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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
Monday, August 27, 2002 Contact: AoA Press Office
(202) 401-4541

AoA provides $54,000 to help older persons in Colorado impacted by wildfires

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging (AoA) has made $54,000 in disaster assistance available to the Colorado Department of Human Services to supplement recovery efforts following wildfires which swept through most of Colorado earlier this year.

"We have been concerned for the safety and health of so many families whose lives have been impacted by these devastating fires. We hope that this support can go toward helping seniors in the impacted areas to recover so they can continue to be contributing members of their communities," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.

On June 19, President Bush declared most of the State as a federal disaster area resulting from damage caused by 1,430 wildfires that occurred over a period of weeks. Older persons living in both rural and urban areas have been impacted as a result of smoke inhalation, evacuation and property loss. The fires have caused an increased need for medical testing and doctors’ office visits as well as increased demand for assistive devices and medical equipment.

The AoA, through its national disaster preparedness and response activities, has been working with the Colorado Department of Human Services through its Aging and Adult Services Division since the wildfires occurred to help older victims and their families recover and assist them in applying for services and benefits. In addition to emergency meals and other supportive services, countless hours were spent by area agency on aging staff and volunteers providing individual reassurance of personal safety as well as debris removal, clean-up and restoration activities.

Josefina G. Carbonell, Assistant Secretary for Aging authorized the assistance, expressing her commitment to helping the older persons impacted by these fires recover. "Many seniors living the paths or vicinity of these fires were evacuated so quickly that essential items such as eyeglasses, dental aids, and prescription drugs were left behind. I am proud of the way our aging network in Colorado was quickly able to assess critical needs, and provide these essentials as well as meals, transportation and personalized assistance to those who needed the services the most," said Assistant Secretary Carbonell.

For additional information about the AoA’s national disaster preparedness and response activities, please contact Irma Tetzloff at (202) 619-3268.