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

History Headlines August 25, 2011: Hurricane Irene Postpones Sunday’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History 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.

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

IN FOCUS: HURRICANE IRENE POSTPONES MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S MEMORIAL DEDICATION

King memorial dedication postponed: The 30-foot granite statue has been cleaned. Dignitaries from around the world are in town. And the stage and 30,000 folding chairs are in place.
But it has all been in vain, as the foundation building the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial announced Thursday that the dedication Sunday has been postponed. Officials seemed to have little choice with Hurricane Irene bearing down on the region….. – WaPo, 8-25-11

“I’m really disappointed and hurt, really. But the memorial is going to be there forever…. “It is still a success because we have a memorial. We have worked so many years for this memorial, and that is a success within itself. To say that Dr. King is now on the Mall between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorial[s], you can’t ask for anything better than that. We just didn’t have a dedication; hopefully everyone will understand.” — Harry E. Johnson Sr., chief executive of the MLK, Jr. memorial foundation

“Destination DC shares the disappointment expressed today by the Washington DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation to delay the official dedication of this new national treasure in the nation’s capital, but applauds the decision made in the interest of public safety for the thousands of visitors who had planned to travel to DC this weekend. The dedication that will be rescheduled in the next couple of months will be a further opportunity to properly honor Dr. King’s legacy and welcome the new memorial to the National Mall. The silver lining in the storm is that this memorial has a home here and will be a permanent place of reflection for visitors from around the world. After this weekend’s storms pass, we hope that people from near and far will make their way to DC to experience this powerful memorial.” — Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC

  • Dedication of King Memorial postponed by Hurricane Irene: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial dedication has been postponed due to Hurricane Irene’s impending assault on the East Coast, NBC News has learned.
    The dedication ceremony’s organizers — the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation — announced its decision on Thursday night, citing the interest of public safety.
    If weather permits, the memorial will be open on Friday and Saturday, though the official dedication will be moved to September or October.
    As many as 300,000 people had been expected to flock to the National Mall on Sunday to watch the dedication of a memorial in the civil rights leader’s honor….. – MSNBC, 8-24-11
  • Irene scuttles Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication: The head of the foundation that organized Sunday’s planned dedication ceremony on Washington’s National Mall for a memorial to the late Martin Luther King Jr. announced Thursday night that the official dedication has been postponed.
    As Hurricane Irene continued to barrel toward the Washington area, Harry Johnson, CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, said safety prompted the decision. He said he consulted with the National Park Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency…. – USA Today, 8-25-11
  • BET to dedicate Sunday’s programming to MLK: BET still plans to dedicate Sunday’s programming to Martin Luther King, Jr., even though his memorial won’t be unveiled that day due to Hurricane Irene…. – WSJ, 8-25-11
  • MLK memorial postponement costs D.C. tourist dollars: Sunday’s star-studded dedication of the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. was canceled late Thursday due to the anticipated presence of rain and winds from Hurricane Irene.
    The event, due to be attended by President Obama, Jesse Jackson and hundreds of other dignitaries, has been postponed till fall.
    Meanwhile, the District of Columbia stands to lose millions in revenue from visitors due to pack its hotels and restaurants…. – USA Today, 8-25-11
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