Charles County Wins Largest Of Homeland Security Grants

Gov. Martin O'Malley said Southern Maryland counties received more than $1 million in homeland security grants. The state got $29 million overall.
Gov. Martin O'Malley said Southern Maryland counties received more than $1 million in homeland security grants. The state got $29 million overall. (By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced this week that he has secured more than $1 million in federal homeland security grant funds for Southern Maryland.

The funds, from three grant programs in the Department of Homeland Security, are to be used for several projects, including providing protective equipment to first responders, hardening critical infrastructure and building interoperable communications systems.

More than $29 million was awarded to communities in Maryland. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency devised a formula to award grants to each jurisdiction based on the level of risk.

Charles County, the largest jurisdiction in Southern Maryland and home to the Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center, received $427,315, the largest grant in the tri-county region.

Calvert County, home to the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal, received $353,900. St. Mary's County, home to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, received $325,569.

"As a result of the partnership and hard work of our local first responders and state agencies, Maryland received more funding in each of these competitive grant programs this year than last year, and more than $8 million more than in the previous year overall," O'Malley said in a statement. "Although the available funds are still far less than Maryland's overall needs, the increase will provide much-needed support."

Southern Maryland officials said the homeland security funds will help prepare the area's first responders for a possible evacuation of the Washington metropolitan region, which could send throngs of evacuees to Southern Maryland.

"We're right at the edge of Washington, D.C.," said Charles County Commissioner Samuel N. Graves Jr. (D-La Plata). "Terrorists are always looking for soft targets, so we should train people better to deal with terrorists. Every little bit [of funding] helps."

Charles County Commissioners President Wayne Cooper (D-At large) said the funding would help the county prepare for the worst-case scenario.

"We've been very concerned about the 'what ifs' and what could happen in Charles County," Cooper said.

The City of Baltimore received $2.7 million, the largest grant amount in Maryland. Prince George's County received $1.5 million, Montgomery County $1.4 million, Anne Arundel County $1.2 million and Howard County $795,157.

By law, the state is allowed to retain up to 20 percent of homeland security grant funds for its own use. But O'Malley said the state is retaining only half of the funds for which it was eligible and instead is sending an additional $3.6 million to local jurisdictions.

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