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President Obama Signs DC Disaster Declaration

WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- President Obama declared a major disaster exists in the District of Columbia by signing a disaster declaration.  He ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Hurricane Irene from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1.

The funds are available to DC, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the hurricane. Funding is also available for hazard mitigation measures.

Additional designations may be made if requested by the district and after seeing results of further damage assessments, said FEMA.

Senate Democrats Boost Disaster Aid

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats unveiled legislation Tuesday providing $6 billion in new disaster aid to help both victims of Hurricane Irene and past disasters dating to Hurricane Katrina.

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's budget approved the measure by voice vote.

At the same time, the measure's author said that with FEMA's disaster aid coffers running dangerously low, it may be necessary to add additional, more immediate disaster aid to a stopgap funding bill that's expected to be enacted before the FEMA funding measure.

The moves in the Democratic-controlled body could spark a battle with tea party-backed House Republicans, who say that Congress should cut federal spending elsewhere to pay for disaster aid.

FEMA chief: Stay at home in Irene's wake

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the nation's emergency response agency says people shouldn't underestimate the danger once Hurricane Irene passes.

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate says flooding, weakened trees and downed power lines pose a danger even after the storm moves north up the Atlantic Coast.

Fugate is urging people not to drive around and sightsee after the storm has passed through their areas. His advice: Stay inside, stay off the roads, and let the power crews do their job.

Fugate made the round of the Sunday talk shows as the storm moved through New York City and the Northeast.

Steady Rain In DC Ahead Of Irene; No Big Problems

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A steady rain ahead of Hurricane Irene's arrival has led to road closures and downed power lines in the District of Columbia, but officials aren't reporting any major or unexpected problems.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray declared a state of emergency on Friday, enabling the district to tap federal funds for damage costs. Officials also are bracing for days of widespread power outages, though Metro says it expects to continue operating unless conditions become worse than expected.

The district says it'll open five shelters for residents displaced from their homes if necessary. Officials also estimate that they've distributed some 6,000 sandbags.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley says the hurricane is expected to arrive in the state earlier than expected, with the eye passing over Ocean City sometime around midnight.

Local Twitter Trend Map

Local Twitter Trend Map

The D.C. Metro area is clearly thinking about the strength of Hurricane Irene...just look at this Twitter trend map of the area.

How Hurricane Irene is Affecting States

How Hurricane Irene is Affecting States

Here is a state-by-state glance on how Hurricane Irene is affecting states along the Eastern Seaboard as of Saturday, August 27th:

   CONNECTICUT

   -- Irene predicted to make landfall Sunday somewhere between New Jersey and Cape Cod. Storm's track forecast through central parts of Connecticut.

   -- Hurricane warning for coast.

   -- No mandatory evacuations.

   -- Last hurricane to hit was Bob in 1991.

   -- Irene likely to cause prolonged power outages and flooding in low-lying areas along the shoreline.

   -- President Barack Obama and governor declared state of emergency. National Guard mobilized.

   DELAWARE

   -- Hurricane warning statewide.

   -- Flood watch in effect.

   -- Storm center to pass near the New Jersey/Delaware coast around 8 a.m. Sunday.

Mayor Gray Urges Residents to Prepare for Potential Impact of Hurricane Irene

Mayor Gray Urges Residents to Prepare for Potential Impact of Hurricane Irene