VIDEO: President Obama Makes Statement on Hurricane Sandy - "The Public Needs to Prepare for the Fact This Will Take a Long Time to Clean Up"
On Monday afternoon, President Obama spoke at the White House following a briefing with FEMA and other agencies about preparations across the country as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast.
The president called it a "big and powerful storm," saying he'd spoken with governors in each of the states expecting impact. He urged people to follow the advice of local government, especially when it
comes to evacuation orders.
"The most important message I have for the public right now is please listen to what your local officials are saying; when they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don't pause; don't question ... [it] could have fatal consequences," he said, later adding, "If you're not evacuating when you've been asked to, you're putting first responders in danger."
The president also asked the public for patience when it comes to cleanup efforts that will take place after the storm hits, saying that as emergency crews won't be able to get in to affected areas to start restoring power until winds have died down, it could take several days for that process to begin."
As for mass transit, it could take "a considerable amount of time for airlines, subways, trains and so forth to get back on schedule, depending on the amount of damage that occurs."
President Obama also expressed gratitude to state and city leaders, saying, "I'm extraordinarily grateful for the cooperation of our state and local officials ... [there are] no unmet needs."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all people potentially affected," he said, remarking that in times like these, "we all pull together; we look out for our friends; we look out for our neighbors; we set aside whatever issues we have otherwise."
"I'm confident that we're ready, but the public needs to prepare for the fact this will take a long time to clean up. But the good news is, we will clean up, and we'll get through this."
In one question taken from a reporter following the statement, President Obama remarked on whether or not he was worried about the impact of the storm on the upcoming presidential election.
"I'm not worried about the impact it's going to have on the election [...] the election will take care of itself next week," he said. "The priority right now is to make sure we're saving lives ... and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track."