Hurricane Irene: Obama says prepare, then get out of the way
As Hurricane Irene barrels toward the East Coast, President Obama interrupted his Martha's Vineyard vacation to urge residents in the path of the storm to make emergency preparations and heed evacuation orders from authorities.
"I cannot stress this highly enough," Obama said in statement to television cameras from his vacation compound of Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, "if you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst."
View Hurricane Irene track forecast in a larger map
The president, who is scheduled to leave Martha's Vineyard on Saturday morning to return to Washington, D.C., after his 10-day vacation, said Americans need "to take this storm seriously."
"You need to listen to your state and local officials, and if you are given an evacuation order, please follow it," Obama said, adding that the federal government was taking its own precautions by ordering an aircraft group out to sea Thursday to avoid the storm.
Obama noted that families could visit ready.gov for instructions on how to prepare for the storm or listo.gov. Since last weekend, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has placed incident management assistance teams along the Eastern Seaboard and has millions of liters of water and meals ready, he said.
"The more you can do to be prepared now," Obama said, "making a plan, make a supply kit, know your evacuation route, follow instructions of your local officials, the quicker we can focus our resources after the storm on those who need help the most."
"All indications point to this being a historic hurricane," he said. "Although we can't predict with perfect certainty the impact of Irene over the next few days, the federal government has spent the better part of last week working closely with officials in communities that could be affected by this storm to see to it that we are prepared."
Hurricane Irene weakens, but could strengthen again before slamming N.C.
-- Maeve Reston in Vineyard Haven, Mass.
Photo: President Obama speaks to the media from Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, Mass., on Friday, warning Americans to be prepared for Hurricane Irene. Credit: Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images