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The Federal Emergency Management Agency became part of the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

FEMA is in charge of helping people before and after a disaster. FEMA is called in to help when the President declares a disaster. Disasters are "declared" after hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes or other similar events strike a community. The Governor of the state must ask for help from the President before FEMA can respond.

FEMA workers help disaster victims find a place to stay if their homes were damaged or destroyed. FEMA also helps repair homes and works with city officials to fix public buildings that have been damaged.

Just as important, FEMA helps people BEFORE a disaster so they will be ready. FEMA teaches people how to prepare for a disaster and how to make their homes as safe as possible. FEMA works with communities to help them build safer, stronger buildings that are less likely to be damaged. FEMA also trains firefighters and emergency workers, and runs a flood insurance program. FEMA is part of the EXECUTIVE BRANCH, which means it reports to the President of the United States.

TheDepartment of Homeland Security, which includes FEMA, is the newest Cabinet-level department in the federal government. It was proposed by President George W. Bush after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and approved by Congress. The new department brought together 22 different agencies or federal programs into one. The new department's first priority is to protect the nation against further terrorist attacks. Tom Ridge, former Governor of Pennsylvania, served as the first Secretary of Homeland Security. On February 15, 2005 the United States Senate confirmed Judge Michael Chertof as the second Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

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