Disasterhelp.Gov Website: A Valuable Community Resource

Have you ever heard of Disasterhelp.gov? If you haven't you should.

I have been using Disasterhelp.gov for about three months and have had the success of developing a resource website for both Virginia and the Charlottesville-Albemarle community where I reside. The most important aspect about Disasterhelp.gov is that the resource is very comprehensive and it's FREE. Another key element is that the support staff is exceptional with many helpful tips and prompt responses to questions.

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I'd like to take you through a brief overview of what Disasterhelp.gov is all about. The Disaster Management e-Government Initiative is one of 24 initiatives established by the President's Management Council. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is sponsoring this initiative. An integrated team of partner agencies and organizations that perform Disaster Management activities will accomplish program delivery.

The Disaster Management e-Government Initiative initially will focus on providing information and services relating to the four pillars of all-hazards disaster management: preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.

Later phases will incorporate delivery of integrated, cross-agency processes and services to citizens, governments, and NGOs with emphasis on First Responder needs.

The Disaster Management e-Government Initiative will support a multitude of Federal Agency missions including FEMA's mission to reduce the loss of life and property and protect our institutions from all hazards. The partnerships established will support the Federal mission to provide the Nation a comprehensive, risk-based emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

9_tech2.jpg Disasterhelp.gov is a website portal that provides you with access to a vast amount of information. To gain the full benefits of the portal, you must first go to Disasterhelp.gov and register as a user.

This will allow you to open and customize your own personal Disasterhelp.gov portal page.

You can literally chose from a plethora of resources and design a custom website that brings your preferences up automatically. Information includes but is not limited to USFA Critical Infrastructure Protection Infograms, Disaster headlines, discussion threads, disaster designations, featured disaster resources, threat advisory information, etc. You can also enter into Instant Messenger text messaging or use the Chat feature both of which are over a private network within Disasterhelp.gov.

It gets better. You also have the ability to establish various calendars that you can make accessible to others. You can also import or export your calendar events to and from your personal Microsoft Outlook Calendar. You can also visit the Collaboration Center where you can store up to 50 MB of documents that you can share either as 'read only' or 'full access'documents.

You can customize what are called channels on your specific page. These channels are divided into four major categories, which are Headline, Webpage, Agent and Calendar Channels.

Headline Channel - Displays news headlines on any topic you choose. The headlines are automatically updated.

Webpage Channel - Displays an internet webpage in one of your channel windows on your personal page.

Agent Channel - Displays web resources from Disasterhelp.gov partner sites. You can train your agents to find documents on a topic of your choice.

Calendar Channel - Create your own personal calendar or other calendars to coordinate other events.

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Then there are subcategories of channel types that include communication, ECC channels, government resources, link channels, weather, polling channel, reference, search and much more. Each can be customized to your preferences.

If you're really into appearances, you can customize the page colors, fonts, etc.

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Now the next level involves administration of department, local, regional or state websites within Disasterhelp.gov. If authorized to setup these resource pages you have access to determine the page setup, the channels selected to appear automatically when people access their regional information. It also allows you to give different access levels within the Collaboration Center as well as shared calendars, etc.

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If something new is causing a threat to your community, you can quickly go into the website(s) that you manage and choose appropriate channel resources to address these issues.

When setting up these websites as an administrator, there is generally a one-day publishing period. They are reviewed by the Disasterhelp.gov staff and published usually within the next business day.

Whether you want to setup a personal page or a page for your department, locality or region, Disasterhelp.gov is filled with valuable resources for your use and its FREE. Visit Disasterhelp.gov today. There is so much more available but you'll have to spend some time to determine what is most useful for you.

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