Two men stand in front of a damaged bridge.
A Bureau of Land Management ranger assists with the response to Hurricane Maria. BLM Photo.

FEMA Surge Support

DOI Employees are Making a Difference

As a Department of the Interior (DOI) employee you can take the initiative to assist with the Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria recovery efforts.

Department of Homeland Security logo with eagle inside a circle.Federal Emergency Management Agency
Surge Capacity Force

 

The DOI Office of Emergency Management is working in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide needed support for response and recovery efforts.

There are predominantly four work categories that Surge Capacity Force (SCF) members will be put into.

  • Disaster Survivor Assistance- door to door registration of survivors
  • Individual Assistance - assist registered individuals with needs
  • Information Technology - IT and Logistics
  • Call Centers - phone registration and help desk from call centers in Nevada and California
     

Small Business Administration logo.Small Business Administration 
Surge Support

 

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance (SBA/ODA) helps businesses, homeowners, and renters throughout the U.S. affected by natural disasters recover and rebuild their lives. The Department of the Interior is partnering with the SBA to lend support to those impacted through detail opportunities.

The SBA needs assistance with the following duties:

Sign Up Today

To sign up for the SCF and SBA surge, complete the online Hurricane Response and Recovery Personnel Questionnaire. The online form is only available to employees on DOI government network connections.

Fallen trees and building ruins.
Debris and damaged buildings at Virgin Islands National Park on Saint John. Interior photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Logistics

Surge personnel will make their own travel arrangements to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) using normal DOI processes in CONCUR. Send copy of your travel  to oem_incident_support@ios.doi.gov and FIWA@cdpemail.dhs.gov

Once at the Atlanta airport, FEMA will transport SCF personnel by bus or van to Anniston, Alabama.  Specific guidance and on arrival information for Atlanta will be provided in your Deployment Tracking System (DTS) orders that you will receive from FEMA.  

Please DO NOT make travel arrangements until you receive your DTS order from FEMA.

 

Tour of Duty

The FEMA-SCF deployment is expected to be 30 days, however individual length of assignment may be adjusted on a case by case basis in coordination with FEMA.

FEMA is working 0700-1900 every day of the week (12 hours).  DOI All-Hazards incident guidance requires DOI employees to take 2 days off between days 15 and 21.  

 

Points of Contact During Deployment

  • For Travel questions and Issues email: fiwa@cdpemail.dhs.gov
  • Once your FEMA mentors are assigned, they are your first line supervisors; go to them first.
  • To reach the FEMA Surge Capacity Desk at the National Response Coordination Center call (202) 212-8129.
  • To reach the DOI Office of Emergency Management's Interior Operations Center call 877-246-1373.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

General

How long do you need me to serve?
Surge Capacity Force (SCF) deployments are expected to be 30 days, but will not exceed 45 days, and volunteers may be released sooner if the assignment is complete

What kind of work does a Surge Capacity Force volunteer perform?
The greatest need right now is support to disaster survivors by helping them navigate the available programs and register for Federal disaster assistance.  However, you could be asked to work in one of ten program areas: Logistics, Public Assistance (debris monitoring), Individual Assistance (aid to survivors), Disaster Survivor Assistance (outreach to the public about available disaster assistance programs), Information Technology, Human Resources, Finance, External Affairs, Acquisition, and Planning. The SCF program will collect additional information on your individual employee skills to potentially fill roles across all of FEMA’s disaster programs on an as needed basis.  

Who can volunteer?
Any permanent, full-time, or temporary full-time federal employee. More information on the registration process and associated requirements is available through your Department’s designated coordinator as announced by your Agency head. 

What if I would like to volunteer but my supervisor does not approve my request?
Supervisor approval is required and there are no exceptions. However, given the urgency of the need, supervisors are strongly encouraged to allow their employees to participate.  

How do I know when to deploy?
Deployments will be issued by OEM in coordination with FEMA. Once you become a registered Surge Capacity Force volunteer, you will be given instructions to activate your Deployment Tracking System (DTS) account and can identify the e-mail or phone numbers through which you want to receive deployment notifications. These can include work and personal emails and phone numbers. 

Who is my point of contact?
For registration purposes and pre-deployment updates, please contact the Office of Emergency Management Resource Support Section at OEM_Incident_Support@ios.doi.gov. (202-513-7694).  Once deployed, you will report to your SCF cadre leader on a day to day basis.  OEM will also provide a point of contact for general questions and concerns specific to DOI.

What is my work schedule?
FEMA-SCF personnel work a 0700-1900 – 12 hour per day schedule for seven days per week.  You will be working in pairs for field missions.

Logistics

Where will I be working?
Volunteers will initially fly by commercial air to Atlanta, GA.  From there, FEMAW will transport you to Anniston, Alabama for 3-7 days to receive training on how to perform the mission.  After completion of training, volunteers will receive their deployment mission somewhere in the southeastern U.S.

What are conditions like in the field?
Conditions will be challenging. The Surge Capacity Force is only activated when the incident is catastrophic. Living conditions are often austere during deployments and include, but are not limited to, no running water, no electricity, sleeping in tents or other non-conventional forms of housing (e.g., ships) and weather extremes. In the aftermath of a disaster, housing is often in low supply, and limited hotel space is needed for disaster survivors.  You will likely be housed in a FEMA base camp, and should bring your own bedding (sleeping bag/pillow, etc)

Can I make travel arrangements before I am officially deployed?
No, you must wait until you receive and accept your deployment through confirmation from DOI.  You will also receive deployment orders via FEMA’s Deployment Tracking System (DTS). At that point, you can make travel arrangements according to your Agency’s policy.  Please provide copies of your approved Travel Authorization to OEM_Incident_Support@ios.doi.gov.

Do I need a rental car?
Rental cars are not authorized unless specific guidance is given by individual FEMA supervisors. Most SCF personnel will be transported by bus or van during the assignment.

What kind of training will I receive?
Due to the extraordinary nature of these disasters, measures are being taken to expedite deployment and consolidate initial training with just-in-time orientations in the field. Upon arrival to the personnel mobilization center in Anniston, Alabama, you will receive all relevant training and guidance for your specific assignments.

What should I pack?
Please consult the Disaster Deployment Packing Guidance for a list of items to bring.

What happens if there is an Emergency?
SCF personnel should provide a list of emergency contacts to DOI/OEM as well as the FEMA SCF coordinator in the field. Additionally, you will be briefed on using the Deployment Tracking System (DTS). It will be installed on your issued FEMA cell phone; you will update your assignment location information in the DTS system daily.  Each work location will also have a designated Safety Officer who will provide location specific guidance on safety and emergency procedures.  

Should I bring my DOI Uniform?
No, FEMA will provide identification clothing for the SCF mission.

Will meals be provided?
If staying in a FEMA base camp, breakfast and dinner will be provided.  Lunch will be coordinated in the field through your team leader.  DOI personnel should account for meals provided by FEMA when completing their travel voucher.

Financial and Administrative

Who pays my salary while deployed?
Employees volunteering for the Surge Capacity Force remain in a paid status and will continue to be paid by DOI for a normal 80 hour pay period.  DOI will be reimbursed by FEMA for overtime pay through the Disaster Relief Fund to eligible employees consistent with applicable law and regulations. Overtime will be approved by deployment supervisors. Employees receiving overtime pay under Title 5, United States Code, are subject to biweekly and annual premium pay limitations (see http://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/HTML/ FACTOT.asp). FEMA does not pay hazard pay. DOI/OEM will manage Mission Assignment reimbursement with deployed unit staff centrally through agreements with bureaus and offices. 

How will I account for my time?
Time sheets should be completed using normal procedures in Quicktime.  Deployed personnel may have limited connectivity in the field, and should brief their timekeepers prior to deployment to establish a time recording procedure.  Please have your timekeepers provide copies of your timesheets to OEM_Incident_Support@ios.doi.gov.

Will travel expenses be reimbursed?
Yes. Employees are to use their government travel cards for all expenses incurred while deployed. Agencies maintain responsibility to process travel authorizations and vouchers. FEMA will issue mission assignments to Agencies to reimburse costs associated with deployment, to include overtime. 

When I travel as a Surge Capacity Force volunteer, do I need to pay for any travel-related costs out of pocket? Agency travel rules apply for all Surge Capacity Force members selected to deploy. Each member is required to possess a government-issued travel card. Upfront travel costs and overtime will be covered by home agency, until reimbursement is processed. Base 8 hours will not be reimbursed by FEMA.  DOI SCF personnel should NOT make any purchases outside of travel expenses.

Will my health care coverage cover me should I get sick or injured while deployed? What about workers’ compensation?
As a federal employee, both your health care coverage and worker’s comp will remain with you during deployment.

Emergency Procedures

Each FEMA-SCF work location will have a designated Safety Officer.  The on site Safety Officer will provide location specific guidance on health, safety and emergency procedures.  

Should you experience an emergency or have an immediate need to contact DOI's Office of Emergency Management, you may follow the below instructions:

During Business Hours: 08:00 -17:00
OEM Resource Support Section: 202-513-7694

Off Hours: 17:00 - 08:00
Interior Operations Center: 1-877-246-1373

Vaccination Guidance

Surge volunteers are strongly encouraged to obtain the neccesary shots for Tetanus and Diphtheria, Flu, Hepatitus A, and Typhoid prior to deployment. Please be aware that vaccinations will not be offered in Atlanta, Georgia or Anniston, Alabama. Free vaccinations may be availalbe to surge volunteers with federal government issued identification at Federal Occupational Health outreach offices accross the country.