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Obama: Emergency for NY as Irene approaches

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has declared an emergency for New York state in anticipation of Hurricane Irene, which has New York City in its sights as it storms up the Eastern Seaboard.

The declaration means that the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency can coordinate disaster relief efforts. It also means the state can receive federal aid to supplement state and local emergency and cleanup assistance.

The declaration is specifically intended to alleviate the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond, Nassau and Suffolk.

The brunt of the storm is expected to hit the New York City area and Long Island on Sunday.

The hurricane threatens up to 65 million people along a path from North Carolina to New England.

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. Read AP's earlier story below.

VINEYARD HAVE, Mass. (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama is cutting his Martha's Vineyard vacation short because of Hurricane Irene. He'll return to Washington on Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama made the decision shortly after urging Americans in Hurricane Irene's path to heed warnings about the storm. Earnest says Obama decided it would be more prudent for him to be at the White House at the end of the day, instead of in the New England area.

Irene is expected to make landfall Saturday in North Carolina and then head toward New England.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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