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EU civil protection assistance to US after Katrina

EU civil protection assistance to United States after hurricane Katrina

Assistance from 21 countries participating in the EU’s Civil protection mechanism has so far been accepted by the United States in the clean-up after the hurricane Katrina. The assistance represents water pumps, first aid kits, meals, blankets, tents, telecommunications equipment etc. The bulk of European assistance has now been delivered. About 50 airplanes have gone from Europe to the US with equipment and personnel. Three further deliveries of donations from EU Member States to the US are scheduled still this week. Details of the assistance can be found in the annexed list. Approximately 150 European civil protection experts are or have been assisting the clean-up operations in the New Orleans region.

Teams from Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have been working high capacity pumps. They have considerably contributed to the dewatering of the city of New Orleans, which has been almost completed during the past week. A French team consisting of 17 divers is helping to unblock the levees and to clear marine channels. An Italian emergency team has already finished their task and returned to Europe. Sweden has sent telecommunications equipment and technicians. Further civil protection teams from Belgium, Hungary and Finland have been embedded in the operations of charity organizations or the U.S. Red Cross.

Peter Kaas-Claesson, the EU-coordination expert appointed by the European Commission, has been on the ground in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for more than a week, replacing David Horobin from the UK. Kaas-Claesson, a Danish national, has a long experience in disaster management. His tasks include monitoring progress of EU shipments and EU teams in the field, liaising with the US authorities, briefing any incoming EU teams, providing technical advice and providing daily situation reports to the EU Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) in Brussels.

In view of the new threats posed by the approaching hurricane Rita, the Commission has extended Kaas-Claesson´s mandate for several days to ensure that the MIC will be able to provide first-hand assessments from the situation on the ground after Rita´s landfall. The MIC is on stand-by 24 hours/day and ready to assist the US with further assistance if requested.

The Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC)

The MIC is run by the Civil Protection Unit of DG Environment. Its main task is to facilitate the coordinated delivery of EU civil protection assistance to disaster-stricken areas. The MIC has played an active role in the management of the EU assistance following the Katrina disaster, closely cooperating with the EU Presidency and Member States since the outset of the crisis.

The MIC is the central information hub of European civil protection assistance. It keeps track of EU assistance, maintains contacts between Member States and identifies suitable disaster management experts to be sent on the ground. The EU experts have received a special training in disaster management and civil protection courses financed by the Commission. The MIC also coordinates with other organizations such as the Red Cross and the UN.
Further details on the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism and its Monitoring and Information Centre can be found in Memo/05/306 and

http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/civil/index.htm

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