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Governor: Be aware of Gustav

Alabama residents should stay aware of Hurricane Gustav’s movements as a shift to the east would place the state more directly in the storm’s track, Gov. Bob Riley said yesterday during a press conference at Alabama Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Clanton.

Riley warned anyone ending their Labor Day plans early to do it today rather than tomorrow because the state could begin feeling Gustav’s effects as early as 2 a.m. Monday.

Yesterday, nearly 100 evacuees were en route to a shelter at the BJCC in Birmingham resulting from an agreement among Alabama, Louisiana and the Federal Emergency Management Agency that allows up to 4,000 evacuees from Louisiana to be sheltered in Alabama. FEMA will reimburse Alabama 100 percent of the costs for sheltering the evacuees.

“If evacuations for Alabamians become necessary, we have shelters ready to take care of them,” Riley said. “I continue to strongly urge Alabamians to pay attention to the weather forecasts and heed any calls for action by their local officials. At the same time, Alabama stands ready to help our neighbors in Louisiana and Mississippi. I join with all of the other Gulf Coast governors in urging everyone to take proper precautions for this storm.”

Riley has received approval from President Bush for a federal disaster declaration in response to the hurricane.

The disaster declaration makes local governments in Alabama counties eligible to apply for federal and state infrastructure assistance. It also enables individual victims in those counties to apply for federal aid.

“I am very grateful for this quick response from the President along with the federal assistance that will help Alabama continue to prepare for Hurricane Gustav,” Riley said.

“This declaration will help Alabamians and will ease the burden on local governments as they respond and deal with the possibility of recovery.”

– Scott Mims can be reached at scott.mims@clantonadvertiser.com.