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September/October 2001Vol. 2, No. 5HHS Responds to September 11 Tragedy

"Helping America Heal" is the message on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website.

Medical and family assistance personnel, portable morgues, veterinarian assistance to rescue dogs, and emergency medical supplies are among the resources HHS has sent to New York City, Washington, DC, and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in response to the tragedy of September 11. Besides assisting local authorities in identifying victims and treating survivors, HHS is helping rescue workers and all Americans deal with the trauma.

The HHS website,, offers resources for grief counseling and mental health services. An initial $1 million grant will support community mental health centers in the New York City area. Additionally, a toll-free hotline maintained by HHS's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has been established at 1-800-789-2647 (TDD: 301-443-9006). Three HHS public service announcements related to talking with children after a disaster, coping with the September 11 events, and accessing Medicare and other senior services in New York are also available to members of the media.

Other support provided to the public includes information on public health risks of asbestos, dust, and debris stemming from the terrorist attacks. A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting the New York City Health Department to conduct tests and protect the population from water- and airborne health risks. The CDC's occupational health specialists are also assessing rescue worker safety needs in New York City.

A $1 million HHS grant provides emergency child care for relief workers and victims in New York City. In addition, it will help provide immediate social and community services in New York City, including temporary shelter, food, and clothing. Another $500,000 provides immediate support services to senior New Yorkers, including emergency meals, transportation, and other support services.

HHS grants released to New York City are in addition to the $40 billion in funds appropriated by Congress. HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson emphasized that the Federal government will be available for long-term assistance as local communities recover from the tragic events of September 11. "From the physical clean-up in the impacted areas to the grief that victims' families and the nation are feeling, the recovery process from these events will take a great deal of time," said Thompson. "HHS, like the rest of the Federal, State, and local agencies responding during this time of need, is committed to the long-term process of healing and rebuilding."

Additional information on HHS assistance efforts is available at

Related Items

For U.S. Government information and resources in response to the September 11 terrorist attack, visit:

Read the President's statement about the "American Liberty Partnership," an online American relief and response effort created by America's high-tech leaders to encourage donations of money, blood, food, clothes, and time to non-profit organizations, at:

Visit the Administration for Children and Families website for a guide on helping all children (including those with cognitive disabilities) cope with disaster at:

Visit the Children's Bureau website for information about helping children handle anxiety related to September 11 events at:

A special issue of Connect for Kids Weekly compiles resources to help families and communities cope with kids' fears, expressions of hatred, and our own feelings at: