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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release September 1, 1999


I want to say a couple of words about the steps we are taking to help families recover from Hurricane, now tropical storm, Dennis -- and the approximately 130 fires that have consumed over 100,000 acres in California.

For days now, Hurricane Dennis has pounded the coast of North Carolina, damaging 65,000 homes, flooding roads and bridges, causing power outages, cleaving Hatteras Island in half, and leaving 5,000 people completely isolated.

In the West, I know that firefighters are working heroically to contain the fires -- to save homes and keep people out of harm's way. But I know also, for the dozens who have lost their homes, nothing can replace the possessions and memories that have already been lost to the flames.

Today, President Clinton is declaring a federal emergency in 5 California counties and 9 North Carolina Counties. Additional designations may be made at a later date. These declarations will allow us to bring the full weight of the federal government to bear in minimizing the damage and helping the recovery.

Above all, I want all the families affected by these fires and Hurricane Dennis to know: my thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time. And we will do everything we can to help you weather this terrible disaster, and put your lives back together again.