US may face ‘weeks’ wait for Irene response

Hurricane Irene approaching US East coast
© AFP/HO/NOAA Ho

AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Top US emergency officials warned Friday that it could take weeks or possibly months to get relief to some areas in response to the incoming Hurricane Irene.

“We are anticipating it to be a huge geographical area with lots of people impacted,” warned Gail McGovern, head of the American Red Cross, at a press conference in Washington.

“From the time perspective, this could take weeks, maybe months to be able to respond to,” she told reporters alongside Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Craig Fugate, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The US military has confirmed that up to 98,000 National Guard soldiers will be available if needed throughout the affected regions, as Irene on Friday barreled up the US eastern seaboard.

It is expected to slam into North Carolina’s Atlantic coastline as a category 2 hurricane, starting early Saturday, before roiling northward, threatening US states from Delaware to Maine.

Some 65 million people live along the path that Irene will hit in the coming days.

Top relief and emergency officials meanwhile cautioned that residents even far inland, such as in the US capital Washington, should be prepared for days-long power outages and possible storm surges rushing up the waterways.

“You will not be able to get everything back on quickly. A lot of rain and flooding. Strong gusty winds. Again, those impacts, well away from the coast are going to extend in,” Fugate said.

US authorities have readied tens of thousands of ready-meals to hand out to evacuees, with preparations being made for a million meals a day in the worst case scenario.

© AFPPublished at Activist Post with license

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