President signs Virginia emergency declaration

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in the state of Virginia and ordered federal aid to bolster state and local responses to Hurricane Irene.

Obama took the step late Friday as the mammoth storm bore down on neighboring North Carolina on a path forecast to take the hurricane up the Eastern Seaboard.

The presidential declaration authorized the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts. Of particular concern, the president said, were the counties of Accomack, Northampton, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, and New Kent and the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg.

Virginia's congressional delegation had sought the declaration in a letter they wrote the president Friday. It was signed by Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and 10 other congressmen.

The letter notes McDonnell already has issued an emergency declaration to ensure a fully coordinated state response to the hurricane.

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