WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on Monday as that state and others along the Gulf Coast prepared for Tropical Storm Isaac.
The White House said Obama informed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal of the emergency declaration in a phone call. The declaration makes federal support available to save lives, protect public health and safety and preserve property in coastal areas.
Jindal, a Republican, shot back late Monday in a letter to the Obama administration that the declaration fell short of the help he was requesting.
"We appreciate your response to our request and your approval," Jindal wrote. "However, the state's original request for federal assistance .... included a request for reimbursement for all emergency protective measures. The federal declaration of emergency only provides for direct federal assistance."
Jindal said the storm is forecast to strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane "and squarely impact the state of Louisiana."
The governor said the storm now threatens the entire state.
"The speed with which this threat developed "has necessitated extraordinary emergency protective measures at the state and local government level," he said, adding that the state has already spent about $8 million on a variety of "emergency protective measures."
The White House did not respond immediately to requests for comment on Jindal's letter.
Obama has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts with state and local officials along the Gulf Coast. FEMA has placed incident-response teams at emergency operations centers in Gulf states and has moved two support teams near areas where the storm could hit. More teams also are ready to be deployed if necessary, the White House said.
FEMA has distribution centers in Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth area, and in coordination with the Defense Department, has pre-positioned supplies in Jacksonville, Fla. and Montgomery, Ala., closer to areas where the storm could hit.
Forecasters predict Isaac will intensify into a Category 2 hurricane with winds of about 100 mph by early Wednesday, with a projected path directly toward New Orleans. Isaac could become the first hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast since 2008.
Obama also spoke Monday with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and other federal officials have had calls with governors and tribal and local leaders to discuss storm preparations.
Associated Press writer Chevel Johnson in New Orleans contributed to this report.
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