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US poised to help storm-threatened Jamaica

world Updated: Aug 19, 2007 08:18 IST

AFP
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The United States is prepared to send disaster relief assistance to Jamaica if it becomes necessary after the passage of powerful hurricane Dean, the White House has said.

The US package would include aid teams, relief supplies, water containers, medicine, generators, and disaster hygiene kits, national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said as US President George W Bush was on his Texas ranch.

The US ambassador in Jamaica, Brenda LaGrange Johnson, has been working closely with Jamaican authorities on what to include in the aid package "should it be necessary," Johndroe told reporters on Saturday.

Top officials from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have also been in touch with their counterparts in Mexico on possible US help there, but the situation in Jamaica is more urgent, he said.

"If Mexico says they need some of our assistance, we'll look at that. Right now we know Jamaica needs our assistance," said the spokesman.

In a sign of concern at the massive storm, Bush was briefed twice on Saturday on Dean and has approved a rare pre-landfall emergency declaration for the state of Texas, said Johndroe.

"This allows the federal government to move in people, equipment and supplies now," he explained.

FEMA is working closely with Texas officials, including Governor Rick Perry, "in particular to address the special needs of populations along the southern Texas border" expected to bear the storm's brunt, he said.