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October 29, 1999

Charleston/Mattoon To Participate In FEMA Disaster Preparedness Project

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced today that Illinois will expand its partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the effort to prevent damage and loss of life caused by natural disasters in the communities of Charleston and Mattoon.

Charleston/Mattoon was nominated by Governor Ryan and today has been selected by FEMA Director James Lee Witt to join nearly 200 communities to be part of FEMA's nationwide initiative "Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities."

"Each year natural disasters destroy our communities and our homes and threaten the lives of our families, neighbors and friends," Ryan said. "Our state and the Charleston/Mattoon area are proud to be part of the 'Project Impact' movement that emphasizes disaster prevention and to ensure that a community's new buildings and new growth avoid the vicious disaster cycle of damage.

Governor Ryan praised the efforts of Sen. Judy Myers, R-Danville and Rep. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, as well as EIU President Dr. Carol Surles, Lake Land College President Dr. Robert Luther, Mattoon Mayor Wanda Ferguson and Charleston Mayor Dan Cougill for their efforts to build a partnership to apply for the "Project Impact" program and to start building disaster resistant communities.

"Through 'Project Impact,' we in Illinois are working to change how we deal with disasters and thus save lives and reduce the effects of disasters in the future, Ryan added."

'Project Impact' is a disaster prevention initiative developed in partnership with states and FEMA, encouraging communities to assess their risks from natural hazards and to implement strategies and actions that will limit damages before disasters strike. The designation includes approximately $300,000 in seed money from FEMA.

Mattoon has been the site of repeated flash flooding, including last summer when a flash flood resulted in state and federal disaster declarations.

Charleston/Mattoon is the third 'Project Impact' community in Illinois, joining Carbondale and Urbana. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency will work with FEMA and the Charleston/Mattoon community as well as its local public and private partners to implement those new strategies to reduce the impact of disasters.

FEMA Director James Lee Witt is a strong supporter of 'Project Impact.'

"Communities across this country through 'Project Impact' can galvanize citizens and businesses to meet the long-term challenges through disaster prevention," Witt said. "This is the promise of 'Project Impact' -- to focus communities on preventing damage before disaster strikes. 'Project Impact' looks forward to working with Illinois to help Charleston and Mattoon and other cities in Illinois to save lives and protect property, businesses and vital community services."


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