During disasters and other large and small emergencies, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management assists local governments and coordinates the state's response activities, including interaction with federal government, non-profit, faith-based, volunteer, and private-sector partners. HSEMD's response activities range from monitoring local incidents to full activation of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) at the Joint Forces Headquarters in Johnston, Iowa. President Obama made an unannounced visit to the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Saturday afternoon, where he praised the federal government's response to Hurricane Irene after receiving briefings from governors and emergency managers. Sitting at the center of a long conference table under a wall of television screens, Obama praised the response effort and encouraged the agency to keep up its work in the recovery effort.
Photo: President Obama, second from right, receives an update on the status of Hurricane Irene as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.
Prior to the formation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FEMA performed many of its current functions.
FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force members pose with their rescue dogs in a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

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A duty officer, a member of the Division's operations office cadre, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to coordinate state resources, and ensure the quickest and most complete assistance is given during actual and potential emergencies.
The PDA is conducted by officials from HSEMD, the Iowa Department of Human Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
When a Presidential Disaster Declaration is granted, HSEMD works with FEMA and other federal agencies to coordinate and deliver aid to affected Iowans, beginning the recovery process. When a storm or incident is anticipated to create major destruction or result in a major disaster, and it is apparent the event will overwhelm the capability or capacity of State resources, the governor may request and the president may issue a Presidential Emergency Declaration. In the 1990s, FEMA was made a cabinet-level agency, and the all-hazards aim of the agency was very much in line with overall homeland security functions. Now, FEMA is just one part of the Department of Homeland Security.FEMA is divided into ten regional offices.

Perhaps the best example of when a Presidential Emergency Declaration would be needed would be prior to landfall of a major hurricane. FEMA employs about 2,600 people full-time nationwide, with a reserve of 4,000 more who remain on standby until a disaster strikes.When a disaster occurs (or prior to it happening, if they have some warning), FEMA starts working with the affected state's Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO).
Federal and state groups work together to provide the necessary relief efforts.Federal disaster relief is divided into 12 Emergency Support Functions (ESF), each provided by a different agency or agencies.

Importance of emergency preparedness
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