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Remnants of tropical storm Nicole wallop East Coast with huge rainfall

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Seven of the deaths were in North Carolina, where officials are asking residents to remain off the local roads. At the peak of the flooding on Thursday, the state had closed 150 roads, says Julia Jarema, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Emergency Response Team in Raleigh.

“There have been a lot of helicopter and aquatic rescues,” she says. “We’re telling people if they see water running across a road, turn around, don’t drown.”

As the first step in determining if the federal government will need to step in to provide assistance, FEMA, at the request of state governors, has sent liaison officers to Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

The main form of government assistance would be emergency help for food and shelter. If President Obama declares enough damage has taken place, FEMA can provide up to $28,000 per household in individual expenses for emergency medical needs, food, and emergency shelter. The Small Business Administration also is often available to offer low interest loans.

On Thursday, Gov. Bev Purdue of North Carolina declared a state of emergency in anticipation of damage from the storms. Once the rivers subside early next week, Ms. Jarema says the state expects to get officials out to tour the damaged areas and determine if they need federal assistance.

That day Mr. Obama signed a one year extension to the federal flood insurance program. Had the program not been renewed by Congress and signed by the president, some 5.4 million policyholders nationwide would have been without protection. The timing of the renewal was a drop of good news for policyholders living in the path of Nicole.

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