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Katia dips to tropical storm, expected to strengthen
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 1, 2011

Katia was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday but was expected to regain strength as it moved westward in the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm's winds decreased to a sustained 70 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hour), dropping from category one hurricane strength, the center said.

But the dip in strength was likely to be temporary. The center said it was "expected to restrengthen" over the next two days, meaning the storm still poses a potential threat to North America, still recovering from Hurricane Irene.

Katia was 930 miles (1495 kilometers) east of the northern Leeward Islands at 2100 GMT -- too far to affect any land mass -- and there was a chance it would cycle north and disintegrate without hitting the North American mainland.

The new storm approached as US President Barack Obama declared a "major" disaster area in New Jersey and announced plans to visit the flood-hit state on Sunday to view damage wrought by Hurricane Irene, the Atlantic season's first.

Thousands remain cut off by flooding in Vermont, New Jersey and upstate New York in the aftermath of Irene, which killed nearly 50 people.

Three days after the storm passed, some marooned families are still waiting for the national guard and firefighters to bring food and water to swamped towns.

Officials have reported at least 43 deaths across 11 states, including eight in New York, seven in New Jersey and six in North Carolina, where Irene made landfall Saturday with winds upwards of 85 miles an hour.

The hurricane was already responsible for at least five deaths in the Caribbean before it struck the United States, and is being blamed for a 49th fatality in Canada, where the storm finally petered out on Tuesday.

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Irene damages to US more than $10 bn: firm
New York (AFP) Aug 31, 2011
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