Homeland boosts emergency grants

State and local governments soon will receive $165 million in grants to help them better respond to hazard preparedness activities and emergency management, the Homeland Security Department announced April 17.

The infusion of money is part of a significant increase in funding for the Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) earmarked for state and local governments in the fiscal 2003 budget.

"This is an important step in getting essential funding to our state and local governments to help them battle this national effort in the war on terror," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in a statement. "We recognize the challenge that the state and localities face when planning to respond to a potential disaster, and the department is committed to providing them with the tools they need to be prepared."

The money is being made available through the department's Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate, formerly known as the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The program provides states with the flexibility to allocate funds according to risk vulnerabilities.

"The $165 million to state and locals for all hazards preparedness represents a 40 percent increase from FY '02 EMPG funding," said Michael Brown, undersecretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response. "These grants are further evidence of this administration's commitment to state and local governments for all hazards [and] emergency preparedness efforts."

The EMPG program, which was first funded in fiscal 2000, was intended to consolidate funding streams that FEMA provided to state emergency management departments and agencies. The money is being allocated following months of complaints from state and local governments that the administration had not provided enough money to cash-strapped local governments to help prevent terrorism.

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