WASHINGTON – Maryland will get $2.74 million in federal funding for equipment to respond to biological or chemical terror, or nuclear, radioactive or explosive materials, but local officials say they need more.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency learned Tuesday that the U.S. Justice Department had approved its request for a “first responders” grant, which was submitted long before Sept. 11.
Maryland was one of five states and four cities to share the $17 million released this week, the latest in a three-year grant program that has reached every state. Justice spokesman David Hess said Maryland’s share was determined, in part, by the size of its population.
Local Maryland jurisdictions will get $2.39 million to purchase protective clothing and equipment for communications, detection and decontamination, said MEMA spokesman Quentin Banks. The rest will go to the state, which will spend about $82,000 on the Maryland Department of Environment hazardous response units and is still determining where to spend the rest, he said.
Each jurisdiction’s share was determined by such factors as the location of hazardous sites, the possible threats to them, and their vulnerability, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Baltimore City will receive $200,724, the largest local portion of the grant. Anne Arundel County will receive the second-largest share, $184,880.
A spokesman for the Anne Arundel Fire Department said the money would help purchase needed equipment like personal protective gear. John Scholz said that “$185,000 is really bare bones for us,” however, and that “tough decisions” would still need to be made for specialized equipment, even after receiving the grant money.
Ocean City Manager Dennis Dare said the city will get half of the $71,000 going to Worcester County.
“That will help, but we’ve already spent many times that on preparedness supplies since Sept. 11,” he said.
Dare said some of the money would buy some biological and chemical agent test kits, but not enough. He said city officials would also like decontamination equipment.
Dare said his city is too isolated to borrow specialized equipment from other jurisdictions.
“We’re on the edge of the Earth here,” he said. “We’re a long way away from metropolitan areas.”
Larry Storke, the deputy director of Cecil County’s Department of Emergency Services, said the state provided his agency with a list of equipment from which the county could choose. Storke said most of the items on the list were chemical suits of all classes. There was monitoring equipment, as well, he said.
Hess said that after MEMA officials sign the grant papers, the money would be available within weeks. He said there may be more terrorism preparedness money available through the Justice Department in the future.
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