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White House: Katrina lessons applied to California fires

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 23, 2007
The White House worked Tuesday to assure the US public that it had learned its lesson from the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, as it now grappled with devastating fires in California.

"I think that there were lessons learned from Katrina, especially in regards to early communication and coordination between the federal, state, and local governments," spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters at a daily briefing.

US President George W. Bush, who was very criticized for the sluggish response to Katrina from Washington two years ago, quickly reached out to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, she said.

"Governor Schwarzenegger did tell the President he felt he was getting what he needed, but the president said, 'you've got an open line of communication, and if you need more, you just have to let us know,'" she said.

Overnight Monday into Tuesday, Bush declared that the state, where some 500,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes in the face of the advancing fires, was eligible for federal aid.

On Tuesday, Bush sent Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, David Paulison, to the devastated areas in the state.

"All of us across this nation are concerned for the families who have lost their homes, and the many families who have been evacuated from their homes. We send our prayers and thoughts with those who've been affected, and we send the help of the federal government, as well," Bush said.

"Today I have sent Secretary Chertoff and Director Paulison of the FEMA to go out to California to listen, develop an inventory of supplies and help that we can provide," he said in a speech.

Perino displayed slides showing the amount of federal aid sent so far -- including cots, blankets and 280,000 bottles of water -- "to alert people to what the federal government is doing in order to help."

"The state and local governments are working quite well together, as well, which is why we've had a good coordinated response. It's a very dangerous situation," she said.

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Satellites Help Save Lives
London UK (SPX) Oct 17, 2007
The UK is taking charge of an international group providing satellite data to support disaster relief across the globe. The British National Space Centre and DMC International Imaging will lead the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" from October 2007 until April 2008. The organisation's Executive Secretariat and Board will meet in London on 17 and 18 October 2007.

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