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Napolitano Tours Flood-ravaged Rhode Island, Calls Damage Significant

(NECN: Alison King, Warwick, RI) - The President made a promise yesterday to the flood-weary people of Rhode Island that federal help is on the way. This afternoon, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is in Rhode Island, taking a firsthand look at the devastation.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano flew over flooded swaths of Rhode Island on Friday, calling the damage significant and saying she's considering a plea by officials for additional federal aid for the economically battered state.

Some areas of the state were still under water after three days
of pounding rain throughout the Northeast this week sent rivers
overflowing to record levels, hitting Rhode Island harder than any
other state.

The National Weather Service said it did not expect the Pawtuxet
River, source of much of the flooding, to go below flood stage
until at least Sunday.

President Barack Obama had already declared a disaster in much
of the state. That triggers some federal money, but the state is
required to pick up some of the tab.

In a news conference with Napolitano on Friday, the state's
congressional delegation pressed for more federal help in the form
of grants, rather than loans. Rep. Jim Langevin, whose district was
hardest hit, says families, individuals and businesses need the
help as soon as possible.

The delegation had already sent Napolitano a letter asking that
a major disaster declaration be extended to the entire state. They
also want the federal government to waive a requirement for the
state to pick up 25 percent of the costs of the disaster response
and to speed federal help to pay for ruined infrastructure.

Carcieri has said the worst flooding to hit the state in at
least 200 years might have caused hundreds of millions of dollars
in damage. U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I, said the state was in
crisis and needed help.

*Material from The Associated Press used in this report*

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