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FEMA administrator says 'dangerous conditions' from Sandy persist

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said Tuesday that dangerous conditions from Hurricane Sandy continued to persist Tuesday morning, and urged those in areas affected by the storm to stay in a safe location.

"If you are not in an area of immediate danger, stay inside, off the roads," Fugate told CBS News. "We still have dangerous conditions."

Fugate noted that President Obama had issued major disaster declarations for states in the Northeast and had been coordinating with the governors of New York and New Jersey to "ensure that all resources are being made available" to the states.

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"We are not talking being recovery," Fugate said. "We are still talking about safety watch operations. We are working very closely with the governor's teams to get those resources in there as they have requested them."

Fugate said that Tuesday morning, the primary efforts of federal rescue teams were focused on coastal communities in New Jersey and areas of New York City, although the government was closely monitoring the rapid snowfall in West Virginia.

The most serious situation, however, might have been a levee breach in Bergen County, N.J.

"We know that there were several thousand homes that were flooded, water levels of six feet or greater," Fugate said. "New Jersey and our teams were responding in those areas. We have other reports that we are monitoring. We are working with and are embedded with the state teams and as they need additional resources, bringing those in as quickly as we can. Right now our lead federal agency, in support of the search and rescue operations, is the U.S. Coast Guard. We also have a lot of local teams, search and rescue teams, we have sent in and support this response."

During a later interview on NBC's "Today Show," Fugate downplayed concerns about the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, which was placed on alert late Monday night because of rising water. It appeared that the water had receded before additional actions were required to protect the power plant.

"Right now there's no imminent threat of releases," Fugate said. "There's no protective actions around the plant. We're working very closely with the nuclear regulatory commission for that and any of the other power plants that are in the path of this storm."

Fugate added that the extent of the storm's damage was not a surprise, based on early projections.

"Unfortunately it hasn't been the surprise," Fugate said. "It has been what we were looking at. You hoped it wasn't going to be this bad. But I think that what we have seen is, this storm surge was going to be one of the biggest threats. I think that was one of the things that people needed to understand and, unfortunately, it did happen."