Obama Inspects Irene Damage; Lee Threatens the South

Posted September 4th, 2011 at 5:36 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is urging politicians in Washington not to play politics with federal aid for victims of last week's Hurricane Irene.

Mr. Obama on Sunday got a first-hand look at the storm's devastation as he traveled to New Jersey, touring the state's third largest city, Paterson, which was inundated by Irene's torrential rains.

He pledged to people all along the U.S. East Coast who were affected by Irene that he won't allow “Washington politics” to get in the way of bringing them federal help.

Irene cut a swath of destruction from North Carolina to Vermont. The storm was blamed for at least 40 deaths and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Mr. Obama's visit comes just ahead of what weather forecasters say could be another week with more rain.

While the president visited the Northeast, federal officials were keeping a close watch on Tropical Storm Lee, which was dumping torrential rains on the Gulf coast states of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Lee made landfall near the city of New Orleans on Sunday, flooding the streets and recalling the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina six years ago.

The Louisiana city is under flash flood warnings while elsewhere, evacuation orders have been issued for low-lying areas.

Before coming ashore, the slow-moving storm had been pounding other Gulf of Mexico coastal communities with heavy rains.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Lee could dump up to 50 centimeters of rain over several states as it moves north into the Tennessee valley.

Another storm, Katia, is out in the open Atlantic Ocean and heading northwest but is not currently a threat to any land area.

The month of September is considered the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which has already seen 12 named storms.