With Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate at his side, President Obama today gave the American people a brief update on the ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Irene, the deadly storm that devastated swaths of the East Coast this weekend. The President also expressed concern for those who were impacted:
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who’ve lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storm. You need to know that America will be with you in your hour of need.
While the storm has weakened as it moves north, it remains a dangerous storm that continues to produce heavy rains. One of our chief concerns before Irene made landfall was the possibility of significant flooding and widespread power outages. And we’ve been getting reports of just that from our state and local partners. Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks.
So I want people to understand that this is not over. Response and recovery efforts will be an ongoing operation, and I urge Americans in affected areas to continue to listen for the guidance and direction of their state and local officials.
The President thanked the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, state and local officials and the many volunteer organizations who worked tirelessly over the past several days, noting that the advance planning has saved lives and property. Moving forward, he said that FEMA will be working with state and local responders to assess damage and assist in the recovery.