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Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate brief governors, officials from hurricane-prone states

Craig Fugate, the new FEMA Administrator, being sworn in by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano
Craig Fugate, the new FEMA Administrator, being sworn in by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano
Following a ceremony today in which U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano swore in Craig Fugate as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, the two participated in a video teleconference briefing with governors and emergency management officials representing more than a dozen hurricane-prone states to discuss hurricane preparedness efforts - in advance of the June 1 official start of the 2009 hurricane season.

"The President has asked us to reach out to governors before hurricane season to make sure they have everything they need and solidify coordination between federal and state and local governments," said Secretary Napolitano. "Today, Administrator Fugate and I spoke candidly with governors and emergency managers from nearly twenty states and territories about preparedness efforts, the challenges we all face and programs currently in place. We will be briefing the President soon as the hurricane season approaches, and it is imperative that we identify any concerns now - before the season starts."

"Today's meeting provided an important opportunity to hear firsthand from governors and their emergency response teams," said Administrator Fugate. "In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to work closely with our state and local partners to support their emergency preparedness and response efforts across the country."

Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate heard directly from leaders of hurricane-prone states via teleconference about outstanding issues, questions and concerns, and briefed state leadership on DHS preparedness efforts - including prepositioned assets, evacuation planning, and emergency communications.

Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate were joined via teleconference by Maine Governor John Baldacci, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh, Jr., as well as officials from Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour joined the meeting - held at FEMA headquarters - in person.

Administrator Fugate was sworn in at 12:45 p.m. EDT, following his unanimous confirmation last week by the United States Senate. He formerly served as Florida's Emergency Management Director since 2001.

"It was my pleasure to swear in Craig Fugate as FEMA Administrator today," said Secretary Napolitano. "He is a proven leader and veteran manager with years of experience preparing for and responding to some of the most destructive hurricanes in Florida history. Craig will be a vital asset to the Department as we plan for the upcoming hurricane season, prepare for other hazards, and reinvigorate our partnerships with state and local first responders. I would also like to echo President Obama's statements of gratitude to Nancy Ward, who brought hard work, commitment and professionalism to her tenure as acting FEMA administrator and now returns to her critical post as director of FEMA Region IX."

FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other man-made disasters.

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