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Along with heavy rains and winds, Hurricane Irene also brought more than a dozen new federal emergency declarations--each of which open up federal funding for state and local relief and response efforts. As of the morning of August 30, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website, President Obama had declared 24 emergencies and 66 major disaster declarations in 2011. President Obama is on pace to break the record he set in 2011 of 81 major disaster declarations in a year, says Matt Mayer, president of the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a conservative think-tank based in Ohio, which tracks such declarations.
So, which states have gotten the most declarations so far in 2011? Using FEMA data U.S. News compiled a list of the 12 U.S. states and territories with the most major disasters and/or emergencies (not including fires) declared this year to date. Emergencies, according to FEMA, are generally declared before or during a disaster in order to provide federal assistance to state and local governments for immediate relief efforts, whereas a major disaster is usually declared after FEMA has time to conduct an assessment. Major disaster declarations allow the federal government to help with continued recovery. So, it's possible that both an emergency and major disaster could be declared for the same event, as was the case in many states this year.
Though Irene is the most recent disaster to sweep through the country, only three eastern states and Puerto Rico make it on the list. Tornadoes and severe flooding throughout the South and Midwest earlier this year led to most of the declarations. It is important to note that since the size and scope of FEMA actions and federal funding that comes with each declaration differs considerably, this list may not fully represent which states suffered most, nor where the federal government devoted the most attention.