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The Department of Homeland Security announced today that almost $74 million in funds is being made available to 19 states and territories in the form of grants for improvements to and construction of emergency operations centers (EOCs) around the country. The grants, being distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are designed to help improve emergency preparedness and management by ensuring that EOCs have the suitable capabilities that provide flexibility, sustainability, security, survivability, and interoperability when responding to emergencies.  

"We are extremely pleased to be able to provide these funds for the construction and operational help needed to improve and maintain these important emergency centers," said Secretary Ridge.  "It is essential that the emergency operations centers have the capabilities that they need to respond to any kind of potential emergency within their areas and that first responders have the vital resources that they may need at hand."

The grants were awarded through a competitive application process and were part of $81 million made available through FEMA for the EOC grant program.  An initial $2.8 million in funds was previously provided to all states in December 2002, which provided each state with $50,000 to conduct an initial assessment of the hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks to state and local existing EOCs. In addition to funding the initial assessments, $4.3 million was awarded to the states to provide secure communications capabilities.

"Maintaining strong EOCs are essential for the effective direction, control, and coordination of emergency response efforts," said DHS Under Secretary Michael D. Brown. "The funds will be used on projects that range from the construction of new EOCs to providing alternate sites for continuity of operations purposes."

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.