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How Federal and Washington-Area Governments Responded to Irene How Federal and Washington-Area Governments Responded to Irene

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How Federal and Washington-Area Governments Responded to Irene


In this image provided by NASA, then-Hurricane Irene is seen from space from the International Space Station, as it churns off the East Coast.(NASA via Getty Images)

Tropical storm Irene churned north-northeast on Sunday, leaving in its path a swath of snapped tree limbs, downed power lines, and flooded streets. Since Friday officials including mayors, governors, and federal department heads have been briefing the public on what to expect. Here's a closer look at what government did to prepare for the storm and respond to it:

  • Washington: Mayor Vincent Gray declared a state of emergency for the district and urged residents to take precautions. The city opened five shelters for residents and offered 5,000 sandbags to help prevent flooding. Gray's Twitter feed served as real-time news service for district residents. "If you see 1st responders, utility crews, or DC inspectors today, please give them friendly wave. They're doing an incredible job!" Gray tweeted on Sunday morning.
  • Maryland: The Maryland Emergency Management Agency maintained a live-streaming video on its website to keep residents updated. The shot focused on a lectern with the state seal, from which officials including the governor could make announcements. Workers milled about in the background and large screens showed live video and weather radar. Like most of the states in the region, Maryland also declared a state of emergency and implored its residents to prepare for the worst. Like Gray, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley used Twitter to update residents. 
  • Virginia: The commonwealth also declared a state of emergency and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management dedicated its website to Irene coverage. The department's Twitter feed was also dedicated to Irene updates. 
  • Federal: The Federal Emergency Management Agency maintained a blog on Irene. Posted on the blog about what FEMA is doing: "Our immediate focus and priority, as we move from into the response and initial recovery phase, is to do everything we can to support first responders and emergency managers at the frontlines with efforts to keep residents and communities safe." At 11:30 Sunday morning, officials including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Director Craig Fugate will hold a news conference on Irene.
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