Meteorologists issued a hurricane watch for the US gulf coast from the southern states of Louisana to Florida Thursday, as the government recalled emergency staff who had been furloughed due to the US government shutdown, dpa reported.
Tropical storm Karen late Thursday was 500 km south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, with winds of 100 km per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reactivated the hurricane liaison team that had been sent home without pay during the government shutdown caused by Congress's budget impasse.
"The president directed his team to ensure that federal resources and personnel needed to support state and local preparation efforts are available and on the job," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
FEMA urged residents to prepare for tropical storm Karen, headed for Grand Isle, Louisiana by Saturday morning. The storm could hit hurricane speed by Saturday evening, the Hurricane Center said.