August 25th, 2011
12:45 PM ET
(CNN) Martha's Vineyard, MA–President Obama held a conference call Thursday morning with FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and White House chief of staff Bill Daley about the current track of Hurricane Irene, its potential impact and the government's preparations according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said his agency is deploying teams from the Carolinas to Maine along the east coast of the United States.
"[O]ur briefing to the president was to update him on that status. And his direction back to us was to make sure we had what we need, keep him up to speed and he wants to make sure you know that we are stay in close contact with the governors and the metropolitan areas that are along the path of this storm," said Fugate.
The White House spokesman said they have no plans "at this point" for changes in the president's schedule for his vacation on Martha's Vineyard due to Hurricane Irene. "The President of the United States is responsible for fulfilling his responsibilities as the President of the United States regardless of where he is and regardless of where he goes," said spokesman Josh Earnest. "I think as the briefing call that he did with Administrator Fugate and Secretary Napolitano and others this morning demonstrates...the president is fulfilling those responsibilities and is committed to ensuring that everything that needs to be done from the federal government to prepare for this is being done," said Earnest.
FEMA administrator Fugate said the federal government's focus is providing support to state and local officials who are preparing for the storm and moving supplies into place to prepare for the first 72 hours after the storms hits. Fugate said large generators capable of restoring emergency power to hospitals and water treatment facilities as well as supplies of bottled water, infant supplies and tarps are being moved into place along the east cost from the Carolinas to Maine. Fugate said FEMA has designated three hubs for staging key supplies. These are military bases in Ft. Bragg, NC, Westover, MA and Ft. McGuire, NJ. Fugate stressed that in the wake of hurricane Katrina, the federal government wants to prepare for the target areas immediate needs and aftermath. "You don't wait till you get hit to find out what you need," he said on a conference call Thursday with reporters.
The FEMA administrator was also asked about the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial set for Sunday in Washington, DC which is also in the path of the hurricane. Fugate said his agency has been talking with the National Park Service but no decisions have been made until the storm gets closer and the forecast for the impact on Washington is more accurate. President Obama is scheduled to speak at the memorial dedication. White House spokesman Earnest said there are no changes to announce yet in the president's Sunday schedule for Sunday either and that the president would likely speak about how Dr. King's legacy inspired his decision to enter public life.
The FEMA director also expressed his concern for reporters on Thursday's conference call noting that Washington, DC was indeed in the path of the hurricane. Fugate asked if reporters covering the president on Martha's Vineyard were planning to cut their trip short to return to DC to prepare for the storm. He was reporters would remain on Martha's Vineyard as long as the president stays.