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Grants boost emergency planning

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The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is giving more than $325,000 in grants to 10 nonprofit and government agencies throughout the state to put into place plans to help vulnerable populations before and after emergencies.

The grants program aims to address the types of challenges Hurricane Katrina created for the elderly, ill, poor and immigrants.

Plans the program will support include using church networks in Eastern North Carolina to help communities prepare for emergencies; a Spanish-language TV network to provide preparedness education; ham radio in a mountain county to handle emergency communications; and a mapping system in coastal areas to help responders locate homes of the ill, elderly or disabled.

After announcing in January it would be making emergency-preparedness grants, the foundation says, it had received 59 requests totaling more than $2 million by the March 3 deadline.

“The need and desire to serve our most vulnerable residents are larger than any single agency or foundation can meet,” Kathy Higgins, the foundation’s president, says in a statement. We are hopeful that the government, nonprofit groups, philanthropic community and businesses will help us fill this gap.”

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