President Barack Obama said Americans along the East Coast should heed orders from authorities and make emergency preparations as Hurricane Irene approaches landfall tomorrow in North Carolina.
“If you’re in the way of this hurricane, you should be preparing now,” Obama said. “All indications point to this being a historic hurricane.”
Obama spoke from the Fisher House at the Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, Massachusetts, on Martha’s Vineyard, where he has been on vacation since Aug. 18 with his family.
The president was briefed before his remarks by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; Craig Fugate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator; White House chief of staff Bill Daley and other officials, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
FEMA has been positioning emergency supplies where they can be delivered quickly to areas that need them.
The president is scheduled to return to Washington tomorrow. He opted not to cut short his vacation because of the hurricane, whose effects could reach Martha’s Vineyard on Aug. 28, according to data from the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Organizers canceled an Aug. 28 dedication in Washington of a memorial to slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., that was to draw attendees from around the country and at which Obama was scheduled to speak. The dedication is to be rescheduled.
Hurricane Irene poses the largest threat to the U.S. Northeast since Hurricane Gloria in 1985. More than 65 million people from North Carolina to Maine, or about one in five Americans, may be in the way of the hurricane, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The hurricane is on a path to make landfall in North Carolina’s Outer Banks tomorrow, skirt the East Coast and reach New England on Aug. 28, according to the NHC.
Obama signed a federal emergency declaration for North Carolina, authorizing the Homeland Security Department and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster response and mobilize resources. The governors of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and Virginia declared emergencies while officials in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia, ordered mandatory evacuations.
--With assistance from Lananh Nguyen in London. Editors: Laurie Asseo, Bob Drummond
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