FEMA records hits, emotions

Message from FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Web site set a record for Web usage with more than 3.4 million hits Sept. 12—the day after terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The site (www.fema.gov) is providing users with news, links, and phone numbers related to disaster relief and recovery in Manhattan and near Washington, D.C.

The previous record of 3 million hits was recorded Sept. 16, 1999, when Hurricane Floyd hit the coast of North Carolina, said Marc Wolfson, a FEMA spokesman.

In response to a huge outpouring of sympathy, the agency created a separate e-mail account where people can send comments about the tragedies. A message from FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh describes the effort to "provide a forum for these emotions," and the messages have been posted at www.fema.gov/nwz01/nwz01_98a1.htm.

Holly Harrington, a FEMA spokeswoman who also manages the FEMA for Kids site, said she hatched the idea Sept. 12 when she received an e-mail message from someone in Australia expressing condolences.

So far, the section, which has not been publicized, has posted about 100 of the e-mail messages that have been received. Harrington screens the messages before they are posted.

She said the response from around the world has been "unbelievable." Aside from the United States, people from Canada, England, Australia, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Singapore, Slovenia and Taiwan have sent messages. "People seemed real thrilled to have an avenue to express themselves," she said.

Users can send comments to femaresponds@fema.gov.

Harrington also said the "FEMA for Kids" site (www.fema.gov/kids) has updated resources and information for parents and teachers on how to talk to kids about the tragedies. She said the additions are in response to the "tremendous amount of e-mails" from parents requesting such resources.

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