- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 10, 2017

President Trump made phone calls Sunday morning to governors of Southern states bracing for Hurricane Irma, which earlier had made landfall at Cudjoe Key, Florida.

Mr. Trump spoke with governors in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Federal preparations for disaster response continued, including briefings for the president and vice president at Camp David, the White House said.

“We are doing everything we can to help with disaster preparations and, when the time comes, we will restore, recover, and rebuild — together, as Americans,” Mr. Trump said in his weekly address. “In times such as these, we see the strength and the resolve of the American spirit — and we see the kindness and courage of our people.”

The Category 4 storm with winds topping 130 mph was moving northwest toward Florida’s Gulf Coast, expected to hit Tampa by Sunday night and then continue inland. Irma is tied as the seventh strongest storm to hit the U.S.

At 10:40 p.m. the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that the center of core of Irma was about 25 miles northeast of Key West. Irma is so wide that a gust of 93 mph was measured near Key Largo at the other end of the Florida Keys.

For the first time, a tropical storm warning was issued for the city of Atlanta. High wind warnings have been issued in previous storms for the city that’s about 267 miles form the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s an indication of the strength and size of the storm that has yet to fulling impact mainland Florida with anticipated storm surge of as much as 15 feet inundating coastal communities.

At least three people were reported killed in the Florida Keys.

Earlier, Mr. Trump declared a major disaster in Puerto Rico and made additional disaster assistance available to the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which suffered widespread damage from Irma last week and at least a dozen people were killed, according to reports.

The major disaster declaration makes federal funding available to Puerto Rico affected individuals in the municipalities of Culebra and Vieques.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

The additional disaster assistance for the Virgin Islands increased in the level of federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures undertaken as a result of Hurricane Irma beginning on Sept. 6.

Under the president’s major disaster declaration Sept. 7 for the Virgin Islands, federal funding was made available for public assistance, hazard mitigation, and other needs at 75 percent federal funding of total eligible costs, said the White House.

Mr. Trump has increased cost sharing to 90 percent federal funding for debris removal, including direct federal assistance, and 100 percent federal funding for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for 30 days from the start of the incident period, and then a 90 percent federal cost share thereafter, said the White House.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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