Obama calls on residents in hurricane's path to prepare for worst

This story has been updated.

President Obama called on all those in the path of oncoming Hurricane Irene to take precautions now. "Don't wait, don't delay, we all hope for the best and prepare for the worst," the president said on Friday, speaking from his vacation in Martha's Vineyard.

Obama said all indications point to Irene being "a historic hurricane.... I cannot stress this highly enough: if you are in the projected path of the hurricane, you have to take precautions now."

The president said he's been speaking to the governors of the states along the Eastern Seaboard. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed teams up and down the coast, Obama said, and has millions of liters of water, along with cots, blankets, and other emergency supplies.

But the president stressed the best course of action for anyone in harm's way is to get out.

"If you are given an evacuation order, please follow it," he said, adding that an aircraft carrier had been ordered out to sea on Thursday to avoid the approaching storm. The government, Obama said, has been preparing for Irene for more than a week.

Obama himself and the first family will cut their vacation short by several hours, leaving Friday night instead of Saturday morning, according to the White House.

Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, but hurricane watches and warnings were posted for North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and New England. Residents have been put on notice to prepare for the worst.

On Friday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered an evacuation of city residents who live in low-lying areas-the first such evacuation in history. Public transportation in New York will begin an orderly shutdown at noon on Saturday.

Obama said he convened a conference call with senior members of his emergency management team earlier on Friday and "directed them to make sure that we are bringing all federal resources to bear and deploying them properly to cope not only with the storm but also its aftermath."

"I've also spoken this morning with governors and mayors of major metropolitan areas along the Eastern Seaboard to let them know that this administration is in full support of their efforts to prepare for this storm and stands ready to fully support their response efforts," he added.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters on Friday that the federal government is taking the storm "very seriously." "This is a serious hurricane. It has already caused significant damage in Puerto Rico and elsewhere," she said.

Washington and the surrounding Virginia and Maryland areas should be prepared for power outages, heavy rain, strong winds and potential flash floods, said FEMA chief W. Craig Fugate. He said power outages could last days in more rural areas, adding that there could be flooding along the Potomac River.

The American Red Cross is also mobilizing its assets. Gail McGovern, Red Cross president and chief executive officer, said her organization is anticipating the storm will affect a "huge geographical area" and that it could take "weeks, maybe even months" to fully respond to damage and needs.

She said the Red Cross is ready to serve 250,000 meals a day, which could be increased to 1 million, and has 15,000 shelters in the affected area.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.