FEMA provides grant money to fight terrorism

Posted: Friday, December 13, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska will receive nearly a half-million dollars to better prepare state and local governments to fight terrorism, officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday.

The grant of $454,844 comes from a fiscal year 2002 supplemental appropriation as part of President Bush's call to have states take greater responsibility for their own security by better preparing state and local responders.

''I'm pleased to see these funds released to our state to increase our emergency response capabilities and enhance the resources of Alaska's first responders,'' said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, in a statement.

The money can be used not only to be better prepared to fight terrorism, but to respond to other emergencies and disasters.

''This grant will give Alaska and its local communities a down payment on plans to modernize and strengthen preparedness statewide,'' FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said in a statement.

FEMA Regional Director John Pennington made the announcement from the Anchorage Disaster Field Office, established to coordinate recovery efforts following storms in October and the powerful earthquake Nov. 3 near Denali National Park and Preserve in the Interior.

''Alaska already has a strong reputation for leading the nation in training their citizens in emergency response,'' Pennington said. ''This award, in part, ensures that these efforts are rewarded and enhanced in the future.''

FEMA said $219,666 will go mostly to local jurisdictions to update plans and procedures to respond to all hazards, but with an emphasis on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Another $185,178 will go to the Community Emergency Response/Citizens' Corps and $50,000 to the Alaska Emergency Operations Center.

Drew Dix, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Office of Homeland Security, said the amount of the grant while small can be used to boost volunteer efforts to respond to terrorism or other disasters.

''My job is to encourage the local jurisdictions to get involved in it even though the dollars are so small ... The communities are the front line on this war on terrorism.''

Dix said the state is relying on community volunteers because the federal government will not be able to come up with sufficient dollars for Alaska's war on terrorism.

Earlier this week, Dix attended a meeting in Seattle hosted by FEMA so that states could ask questions of the Bush administration on its homeland security plans. He said more money can be expected from the federal government but how much is undecided. The meeting, however, made one thing clear, he said.

''There is not enough money to support what individual departments and communities think they need,'' Dix said. ''There is not going to be enough to do it all.''

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