FEMA partners with AmeriCorps for disaster relief

FEMA official Carolyn Deming inspects tornado damage in Ohio March 6. FEMA official Carolyn Deming inspects tornado damage in Ohio March 6. Al Behrman/AP

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will soon deploy a new squadron of disaster responders.

FEMA, part of the Homeland Security Department, announced Tuesday that it is partnering with the Corporation for National and Community Service to create FEMA Corps. The new branch of AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps will be devoted solely to disaster response, relief and recovery efforts, according to a FEMA press release.

FEMA Corps is part of a five-year agreement that will provide 1,600 corps members annually to support FEMA’s disaster reserve workforce. Members will serve a 10-month term with the option to renew for a second year. The first Corps members will begin serving in August and the program will reach full capacity within 18 months.

Once the program has reached full capacity, it will save the government around $60 million in a typical year, according to FEMA.

The agency confirmed that the corps program would supplement rather than replace FEMA’s cadre of professional responders. Duties for FEMA Corps members will include public assistance, information management and community relations.

"This new partnership will help us respond to disasters in a way that is cost-effective and that draws on the strengths of our communities and our people," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

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