Bush declares inauguration venue in Washington an area under ”emergency”

January 15th, 2009 - 1:35 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington, Jan.15 (ANI): US President George W. Bush has declared the District of Columbia in Washington a federal emergency area, clearing the way for the city to receive federal money to help cover the overwhelming cost of providing security for official inauguration events.
The Washington Times quoted officials as saying that it was the first time the designation had ever been used for anything other than a national disaster, such as a hurricane or widespread flooding.
More than 100 police agencies from across the country already have been mobilized to help provide security for the January 20 presidential swearing-in of Barack Obama, which is expected to attract up to two million people to the district.
Authorities will essentially seal off the downtown and prevent motorists from entering the city from Virginia.
“An emergency exists in the District,” White House press secretary Dana Perino announced.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Tuesday night that D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty had requested the declaration of the city as an emergency zone last week. Fenty has said the event will cost the city as much as 75 million dollars. Maryland officials expect state costs to be more than 12 million dollars.
The estimates include costs for emergency services and Maryland State Police personnel. Hundreds of Maryland state workers will be assisting with work related to the inauguration.
The city made its request under the Stafford Act. The act, an amended version of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, allows a president to declare a disaster, which triggers financial and physical assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In addition to making available additional money, Bush’’s declaration authorizes FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to provide emergency assistance from January 17 to 21.
White House officials said they would either pay for the needed services or reimburse the District for sums it spends beyond the 15 million dollar appropriation.
The Secret Service, the lead agency for official inauguration events, is already on high alert for inauguration week, having declaring it a national security special event. (ANI)

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