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:

https://i0.wp.com/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
https://i1.wp.com/graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/newsgraphics/2011/0827-irene-damage-reports/storm-map.png
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: