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Karen nears hurricane status; White House calls for FEMA

The government may be in shutdown mode, but White House heads are calling back Federal Emergency Management Agency workers to keep an eye on Tropical Storm Karen as it winds along the Gulf Coast and threatens to reach hurricane status.

A hurricane watch has been issued for residents living from Florida to Louisiana, according to Fox News. The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that Karen was 485 miles from the Mississippi River, moving with winds of 65 mph.

While oil and gas drilling officials move to secure their platforms, FEMA is ramping up its work force despite a government shutdown that has furloughed much of the agency's staff.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a press conference that FEMA has called back those employees who have missions directly related to protecting life and property. The agency has put its land team in Miami on high alert and ordered them to back to the local hurricane center to monitor storm developments.

Karen could reach hurricane force on Friday, weather forecasters said.

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