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Forty Stations Still Off; FCC Takes Steps to Assist in Relief

Forty Stations Still Off; FCC Takes Steps to Assist in Relief

About 40 stations remain off the air, while 90 are now on, in the areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama affected by Hurricane Katrina. The figures are according to Ken Moran, director of the Office of Homeland Security for the FCC.
That office is about to be redesignated as a bureau, one of several actions the commission is taking to address public safety in the wake of the hurricane.
The bureau would have responsibility for coordinating public safety, national security and disaster management activities within the FCC. The commission said it would work with Congress to complete the proposed reorganization and restructuring of functions scattered throughout bureaus and offices at the agency.
At its public meeting Thursday, which was held in Atlanta rather than Washington, Chairman Kevin Martin announced the agency will provide $200 million in relief for victims, mostly related to telephone expenses such as free cell phones and free minutes for low-income evacuees and people still in the affected area without phone service.
The commission also will help pay the costs of reconnecting consumers to the telecommunications network. It will allow public and non-profit health care providers, including American Red Cross shelters providing health services, to apply for support for advanced services used for telemedicine applications.
The commission also is setting up a panel of experts from the public safety and communications industry to perform an independent review of the impact of Hurricane Katrina.