The following are news items compiled by the Fire Engineering staff during the week of 10/21. Check our home page and Web Exclusives categories for other industry news.
FEMA/State Disaster Update
New York, NY–On Sept. 11, terrorists crashed two commandeered jetliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on the southern tip of Manhattan, taking the lives of thousands of people and injuring thousands more. At the request of Gov. Pataki, President Bush immediately declared a major disaster for five New York counties to support emergency response efforts and aid victims of these attacks.
On Sept. 27, 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Joe M. Allbaugh designated 10 additional counties eligible for assistance. The counties to receive individual assistance are Bronx, Delaware, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.
Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond counties also qualify for public assistance for services such as removing debris and emergency protective measures; public buildings and contents; and public utilities.
All 62 counties in the state of New York were approved for emergency protective measures to reimburse the cost of search and rescue.
To date, 27,425 people affected by the attack have called FEMA’s to apply for state and federal disaster assistance. More than 800 new applications are being taken daily.
The first and most important step in applying for help is to call FEMA at 1-800-462-9029 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The TTY number for speech- or hearing-impaired individuals is 1-800-462-7585.
The New York State Crime Victims Board has received 2,894 applications for assistance to defray the cost of medical bills, counseling, funeral expenses, or lost earnings caused by injury or loss of life. The toll-free number is 1-800-247-8035. The TTY number for speech- or hearing-impaired is 1-800-289-9747. The phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
More than $65.5 million in Individual Assistance has been approved in the forms of temporary disaster housing assistance, disaster food stamps, individual and family grants, and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans to homeowners and businesses.
FEMA has approved $13 million in disaster housing assistance for individuals and families to obtain alternate rental housing or to clean up residences made uninhabitable by the attack.
Persons left unemployed by the disaster have filed 4,694 claims for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) with the New York State Department of Labor Telephone Claims Line, 1-888-209-8124. This program assists workers and business owners who are out of work because of the disaster as well as self-employed persons not normally covered by unemployment programs. The closing date for filing DUA claims has been extended to Nov. 16.
Individuals and families who lost food, income, or resources because of the attacks have been given $1.8 million in disaster food stamps.
The state of New York has approved more than $231,000 for individual and family grants for disaster victims to meet serious disaster-related needs not covered by other disaster assistance programs or insurance.
Crisis counseling grants in excess of $22 million have been committed to the state’s mental health services network to provide counseling to victims of the attack and their families.
SBA has approved more than $50 million in low-interest loans to 459 applicants for home repairs, business loans, and loans to assist small businesses suffering economic injury as a result of losses caused by the disaster.
More than 8,500 people have visited the Disaster Assistance Service Center at 141 Worth St. in lower Manhattan to consult with representatives from state, federal, city, and voluntary agencies on disaster aid programs and to have questions answered about their applications. Representatives have disseminated information in 17 languages. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
FEMA’s toll-free Helpline has received 12,163 calls from persons applying for additional assistance, inquiring about the status of their application, or seeking information about recovery programs. The Helpline number is 1-800-525-0321. The speech- or hearing-impaired TTY number is 1-800-462-7585.
More than 1,500 federal workers in addition to 550 FEMA personnel working at the Disaster Field Office in New York are currently assigned to this disaster.
More than 30 community relations teams are canvassing door-to-door south of 14th St. in Manhattan and are visiting Community Boards throughout the city to provide information about disaster assistance.
FEMA’s Speakers Bureau coordinated speakers for almost 50 meetings with more than 2,225 people in attendance. More than 20 additional meetings are scheduled. Attendees are community members, economic development organizations, local political groups, and building owners and managers.
$270 million in federal public assistance has been approved to help state and local governments rebuild. FEMA will provide financial aid and technical assistance in the rebuilding of infrastructure damaged in the attack. Applicant briefings for 15 New York City agencies were held Oct.15.
FEMA has assigned almost $108 million in mission assignments to other federal agencies including the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense to assist in the response effort.
USACE continues to provide technical assistance to the debris removal operation. More than 380 thousand tons of debris have been removed to the Staten Island landfill. The USACE dredging mission that removed almost 60,000 cubic yards of material from around Pier 6 has been completed.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is completing its use of pressure washers and truck-mounted, filtered vacuum cleaners to clean streets, parking areas, parks and playgrounds in the impacted area. EPA has established a number of wash stations to insure people and vehicles leaving the work zone do not track dust into clean areas. EPA continues to monitor air quality and reports no excessive dust outside the immediate debris pile.
Health and Medical Services has initiated a health assessment project with the New York Fire Department that will include analyses of up to 11,000 blood samples of firefighters involved in ground zero operations.
More than 200 voluntary agencies from community- and faith-based organizations, labor unions, national organizations, and government agencies are working to identify issues, concerns and long-term recovery needs and develop solutions to address these issues.
The Red Cross is providing referrals to the Southern Baptist Disaster Response cleaning teams to assist individuals with special needs requiring cleaning and minimal repair of residences.
The Salvation Army has located mobile canteens at the four corners of ground zero to accommodate relief workers. The Salvation Army has served more than 1.4 million meals to victims and disaster recovery personnel.
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FDNY Prepares to Bolster Elite Units
New York, October 23-The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) is bolstering its Special Operations Command unit, which lost 93 members and entire specialized units in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11.
On October 15, 21 firefighters began training to transfer to rescue units, squad commands, and haz-mat operations. These firefighters will attend one week of haz-mat training and two weeks of rescue school before entering the Special Operations Command, a group trained to deal with catastrophes.
In addition, FDNY plans to train 150 recruits for the elite battalion by February, not only to replenish its ranks but also to fill the need for additional firefighters trained in how to respond to terrorist attacks.
An hour-long lesson on handling anthrax calls has been added to the training, in light of recent events.
Firefighters assigned to the command will be replaced by 400 probationary firefighters.
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