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Secretary Napolitano Announces New Louisiana 'Decision Team' and Appoints Recovery Personnel

Release Date: 
March 11, 2009

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

On the heels of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano’s visit to New Orleans last week, Secretary Napolitano today is pleased to announce the establishment of the Unified Public Assistance Project Decision Team in the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office, and her choice of Charlie Axton to lead the newly-created team. Secretary Napolitano also announces the appointment of Tony Russell to be the acting director of the Transitional Recovery Office.

“The new Decision Team, under Charlie’s leadership, will help FEMA and the State of Louisiana work together to identify and resolve disputes and speed recovery in the Gulf Coast,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Tony brings extensive recovery experience to the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office. All three of us are dedicated to helping Gulf Coast residents get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

The announcements represent the first set in a series of actions that reflect Secretary Napolitano’s deep commitment to hastening the Gulf Coast recovery process through improved decision-making and quality coordination between all levels of government.

The Decision Team, created jointly by DHS and the State of Louisiana, will expedite final decisions to approve project scopes and eligible work costs for disputed projects between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state.

Russell brings more than a quarter-century of experience in emergency response and recovery to the Transitional Recovery Office. A five-year FEMA veteran, he serves as a Field Coordinating Officer from FEMA Region VIII. He has led the federal response for many presidentially-declared disasters of varying sizes, scopes and complexities, as well as National Special Security Events.

Axton currently serves as a FEMA Disaster Assistance Division Director. In this role, he is responsible for the delivery of disaster assistance and recovery programs and oversees all Public Assistance grants and Individual Assistance programs. He began his career at the state level as the state public assistance officer for the State of Idaho following the 1996 floods, and joined FEMA in 1998, where he has worked in positions in the field, regional office and at FEMA headquarters.

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