FEMA.gov rises to the occasion

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"Reinventing FEMA"

While many federal employees were evacuating their offices in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Web team kept working.

Within an hour of the terrorist attacks, the agency posted information on its site and updated it around the clock.

"There were people all over the world hitting the Web site, so we couldn't just walk away from it," said Marc Wolfson, an emergency information specialist at FEMA.

FEMA.gov enabled affected individuals to apply for housing and transportation assistance, disaster unemployment payments and legal services. The site also provided an electronic forum for discussion.

"I called FEMA after viewing your Web site. I was looking for information for my friend who lost her husband in the World Trade Center attack. She was lost and had nowhere to turn. I was lost and turned to you," Diane Sylvester said in comments posted to the site Oct. 5. "Your Web site informed me who to contact, and your staff was patient and extremely helpful. My friend was called the same day by some of the organizations you recommended. Thank you for your guidance during this difficult event."

To read more comments, go to www.fema.gov/nwz01/nwz01_98 a23.htm.

FEMA's Web efforts in the wake of the attacks earned it Federal Computer Week's 2002 Monticello award. The award — selected by a panel of judges drawn from government, industry and academia — is given to an information system that has a direct, meaningful impact on people's lives.

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