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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 30, 2008

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Kathie Osterman, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9313

 

DHHS Workers Head Home from Hurricane Relief Efforts in Louisiana

 

Lincoln –Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) workers who went to Louisiana earlier this month to help process disaster food stamps are scheduled to head home today. The workers, who left Nebraska on Sept. 12, were originally scheduled to return on the 22nd but were asked to stay an extra week to continue to support the state’s ongoing hurricane relief efforts. Louisiana is reimbursing Nebraska for costs associated with the effort.

–Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) workers who went to Louisiana earlier this month to help process disaster food stamps are scheduled to head home today. The workers, who left Nebraska on Sept. 12, were originally scheduled to return on the 22nd but were asked to stay an extra week to continue to support the state’s ongoing hurricane relief efforts. Louisiana is reimbursing Nebraska for costs associated with the effort.

The disaster food stamp program is intended to help put food back on the table for low-income people who experience losses from flooding and power outages. Louisiana is still dealing with damage and widespread power outages that initially affected nearly 829,000 homes following Hurricane Gustav.

The 12 DHHS employees currently in Louisiana are from around the state and have experience working with the federal disaster food stamp program. This summer several Nebraska communities were hit by storms, leaving many Nebraskans temporarily without electricity. As a result of those storms, the USDA provided over $11 million worth of disaster benefits for food purchases as DHHS approved disaster benefits for 23,557 households statewide.

"Following this summer’s severe storms, our Health and Human Services employees were engaged in food stamp release efforts throughout our state," said Gov. Dave Heineman. "With the recent hurricanes in the Gulf, we were able to use that experience to help others. The fact that Nebraska state employees are willing to share their time, speaks well about our commitment to those in need."

"While in Louisiana, DHHS employees worked 10 to 12 hours a day and even stayed an extra week when asked," said Todd Landry, DHHS Director of the Division of Children and Family Services. DHHS employees in Louisiana estimate that from Sept. 9 through Sept. 23, at one location alone, more than 80,000 households have been served. "That just goes to show how dedicated these workers really are," Landry said.

"Although food stamp employees aren’t always immediately thought of as hurricane relief workers, it’s an important job," Gov. Heineman said. "People in crisis from natural disasters shouldn’t have to worry about whether they have food for their families. DHHS employees helped ease those worries during hard times, and I thank them for their efforts."

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