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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 27, 2003

Statement by the Press Secretary

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Virginia and ordered Federal aid to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area struck by a severe winter storm, record/near record snowfall, heavy rain, flooding, and mudslides on February 15-28, 2003.

The President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Buchanan, Dickenson, Montgomery, Russell, Tazewell and Wise Counties and the Cities of Norton, Roanoke, and Salem.

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.

In addition, assistance for emergency protective measures that were taken to save lives and protect public health, safety and property over a 48-hour period is available to the Commonwealth and eligible local governments in the following jurisdictions which experienced record/near-record snowfall: the counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Highland, Loudoun, Orange, and Rappahannock, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, and Winchester.

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

Representing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael D. Brown, Acting Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named Mr. Justo Hernandez 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 additional counties may be added for assistance 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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