Full Text September 4, 2011: President Barack Obama Tours New Jersey Towns Wayne and Paterson Ravaged by Hurricane Irene

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

 

President Barack Obama talks with residents in a neighborhood hit with flooding
President Barack Obama talks with residents in a neighborhood hit with flooding from Hurricane Irene, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 9/4/11

President Obama to Hurricane Irene Victims: The Entire Country is Behind You

Source: WH, 9-4-11
President Barack Obama walks with local and federal officials in a neighborhood hit with flooding from Hurricane Irene

President Barack Obama walks with local and federal officials in a neighborhood hit with flooding from Hurricane Irene in Wayne, N.J., Sept. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today President Obama travelled to Wayne and Paterson, New Jersey to tour areas damaged by Hurricane Irene.  While visiting the Temple Street Bridge in Paterson, the President gave brief remarks reassuring the people of New Jersey and all those affected by Hurricane Irene that the federal, state and local governments would be there to help them rebuild after the devastating storm.

The main message that I have for all the residents not only of New Jersey but all those communities that have been affected by flooding, by the destruction that occurred as a consequence of Hurricane Irene is that the entire country is behind you and we are going to make sure that we provide all the resources that are necessary in order to help these communities rebuild.

And I know that there’s been some talk about whether there’s going to be a slowdown in getting funding out here, emergency relief.  As President of the United States, I want to make it very clear that we are going to meet our federal obligations — because we’re one country, and when one part of the country gets affected, whether it’s a tornado in Joplin, Missouri, or a hurricane that affects the Eastern Seaboard, then we come together as one country and we make sure that everybody gets the help that they need.  And the last thing that the residents here of Paterson or the residents of Vermont or the residents of upstate New York need is Washington politics getting in the way of us making sure that we are doing what we can to help communities that have been badly affected.

So, again, I want to thank federal, state, local officials who have been working around the clock to respond to this crisis. We know it could have been worse but we should not underestimate the heartache that’s going through a lot of these communities and affecting a lot of these families.  And we want to make sure that we’re there to help, and I’m going to make sure that even after the cameras are gone and attention is somewhere else that FEMA and federal officials continue to work with our local officials to make sure we’re doing the right thing.

President Barack Obama talks with residents in a neighborhood hit with flooding from Hurricane Irene in Wayne, N.J.

President Barack Obama talks with residents in a neighborhood hit with flooding from Hurricane Irene in Wayne, N.J., Sept. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie look at the swollen Passaic River from the Main Street Bridge in Paterson

President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie look at the swollen Passaic River from the Main Street Bridge in Paterson, N.J., Sept. 4,, 2011.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President

Temple Street Bridge

Paterson, New Jersey

1:44 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, obviously visiting Wayne, visiting Paterson, many of these surrounding communities, gives you a sense of the devastation that’s taken place not only here in New Jersey but in upstate New York and Vermont and a whole range of states that were affected by Hurricane Irene.

I want to thank Governor Christie, Mayor Jones, the entire congressional delegation that has coordinated in an unprecedented way to try to deal with this crisis.  And part of what I think has helped to avert even worse tragedies and greater loss of life is because of the extraordinary responsiveness and farsighted thinking of state, local and federal personnel.  I’m very proud of the work that FEMA has done not only from our central agency but, more importantly, the folks locally here on the ground who have been coordinating with the emergency management teams here in New Jersey.

I want to thank the Red Cross for their extraordinary responsiveness.  We’ve seen a huge outpouring of volunteers; the private sector is getting involved in trying to do what they can to help the communities that have been hard hit.

The main message that I have for all the residents not only of New Jersey but all those communities that have been affected by flooding, by the destruction that occurred as a consequence of Hurricane Irene is that the entire country is behind you and we are going to make sure that we provide all the resources that are necessary in order to help these communities rebuild.

And I know that there’s been some talk about whether there’s going to be a slowdown in getting funding out here, emergency relief.  As President of the United States, I want to make it very clear that we are going to meet our federal obligations — because we’re one country, and when one part of the country gets affected, whether it’s a tornado in Joplin, Missouri, or a hurricane that affects the Eastern Seaboard, then we come together as one country and we make sure that everybody gets the help that they need.  And the last thing that the residents here of Paterson or the residents of Vermont or the residents of upstate New York need is Washington politics getting in the way of us making sure that we are doing what we can to help communities that have been badly affected.

So, again, I want to thank federal, state, local officials who have been working around the clock to respond to this crisis. We know it could have been worse but we should not underestimate the heartache that’s going through a lot of these communities and affecting a lot of these families.  And we want to make sure that we’re there to help, and I’m going to make sure that even after the cameras are gone and attention is somewhere else that FEMA and federal officials continue to work with our local officials to make sure we’re doing the right thing.

So, thank you, guys.

Q    Mr. President, Congressman Cantor has talked about offsetting budget cuts –

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to make sure resources are here. All right?

END
1:46 P.M. EDT

White House Recap August 27-September 2, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Focuses on the Aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Jobs Plan & Economic Growth — Urges Extension of Transportation Act

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: AUGUST 20-26, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: We the People

Source: WH, 9-2-11
Weekly Address September 1st 2011

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address in the Blue Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Here’s what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov

Hurricane Irene: The storm may have passed, but the recovery is just beginning. Irene caused severe flooding throughout the Northeast.  As cities and towns along the East coast continue assessing damage, President Obama also reflected on the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

We the People:  This week Whitehouse.gov announced our most recent initiative:  We the People will bring significant change to how the public can engage with the White House online. This new tool enables people to easily start a petition; once a petition garners enough support, it will be reviewed by White House policy officials.

Council of Economic Advisers: On Monday in the Rose Garden, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Alan B. Krueger to lead the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). As one of the nation’s leading economists, Dr. Krueger will bring decades of experience, including a stint as chief economist at the Treasury Department, and a wealth of knowledge to the challenge of creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

American Legion Conference: Speaking before the American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis on Tuesday, President Obama said that America’s military is the best it’s ever been, and celebrated the contributions of the post 9/11 generation, who have changed the way America fights and wins our wars.

Surface Transportation Act:  On Wednesday, President Obama spoke on the South Lawn urging Congress to pass a clean extension of key transportation programs as soon as possible. If Congress doesn’t act, the nation’s surface transportation program will expire at the end of September.  This provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and other essential projects that keep our people and our commerce moving quickly and safely. When the law expires, those projects will shut down, taking precious jobs with them.

Double Feature: This week on West Wing Week we follow Vice President Biden on his trip to Asia. Meanwhile, President Obama led the federal response to Hurricane Irene, made a key nomination announcement, and addressed the American Legion’s 93rd annual conference.

Political Buzz August 28, 2011: Day 2 Hurricane Irene Tears Through New York, Northeast Heading North to Canada — Downgraded to Tropical Storm — President Obama Addresses Nation — Irene Aftermath

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: HURRICANE IRENE HITS EAST COAST– DOWNGRADED TO TROPICAL STORM

Waves generated by Tropical Storm Irene pummel the coast in Westbrook, Conn., Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

Irene downgraded to tropical storm: The National Weather Service downgraded Irene to a tropical storm as the system made landfall over Coney Island in New York. The storm is maintaining winds up to 65 mph.

More than 1 million without power in Mid-Atlantic region: More than a million homes and businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region were still out of power or phone service early Sunday as heavy wind and rain from Hurricane Irene battered the Washington area.
In Virginia and North Carolina, Dominion Resources reported more than 1 million outages, including about 124,000 in northern Virginia as of 4:30 a.m. Power companies reported more than 600,000 outages in Maryland and more than 25,000 in D.C.
The number of outages in Virginia “exceeded our expectations,” a Dominion Power official said.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. Irene remains a large and potentially dangerous storm.” — U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

“I think it’s safe to say that the worst of the storm…has passed.” — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

“First, let me say that this is a storm that has claimed lives. 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.” — President Barack Obama

Irene Lashes New York Area — NYT

Hurricane Irene rolls up East Coast: From North Carolina to New Jersey, Hurricane Irene’s winds and storm surge fell short of the doomsday predictions. But the storm left several dead before reaching New England in its wake, lashed North Carolina with ferocious winds and triggering emergency steps including unprecedented evacuations and transit shutdowns in New York. — Boston Globe, 8-28-11

In Pictures: Hurricane Irene — CS Monitor

Hurricane Irene: live: Follow live coverage as Irene hits the US mainland after being downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm…. – Telegraph UK

Hurricane Irene: August 27 as it happened: Follow coverage as America’s east coast braced for the impact of Hurricane Irene…. – Telegraph UK

    • After Irene, Focus Shifts to Cleanup and Recovery: Tropical Storm Irene left swaths of New York City, New Jersey, Vermont and other parts of the region flooded in its wake, and millions were still without power Sunday night. President Obama said Sunday evening that despite the impact being less than was originally feared, “I want people to understand that this is not over.”… – PBS Newshour, 8-28-11
    • A Weakened Irene Sweeps Northward: Having cut a path of destruction from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the eastern tip of Long Island that killed at least 16 people in six states and caused an unprecedented shutdown of the transit systems in Philadelphia, Boston and New York, Hurricane Irene quickly lost her ferocity as she moved into New England on Sunday, leaving blue skies and an army of clean-up crews in her wake.
      Though downgraded to a tropical storm at around 9 a.m., Irene still wreaked havoc along the Eastern Seaboard: rail and airline service in the Northeast remained paralyzed, and hundreds of thousands of people were without power. But the storm ended up falling far short of the historic disaster that many people had feared.
      However, President Obama, in a televised address from the Rose Garden at around 5 p.m, cautioned “This is not over.” Irene, he said, remains a “dangerous” storm, even in its weakened state, and many communities would see flooding in the days ahead.
      Also at the news conference was Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary, who pledged that the federal government will assist states responding to or recovering from Hurricane Irene. “I urge all Americans to take prudent steps to stay safe,” she said…. – NYT_8-28-11

President Barack Obama’s Statement to the Nation on Hurricane Irene & Statements by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate — AP, 8-28-11

President Obama Signs Delaware Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-28-11

President Obama Signs District of Columbia Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-28-11

President Obama Signs Puerto Rico Disaster Declaration — WH, 8-28-11

    • State-by-state look at dangers and damage caused by Irene: Irene, the hurricane that weakened to a tropical storm, thrashed the East Coast, knocking out power to millions of homes and businesses, destroying piers and killing more than a dozen people. Here’s a state-by-state glance on how it’s affected … – AP, 8-28-11
    • Obama warns Hurricane Irene flooding could worsen: US President Barack Obama on Sunday warned that flooding from Hurricane Irene could worsen as rivers flood their banks and said federal recovery efforts would last a few weeks…. – Reuters, 8-28-11
    • Obama on Irene: ‘This is not over': Despite Tropical Storm Irene’s weakened punch, President Barack Obama urged those in its path to stay vigilant and warned that the storm’s impact would continue to be felt for some time. “This is not over,” Obama said in a Sunday afternoon statement from the Rose Garden.
      With Irene having unleashed furious wind and rain as it carved its way along the East Coast, the president said emergency officials were most concerned about lengthy power outages and flooding as swollen rivers begin to crest. He urged the public to heed the warnings of local officials in the coming days, and said his administration would continue working with cities and states to ensure they were prepared to respond…. – AP, 8-28-11
    • Irene Remains Dangerous, Obama Warns: As a weakened but still dangerous Tropical Strom Irene pushes up the East Coast, President Obama urged Americans to remain vigilant. “I want people to understand that this is not over,” Obama said in a statement delivered Sunday afternoon in the Rose Garden…. – ABC News, 8-28-11
    • Obama to make statement on Irene: White House: US President Barack Obama will deliver a statement on Irene, the deadly storm that has slammed into the US east coast, on Sunday at 5:00 pm (2200 GMT), the White House said. “This evening, the president will deliver a statement on Hurricane Irene…. – AFP, 8-28-11
    • Obama to make Irene statement Sunday: President Barack Obama will make a statement on Hurricane Irene at 5 pm ET Sunday, the White House announced. The president is expected to thank emergency responders for their work during the storm and provide an update on conditions…. – CNN, 8-28-11
    • Obama Engaged in FEMA Response to Irene: President Obama has received regular briefings about Hurricane Irene’s impact. During the wet and windy weekend in Washington, senior advisors and cabinet officials have updated the president on the response and recovery effort taking place along the east coast…. – ABC News, 8-28-11
    • Obama to meet with top administration members: President Barack Obama is planning to meet again this morning with top members of his administration to discuss Hurricane Irene. He told them yesterday to keep him up to date through the night. Obama held an evening conference call … – AP, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene leads to at least 19 deaths: Hurricane Irene had led to the deaths of at least 19 people in eight states as of Sunday evening…. – AP, 8-28-11
    • In Irene’s wake: Relief despite damage and deaths: As Hurricane Irene approached, spectacular satellite images encouraged some to fear the worst. But now, as the weakened storm moseys from New York into New England, you can’t see a sigh of relief from outer space…. – LAT, 8-28-11
    • FEMA chief urges people to remain at home in Irene’s wake, not sightsee amid potential dangers: The head of the nation’s emergency response agency says people shouldn’t underestimate the danger once Hurricane Irene passes. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate says flooding, weakened trees and downed power…. – AP, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: Sunday morning sees storm’s fury move north: Sunday morning saw a slightly diminished hurricane Irene continuing its move up the East Coast with wind, rain, and coastal storm surges hitting New York and New Jersey…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: Irene downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm: Hurricane Irene has now become tropical storm Irene with winds of 65 miles per hour. But officials still predict heavy rains and flooding as Irene works its way north to New England…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-11
    • Irene update: Did New York dodge a bullet?: The worst of tropical storm Irene has passed New York, and the impact wasn’t as bad as it might have been. But officials say hazards still exist, including heavy flooding…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-11
    • Irene update: New York Mayor Bloomberg lifts evacuation order: With tropical storm Irene past New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg lifted his evacuation order. But with public transit still shut down, there’s likely to be a tough commute on Monday…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-11
    • Irene Moves On: Millions Without Power, 14 Dead: Irene, downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, swept through the Northeast today, leaving at least 14 dead in its wake, millions without power and an estimated $7 billion to $13 billion in damages.
      Irene made landfall in Coney Island, N.Y., at 8:45 a.m. this morning as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds, but by 10 a.m. patches of blue sky and sunshine began peeking through in lower Manhattan.
      Philadelphia experienced significant local flooding in several areas, but subways, elevated trains and bus service in the city were beginning to return to activity.
      More than 4.5 million East Coast homes and businesses are without power and thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, according to The Associated Press…. – ABC News, 8-28-11
    • 4M without power as Hurricane Irene heads north: More than 4 million homes and businesses were without power Sunday morning as Hurricane Irene continued to roar up the East Coast and took aim at the New York City area and New England.
      Winds of up to 115 miles per hour whipped across the Eastern Seaboard, ripping power lines from poles and snapping trees in half. Hospitals, emergency call centers and other crucial facilities were holding up, but officials said it could get much worse as Irene churns north.
      More than 1.3 million of the homes and businesses without power were in Virginia and North Carolina, which bore the brunt of Irene’s initial march. Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. had about three-quarters of a million outages combined.
      New Jersey and Pennsylvania each had about three-quarters of a million without power, and hundreds of thousands of other customers were in the dark in New York and Connecticut…. – Boston Globe, 8-28-11
    • Irene Shifts Toward Northeast, Millions Without Power: 3:10 p.m. ET | At least 300,000 in Massachusetts are without power as a weaker Irene moves over the Northeast. Irene is being blamed for 15 deaths in six different storm-affected states.
      Flooding plagued New York City and parts of New Jersey after the height of the storm, but the evacuation order in low-lying parts of New York was lifted at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon…. – PBS Newshour, 8-28-11
    • Of the Big Cities, Philadelphia Is Hard Hit: Having cut a path of destruction from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the eastern tip of Long Island that killed at least 10 people in six states and caused an unprecedented shutdown of the transit systems in Washington, Philadelphia and New York, a weakened but still ferocious Hurricane Irene, now downgraded to a tropical storm, set its sights on a battened-down New England late Sunday morning.
      In Philadelphia, which lies between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, residents in low-lying areas woke up to rising water. Mark McDonald, spokesman for the Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, said water levels were 15 feet above normal in some areas, and were not expected to stop rising until 2 p.m. Sunday. The waters were approaching the highest level ever recorded — 17 feet in 1869, he said. “There are many streams and creeks, and they are all above flood stage now,” Mr. McDonald said by telephone. The storm, which dumped at least six inches of rain on the city, caused the collapse of seven buildings there, he said…. – NYT, 8-28-11
    • Irene’s Damage: Deaths, Flooding, Power Losses State-by-State Bloomberg, 8-28-11
    • Americans recover, Canadians dig in as Irene crawls toward border: As US cities clear away fallen trees and drain flooded boulevards, Canada’s East Coast is digging in as Irene crawls north. … – National Post, 8-28-11
    • Quebec, Maritimes in path of Irene’s heavy winds, rain: Nova Scotians should prepare for heavy winds while Quebec is on track for serious downpours when Hurricane Irene is scheduled to hit Canada Sunday as a post-tropical storm.
      Eastern Quebec – including Quebec City, Sherbrooke, and the Eastern Townships – and northwestern New Brunswick will receive the worst of Irene’s rainfall, with 50 to 100 mm of rain expected.
      Western Nova Scotia and areas around the Bay of Fundy, meanwhile, have a tropical storm warning and will see wind gusts of up to 120 km/h.
      Wind warnings are in effect for mainland Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, all of New Brunswick except the province’s northwestern corner and for parts of Quebec’s St. Lawrence River valley…. – Globe and Mail, 8-28-11
    • Millions without electricity, billions in damages after Irene hits New York: Tropical Storm Irene unleashed furious wind and rain on New York on Sunday and sent seawater surging into the Manhattan streets. But the city appeared to escape the worst fears of urban disaster — vast power outages, hurricane-shattered skyscraper windows and severe flooding.
      Still, millions of people were without electricity and early damage estimates were in the billions of dollars. At least 18 people had died in the storm…. – Globe and Mail, 8-28-11
    • Bloomberg: ‘We Made Exactly the Right Call’ on Storm Preparations: As New York City lifted evacuation orders Sunday afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg residents to exercise caution as they return home, watching out for fallen trees and downed power lines…. – WSJ, 8-28-11
    • Flight Cancellations in U.S. Resulting From Hurricane Irene Exceed 10300: Irene weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm as it swept through Long Island and Manhattan with winds of 65 miles an hour (105 kilometers), according to the National Weather Service…. – Bloomberg, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene Kills 15 and Leaves 4 Million Without Power: Hurricane Irene killed at least 15 people from Puerto Rico to New York, caused an estimated $3 billion in damage and cut electric power to more than 4 million homes and businesses across the eastern US The deaths were concentrated…. – Bloomberg, 8-28-11
    • Millions wait for power to come back after Irene: It could take several days to restore power to millions of people left in the dark by Hurricane Irene. The lights went out for more than four million people and businesses, from Folly Beach, S.C., to Portland, Maine. The race to restore power now will hinge on thousands of utility workers…. – AP, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene: No one ‘dodged a bullet': That was Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate on Sunday after Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm and apparently produced less destruction than many had feared…. – LAT, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene 2011: FEMA Praised By Governors For Storm Response: Governors of both parties are praising the federal response to Hurricane Irene, giving a much-needed vote of confidence to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has been struggling to regain its good name…. – Huff Post, 8-28-11
    • Federal Government Begins Damage Assessments in Irene’s Wake: US government officials said damage assessments and recovery efforts are under way as Hurricane Irene continues…. – Bloomberg, 8-28-11
    • Key House Republicans Express Concern Over FEMA Funding Amid Irene: House Republican leaders are calling on the Obama administration to ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency doesn’t run out of money as it responds to Hurricane Irene…. – Fox News, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene: NYC Evacuations Lifted as Mayor Says ‘Worst Is Over’ ABC News, 8-28-11
    • Hurricane Irene evacuation defended by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg: The threat of Hurricane Irene failed to stop tourists visiting Manhattan’s Times Square, despite warnings from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg…. – The Guardian, UK, 8-28-11

“My hope is that … we will have less damage than we might have. Let’s all just hope for that.” — Governor Deval Patrick said this morning in an interview with WCVB-TV.

    • Irene arrives as tropical storm; 300k lose power: No longer a hurricane but still packing a powerful punch, Tropical Storm Irene arrived in Massachusetts this afternoon, dumping torrential rains and sending streams over their banks, pounding the shoreline with relentless waves, and toppling tree limbs and power lines, leaving more than 300,000 people without power.
      By about 2 p.m., with the center of the weakened storm moving through Western Massachusetts, the worst of the rains were over in the state, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson. But he cautioned that winds could still gust to 55 miles per hour late this afternoon. Boston Globe, 8-28-11
    • Goodnight Irene: Hurricane Irene pummeled New York City Saturday night and Sunday with nearly twenty-four hours of torrential rains and high winds. The storm left behind severe local flooding, falling trees, and some power outages as surging seas overran beaches…. – Huffington Post, 8-28-11
    • New York mass transit still halted, unclear when will resume: New York City’s mass transit system remained shut down on Sunday afternoon even after Hurricane Irene had roared through, and there was no immediate word on when services would resume…. – Reuters, 8-28-11
    • NYC survives Irene, thinks everyone overreacted CBS News, 8-28-11
    • Irene trudges through New England with 60 mph wind: MIAMI—Tropical Storm Irene is trudging through southern New England with maximum sustained winds of about 60 mph. The storm was centered about 15 miles south of Pittsfield, Mass., on Sunday afternoon and was moving to the north-northeast at about 26 … – Boston Globe, 8-28-11
    • Irate Irene still packs a punch, officials warn: Tropical Storm Irene was running out of steam after battering the Big Apple this morning — flooding parts of Queens and lower Manhattan — but the former hurricane still packed sustained gales of 60 mph…. – Boston Herald, 8-28-11
    • New York’s Long Island feels Irene’s punch: Irene’s New York landfall Sunday morning coincided with high tide to bring the Atlantic Ocean pouring into the streets and houses of coastal Long Island…. – LAT, 8-28-11
    • Christie: Irene damage in the billions: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday damage from Hurricane Irene could be very extensive, “I’ve got to imagine that the damage estimates are going to be in the billions of dollars, if not the tens of billions of dollars,” Christie said on NBC’s “meet the Press”…. – Politico, 8-28-11
    • New Jersey told to brace for flooding in wake of Irene: Gov. Chris Christie warned New Jersey residents Sunday to prepare for record flooding the next two days in the wake of Hurricane Irene. USA Today, 8-28-11
    • Flooding threatens New Jersey after Hurricane Irene: A good news-bad news scenario emerged in New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, with an orderly evacuation preventing possible catastrophe along the coast but torrential rains setting up record inland flooding…. – CNN, 8-28-11
    • Irene slams New Jersey, damage widespread: Hurricane Irene swept along the New Jersey shore early on Sunday, knocking down trees, leaving thousands of people without electrical power and causing flooding….. – Reuters, 8-28-11

“We’re saddened to report four fatalities in Virginia. Our hearts go out to all of those who have lost loved ones.” — Gov.McDonnell at a news conference in Richmond

  • Fallen trees from Hurricane Irene kill four in Virginia: Hurricane Irene killed four people in Virginia on a destructive path that affected half the state’s land mass and two-thirds of the population, Governor Bob McDonnell said on Sunday.
    All four deaths were connected with falling trees in the powerful storm, including an 11-year-old boy who died after being pinned under a tree that fell on his apartment home in Newport News. Reuters, 8-28-11
  • Virginia governor: Dangers from Irene remain: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says that while Hurricane Irene wasn’t as bad as expected, dangers remain. The storm caused four deaths, widespread power outages and flooding before leaving the state early Sunday. … – USA Today, 8-28-11
  • O’Malley, McDonnell talk about Irene on ‘Meet the Press': Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) both appeared on national television Sunday morning to talk about Hurricane Irene, with both showing up on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”… – WaPo, 8-28-11
  • Hurricane Irene leaves power out around D.C. region: By Washington Post Staff More than 1 million homes and businesses were without power or phone service early Sunday after heavy wind and rain from Hurricane Irene battered the Washington area…. – WaPo, 8-28-11
  • Irene leaves slight damage, Washington residents without power: As Hurricane Irene moved on to flood the streets of New York City Sunday, people in the Washington region were dealing with an aftermath of power outages, flooding and trees that continued to fall … – WaPo, 8-28-11
  • Dominion Assessing Damage, Beginning Recovery From Hurricane Irene’s Impact: 1.2 million customers affected; second-largest restoration effort after Isabel Dominion crews in Virginia and North Carolina are assessing damage and working with local emergency personnel today … – MarketWatch, 8-28-11
  • Irene Sweeps Through New York: Tropical Storm Irene swept through the New York City area on Sunday morning lacking anywhere near the force that had been feared, but still causing some deaths, cutting power to more than a million people, toppling trees and flooding some parts of the city and its suburbs.
    Though the storm packed strong winds and heavy rain, it never dealt the kind of punch that prompted area officials to order unprecedented evacuations. In much of New York City, people awoke anxious that they would see destruction out their windows, only to find a scene more typical after a major summer storm.
    But while the city escaped without too much damage, its suburbs appeared not to have fared nearly as well. Wide swaths of Long Island, Westchester County, New Jersey and Connecticut faced blackouts on Sunday, plus blocked roadways and the prospect of further flooding.
    At least three people in the area died in connection to the storm. In New Jersey, a 20-year-old woman was found dead on Sunday morning in her submerged car on a flooded rural road in Salem County, eight hours after she called the police to say she was trapped in her vehicle with water up to her neck. In Spring Valley, N.Y., in Rockland County, a man was electrocuted after coming in contact with a downed power line. And in Prospect, Conn., one person was killed in a fire that investigators believe was sparked by fallen wires…. – NYT, 8-28-11
  • Rains Slow, But Floods Rise in Wake of Hurricane Irene: The heavy rains and high winds of Hurricane Irene have subsided from Delaware to Philadelphia, but dangerous flooding and storm damage led government officials Sunday morning to tell people to stay off the roads…. – NBC Philadelphia, 8-28-11

Full Text August 28, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement to the Nation on Hurricane Irene & Statements by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Hurricane Irene: President Obama on Response and Recovery Efforts

Source: WH, 8-28-11
President Obama on Hurricane Irene Recovery

President Barack Obama makes statement on Hurricane Irene with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Bill Daley in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Text of statements by President Barack Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate on Hurricane Irene, as provided by the White House:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m joined today by my Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and Administrator of FEMA, Craig Fugate, to provide a brief update on our ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Irene.

First, let me say that this is a storm that has claimed lives. 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.

Before the storm made landfall, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA worked very closely with our state and local partners, as well as volunteer organizations, to pre-position supplies and teams of first responders along the hurricane’s projected track. And the American Red Cross opened shelters in communities across the region. I want to thank those Americans for their work over the past several days, which has saved lives and property up and down the East Coast.

We continue to have search and rescue personnel on alert, as well as water, food and other needed resources. And moving forward, FEMA is working with state and local responders to assess damage and assist in the recovery.

I do want to underscore that the impacts of this storm will be felt for some time, and the recovery effort will last for weeks or longer. Power may be out for days in some areas, and we will support our state and local partners in every way that we can as they work to restore power in those areas.

So I’m going to make sure that DHS and FEMA and other federal agencies are doing everything in their power to help folks on the ground. I continue to meet regularly with Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate and the other members of my team to assess our response and ensure that we have what we need in place.

As I’ve told governors and mayors from across the affected area, if they need something, I want to know about it. We’re going to make sure that we respond as quickly and effectively as possible. And we’re going to keep it up as long as hurricane season continues.

Finally, while we’re not out of the woods yet, I want to thank everybody at the federal, state and local levels who have worked so hard to respond to this storm. This has been an exemplary effort of how good government at every level should be responsive to people’s needs, work to keep them safe, and protect and promote the nation’s prosperity.

I want to thank scientists who provide the information necessary for governors and mayors to make sound decisions, disaster response experts who made sure we were as prepared as possible, to National Guard members and first responders who risked their lives to ensure their fellow citizens’ safety—all ordinary Americans who love their country and volunteered to do their part.

Above all, the past few days have been a shining example of how Americans open our homes and our hearts to those in need and pull together in tough times to help our fellow citizens prepare for and respond to, as well as recover from, extraordinary challenges, whether natural disasters or economic difficulties. That’s what makes the United States of America a strong and resilient nation, a strong and resilient people. And I want to thank all who have been involved very much.

Now I’d like to ask Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate to say a few words. Janet.

———

NAPOLITANO: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. And I’d like to echo the President’s comments about the ongoing threat from Hurricane Irene. We will be dealing with the impacts of this storm over the coming days, and I urge all Americans to take prudent steps to stay safe.

Now, dealing with a storm like this requires a three-phase approach: preparation, response and recovery. Some states and communities are still currently responding, while others are beginning to assess their damages and plan for recovery.

As response assets are freed up in states already impacted by the storm, we will begin moving them to help with ongoing response, and we will be working with all other states throughout the recovery period.

I’d also like to thank the entire team that is working so hard to respond to Irene. And that team includes the American people. Thanks to all of you who prepared, especially those who followed local evacuation orders. Your actions helped protect not only your families and minimize loss of life, but also freed up local first responders to help those who needed help the most.

Now, the Department of Homeland Security will continue working to coordinate the federal response through FEMA, making sure that the entire federal family is working as one to support the affected states. So, with that, I’d like to personally thank Craig Fugate, who is my director of FEMA, and the entire FEMA team, who have been leading this effort. So, Craig.

———

FUGATE: Well, thank you, Mr. President and Secretary. When you look at these disasters, a lot of times you try to find a place of damage that tells everybody the story about what’s happened. But in this hurricane that’s hard to do because I’m pretty sure most of you forgot Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were first impacted, and we had people who lost their homes and are currently dealing with recovery in Puerto Rico. And now we repeat that process in North Carolina, Virginia and up the coast as flooding is still ongoing.

When a disaster comes off the news and nobody is paying attention, we still don’t go home. We’re still working hard across this country, from tornadoes and floods that have already struck this country as well as to new damages. And that’s part of the mission we have at FEMA, to work with our state and local partners, to work with the private sector, volunteer and faith-based community, but most of all, as the Secretary and President said, the American people who we work for. We’re there for the survivors. We’ll be there through the length of these disasters. And, again, we’re not going home just because it won’t be on the news. We’ve now got a lot of work ahead of us and we’re going to be there to support local communities and states as they begin the recovery.

Thank you.

———

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay. Thank you very much, everybody. Craig and Janet will continue to keep everybody posted throughout the week. As we have already said, there are a lot of communities that are still being affected. We are particularly concerned about flooding because the continuing rains can end up having an impact well beyond the immediate center of the storm.

And so we’re going to continue to monitor that carefully. Assessments are already being done in North Carolina and Virginia. There are still search and rescue teams that are operating throughout the region. And we will continue to keep the American people posted throughout our efforts not only with respect to response but also with respect to recovery.

So thanks very much, everybody.

 

Political Buzz August 27, 2011: Day 1 Hurricane Irene Hits the East Coast — President Obama Visits FEMA, Tracking Storm

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

http://www.csmonitor.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/images/0827-did-media-overblow-hurricane-irene.jpg/10652534-1-eng-US/0827-did-media-overblow-hurricane-irene.jpg_full_600.jpg

IN FOCUS: HURRICANE IRENE HITS The East Coast — PARALYZING REGION

PHOTO: Waves crash under Jeannette's Pier as the effects of Hurricane Irene are felt in Nags Head, N.C., Aug. 27, 2011.

Edge of Hurricane Irene reaches New York City: In a press conference late Saturday night, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was no longer safe for New York City residents to remain outside or to evacuate. Hurricane Irene, which has drenched the mid-Atlantic states as it has moved north, caused New York City to order about 370,000 residents of low-lying areas to leave. It was the first evacuation order for the city. The city also shuttered its transit system and closed its airports.

Hurricane Irene bears down on Virginia Beach: After slowly making its way up the East Coast, Hurricane Irene is now bearing down on Virginia Beach and other parts of eastern Virginia.
Conditions: The region is encountering the windiest period of the storm from now into the overnight hours, with National Airport reporting sustained winds of 29 mph and gusts of 40 mph. As the onslaught of rain continues, the National Hurricane Center reports water levels rising in the Virginia tidewater region.
Power outages: More than 6,500 homes and businesses in D.C. are without power, 15,000 in Prince George’s County, 10,000 in Anne Arundel and 5,000 around Baltimore. Expect these numbers to rise as gusts whip through the area overnight.
Transportation: The Bay Bridge was ordered closed at 7:35 p.m. Saturday due to severe winds and unsafe driving conditions, the Maryland Transportation Authority said.

As Hurricane Irene slams East Coast, travel woes mount: Nationwide: There were an estimated 9,000 flight cancellations nationwide, with United, Continental and Delta Air Lines canceling thousands of their flights. Air France, British Airways and other international carriers also canceled flights.
Washington: The three airports serving the Washington area remained open Saturday evening, but most flights had been canceled. D.C. Metro is not planning to close early.
Virginia: Mandatory evacuations were ordered for at least 11 localities, among them the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach, a barrier island dotted with rentals, Accomack on the Eastern Shore, and for low-lying areas of Norfolk, Hampton and Portsmouth.
Maryland: Mandatory evacuations ordered for Ocean City, coastal Worcester County, homes near cliffs in Calvert County. Maryland Transit Administration announced service suspension beginning Saturday evening.
New York: All three of the major airports serving New York City — Newark International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia International Airport — shut down for the duration of the storm on Saturday afternoon. Subways have also been halted.
New Jersey: New Jersey Transit trains and buses to shut down.
Pennsylvania: Mass transit serving Philadelphia and its suburbs to halt at 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

Hurricane Irene makes landfall; rains start in the Washington area: Hurricane Irene made landfall as a Category 1 storm at 7:05 a.m. Saturday near Cape Hatteras, N.C. The storm leading edge arrived in the Washington area early Saturday with rain starting in the lower parts of the Chesapeake Bay and the beaches of Delaware after wind and rain battered the North Carolina coast. The East Coast of the United States continued to prepare for the storm late Friday, ordering more than a million people to evacuate the affected areas.

For more information, please visit the National Hurricane Center website at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/, the AccuWeather Hurricane Center website at: http://hurricane.accuweather.com/hurricane/index.asp and the Storm Central graphics page at: http://centralstorm.wordpress.com/.

PHOTOS: In the path of Hurricane Irene — LAT, 8-27-11

The Preparations for Hurricane Irene and Reports of Damage: Hurricane Irene made landfall Saturday morning. The storm was expected to cause flooding in a dozen states this weekend. – NYT

“All indications point to this being a historic hurricane. I cannot stress this highly enough. If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don’t wait. Don’t delay.” — President Barack Obama

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I cannot stress this highly enough: 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.

GOV. BEVERLY PERDUE, D-N.C.: As governor of the state, I want to remind you once again that this hurricane is real. It is headed our way. We are ready. We’re prepared for the worst. And we continue to pray for the best. I urge every citizen along the coastal plains to evacuate. It is so much better to be safe than sorry.

SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY JANET NAPOLITANO: Given the amount of rain associated with this storm and the likelihood of flooding, however, I would encourage you not to focus too much on whether it’s a Category 2 or a 3. If you are in the storm path, you won’t be able to tell much difference.

MICHAEL NUTTER, (D) mayor of Philadelphia: Be prepared. Stay safe. Be smart. Evacuate, if necessary. Otherwise, please stay inside.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: So, if for some reason you were thinking about going to dinner in Atlantic City tonight, forget it. Go someplace else.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) mayor of New York: Now, we have never done a mandatory evacuation before. And we wouldn’t be doing it now if we didn’t think this storm had the potential to be very serious. The best outcome would be if the storm veers off to the east and doesn’t hit us, or doesn’t hit us hard. But we can’t depend on Mother Nature being so kind.

GOV. LINCOLN D. CHAFEE (RI): I have been monitoring the path and movement of the storm closely, and there is no doubt that Rhode Island will be hit with high winds, a storm surge, and rain generated by Hurricane Irene.
This declaration of emergency is a proactive step in our hurricane plan to ensure that we as a state are doing all we can to get Rhode Island through this storm safely and securely.
I want to stress that this is a major storm. Individual preparation is essential. Please take the necessary steps to secure your family and property and prepare to evacuate if your municipality issues an evacuation order. I am in close contact with mayors and town managers to ensure that cities and towns have the state support they need to make the best decision for their residents.

Statement by President Obama on Preparations for Hurricane Irene — WH, 8-26-11

President Obama Signs Maryland Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs Rhode Island Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs New Hampshire Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs New Jersey Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs Connecticut Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

President Obama Signs Massachusetts Emergency Declaration — WH, 8-27-11

      President Obama Signs Virginia Emergency Declaration –

WH, 8-27-11

    • Obama says Hurricane Irene “extremely dangerous”: President Barack Obama on Friday warned Americans to take Hurricane Irene seriously and urged them to obey orders to evacuate from the path of what is likely to be an “extremely dangerous and costly” storm…. – Reuters, 8-26-11
    • Obama kept up-to-date on Irene: President Barack Obama is tracking the progress of Hurricane Irene at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s command center. The center helps coordinate the government’s response to natural disasters. The White House says the government stands ready to aid states and communities in the storm’s path…. – AP, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene Pushes North With Deadly Force: Weakened but unbowed, Hurricane Irene mowed across coastal North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday as it churned up the Atlantic Seaboard toward a battened-down New York City, where officials had taken what were called the unprecedented steps of evacuating low-lying areas and shutting down the mass transit system in advance of the storm’s expected midmorning arrival on Sunday.
      Announcing itself with howling winds and hammering rains, the hurricane made landfall at Cape Lookout, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, around 7:30 a.m., ending several days of anxious anticipation and beginning who knows how many more days of response and clean-up. Downed and denuded trees. Impassable roadways. Damaged municipal buildings. Widespread flooding. The partial loss of a modest civic center’s roof, forcing the relocation of dozens of people who had found shelter there…. – NYT, 8-27-11
    • With Storm Near, 370,000 in New York City Get Evacuation Order: New York City officials issued what they called an unprecedented order on Friday for the evacuation of about 370,000 residents of low-lying areas at the city’s edges — from the expensive apartments in Battery Park City to the roller coaster in Coney Island to the dilapidated boardwalk in the Rockaways — warning that Hurricane Irene was such a threat that people living there simply had to get out.
      Officials made what they said was another first-of-its-kind decision, announcing plans to shut down the city’s entire transit system Saturday — all 468 subway stations and 840 miles of tracks, and the rest of the nation’s largest mass transit network: thousands of buses in the city, as well as the buses and commuter trains that reach from Midtown Manhattan to the suburbs…. – NYT, 8-27-11

“You guys are doing a great job, obviously. This is obviously going to be touch and go.” — President Barack Obama at FEMA Headquarters

    • With Katrina in Mind, Administration Says It’s Ready for Irene: Determined to avoid any comparisons with the federal government’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina, the Obama administration made a public display Saturday of the range of its efforts to make sure officials in the storm-drenched states had whatever help they needed from Washington.
      President Obama, who returned to Washington a day early from his summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency shortly after noon. While there, he checked in on the National Response Coordination Center, a 24-hour command center based at FEMA, where dozens of federal employees from a range of agencies were assembled around the clock to help orchestrate the response to Hurricane Irene…. – NYT, 8-27-11
    • Obama visits FEMA, predicts a ‘long 72 hours’ ahead: President Obama made an unannounced visit to the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Saturday afternoon, where he praised the federal government’s response to Hurricane Irene after receiving briefings from governors and emergency managers.
      “So what have we got here?” Obama asked as he entered the room where FEMA has been holding daily video conferences since Monday with state and local officials, the National Hurricane Center and other federal agencies…. – LAT, 8-27-11
    • Obama steps up response as Hurricane Irene threatens floods, outages: Politicians were taking no chances as more than one-fifth of the United States braced for the possibility of metal-bending winds, severe flooding and days without electricity due to Hurricane Irene’s race up the east coast…. – Globe and Mail
    • Hurricane Irene: What You Need to Know in New York: As New York City prepares for Hurricane Irene to reach the five boroughs, most of the city’s agencies have shut down service…. – NYT, 8-27-11
    • Connecticut, Rhode Island join Hurricane Irene evacuation list: Though Hurricane Irene was still hundreds of miles south, residents of low-lying areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island were evacuated Saturday as officials warned of widespread flooding from the powerful storm that is expected to strike at high tide…. – LAT, 8-27-11

“Over one million people have left the Jersey shore in the past 24 hours. The best way to preserve human life on the Jersey shore is for there to be no human beings on the Jersey shore.” — Governor Chris Christie said at a news conference

    • One million flee Jersey shore as surfers hit waves: More than a million people fled resort towns along the New Jersey shore ahead of powerful Hurricane Irene, whose arrival on Saturday was just hours away.
      Mandatory evacuations covered all of the state’s barrier island beach resorts, including such well-known and popular spots as Atlantic City, Cape May and Long Beach Island.
      Irene was expected to hit the state with at least 75 miles per hour winds and 6 to 12 inches of rain starting on Saturday night…. – Reuters, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene churns its way north; 8 dead: Hurricane Irene, a ferocious and slow-moving storm, smashed into North Carolina on Saturday morning, then slowly swirled its way up the Eastern Seaboard, flooding low-lying areas, knocking out power to as many as 1 million customers…. – LAT, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene Pictures: Storm Lashes US East Coast: Beachfront houses in North Carolina stand amid rising waves during the full force of Hurricane Irene, which made landfall Saturday morning as a Category 1 storm near Cape Lookout. The tempest brought winds of 85 miles (137 kilometers) an hour…. – National Geographic, 8-27-11
    • McDonnell urges residents to be cautious even though Irene has weakened: Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) urged residents not to let their guard down just because Hurricane Irene has weakened, saying it is still a serious storm that will likely cause major damage in the state. … – WaPo, 8-27-11
    • Tens of thousands lose power as hurricane batters Maryland: Hurricane Irene moved across Maryland overnight with high winds, heavy rains and dangerous tides. The storm cut power to tens of thousands of residents and turned the state’s biggest summer resort of Ocean … – Scremento Bee, 8-27-11
    • Irene makes landfall in N.C.; 4 deaths reported: Hurricane Irene made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina about 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday morning, losing some power but still whipping up sustained winds of 85 mph, as it continued its run up the Eastern Seaboard.
      The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the enormous Category 1 storm passed over Cape Lookout, with winds slipping a bit from 100 mph overnight, but warned Irene would remain a hurricane as it moves up the mid-Atlantic coast.
      At 2 p.m. ET Irene was about 45 miles west northwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and about 95 miles south of Norfolk, Va. The storm was moving north-northeastward at 15 mph…. – CBS News, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene Path: Atlantic Beach & Cape Fear Take First Hit in North Carolina: Hurricane Irene has made landfall near Cape Fear as a Category 1 with winds at 85 miles per hour, down 15 miles per hour from the 11 p.m. ET advisory.
      “Incredibly strong gusts, pretty surprising to those of us who thought we were nearly done with Irene, after 18 hours,” said ABC News’ Steven Portnoy, reporting from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina…. – ABC News, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall; Moves North, Gathering Strength: By noon, about 438,000 residents were without power in North Carolina and Virginia, and winds and rain were picking up in the Washington, D.C. area, and in beaches stretching from Virginia to Delaware. Two deaths, both in North Carolina, have been blamed on the storm, CNN reports.
      The storm has delivered maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. And hurricane-force wind gusts and a damaging storm surge will continue for the next several hours, weather forecasters predict…. – PBS Newshour, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: Now Category 1 but major impact still ahead: Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. But as it makes landfall in North Carolina and heads north, it’s still expected to pack a wallop with the greatest danger from flooding due to heavy rainfall and coastal storm surges…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: Now Category 1 but major impact still ahead: Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. But as it makes landfall in North Carolina and heads north, it’s still expected to pack a wallop with the greatest danger from flooding due to heavy rainfall and coastal storm surges…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene update: After initial landfall, storm heads north: Hurricane Irene ‘remains a large and dangerous storm’ Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Saturday. She advises residents in its path to ‘hunker down.’… – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
    • Hurricane Irene churns up East Coast; Virginia boy, 11, is killed by fallen tree: The howling Hurricane Irene churned up the East Coast on Saturday afternoon, battering buildings, knocking out power lines and toppling trees. An 11-year-old Virginia boy was killed after a tree fell on his family’s apartment.
      Packing strong gusts and lashing rain, the brunt of the storm was expected to pass through the Washington area overnight and into Sunday morning. It reached land as a Category 1 hurricane, downgraded a notch from the greater force it gathered over the open Atlantic…. – WaPo, 8-27-11

“This is a storm where, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could be fatal.” — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference Saturday afternoon.

  • Hurricane Irene update: Storm claims its first lives: Hurricane Irene has caused a reported four deaths so far. Officials warn that storm surges and flooding could be greater because of the new moon arriving Sunday night…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
  • New York Subways Are Shut Down as Hurricane Irene Nears: New York became a city without one of its trademarks — the nation’s largest subway system — on Saturday as Hurricane Irene charged northward and the city prepared to face powerhouse winds that could drive a wall of water over the beaches in the Rockaways and between the skyscrapers in Lower Manhattan.
    The city worked to complete its evacuation of about 370,000 residents in low-lying areas where officials expected flooding to follow the storm, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said that more than a million people had been evacuated, mainly from four counties in the southern part of the state.
    Officials warned that a big problem could be flooding at high tide, around 8 a.m. Sunday morning — before the storm has moved on and the wind has slacked off in and around the city, assuming the storm more or less follows the path where forecasters expect it to follow…. – NYT, 8-27-11
  • New York shuts down ahead of Hurricane Irene: Times Square emptied out and evacuation shelters filled up as New York City shut down on Saturday ahead of Hurricane Irene, which charged up the East Coast on a direct path toward the world financial capital.
    New Yorkers deserted the streets and took cover from a rare hurricane headed their way — only five have tracked within 75 miles of the city since records have been kept. The full impact of heavy rain, powerful winds and a surging sea was expected through Sunday morning…. – Reuters, 8-27-11
  • Nearly 75 percent without power in central Virginia: Downed trees, dangling power lines, darkened street lights, damaging winds and a deluge defined Hurricane Irene’s brush with the Richmond area…. – Richmond Times Dispatch, 8-27-11
  • Hurricane Irene: Why hurricane hyperbole never goes out of style:
    Where should the media draw the line between reasonable warnings and fear-mongering? A few mistakes and a partially missed prognosis aren’t necessarily proof that the media blew the story.
    On one 24-hour news channel, a correspondent described the calm before hurricane Irene as the calm before a B-movie zombie attack. One anchor proclaimed the storm to be “as big as Europe.” Elsewhere, the hurricane was touted as the storm of a lifetime.
    Storm hype is of course nothing new, neither is saying overwrought things when trying to fill up hours of airtime.
    But as the hurricane approached, the fever pitch of the Irene coverage took on a life of its own, with government officials leading a chorus of caution even as closer watchers of the weather, especially on the ground in North Carolina, grew increasingly convinced that Irene would not strengthen, but steadily weaken instead into something closer to a massive tropical storm…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-11
  • Twitter and Facebook buzzing about Hurricane Irene: You could track Hurricane Irene’s path up the East Coast on Saturday by following comments on Facebook and Twitter from people in the eye of the storm to those still waiting for its arrival…. – USA Today, 8-27-11
  • Irene expected to hit Canada with heavy rain and winds: The path of hurricane Irene remained unchanged Saturday, meaning the massive storm would likely bring heavy rain and the potential for hurricane force wind gusts when it reached eastern Canada later in the weekend forecasters said.
    The Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax said the Category 1 hurricane was centred off North Carolina early Saturday and was expected to move up the eastern seaboard of the United States and through Long Island and into Maine late Sunday, before entering eastern Canada as a tropical storm.
    Bowyer said as a result the heaviest rains were expected in northwestern New Brunswick and in the eastern townships of Quebec into early Monday, while areas to the east of the storm’s centre would see the heaviest winds…. – Canadian Press, 8-27-11
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/newsgraphics/2011/0827-irene-damage-reports/storm-map.png

History Q&A: How Many Hurricanes Have Hit New England Before Hurricane Irene?

HISTORY Q&A:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY Q&A

HISTORY NEWS: NEW ENGLAND HURRICANES IN HISTORY

 

SUFFOLK COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY COURTESY PHOTO | The Main Street fish markets in Greenport after the 1938 hurricane.

HOW MANY HURRICANES IN HISTORY HAVE HIT THE NORTHEAST?

Hurricanes Bob in 1991, Gloria in 1985, and Donna in 1960 reached the Northeast. The 1938 storm called “The Long Island Express” or “The Great Hurricane of 1938″ killed hundreds of people in New England.

    • Irene conjures memories of ‘great’ storm of 1938: It’s been nearly 73 years since the so-called Great New England Hurricane — one of the most powerful and destructive storms ever to hit southern New England. The storm now bearing down on the Northeast, Irene, has drawn comparisons to the one from way back then which, according to the National Weather Service, killed nearly 600 people and injured 1,700.
      About 8,900 houses across southern New England were destroyed. More than 15,000 others were damaged.
      It brought its wrath first to New York’s Long Island, then to Milford, Conn. It sped northward at 60 miles an hour. Tides were already higher than normal — as they are now with Irene headed this way.
      The Great Hurricane produced tides from New London, Conn., east to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod that were between 18 feet and 25 feet, the weather service says. Communities along the Narragansett Bay were devastated. Storm surges of 12 feet to 15 feet destroyed most of the homes along the coast there. A surge of nearly 20 feet left Providence drowning in water. Years later, the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier would be built to try to shield the capital city from repeat devastation…. – AP, 8-26-11

Photos: The Great Hurricane of 1938 — Fox Tampa Bay

Meteorologists stay course through storm of criticism: WCVB-TV (Ch. 5) chief meteorologist Harvey Leonard recalled the deadly hurricane of 1938 — the worst natural disaster ever to hit New England.
“Six hundred people died. Five-hundred died on the south coast of New England, primarily southern Rhode Island, without knowing what hit them.
You always have to remember, there’s a range of what can happen. We’re not God, but we have great tools to work with. We’re trying our best. You prepare for the worst. You hope for the best.” — Boston Herald, 8-26-11

    • Hurricane Irene: Ghosts (technically, video) of hurricanes past: Looking for something hurricane-ish to watch — but perhaps something that doesn’t suggest actual threat to loved ones? How about some video from the legendary Great Hurricane of 1938, aka the Long Island Express, aka The Yankee Clipper?
      That storm hit Long Island in September 1938 before making its way into Manhattan and then farther up the coast into Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Quebec.
      YouTube’s archives include two interesting compilations of footage from the time. The video above, uploaded by “moviemagg,” simply presents the facts in all their incredible glory — nail-biting images of houses being pushed off their foundations by waves, fishing boats being pounded against the shore, streets submerged by water…. – LAT, 8-26-11
    • New England hurricanes have been memorable: One of those, the infamous 1900 Great Galveston Hurricane, is No. 1 by far on the list of the nation’s deadliest hurricanes. With an unthinkable toll of 8,000 deaths, it will almost certainly hold on to first place for a long time. (Florida’s Lake Okeechobee storm of 1928 is a distant second, responsible for 2,500 deaths).
      As for Northeast hurricanes, the deadliest and most damaging was the so-called “Long Island Express” – the New England Hurricane of 1938 – a Category 3 storm that took more than 600 lives, including one in Nashua.
      The Great Atlantic Hurricane, a similar storm that hit New England in 1944, is lesser known, probably because lessons learned in 1938 led to much more warning and well-executed evacuations. More than 300 lives were lost, but most were at sea; just 46 deaths were recorded on land…. – Nashua Telegraph, 8-27-11
    • It was 1938, and few believed the fishermens’ warnings: Few believed the local fishermen who warned such yellow and red skies meant a major storm was on the way.
      There were no National Weather Service advisories or evacuation plans. It made landfall with little warning and with sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour, strong enough to be classified as a Category III storm today.
      The storm killed more than 600 people, injured more than 700 others and caused $308 million in property damage (an estimated $6 billion today), destroying and damaging thousands of homes.
      It will 73 years ago next month when the epic hurricane that would later come to be known as the New England Hurricane of 1938 — aka the Long Island Express because of its unusual speed — blew through eastern Long Island and New England, leaving death and devastation in its wake.
      Like some are predicting for Hurricane Irene, the massive eye of the storm — 50 miles wide — passed right over Long Island…. – Suffolk Times, 8-26-11

“The ’38 hurricane was the fastest hurricane ever measured.” — Dave Samuel, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania

    • Irene Evokes Great Hurricane of 1938 That Left 500 Dead in U.S. Northeast: The projected path of Hurricane Irene evokes a 1938 storm that left more than 500 dead after crossing Long Island, destroying the village of Montauk and battering Connecticut and Rhode Island.
      The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 was one of the most destructive and powerful ever to strike the region, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It made landfall in Milford, Connecticut, about 75 miles north of New York City, on Sept. 21, producing peak gusts of 186 miles per hour and tides as high as 25 feet on Cape Cod, the federal agency said on its website.
      Hurricane Irene, the strongest Atlantic storm to threaten the U.S. since 2005, is forecast to pass near North Carolina this weekend and slam into New England next week. Hurricane watches are in force for the North Carolina coast as 115 miles- per-hour (185 kilometers per hour) winds rip through the Bahamas, damaging homes, felling trees and triggering flooding, according to the country’s Emergency Management Agency…. – Bloomberg, 8-25-11

“It was something devastating—and unreal—like the beginning of the world—or the end of it—and I slogged or sloshed, crawled through ditches and hung on to keep going somehow—got drenched and bruised and scratched— completely bedraggled—finally got to where there was a working phone and called Dad. The minute he heard my voice he said, ‘how’s your mother?’—And I said—I mean I shouted—the storm was screaming so—’She’s all right. All right, Dad! But listen, the house—it’s gone—blown away into the sea!’ And he said, ‘I don’t suppose you had the brains enough to through a match into it before it went, did you? It’s insured against fire, but not against blowing away!—and how are you?'” — Katharine Hepburn on beach house in Old Saybrook, Connecticut

    • The Great New England Hurricane of 1938: A storm formed in the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on September 4, 1938, and headed west. After 12 days, before it could reach the Bahamas, it turned northward, skimming the East Coast of the United States and picking up energy from the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. On September 21, it crashed into Long Island and continued its way north at a speed of 60 miles per hour, with the eye of the storm passing over New Haven, Connecticut. It didn’t dissipate until it reached Canada.
      The winds were strong enough that modern scientists place the storm in Category 3 of the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The Blue Hill Observatory outside Boston measured sustained winds of 121 miles per hour and gusts as strong as 186 miles per hour. The winds blew down power lines, trees and crops and blew roofs off houses. Some downed power lines set off fires in Connecticut.
      But it was the storm surge that caused the most damage. The storm came ashore at the time of the high tide, which added to the surge of water being pushed ahead by the hurricane. The water rose 14 to 18 feet along much of the Connecticut coast, and 18 to 25 feet from New London, Connecticut to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Seaside homes all along Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island were submerged under 12 to 15 feet of water, and Providence, Rhode Island was inundated with 20 feet. Whole communities were swept out to sea…. – Smithsonian Blog, 8-25-11
    • The Great Hurricane of 1938: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the hurricane began near Africa during the second week of September in 1938, travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and up the east coast, made land fall in Long Island, New York, on Sept. 21. It terminated in southern Canada a day later.
      The hurricane moved at a brisk 60 to 70 mph, allowing it to travel from North Carolina to Long Island within an afternoon. Upon reaching landfall in New York, wind speeds were recorded at 121 mph and the water level rose a reported 10 to 12 feet. The Boston Weather Service Forecast Office reports that the Connecticut River reached a depth of 35.4 feet – 19.4 feet above its flood stage.
      The storm is said to have killed 564 people, according to NOAA. It injured more than 1,700, and caused $308 million in damage to the New England area – about $4.6 billion in 2009 dollars.
      Unconfirmed reports about the hurricane describe 20 foot storm surges, 190 mph gusts of wind, and six inches of rain falling in some parts of Massachusetts.
      Damage to houses and marinas was extensive. In all, about 8,900 homes were destroyed and 2,600 boats were sunk…. – Patch, 8-26-11
    • EARTH MATTERS: Robert Miller Dr. Mel says Irene may be our hurricane: It was 1954. Carol, one of the most destructive hurricanes to hit New England, damaged more than 10,000 buildings.
      It caused $50 million in property losses in Connecticut and $3 million in crop damage; New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties were declared disaster areas.
      After the famed — or infamous — Hurricane of 1938, Carol might have been the single worst hurricane to hit New England. A year later, the one-two punch of Connie and Diane caused the Flood of 1955. The giant, water-laden tropical storms hit the state five days apart and caused the worst natural disaster in Connecticut history…. – Danbury News Times

Photos from the Hurricane of 1938 gallery (24 photos) — MassLive

    • Survivors of Great New England Hurricane of 1938 share memories: Now as people have eyes to Doppler radar or ears to weather radio waiting for the arrival of Irene, they remembered the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 – a storm that Irene has been compared to by some…. – MassLive.com, 8-26-11
    • Hype or Hurricane?: Seventy-three years ago the Great Hurricane of 1938 (GH38) ripped through New England killing 700 people in four hours. The East Coast is now bracing for a storm that may be of equal magnitude. Yet newscasters keep talking about how “unprecedented” Hurricane Irene is… Huffington Post, 8-26-11
    • Cary Mock: Irene may be big, if not fiercest Northeast storm: Hurricane Irene’s sheer size will create a huge impact, even if it falls short of being an epic Northeast coast storm for the history books, a geographer and hurricane historian said on Friday.
      “It’s probably not going to be one of those where it’s the worst of the century,” Cary Mock, an associate geography professor at the University of South Carolina.
      “The storm surge is dependent not just on the winds but on the size.”
      “In New York and New England, just looking at the last 50 or 100 years is actually too small of a snapshot for a worst case scenario for hurricanes,” Mock said.
      “They actually called them gales,” he said, “or sometimes September gales because they noticed they happened in September.”
      In 1821, a major hurricane passed directly over New York City, “probably a strong category 4,” Mock said. Historical records show it caused a 10-foot storm surge at low tide, Mock said. “At that time, not that many people were living in New York, so people didn’t pay a lot of attention to it.”
      But William Redfield, the “father of hurricane science,” observed the 1821 storm, Mock said.
      Just as a debate goes on today over whether global warming causes more frequent or more intense hurricanes, the mid-19th century debate was over “the law of storms,” Mock said…. – Reuters, 8-26-11

Hurricane History

  • 1635 – The Great Colonial Hurricane struck Narragansett Bay on Aug. 25 as a possible Category 4 or 5. Details are sketchy, but the death toll is estimated near 50.
  • 1683 – A unnamed tropical cyclone hit Connecticut and caused tremendous flooding on Aug. 23.
  • 1693 – Another tropical cyclone struck New England in late October, causing flooding so great that new permanent inlets were created.
  • 1769 – A hurricane that earlier caused great damage in Annapolis, Md., blew boats ashore in Boston, Providence, R.I., and Newport, R.I., on Sept. 8. Many houses were blown down and destroyed.
  • 1778 – A late-season hurricane struck Cape Cod on Nov. 1, killing 50-70 people, 23 of them aboard the HMS Somerset III, a British ship that ran aground on the cape.
  • 1782 – A rare “snow hurricane” battered New England on Oct. 18-19. It caused widespread damage, but unknown deaths.
  • 1804 – Another, more severe snow hurricane on Oct. 9 dumped 2-3 feet of snow across the Northeast; causing nine deaths across New England.
  • 1815 – The Great September Gale of 1815 struck New England as a major hurricane on Sept. 23-24. A huge storm surge funneled up Narragansett Bay, destroying some 500 houses and 35 ships and inundating Providence. At least 38 deaths were reported across New England.
  • 1841 – The October Gale of 1841 dumped several feet of snow and sleet, wrecked the Georges Bank fishing fleet, drowned 81 fishermen, knocked down trees and destroyed homes, boats and the Cape Cod saltworks factory.
  • 1904 – A September Category 1 storm brought significant marine destruction and heavy losses across Massachusetts Bay, Cape Cod and the islands.
  • 1924 – A powerful Category 2-3 storm lashed the Massachusetts south coast, Cape Cod and the islands, and then New Hampshire and Maine. It’s considered in many places worse than the 1938 hurricane.
  • 1927 – Torrential rains from a tropical storm caused record flooding across New England. Nearly 100 were killed, mostly in Vermont.
  • 1936 – Heavy wind damage across most of the region was caused by a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 18.
  • 1938 – The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 struck as a strong Category 3 on Sept. 21. Wind gusts reached Category 5 strength in some areas. The anemometer at the Blue Hill Observatory registered a peak wind gust of 186 mph before the instrument broke. Significant damage was caused in the Nashua area, and one death was recorded. It killed more than 600 people overall. It’s considered worst New England storm of the modern era.
  • 1944 – The Great Atlantic Hurricane landed as a Category 3 in southern New England on Sept. 15. There was severe wind damage in many areas, especially southeastern Massachusetts. The death toll was roughly 300; Archibald Dunlap was Nashua’s only fatality.
  • 1950 – A major, intense, offshore hurricane labeled Hurricane Dog battered New England, especially southeastern Massachusetts. It was the largest of all Atlantic hurricanes to date, with sustained winds of 75 mph and gusts to 100 for extended periods. The death toll is unknown.
  • 1954 – Hurricane Carol struck all of New England on Aug. 31 as a Category 3 with Category 4 conditions along the southern coast. It caused widespread, extreme damage. Sixty were killed; no deaths were reported in Nashua.
  • 1954 – Hurricane Edna hit the region two weeks after Carol, and also was a Category 3 upon landfall. Severe losses were recorded in Cape Cod and the islands and along coastal Maine. It wasn’t as damaging as Carol in the Nashua area.
  • 1960 – Hurricane Donna became the fifth major storm to hit New England in 22 years. It struck Sept. 12-13 as a Category 2-3 storm. High gusts were recorded across the region, with the worst damage in southern New England. The Nashua region suffered moderate damage.
  • 1962 – Hurricane Daisy produced hurricane conditions in coastal areas and well into Maine in October; Mount Desert Island was affected significantly.
  • 1963 – Hurricane Ginny followed almost the same path as Daisy.
  • 1979 – Hurricane David, originally a Category 5 in the Bahamas, was a strong tropical storm when it reached New England in September. It spawned several tornadoes; some damage, but no deaths were reported in the Nashua region.
  • 1985 – Hurricane Gloria became the first significant hurricane to hit inland New England since 1960. Widespread wind damage was caused in the entire region, especially the coast. Winds gusted over 100 mph in many areas. No local deaths were reported.
  • 1991 – Hurricane Bob landed as a Category 2 in New England with wind gusts well into Category 3, one of the smallest yet most intense hurricanes to hit New England since 1938. It caused widespread damage and frequent destruction, especially in coastal areas. There was significant flooding, including tidal surges. No severe damage or deaths were reported in the Nashua area.
  • 1991 – Hurricane Grace became the subject of the movie “The Perfect Storm” when she was labeled such by meteorologists after combining in late October with an offshore mid-latitude cyclone.
  • 1996 – Hurricane Edouard brought offshore hurricane-force wind gusts from Buzzards Bay east across the Cape and islands. Considerable losses were incurred on the Massachusetts islands; Oak Bluffs and Martha’s Vineyard were particularly hard-hit.
  • 1999 – Tropical Storm Floyd caused large power outages and flood damage across the region. Flooding, mudslides, and downed trees and power lines closed several major highways and countless local roads for days.
  • 2010 – Hurricane Earl largely fizzled in early September; it passed about 90 miles offshore, bringing only heavy rain, large waves and tropical-storm-force gusts to Cape Cod.
  • 2011 – Hurricane Irene?…  – – Nashua Telegraph, 8-27-11

White House Recap August 20-26, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — Vice President Biden’s Asia Trip — President Obama’s Statements on Libya & Hurricane Irene

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: AUGUST 20-26, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Time to Prepare

Source: WH, 8-26-11

Vice President Joe Biden Signs a Flag for a Group of Sailors at Yokota AFB

Vice President Joe Biden signs a flag for a group of sailors after speaking to troops at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

A quick look at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:

#VPinAsia: The Vice President spent the last week traveling through Asia and meeting with leaders in the region. He delivered a major speech in China, met with the Prime Minister of Mongolia, and paid tribute to the enduring spirit of the Japanese tsunami survivors.

Hurricane Irene: The President has urged Americans to take this storm seriously. With the hurricane poised to reach the east coast this weekend, it is important to take steps ensuring your preparedness. We’ve compiled a list of helpful resources in case you are in the projected path of the hurricane.

Libya:  Following a call with the National Security Council, President Obama spoke about the evolving situation in Libya. President Obama said, “The Qaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people,” making it clear that the courage of the Libyan people has brought freedom within reach.

Regulatory Reform: In January of this year, the President emphasized that our regulatory system “must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements.” With this point in mind, he ordered an unprecedentedly ambitious government-wide review of existing federal regulations. He directed agencies and departments to produce plans to eliminate red tape and to streamline current requirements. The agencies have released their final regulatory reform plans, including hundreds of initiatives that will reduce costs, simplify the system, and eliminate redundancy and inconsistency.

MLK Memorial: Though Hurricane Irene has postponed the official opening ceremony, Maya Angelou has released her poem, written to commemorate the true historic nature of this memorial.

Presidential Galleries: Visitors to the White House love to look at the archival photos that are featured in the halls of the East Wing. There’s a gallery of the Presidential pets, family life in the White House, Presidential vacations, and some of the Presidency’s most historic moments.

 

President Barack Obama holds a conference call on Hurricane Irene
President Barack Obama holds a conference call on Hurricane Irene, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/26/11

 

Full Text August 26, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement to the Nation on Hurricane Irene — Urges Americans to Take Historic Hurricane Seriously & to Evacuate if Instructed

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Obama urges Americans to take Hurricane Irene “seriously”: Speaking from his vacation rental on Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama said, “all indications point to this being a historic hurricane.” “If you are instructed to evacuate, please do so,” he said.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama on Hurricane Irene: Take this Storm Seriously

President Barack Obama makes statement on Hurricane Irene

Source: WH, 8-26-11

President Barack Obama makes statement on Hurricane Irene outside the Fisher House at Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, Mass., Aug. 26, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This morning, President Obama was briefed once again by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, and senior White House officials about preparations being made for Hurricane Irene. Following the briefing, the President urged Americans in the projected path of the hurricane to take precautions now:

Don’t delay.  We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.  All of us have 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.  Just to underscore this point:  We ordered an aircraft carrier group out to sea to avoid this storm yesterday. So if you’re in the way of this hurricane, you should be preparing now.

Visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov for resources on how you can prepare your families, home, and businesses for a hurricane. You can get the latest updates on the progression of Hurricane Irene at Hurricanes.gov.

The President also provided an overview of ongoing federal preparations:

Now, since last weekend, FEMA has been deploying its Incident Management Assistance Teams to staging areas in communities up and down the coast.  FEMA has millions of liters of water, millions of meals, and tens of thousands of cots and blankets, along with other supplies, pre-positioned along the Eastern Seaboard.  And the American Red Cross has already begun preparing shelters in North Carolina and other states.

These resources are all being coordinated with our state and local partners, and they stand ready to be deployed as necessary. But, again, if you are instructed to evacuate, please do so.  It’s going to take time for first responders to begin rescue operations and to get the resources we’ve pre-positioned to people in need.  So the more you can do to be prepared now — 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.

To sum up, all indications point to this being a historic hurricane.  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.  So now is the time for residents of these communities — in the hours that remain — to do the same.  And FEMA and Craig Fugate, the director of FEMA, will be keeping people closely posted in the next 24, 48 hours.

Statement by the President on Preparations for Hurricane Irene

Fisher House at Blue Heron Farm, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

11:28 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  I want to say a few words about Hurricane Irene, urge Americans to take it seriously, and provide an overview of our ongoing federal preparations for what’s likely to be an extremely dangerous and costly storm.

I’ve just convened a conference call with senior members of my emergency response team 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.  And we will continue to stay in close contact with them.

I cannot stress this highly enough:  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.  All of us have 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.  Just to underscore this point:  We ordered an aircraft carrier group out to sea to avoid this storm yesterday. So if you’re in the way of this hurricane, you should be preparing now.

If you aren’t sure how to prepare your families or your home or your business for a hurricane or any other emergency, then you can visit Ready.gov — that’s Ready.gov — or Listo.gov.  That’s Listo.gov.

Now, since last weekend, FEMA has been deploying its Incident Management Assistance Teams to staging areas in communities up and down the coast.  FEMA has millions of liters of water, millions of meals, and tens of thousands of cots and blankets, along with other supplies, pre-positioned along the Eastern Seaboard.  And the American Red Cross has already begun preparing shelters in North Carolina and other states.

These resources are all being coordinated with our state and local partners, and they stand ready to be deployed as necessary. But, again, if you are instructed to evacuate, please do so.  It’s going to take time for first responders to begin rescue operations and to get the resources we’ve pre-positioned to people in need.  So the more you can do to be prepared now — 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.

To sum up, all indications point to this being a historic hurricane.  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.  So now is the time for residents of these communities — in the hours that remain — to do the same.  And FEMA and Craig Fugate, the director of FEMA, will be keeping people closely posted in the next 24, 48 hours.

Thank you very much.

END 11:31 A.M. EDT

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