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Idled federal emergency workers recalled as storm threatens Gulf

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has begun to recall employees idled by the three-day-old government shutdown as the Gulf Coast braces for potentially damaging tropical storm Karen, the White House said on Thursday.

"FEMA has begun to recall currently furloughed employees necessary to serve functions of the agency that protects life and property as they prepare for potential landfall of Tropical Storm Karen," White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a briefing. 

Hurricane watches are in affect from Louisiana to Florida in anticipation of the storm, the National Hurricane Center said. Landfall is expected Saturday.

As the storm tracks northwest and north toward the central Gulf of Mexico, the intensity of the storm remained uncertain, the Weather Channel reported. 

Nick Wilgen, a meteorologist at the Weather Channel, said that while any cyclone was a cause for concern, people in affected areas could have “some peace of mind that the more catastrophic scenarios don’t seem to be in the cards for this one.” 

- NBC News Daniella Silva contributed.

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