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For Immediate Release
October 27, 2003

President Orders Federal Aid to California
Statement by the Press Secretary

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of California and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by wildfires on October 21, 2003, and continuing.

The President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura Counties.

Mike Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response at the Department of Homeland Security, discussed the California fires on "Ask the White House."
Read the transcript.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is available to State and eligible local governments in the counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures under the Public Assistance program, at 75 percent Federal funding.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-share basis for hazard mitigation measures.

Representing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named William L. Carwile, III as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

The Agency said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are completed.

The Agency said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.



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