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FEMA to Brief Lawmakers Today

Updated 4:23 p.m.

Members of Congress will receive a briefing on the ongoing effects of Hurricane Sandy from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate today at 4 p.m. via conference call, according to an alert sent to offices by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Members-only call will include NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and American Red Cross Senior Vice President of Disaster Services Charley Shimanski.

According to a summary included with the alert, there were approximately 7.5 million reported power outages throughout the Northeast as of this morning; the most seriously impacted states were New Jersey and New York, which have more than 2.3 million and 1.8 million outages, respectively. The alert also included FEMA’s official fatality count: 18 dead in 16 states.

The National Weather Service has deployed 18 personnel to assist in FEMA regional response coordination centers, local and state emergency operations centers and county and state emergency management offices to assist in government handling of the aftermath of the storm. The NWS Weather Forecast Office also briefed the governors’ offices in Maryland and New York on tide cycles and flood states. The focus of the New York briefing was Long Island and Queens.

According to the NOAA, the New York City Office of Emergency Management already has requested rescue assets from the New York National Guard and state and federal search and rescue teams. A breach of a levee in Moonachie, N.J., has left 3,500 residents who need to be evacuated.

The alert warned of continued threats posed by Sandy, including high wind, storm surges, rain and winter weather, with snowfall of two to three feet forecasted in parts of West Virginia and western Maryland.

Fugate reiterated today that he has sufficient federal funds on hand to meet all of the immediate federal response needs associated with Sandy without going to Congress for emergency supplemental appropriations.

“That’s not the limiting factor,” Fugate said. “We will assess what the impacts of the storm are and determine if additional funding may be needed in the future, but as it is, what was budgeted for this fiscal year and the funds that carried over from last fiscal year are going to provide all the funds we need for the response, as well as continuing recovery from all of our previous open disasters.”

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