Irene Aftermath: Dem Lawmaker Says Americans Should be Grateful for Preparation

Aug 29, 2011 12:48pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) reports:

The Northeast is just beginning to recover from its tangle with Hurricane and Rep. Bill Keating is the perfect subject for an assessment.  He’s the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security subcommittee for oversight  and he was on the coast at his home in Monument Beach when Hurricane Irene hit.

Monument Beach and the surrounding area saw some of the biggest water surges during the hurricane. The congressman’s house lost power and internet connection yesterday, though power is back up today. According to his spokesperson, one of the most dangerous things was an unanchored sail boat that was being tossed around in the water during the storm.

But Keating told ABC’s Top Line politics program Monday that “preparation was excellent” and for that people should be grateful.  Keating, who said he has spent the day talking to local merchants, praised President Obama’s declaration of a state of emergency in Massachusetts, 12 other states, the District of Colombia and Puerto Rico.

“The big thing, this cash — cash style really cities and towns and local business people are affected by this. So I think the preparation was looked at very gratefully but you know people are still overcoming as I am being without power, sitting at your home, there are 700,000 people across Massachusetts and millions across the eastern part of the country.”

The cost of paying for Irene has forced the federal government’s strapped Disaster Relief Fund to divert money meant for tornado victims in Joplin, Mo. A spokesman for Federal Emergency Management Agency told the Associated Press today that Congress will have to vote for more money to restore full funding for Joplin and other areas hit by natural disasters earlier this year.

Read more about the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

More than 4.5 million people along the East Coast were without power today. In addition, Irene is blamed for the deaths of 25 people.

But for now, Keating said people are “looking at the response from a personal term, and I can feel what it’s like to be without power myself. And be grateful at the same time that people weren’t hurt or seriously injured.”

He later added: “I’m just happy that no one was hurt in my community, no one was hurt here. Unfortunately we can’t say that for every community.”

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