The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Federal Emergency Management Agency
October 30, 2003

Under Secretary Brown Returns To California As FEMA Ramps Up Response Capabilities; Assistance to Victims Already Being Distributed

The Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Michael D. Brown, returned to California late yesterday to continue to oversee federal assistance to the state following President Bush's disaster declaration on Monday. The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is already distributing assistance authorized by the President to Californians even as the agency significantly ramps up federal response capabilities and recovery activities.

Yesterday, forty-eight hours after President Bush declared a federal disaster in California, FEMA distributed the first assistance checks to wildfire victims who had registered for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Checks will continue to go out as victims register and damage inspections are completed.

FEMA also has dispatched the Administrator for the U.S. Fire Administration, R. David Paulison, to California to advise and assist federal, state and local authorities. Paulison is a former Chief of the Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue Department and the Director of FEMA's Preparedness Division.

Today, the following federal response and recovery activities will be coordinated by FEMA:

On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.

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