East Coast girds for Hurricane Irene
President Obama, at the end of a 10-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, was briefed Thursday morning on the progress of the hurricane and preparations that the federal government is taking to place supplies in anticipation of the storm hitting the densely populated Northeast.
View Hurricane Irene track forecast in a larger map
The president is planning to be in Washington on Sunday to attend the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the National Mall, just when the hurricane is projected to hit the capital region. White House officials told reporters on Thursday that no change has been made to the schedule at this time.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has moved food, water, blankets, baby formula and other supplies into position at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey and Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts.
“You don’t wait until you get hit to find out what you are going to need,” FEMA administrator Craig Fugate during a conference call with reporters Thursday. “Congress recognized this after Katrina.”
More than 100 million people live in the current projected path of the hurricane. Heavy rains in recent weeks have soaked the ground in the Northeast, and officials are concerned that high winds are more likely to down trees and take out power lines.
Navy ships from the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia are preparing to leave port before the approaching hurricane. Naval officials ordered more than 60 ships out to safer waters.
-- Briant Bennett in Washington
Photo: Crew members of the guided missile destroyer Mason load food supplies aboard the ship early Thursday as the ship prepares to get underway with other Navy ships from the Norfolk Naval Station ahead of approaching Hurricane Irene. Credit: Associated Press