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US counts the cost of Tropical Storm Irene as Obama warns it's not over

media Manhattan skyline after the passage of Tropical Storm Irene Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

US President Barack Obama says the clean-up operation after Tropical Storm Irene could go on for days or weeks, but claimed the disaster response operation was an "exemplary" display of good government. At least 21 people died when Irene hit the northeast coast of the United States.


In a short statement from the White House, President Obama said he wanted people to understand the situation was not over.

“Response and recovery efforts will be an ongoing operation," he said. “I do want to underscore that the impacts of this storm will be felt for some time. And the recovery effort will last for weeks or longer. Power may be out for days in some areas,"

New Jersey governor, Chris Christie says the cost of material damage following Irene, which was downgraded to a Tropical Storm before it hit New York, could rise to several millions of dollars. This does not take into account the cost of evacuation 300,000 people from low-lying areas of New York city.

The president returned early from his vacation on Friday to deal with the Hurricane Irene response and led top homeland security officials in a massive federal and local operation on Sunday.

Obama also paid tribute to the work of homeland security officials and emergency workers who he said had saved lives and property in recent days.

Hurriance Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm before it passed over New York and is now a post-tropical storm as it heads over north east Canada.

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