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Governor Rell Urges Connecticut Residents and State Employees to Help Californians

For Immediate Release            
CONTACT: Adam Liegeot, 860-524-7313
October 23, 2007                                                              
adam.liegeot@ct.gov

Governor M. Jodi Rell today encouraged the approximately 800 state employees who are certified in American Red Cross (ARC) disaster relief training to go to California and help in the wildfire relief effort if they are contacted by the ARC.
“If these trained state employees are contacted by the Red Cross and told that their skills are needed, I encourage them to seek the permission of their supervisors and to go to California as soon as possible,” Governor Rell said.  “Our state employees have a tremendous opportunity to truly make a difference for people in need.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Governor Rell announced that approximately 800 state employees had volunteered to undertake special training and assist the Red Cross in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  Many state employees had to use personal vacation days at that time in order to meet the minimum Red Cross volunteer period.  Connecticut has since changed its law to give a state employee who is a certified Red Cross disaster service volunteer time off to participate in specialized disaster relief services for the ARC without loss of pay or accrued leave time.  The state employee must have approval of his state supervisor and must have been requested by the Red Cross to participate.
The Governor also urged state residents to make financial contributions to various charitable organizations.
“This is a major emergency, and many Connecticut residents have friends or family in the affected areas,” Governor Rell said. “Our state always steps up when we are needed and the people of Connecticut can really be a big help in this situation.
“Organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are able to make the most out of even relatively small donations through their bulk purchasing power.  We can help provide Californians with bottled water, non-perishable food, batteries, blankets and also pet food to help take care of the animals that have been displaced by the fires.”
  
To donate to the Red Cross, call (800) HELP NOW or (800) 257-7575 (Spanish) or contribute online by visiting www.redcross.org .
To donate to the Salvation Army, call (800) SAL-ARMY or contribute online by visiting www.salvationarmyusa.org .
Governor Rell said she has phoned California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office to offer assistance. 
“This disaster is only just beginning to unfold and the needs will continue for weeks.  As soon as we hear more details about what we can do to help California, we will provide the public with updates.”
Governor Rell said that the Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew, made up of approximately 75 firefighters, has been made available to assist in the relief effort.  The Crew battled fires in Northern California earlier this year.