Full Text Obama Presidency October 7, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at FEMA Headquarters about the Government Shutdown

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at FEMA Headquarters

Source: WH, 10-7-13

President Obama Delivers Remarks at FEMA Headquarters

President Obama Delivers Remarks at FEMA Headquarters

FEMA Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

12:30 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m here at FEMA for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I want to thank Craig Fugate and his entire team, and the incredible workers who are here at FEMA.  They are having to, under less than optimal situations, still respond to Mother Nature, which doesn’t stop just because the government has shut down.

I wanted to get initially a briefing on what had happened with Hurricane Karen, became Tropical Karen, and then fortunately dissipated, so we dodged a bullet there.  In the meantime, we’re on tornado watch here in the Mid-Atlantic states because of severe weather patterns.  And we’ve got blizzards up north, we’ve got some weather patterns in the middle of the country that we’re still monitoring.  And so I just want to say thank you to all of you for the incredible work that you’re doing.

I think it’s important to understand that the people here at FEMA have been doing everything they can to respond to potential events.  Here at FEMA, they’re in touch with their state and local partners in case resources are needed.  FEMA remains prepared for natural disasters year around, with supplies pre-positioned in distribution centers across the country.

But their job has been made more difficult.  Thanks to the folks at FEMA, we were prepared for what might have happened down in Florida.  Nevertheless, the government is still shut down, services are still interrupted, and hundreds of thousands of hardworking public servants, including many FEMA professionals, are still furloughed without pay, or they’re not allowed to work at all.

So Craig was just explaining to me here at FEMA — about 86 percent of the FEMA workforce is furloughed.  In response to the potential event that might have happened down in Florida and along the coasts, Craig called back 200 of those workers.  Keep in mind, calling them back doesn’t mean they were getting paid, it just means they had the privilege of working without pay to make sure that they were doing everything they can to respond to the potential needs of their fellow citizens.

Now that this particular storm has dissipated, Craig is going to have to re-furlough at least 100 of those folks who were called back.  So think about that.  Here you are, somebody who’s a FEMA professional dedicated to doing your job; at a moment’s notice you’re willing to show up here in case people got in trouble and respond to them, even though you’re not getting paid, even though you don’t have certainty.  And now you’re being put back on furlough because the government is shut down.  That’s no way of doing business.

That, by the way, just speaks to the day-to-day emergencies that may come up and that is FEMA’s job to respond to.  Craig was also explaining the fact that when it comes to training first responders, for example, we have on a weekly basis already scheduled training for first responders that now have to be rescheduled.  It will probably end up ultimately costing the government more money for us to put those things back together again.  And so not only is this shutdown hurting FEMA workers, not only is it making it more difficult for us to respond to potential natural disasters, but it may actually end up costing taxpayers more than it should.

Right now, Congress should do what’s in the best interest of the economy and the American people, and that’s move beyond this manufactured crisis and work together to focus on growth, jobs, and providing the vital services that Americans all across the country depend on, including the services that FEMA provides.

I heard a lot of talk over the weekend that the real problem is, is that the President will not negotiate.  Well, let me tell you something — I have said from the start of the year that I’m happy to talk to Republicans about anything related to the budget.  There’s not a subject that I am not willing to engage in, work on, negotiate, and come up with common-sense compromises on.

What I’ve said is that I cannot do that under the threat that if Republicans don’t get 100 percent of their way, they’re going to either shut down the government or they are going to default on America’s debt so that America for the first time in history does not pay its bills.  That is not something I will do.  We’re not going to establish that pattern.

We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of further harm to our economy and middle-class families.  We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of a prolonged shutdown until Republicans get 100 percent of what they want.  We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of economic catastrophe that economists and CEOs increasingly warn would result if Congress chose to default on America’s obligations.

Now, the other thing I heard over the weekend was this notion that Congress doesn’t have the capacity to end this shutdown.  The truth of the matter is there are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives right now to end this shutdown immediately, with no partisan strings attached.  The House should hold that vote today.  If Republicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there are not enough votes, then they should prove it.  Let the bill go to the floor and let’s see what happens.  Just vote.  Let every member of Congress vote their conscience and they can determine whether or not they want to shut the government down.

My suspicion is — my very strong suspicion is that there are enough votes there.  And the reason that Speaker Boehner hasn’t called a vote on it is because he doesn’t, apparently, want to see the government shutdown end at the moment unless he’s able to extract concessions that don’t have anything to do with the budget.  Well, I think the American people simply want government to work.  And there’s no reason that there has to be a shutdown in order for the kinds of negotiations Speaker Boehner says he wants to proceed.  Hold a vote.  Call a vote right now, and let’s see what happens.

The second thing Congress needs to do is to raise the debt ceiling next week so the Treasury can pay the bills that Congress has already spent.  That’s what most Americans do if they buy something — if they buy a car or if they buy a house, if they put something on a credit card, they understand they’ve got to pay the bills.

This is something routine.  It’s been done more than 40 times since Ronald Reagan was President.  It has never before been used in the kind of ways that the Republicans are talking about using it right now.  We can’t threat an economic catastrophe in the midst of budget negotiations.

So authorize the Treasury to pay America’s bill.  Pass a budget, end the government shutdown, pay our bills, and prevent an economic shutdown.

And as soon as that happens, I am eager and ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans on a whole range of issues:  How do we create more jobs?  How do we grow the economy?  How do we boost manufacturing?  How do we make sure our kids are getting a first-class education?  All those things will be on the table.  I’m happy to talk about health care; happy to talk about energy policy; how do we deal with our long-term fiscal situation.

All those things I’ve been eager and anxious to talk to Republicans about for the last seven months, and I’ve put out a budget that specifically lays out my vision for how we’re going to grow this economy.  And I expect the Republicans should do the same, and we can negotiate it.  But we shouldn’t hurt a whole bunch of people in order for one side to think that they’re going to have a little more leverage in those negotiations.

Last point I’m going to make:  The bill that is being presented to end the government shutdown reflects Republican priorities.  It’s the Republican budget.  The funding levels of this short-term funding bill, called the CR, is far lower than what Democrats think it should be.  Nevertheless, Democrats are prepared to put the majority of votes on to reopen the government.  So when you hear this notion that Democrats aren’t compromising — we’re compromising so much we’re willing to reopen the government at funding levels that reflect Republican wishes, don’t at all reflect our wishes.

For example, here at FEMA, they’re still subject to the sequester, so even before the shutdown they were having trouble making sure that everybody was staying on the job and fulfilling all of their various functions.  We need to get that sequester lifted that’s been hanging over the head of the economy and federal agencies during the course of this entire year.

This short-term legislation to reopen the government doesn’t even address that.  That has to be done in a broader budget framework.

So Democrats have said we are willing to pass a bill that reflects the Republicans’ priorities in terms of funding levels.  That’s a pretty significant compromise.  What we’re not willing to do is to create a permanent pattern in which unless you get your way the government is shut down or America defaults.  That’s not how we do business in this country, and we’re not going to start now.

So, again, I want to thank everybody at FEMA here for the extraordinary work that you’re doing.  You show each and every day that you take your responsibilities seriously.  You do your jobs with consummate professionalism.  And hopefully you’re setting a good example for members of Congress.  They need to be doing the same thing.  And if they do, then there’s no reason why we all can’t move forward and make sure that we’re taking care of America’s business.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
12:41 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidemcy, November 3, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at FEMA Headquarters Hurricane Sandy Storm Relief Update

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Gets Update on Storm Relief at FEMA

Source: WH, 11-4-12

President Obama at FEMA Briefing Nov 3, 2012

President Barack Obama receives a briefing about the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy, at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2012. Seated, from left, are: FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. November 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Following a briefing with FEMA leaders and Cabinet officers on Saturday in Washington DC, President Obama stressed the importance of making sure all those who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy know that help is available for them, and asked all Americans to spread the word that anyone looking for assistance — from housing to childcare, medicine and a whole range of support — should call 800-621-FEMA.

The President reiterated that making sure making sure those who suffered loss get the resources they need to rebuild and recover is his number one priority, and outlined the steps being taken to restore normalcy in the region.

Remarks by the President at FEMA Headquarters

Source: WH, 11-3-12

Washington, DC

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, listen, I just completed not only a meeting with our team here at FEMA and all of our Cabinet officers who are involved in the recovery process along the East Coast, but we also had a conference call with the governors of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, as well as many of the municipalities who have been directly affected by this crisis and this tragedy.

We still have a long way to go to make sure that the people of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and some of the surrounding areas get their basic needs taken care of and that we start moving back to normalcy.

A couple of things that we’ve emphasized:  Number one, that it is critical for us to get power back on as quickly as possible.  And just to give people an example of the kind of work we’re doing — the military, DOD, thanks to the work of Leon and others, have been able to get military transport facilities to move cherry-pickers and personnel from as far away as California to get that equipment into the area so we can start getting some of the power back on as quickly as possible.  It is a painstaking process, but we’re making progress.

Number two, we’re getting assets in to pump as much water out as possible.  Lower Manhattan obviously is a particularly acute example, but there are problems with flooding that are affecting substations throughout the region.  That’s going to continue to be a top priority.

Number three, making sure that people’s basic needs are taken care of.  As we start seeing the weather get a little bit colder, people can’t be without power for long periods of time, without heat for long periods of time.  And so what we’re doing is starting to shift to identify where we can have temporary housing outside of shelters so people can get some sense of normalcy.  They can have a hot meal; they can have the capacity to take care of their families as their homes are being dealt with.

Number four, debris removal still important.  Number five, making sure that the National Guard and other federal assets are in place to help with getting the transportation systems back up and running — that’s going to be critical.

What I told the governors and the mayors is what I’ve been saying to my team since the start of this event, and that is we don’t have any patience for bureaucracy, we don’t have any patience for red tape, and we want to make sure that we are figuring out a way to get to yes, as opposed to no, when it comes to these problems.

The other thing I emphasized, though, is that it is much easier for us to respond if we know what these problems are out in these areas, so if everybody can help publicize the number 800-621-FEMA — 800-621-FEMA — then individuals can register with FEMA and immediately get the assistance that they need.

And so the more that folks in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut understand that there are a lot of resources available for them, not just with respect to housing, but also with respect to childcare, medicine, a whole range of support, then we want to make sure that they contact us as soon as possible if they’re in distress because help is available.

Let me just close by saying this:  Obviously we’ve now seen that after the initial search and rescue, the recovery process is difficult and it’s painful.  But the governors at the local level — Governors Christie, Cuomo, and Malloy — they are working around the clock, their teams are working around the clock.  We are incredibly grateful to the heroism and hard work of our first responders, many of whom themselves have had their homes flooded out.  Our hearts continue to go out to those families who have been affected and who have actually lost loved ones — that’s obviously heartbreaking.

But I’m confident that we can continue to make progress as long as state, local and federal officials stay focused.  And I can assure you everybody on this team, everybody sitting around the table has made this a number-one priority and this continues to be my number-one priority.

There’s nothing more important than us getting this right.  And we’re going to spend as much time, effort and energy as necessary to make sure that all the people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut know that the entire country is behind them in this difficult recovery effort.  We are going to put not just 100 percent, but 120 percent behind making sure that they get the resources they need to rebuild and recover.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Campaign Headlines November 1, 2012: Mitt Romney Says He Supports FEMA

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Says He Supports FEMA

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-1-12

Win McNamee/Getty Images

With so much attention this week on Hurricane Sandy and the response to its ravaging, year-old comments by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggesting that disaster relief should fall more to the states and the private sector have received new scrutiny….

Romney, who suspended his campaign rallies in favor of donation drives for Sandy on Tuesday, stated his position on FEMA in a statement to ABC News Thursday.

“I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” he said. “As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency October 30, 2012: Readout of the President Barack Obama’s Briefing on Hurricane Sandy

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Readout of the President’s Briefing on Hurricane Sandy

Source: WH, 10-30-12

This morning, the President convened a video-teleconference in the White House Situation Room with his team to receive the latest update on Hurricane Sandy, and federal efforts underway to support response activities in several states. Overnight, at the requests of the Governors, the President approved major disaster declarations for the states of New Jersey and New York, making additional federal support for state and local efforts available, as well as direct federal assistance to affected individuals in declared counties. On the video-teleconference the President was joined by Vice President Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Fugate, Secretary of Energy Chu, Transportation Secretary Lahood, Defense Secretary Panetta, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Winnefeld, USNORTHCOM Commander General Jacoby, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius, and National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Knabb. Treasury Secretary Geithner joined the briefing by phone. The President was joined in the Situation Room by Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Richard Reed, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew, National Security Advisor to the Vice President Tony Blinken, and other senior members of the President’s team.

During the briefing the President expressed his concern for those impacted by the storm, as well as the heroic first responders who are selflessly putting themselves in harm’s way to protect members of their communities. He also noted his sadness over the loss of life associated with the storm so far.  The President was updated on Sandy’s track and impacts, and heard from Administrator Fugate on the federal coordination and resources being brought to bear to support state and local responders, including the extensive deployment of resources, such as generators that were pre-staged ahead of the storm, as well as National Guard units which have been activated in a number of states. Through FEMA, the federal government is leveraging assets from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services. The President also received an update from Secretary Geithner on conditions in financial markets and the operations of the financial system.

The President told his team that their top priority is to make sure all available resources are being provided to state and local responders as quickly as possible and directed them to identify and resolve any potential bottlenecks or shortfalls should they arise. The President made clear that beyond the immediate lifesaving and life sustaining activities, which remain the primary focus, he wanted his team to continue to focus on what they can do to support state, local, and private sector efforts to restore power and asked the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to continue to work in support of FEMA towards this goal.  The President made clear that he expects his team to remain focused as the immediate impacts of Hurricane Sandy continue and lean forward in their response. The President urges Americans to continue to follow the direction and advice of local officials, Governors, and Mayors, many of whom the President will speak with later today.

Political Headlines October 29, 2012: President Barack Obama Vows to Respond ‘Big’ and ‘Fast’ to Hurricane Sandy

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Vows to Respond ‘Big’ and ‘Fast’ to Hurricane Sandy

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-29-12

Edward Linsmier/Getty Images

As East Coast residents brace for Hurricane Sandy, President Obama visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters Sunday afternoon to receive a briefing on the latest preparations for the storm, expected to make landfall late Monday evening.

“This is a serious and big storm,” the president said in a brief statement to reporters.  “You need to take this very seriously and follow the instructions of your state and local officials, because they are going to be providing you with the best advice in terms of how to deal with this storm over the coming days.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency October 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Remarks on Hurricane Sandy at FEMA Headquarters Washington D.C.

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Hurricane Sandy

President Obama receives an update on the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy President Barack Obama receives an update on the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy at the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, right, and Richard Serino, FEMA Deputy Administrator, are seated next to the President. October 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Federal emergency teams are coordinating with state and local officials to prepare communities for the storm and respond to its impact.

Remarks By The President on Hurricane Sandy

Source: WH, 10-28-12

FEMA Headquarters

Washington, D.C.

1:55 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  Obviously, all of us across the country are concerned about the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy.  This is a serious and big storm.  And my first message is to all the people across the Eastern seaboard, Mid-Atlantic, going north, that you need to take this very seriously and follow the instructions of your state and local officials, because they are going to be providing you with the best advice in terms of how to deal with this storm over the coming days.

We just had an excellent meeting with the FEMA team here, the various agencies that are in charge, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and others that are going to need to respond very quickly.

Under Craig Fugate’s leadership here at FEMA we’ve had a chance to talk to the regional officials as well.  And I just had a phone call with the governors of the potentially impacted states, as well as some of the major cities in the region.

At this stage, everybody is confident that the staging process, the prepositioning of resources, commodities, equipment that are going to be needed to respond to this storm are in place.  But as Craig has emphasized, this hasn’t hit landfall yet, so we don’t yet know where it’s going to hit, where we’re going to see the biggest impacts.  And that’s exactly why it’s so important for us to respond big and respond fast as local information starts coming in.

I want to thank all the members of the team for the outstanding work that they’re doing.  But the other thing that makes this storm unique is we anticipate that it is going to be slow moving.  That means that it may take a long time not only to clear, but also to get, for example, the power companies back in to clear trees and to put things back in place so that folks can start moving back home.

So my main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously.  The federal government is working effectively with the state and local governments.  It’s going to be very important that populations in all the impacted states take this seriously, listen to your state and local elected officials.

My message to the governors, as well as to the mayors, is anything they need, we will be there.  And we’re going to cut through red tape.  We’re not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules.  We want to make sure that we are anticipating and leaning forward into making sure that we’ve got the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system.

So again, thank you, everybody.  Craig, would you like add to something?

MR. FUGATE:  Again, as the President says, it’s going to really come down to the public heeding those evacuation orders, taking protective measures.  If they haven’t gotten ready, they can go to Ready.gov.  Get information on how to protect them and their families, but also check on your neighbors.  This is going to be a big storm.  We need to be there for each other.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Let me emphasize that again — Ready.gov — for the general public.  If you need to know how to respond, that’s where you can get centralized information.

But I think Craig’s point is exactly right.  In times like this, one of the things that Americans do is we pull together and we help out one another.  And so, there may be elderly populations in your area.  Check on your neighbor, check on your friend.  Make sure that they are prepared.  If we do, then we’re going to get through this storm just fine.  But we’re going to have to make sure that we are vigilant, and vigilant for a couple of days.  Don’t anticipate that just because the immediate storm has passed that we’re not going to have some potential problems in a lot of these communities going forward through the week.

All right.  Thank you very much, everybody.

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

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
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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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