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US braces for possible new storm

04 November 2012, 09:59

Washington - The Red Cross relief agency said on Saturday it was stepping up efforts to help those struck by superstorm Sandy, amid fears a new storm could hit the US East Coast next week.

As millions in New York, New Jersey and the region picked up the pieces in Sandy's devastating wake, forecasters are warning another bout of bad weather could bring biting wind, rain and possibly even snow to the region.

"Red Cross' operational priorities right now are logistics, feeding and preparing for the pending storm," Charley Shimanski, the organisation's senior vice president of disaster services, told reporters.

"We're pushing heavy mobilisation and distribution."

In particular, the group - in co-ordination with local authorities - was setting up warming shelters throughout the region where those without power could seek refuge.

"We're working closely with emergency operations centres to stand up warming facilities, warming shelters, and stocking those with additional blankets, pillows and everything needed," Shimanski said.

'Insult to injury'

The Weather Channel said forecasts point to a possible "very windy, rainy and cold Wednesday into Thursday along the Northeast I-95 corridor."

"In simple terms, at this point we do not expect the impacts to 'break anything that is not already broken,'" the channel said on its website.

"However the combination of weather impacts will add insult to injury for the recovery process along the East Coast."

With ongoing power outages and fuel shortages, Shimanski said the Red Cross was mobilising its entire fleet of 323 emergency response vehicles from across the country as well as its complete volunteer workforce.

This includes calling in reinforcement from abroad.

"To date, more than 4 200 Red Cross volunteers are on the ground, we're mobilizing thousands more," Shimanski said.

"We're bringing in Red Cross support from Mexico and from Canada as well in certain leadership and other roles."

Housing assistance

Craig Fugate, a Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, said more than 122 000 people had signed up for help and that direct deposits totalling more than $107m had been approved as of mid morning Saturday.

With at least 18 000 people in shelters, Fugate said his agency has set up a short-term housing assistance programme supplying vouchers for hotels and motels.

Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey late on Monday, killed at least 103 people and brought New York City to a standstill.



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