Dane County government updates on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Stoughton area tornado
September 23, 2005
Madison – Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today released the following status update on efforts by county government regarding both Hurricane Katrina and current information on Hurricane Rita, as well as an update on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to the Stoughton area tornados of last month.
Stoughton area tornado:
· Dane County Executive Falk was informed by a FEMA official this morning that the state’s request for relief is on the President’s desk and is still pending; there is NO deadline for the FEMA response regarding federal relief for costs incurred by local governments and residents as a result of the tornados.
· The State of Wisconsin will receive a written response of approval or denial, and at that time, the state has 30 days to file an appeal with FEMA.
· The Dane County Department of Human Services is providing mental health services in two ways; first, we have provided mental health counseling to the Towns of Dunn and Pleasant Springs, at their request. Professionals are available to do the same for other communities if requested. Second, Dane County Executive Falk has approved the use of space in the Stoughton Human Services Office, at the request of the Stoughton Area Tornado Long Term Recovery Board, for a mental health professional to assist with community needs.
· The week following Hurricane Katrina, Dane County officials were told by federal officials to expect as many as 500 evacuees as part of an official airlift to Wisconsin.
· County officials immediately coordinated meetings between state and local officials, hospitals, fire, law enforcement, human services, and emergency personnel and non-profit groups to plan for the influx in evacuees.
· Milwaukee received several airlifts of nearly 100 people, but Dane County’s status was then changed to being “on call.” Dane County Executive Falk was informed by FEMA today that our status for Hurricane Katrina evacuees is still “on call.”
· Although, Dane County has not receive an official airlift of evacuees, we are able to estimated between 200-300 Hurricane victims have come to the area on their own accord, mostly because of friends and family in the area.
· Many local groups including the Dane County Department of Human Services, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and United Way of Dane County, and area churches have been providing assistance to these evacuees, including financial assistance for food, clothing and other needs, mental health counseling, food stamps, medical assistance and shelter. (Most evacuees are staying with family and friends, but some have required lodging.)
· Specifically, the Dane County Jobs Center has served 26 applicants needing foot stamps and medical assistance and the Dane County Mental Health Response Team is prepared to coordinate continuing mental health counseling for victims while they are in the area.
· County Executive Falk authorized a resolution be introduced at the County Board meeting on September 15 that allows employees to donate unused vacation time to other county employees who have no vacation time left, but would like to take time off to travel to the South and help the relief efforts.
· Local FEMA representatives have told Dane County government that they have been asked by federal officials if the state of Wisconsin has the capacity to take evacuees from Hurricane Rita if necessary. The state of Wisconsin has responded affirmatively that we can accept up to 200 more evacuees if necessary, and they will report directly to the Tommy G. Thompson center in Milwaukee.
· Dane County officials will continue to monitor the situation over the weekend for any changes.
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Lesley Sillaman, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606