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Businesses and Organizations Prepare for Hurricane Relief

Several Louisville-area organizations are preparing to help eastern states in the path of Hurricane Irene.

Louisville Gas and Electric crews have been sent to Pennsylvania and Virginia to help restore power, should lines be damaged. Crews from other states often come to Kentucky during severe outages.

The Bluegrass chapter of the American Red Cross has sent volunteers to the east as well to help with any necessary relief efforts. While many Salvation Army chapters in the hurricane’s path have been mobilized, the Louisville chapter has been put on standby.

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Kentucky Red Cross Volunteers Preparing for Hurricane

by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

The Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross is preparing for Hurricane Irene.

Spokesman Winn Stephens says as the storm moves closer to land, volunteers are mobilizing.

“We have our emergency response vehicle and two local volunteers who left at 6:00 on Wednesday morning to drive to Columbia, South Carolina,” he says. “And that is the staging location for all of the Red Cross’ emergency response vehicles on the east coast.”

Stephens says the emergency vehicles can be used to conduct damage assessments, distribute food, and as communications tools. Several people from the Louisville Red Cross Chapter are also making the trip to South Carolina to prepare for relief efforts. Hurricane Irene is now a category three storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour.

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President Approves Disaster Funding

Louisville Metro Government may need to adjust some departmental budgets to recoup expenses from last month’s severe windstorms.

The city requested $4 million in federal funds for cleanup, but was granted $3.4 million. Mayor’s office spokesperson Kerri Richardson says the rest of the costs from storm cleanup will have to come out of departmental budgets.

“All of those expenses are fairly spread out over numerous agencies and we’ll be working with those directors to make sure the budgets are going to balance,” she says.

President Bush approved disaster funding for 30 counties across the state this week.

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Ike To Bring Wind, Possible Rain To Louisville

The remnants of Hurricane Ike will bring some strong winds and possible rainfall to Louisville.

As the storm moves in a northeasterly direction, it will cause storms in the plains of Illinois and Indiana. National Weather Service meteorologist John Ammerman says some of that weather system will make its way into the Louisville area Sunday.

“We could winds from 20-25 miles an hour, maybe a gust of 35 miles an hour,” he says. “It’s going to remain very humid until it picks up a frontal boundary as it comes across during the afternoon which should give us a little bit of rain in the Louisville area.”

Ammerman says any showers left over from Ike will likely be fairly light.

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Hanna And Ike Unlikely To Send Evacuees To Louisville

Tropical Storm Hanna is headed for the East Coast. But it’s unlikely any evacuees will be coming to Louisville.

When Hurricane Gustav took aim at New Orleans, nearly 1,500 Gulf Coast evacuees were sent to Louisville to avoid the storm and subsequent flooding. But there are shelters that are closer to the East Coast than Louisville, and that’s most likely where any Hanna evacuees will go.

Logan McCulloch with Louisville’s chapter of the American Red Cross has been working with Gustav evacuees. He says he’s more concerned with getting them home than he is with hosting new guests.

“I know that they’re working on that right now at the state EOC – the emergency operations folks and local folks are working with national authorities to expedite that schedule, but no word yet,” says McCulloch.

Hanna is expected to hit South Carolina late tonight and move up the coast this weekend.

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Evacuees Visiting Attractions

Hundreds of Hurricane Gustav evacuees have been enjoying attractions around Louisville while they wait for word on when they can return home.

The evacuees first arrived on Saturday, and since then they’ve been taken to the zoo, the Ali Center and other entertainment venues around Louisville.

Mayor’s office spokesperson Kerri Richardson says those trips were made possible by donations, while other costs will be paid for by the federal government.

“All of the agencies have been instructed to keep very close tabs on everything they’ve expended; everything from gasoline to work hours to transportation costs,” says Richardson. “All of those things will be tabulated and sent to FEMA for reimbursement.”

Louisville is hosting about 1,500 evacuees.

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Hurricanes Expected to Bring Little Rain to Kentucky

Forecasters say it’s unlikely the Louisville area will see any precipitation from the remnants of Hurricane Gustav or other storm systems approaching the U.S.

Don Kirkpatrick with the National Weather Service in Louisville says what’s left of Gustav is moving very slowly through Louisiana and Texas.

“We could see a little bit of moisture from Gustav later this week, maybe Friday or Saturday but if we get anything from that it will be just a very little bit of moisture and not much chance for showers or some immediate rainfall,” says Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick says Tropical Storm Hanna will take a more easterly route, and precipitation from that system will likely stay well to the east of the Louisville area.

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Louisville To Host Evacuees

At least one airplane full of Gulf Coast evacuees will stay in Louisville Saturday night.

They’re fleeing Hurricane Gustav, which has the potential to become a Category 5 storm. It’s expected that at least 200 people will arrive Saturday evening, but officials are planning for more.

“It’s changing literally on an hour by hour basis as the hurricane moves and people evacuate out of New Orleans,” says Mayor’s Office spokesperson Chris Poynter.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter in the Kentucky Exposition Center. The city is prepared to accept 5,000 evacuees, but 2,000 of them would be moved to Lexington and other cities.

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Fay To Have Little Or No Effect On Kentucky

Sometimes when a hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall in the U.S., remnants of the storm travel several hundred miles inland. But Kentucky forecasters say that likely won’t be the case with Tropical Storm Fay.

Meteorologist Joe Ammerman with the National Weather Service in Louisville says Fay isn’t expected to have even a small impact on Kentucky.

“Right now the forecast for Fay is to head up through the Florida peninsula and then be basically on the east coast just north of Savannah by eight-am, Thursday,” says Ammerman. “That track would certainly keep any precipitation away from Kentucky.”

Ammerman says some predictions have Fay heading back into the Atlantic and then looping around and making a rare second landfall near the Gulf Coast states by the weekend.