President Barack Obama made a statement about Hurricane Sandy at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Headquarters today, with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy FEMA Administrator Richard Serino. Hurricane Sandy has already claimed over 50 lives in the Caribbean and is predicted to bring heavy winds and floodwaters as the Mid-Atlantic region prepares for the damage.
President Obama promises swift action by the federal government and specifically by FEMA. Obama called it a “a serious and big storm.” Obama promised to “to respond big and respond fast.”
President Obama has been in touch with the governors of the potentially impacted states, as well as the mayors of some of the mayors of the major cities in the region. He has also been in touch with regional officials of FEMA as well.
President Obama emphasized that “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.”
Obama also promised that federal action will be swift and said that his message to governors and mayors in the impacted areas is that “we’re going to cut through red tape. We’re not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules.”
In line with President Obama’s promise to act “big and fast,” President Obama today declared that an emergency exists in the District of Columbia and ordered federal aid to supplement the District of Columbia’s response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Sandy beginning on October 28, 2012, and continuing.
In addition to the declaration of emergency in the District of Columbia, President Obama has thus far declared that an emergency exists in the State of New York, the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The President’s action in these four instances authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the declared areas of emergency.
Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.
Much of this “big and fast” response is to not have another Hurricane Katrina tragedy where the federal government and FEMA were caught flat-footed in their response.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate wants the public to know that, “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.”
President Obama gave some practical advice too in that “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.”
More declarations of emergency in other states are expected, as the Hurricane Sandy gets closer the the Mid-Atlantic states.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books