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 WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala announced today that the Department of Health and Human Services will provide $75 million in flood aid for the Midwest, and she repeated the HHS commitment to respond quickly to health and social service needs in the affected areas.
 "I have directed each operating division of HHS to pitch in and help the victims of this unparalleled disaster," Shalala said. "Agencies of the U.S. Public Health Service and other HHS components are working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure a coordinated response in the flood-impacted areas."
 HHS assistance ranges from water safety, sanitation, disease prevention and first aid to mental health services, support for the elderly, and reassurance for children affected by the flood.
 "Flooding of this magnitude hasn't occurred in this country for 100 years and HHS is doing everything possible to help flood victims stay healthy and free of injury and to deal effectively with the emotional impact of the disaster," Shalala said.
 The $75 million is part of a flood package approved by Congress, which provides a total of $6.3 billion in budgetary resources. The HHS share will provide for a Public Health/Social Services Emergency Fund. This fund will support a variety of activities, including:
 -- support for the 24 Community and Migrant Health Centers located
 in the flood affected area;
 -- repair to rural water systems on affected Indian reservations;
 -- response assistance and technical support for emerging health
 -- counseling and other mental health substance abuse services;
 -- and increased support for needed social services through the
 Community Services Block Grant and Social Services Block Grant.
 In addition, HHS's Administration on Aging has provided $500,000 to states. The AoA funding may be used for a variety of purposes, including reimbursement of area agencies on aging that have opened the doors of their congregate meal centers to all flood victims.
 The department's overall emergency response and recovery is being coordinated in Washington by the Office of Emergency Preparedness in the U.S. Public Health Service, one of the four operating divisions of HHS. PHS regional health administrators are the principal operating agents for the department in the flood areas.
 In addition to the funding announced today, other HHS assistance has been available in the flood area for more than a month:
 -- Disease Prevention. Expertise in sanitation, engineering and entomology has been made available to supplement current state disease prevention activities. More than 80,000 syringes have been distributed for administering inoculations against tetanus.
 -- Mental Health. PHS' Center for Mental Health Services has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine the extent of crisis counseling assistance needed by the six affected states, with particular attention being paid to the needs of children, the elderly and emergency workers. Funds are available for crisis counseling grants for up to a one-year period.
 -- Emergency Medical Teams. Six PHS disaster emergency medical teams are on standby, ready to provide first aid, inoculations and general medical care when local facilities are damaged or destroyed. Members of the emergency medical teams also are trained to counsel victims in disaster areas to help them cope with stress.
 In addition, primary health care providers are being assigned to provide services in federally funded community health centers in affected areas.
 -- State Consultation. PHS teams are meeting regularly with state officials to assess overall needs including sanitation, infectious disease surveillance, injury prevention, insect control, primary health care, mental health and food and water safety. So far, teams have been convened in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. A technical assistance team -- sanitation, environmental health, disease surveillance and prevention health experts -- is operating in Iowa and such teams will be assembled in other areas.
 -- Public Affairs. HHS has produced several public service announcements featuring Shalala on the dangers of drinking possibly contaminated flood water. These announcements have been widely disseminated to media outlets in the affected areas. PHS also has regularly issued health advisory press releases, and publications, including a CDC pamphlet, titled, "Beyond the Flood."
 Philip R. Lee, M.D., assistant secretary for health and head of PHS, said a number of PHS agencies are involved in this effort, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Indian Health Service and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
 Currently there are some 50 PHS personnel deployed in various locations in disaster field offices and at emergency coordinating centers. Other PHS employees are working in various administrative and support capacities in the affected states as well as in the Office of Emergency Preparedness central coordinating office. OEP headquarters tracks the public health, primary care and mental health conditions in the flood areas around the clock.
 Other HHS agencies supporting the effort include the Administration for Children and Families, the Social Security Administration and the Health Care Financing Administration.
 -0- 8/10/93
 /CONTACT: Public Health Service Press Office, 202-690-6867/

CO: U.S. Public Health Service ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU: EXE

KD-IH -- DC020 -- 1249 08/10/93 14:13 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 10, 1993

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