Published: Aug 30, 2011 11:07 AM EDT
Updated: Aug 30, 2011 3:06 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government's main disaster aid account is running woefully short of money as the Obama administration confronts damages from Hurricane Irene that could run into billions of dollars.
 
With less than $800 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster aid coffers, the agency has been forced to freeze rebuilding projects from earlier disasters dating back to Hurricane Katrina to hold onto money for emergency needs in the wake of Irene.
 
The shortfalls in FEMA's disaster aid account have been obvious to lawmakers on Capitol Hill for months - and privately acknowledged to them by FEMA - but the White House has declined to ask for more money.
 
FEMA now admits the disaster aid shortfall could approach $5 billion for the upcoming budget year, and that's before accounting for Irene.