officer.  This position is located in a non-smoking work environment.

  1. Provide technical assistance to local, tribal and state officials in developing eligible Unified Hazard Mitigation Assistance (Unified HMA) grant project applications in accordance with federal, state, local, tribal laws and regulations.
  2. Evaluate mitigation project application benefit/cost ratio using FEMA approved Benefit/Cost Anaylsis model and applicable guidance.
  3. Enter mitigation project application data using the NEMIS software system.
  4. Monitor and provide technical assistance to local, tribal and state officals in the implementation of approved/awarded mitigation projects ensuring compliance with approved scope of work, cost estimate and performance period in accordance with approved grant award.
  5. Evaluate grant expense requests for eligible reimbursement in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.  Process eligible reimbursement using standard accounting practices and in accordance with appropriate federal and state laws, regulations, policies and guidance.
  6. Provide program briefings detailing the technical aspects of the Unified HMA programs.
  7. Must possess or demonstrate the potential to obtain proficient knowledge in project management, financial management and administrative processes.
  8. Working knowledge of the federal legal/regulatory basis for applicable hazard mitigation initiatives and programs applied through the Unified Hazard Mitigation Assistance (Unified HMA).
  9. Knowledgeable of MicroSoft Office software programs.
  10. Ability to multi-task and work within a fast paced work environment.
  11. Written and oral communication skills are required.
  12. Perform additional duties as required or assigned.
  13. In-state and out-of-state travel is required.
  14. Extra hours may be required during emergency operations or recovery.
Equal Opportunity Employer

If They Tweet, Will You Help?

Blandin on Broadband Blog noted this American Red Cross survey last year in a blog reflecting on the role of Social Media in the recent riots in England.  Are YOU prepared to respond to citizens seeking help by way of Twitter or Facebook?

Web Users Increasingly Rely on Social Media to Seek Help in a Disaster

New Red Cross survey shows 74 percent expect response agencies to answer social media calls for help within an hour.

WASHINGTON, Monday, August 09, 2010 — A new American Red Cross survey shows many web users would turn to social media to seek help for themselves or others during emergencies—and they expect first responders to be listening.

The online survey asked 1,058 adults about their use of social media sites in emergency situations. It found that if they needed help and couldn’t reach 9-1-1, one in five would try to contact responders through a digital means such as e-mail, websites or social media. If web users knew of someone else who needed help, 44 percent would ask other people in their social network to contact authorities, 35 percent would post a request for help directly on a response agency’s Facebook page and 28 percent would send a direct Twitter message to responders.

Web users also have clear expectations about how first responders should be answering their requests. The survey showed that 69 percent said that emergency responders should be monitoring social media sites in order to quickly send help—and nearly half believe a response agency is probably already responding to any urgent request they might see.

And the survey respondents expected quick response to an online appeal for help—74 percent expected help to come less than an hour after their tweet or Facebook post.

“The first and best choice for anyone in an emergency situation is to call 9-1-1,” said Gail McGovern, American Red Cross president and CEO. “But when phone lines are down or the 9-1-1 system is overwhelmed, we know that people will be persistent in their quest for help and use social media for that purpose.”

The Red Cross commissioned the survey in advance of an Emergency Social Data Summit set for Thursday, August 12, in Washington, D.C. The meeting, convened by the Red Cross, will bring together thought leaders and experts in the government, social media, emergency response and the non-profit sectors to discuss better ways to handle information that flows through the web during disasters.

“The social web is creating a fundamental shift in disaster response—one that will ask emergency managers, government agencies and aid organizations to mix time-honored expertise with real-time input from the public,” McGovern said. “We need to work together to better respond to that shift.”

The Red Cross survey also found that among web users, social media sites are the fourth most popular source for emergency information, just behind television news, radio and online news sites. More web users say they get their emergency information from social media than from a NOAA weather radio, government website or emergency text message system. One in five social media users also report posting eyewitness accounts of emergency events to their accounts.

Online Survey of 1,058 respondents representative of the U.S. population aged 18 and older. Survey conducted on July 22-23, 2010 by Infogroup | ORC.



Out of the Wreckage, A Light for Flood Mitigation

Minnesota River Flood - March 28, 2011

Image by mthaeg via Flickr

The State of Minnesota has emerged from a 20-day government shutdown with a new budget approved by the legislature and signed by the governor.  Included in that agreement is a State bonding bill funding, which had been previously defeated in May.

Among the many capital improvements now funded are several flood mitigation items, including (says House Research):

Subd. 3. Flood hazard mitigation. $50,000,000. Requires levee projects, to the
extent practical, to meet the state standard of three feet above the 100-year flood
elevation. Lists possible projects. Includes set-asides: $3 million for Georgetown, up to
$16.5 million for Moorhead, up to $6 million for Roseau, and $1 million for New Ulm.
Local share for property acquisitions in Clay county not to exceed $1 million. To the
extent the cost of a project exceeds 2 percent of the median household income in the
municipality multiplied by the number of households in the municipality, the
appropriation is also for the local share of the project.

And this for my neighborhood:

Area II Minnesota River Basin. $1,000,000 for grants to local
governments in Area II for floodwater retention systems. Requires at least $1 nonstate
for every $3 state.

Minnesota Public Radio notes that while much of the bonding money is headed to the Red River Valley, these cities have put a lot of work into flood mitigation—Moorhead alone has already bought out over 100 homes to date.

Interesting how things work out.


Congress Considers Streamlining Disaster Recovery

Noted in last week’s NADO News (links added):

Streamline the Recovery Process Following Local Disasters: On July 14, the [U.S. House] Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, chaired by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), held an oversight hearing to examine ways to better manage federal disaster recovery programs, help communities get back on their feet more quickly following major disasters, and save taxpayers money. The hearing was held in anticipation of reauthorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the federal government’s lead agency for preparing for, mitigating against, responding to, and recovering from disasters and emergencies. The panels focused on finding ways to streamline the recovery process through expedited assistance processes, improving coordination among the relevant federal agencies, supporting mitigating efforts before a disaster strikes, and ensuring proper planning.

Ensuring proper planning? Now there’s an idea.


p.s. That’s Jeff DENHAM, representative from California’s San Joaquin Valley; not Jeff DUNHAM, the comedian.

A “violent, extreme ideology” Drives Plot to Attack Military Processing Center

Press Release from United States Attorney’s Office in Washington State:

June 23, 2011

Defendants Sought Firearms and Grenades to Attack Complex where Enlistees Report

SEATTLE – Two men were arrested late last night and are charged by criminal complaint with terrorism and firearms related charges. The complaint alleges that Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a/k/a Joseph Anthony Davis, 33, of Seattle, and Walli Mujahidh, a/k/a Frederick Domingue, Jr., 32, of Los Angeles, took possession of machine guns that they purchased and planned to use in an attack on the Military Entrance Processing Station (“MEPS”) located on East Marginal Way, Seattle. Law enforcement has been monitoring Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh, including the weapons transaction, to prevent the attack and protect the public. Unbeknownst to the defendants, the weapons were rendered inoperable and posed no risk to the public. The defendants initially planned an attack on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but later changed targets. The defendants intended to carry out their attack with both grenades and machine guns.

“The complaint alleges these men intended to carry out a deadly attack against our military where they should be most safe, here at home,” said United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “This is a sobering reminder of our need to be vigilant and that our first line of defense is the people who live in our community. We were able to disrupt the plot because someone stepped forward and reported it to authorities. I commend the joint efforts of the FBI, the Seattle Police Department, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force who quickly recognized the seriousness of the threat and ensured the safety of the community.”

Law enforcement first became aware of the potential threat when a citizen alerted them that he/she had been approached about participating in the attack and supplying firearms to the conspirators. The person then agreed to work with law enforcement, which began monitoring Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh. Since early June the conspirators were captured on audio and videotape discussing a violent assault on the Military Entrance Processing Station. The MEPS is where each branch of the military screens and processes enlistees. In addition to housing many civilian and military employees, the building houses a federal daycare center.

“Driven by a violent, extreme ideology, these two young Americans are charged with plotting to murder men and women who were enlisting in the Armed Forces to serve and protect our country. This is one of a number of recent plots targeting our military here at home,” said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “The threat was averted by the combined efforts of the federal, state and local law enforcement officers that make up the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

“The FBI remains committed to utilizing intelligence-based investigations to thwart would-be terrorists,” said Laura Laughlin, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle Division. “This case epitomizes the value and capabilities of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force concept as a means of preventing acts of terrorism. But for the courage of the cooperating witness, and the efforts of multiple agencies working long and intense hours, the subjects might have been able to carry out their brutal plan.”

“This attack was foiled because of the trust and relationships the men and women of the Seattle Police Department enjoy with our community,” said Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. “The complainant felt safe approaching a Seattle Police Detective and, in doing so, ended the plot intended to take innocent lives. This cooperative investigation involving local, state, and federal partners worked exactly as intended.”

Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh are charged by complaint with conspiracy to murder officers and employees of the United States, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (grenades), and possession of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence. Abdul-Latif is also charged with two counts of illegal possession of firearms. The defendants will make their initial appearance on the complaint at 2:30 PM in front of Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler, on the 12th floor of the federal courthouse at 700 Stewart Street, Seattle.

Both Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh face potential sentences of life in prison if convicted of the charges.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which has investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) contributed significant expertise to this investigation.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.



Mouse Bites Dog


Originally uploaded by Corps of Engineers St. Paul District

The Mississippi River gets the big press, and the Missouri River gets the small press, but today was the day the Mouse (Souris) River bit the Dawgs working to save the City of Minot in North Dakota.

Via Flickr:
MINOT, N.D. –A soldier with the North Dakota National Guard places sandbags on a temporary levee in Minot, N.D., June 22. The City of Minot enforced a mandatory evacuation shortly before 1 p.m. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, along with the North Dakota National Guard, continued to reinforce temporary levees to allow citizens affected by the mandatory evacuation enough time to safely leave the area. The Corps will continue to support local officials within the Souris Basin during the historic flood event. USACE photo by Patrick Moes

I took a look at the FEMA floodplain maps for Ward County, ND. Large neighborhoods on either side of the Souris River going through Minot are mapped as “Zone X” with this ominous note: “The area protected from the one percent annual chance (100-Year) flood by levee, dike, or other structure subject to possible failure or overtopping during larger floods.” Unfortunately, they are being proven correct today.

MN Gov Talks Back to FEMA

Map of regions of the Federal Emergency Manage...

Image via Wikipedia

North Dakota’s governor is not alone in being upset with FEMA over natural disaster aid.  This press release was issued by the Minnesota governor’s office Monday this week.

Minnesota to appeal FEMA denial of Individual Assistance for Hennepin County

June 20, 2011

ST. PAUL — Governor Mark Dayton today directed Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Kris Eide to appeal the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial for individual assistance for Hennepin County following the May 22 deadly tornado. On June 13, FEMA denied Minnesota’s request for individual assistance to homeowners, renters and businesses affected by the tornado saying the damage from this event was not beyond the combined capabilities of the state, affected local governments and voluntary agencies.

Director Eide will be appealing FEMA’s denial and renewing his request for individual assistance for Hennepin County including: the Individuals and Households Program, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Small Business Disaster loans for Hennepin County.

President Obama did declare a disaster for Hennepin and Anoka Counties on June 10, approving public assistance for the two counties. That declaration includes two categories of aid:

• Public Assistance: Assistance to state and local government and certain private non-profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. This applies within the counties in the disaster area.

• Hazard Mitigation Grant Program: Assistance to state and local government and certain private non-profit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards. All counties in the State of Minnesota are eligible to apply for assistance under this program.

For all their good intentions, political grandstanding doesn’t get very far with FEMA (unless it does).  The system is designed to take politics out of federal disaster aid decisions.  However, there are many qualitative variables in the process.  Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) notes:

Minneapolis is trying to get money to help 274 homes and businesses seriously damaged by the tornado, but [Congressional Research Service analyst Fran] McCarthy said the threshold for individual assistance is usually 500 homes with major damage.

But McCarthy said that threshold is certainly not set in stone, adding that FEMA can’t use an arithmetic formula to make decisions on aid. Many other factors go into the decision, such as the size of the state and the amount of state resources dedicated to cleanup, he said.

In addition, FEMA officials look at the demographics of a community. If the people living in a disaster area were already struggling economically, for example, that gets factored in, McCarthy said.

That “state resources dedicated to cleanup” is something we should not overlook.  Likely that includes many of the efforts we outline in mitigation planning, not just in response and recovery.  They say “the Good Lord helps those who help themselves.”  Apparently FEMA does too.