Obama declares emergency in seven States

Tens and thousands of people across the east coast have been evacuated from the low-lying areas.

Washington: US President Barack Obama has
declared a state of emergency in seven States including New
York, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island as
hurricane Irene hit North Carolina with high winds and heavy
rain resulting in power cuts to thousands of homes and killing
at least one person.

While Obama declared emergency in New York early in the
day, the US President signed off on the emergency declaration
in Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New
Jersey and New Hampshire, after he returned yesterday night
cutting short his summer vacation.

Emergency in North Carolina was declared earlier.
"The President reiterated that we know that this storm`s
impacts will continue to be felt throughout the weekend and
that we still have work ahead of us to support potentially
impacted states and communities," the White House said in a
statement after Obama reviewed preparedness of his
administration for hurricane Irene.

Obama`s action authorises the Department of Homeland
Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to
coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose
of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the
emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate
assistance for required emergency measures, to save lives and
to protect property and public health and safety, and to
lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in these three

Authorities confirmed at least one death as hurricane
Irene hit North Carolina. The man was killed after a tree fell
on him. Lakhs of people were without power as the hurricane
made a devastating blow on the infrastructure.

The Defence Secretary Leon Panetta issued a
prepare-to-deploy order for 6,500 active duty troops from all
the services to support hurricane relief efforts if ordered.

"On requests from states for the Department to provide
hurricane relief assistance, it has taken the Secretary an
average of 5-7 minutes to approve them," Pentagon spokesman,
George Little said.

Governors of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland,
Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York have already
declared state of emergency as hurricane Irene nears land.

Federal storm-surge maps showed the potential for four-to
10-foot surges across a massive swath of the eastern United
States, with potentially disastrous impacts in eastern North
Carolina, the Tidewater area of Virginia, as well as the
Potomac River that runs through Washington.

Tens and thousands of people across the east coast have
been evacuated from the low-lying areas. "It looks like the
track of Irene is going to have a major impact along the East
Coast starting in the Carolinas all the way up through Maine,"
said Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency.

Residents and businesses along the East Coast should be
taking steps now to prepare for severe weather, and following
the instruction of their local officials, including any
evacuation orders," he said.

"Those in the path of the storm should make sure that you
are also taking necessary and commonsense precautions such as
having an emergency plan, such as having some emergency
supplies, some food, some water, a flashlight with batteries
in case we lose power.

"We do anticipate a significant amount of power outage
with this particular storm," said Janet Napolitano, Secretary
for Homeland Security.


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