Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene 'extremely dangerous', warns Barack Obama

Barack Obama
Barack Obama speaks about hurricane Irene while holidaying in Chilmark, Martha's Vineyard. Obama said Irene has all the makings of a historic storm. Photograph: Getty Images
Barack Obama has 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.
"All indications point to this being a historic hurricane," Obama said in a statement to reporters from Martha's Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Fifty-five million people are potentially in Irene's path, from the Carolinas to Cape Cod on the US east coast, and tens of thousands are evacuating as cities including New York brace for the powerful storm to hit.
"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," Obama said.
The White House said Obama would depart from his vacation in Martha's Vineyard on Friday evening, one day earlier than planned, and return to Washington.
Obama's wife and daughters will travel back as planned on Saturday. Obama has held regular conference calls with aides on the storm, in a determined effort to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor George W Bush, who was heavily criticised for an ineffectual response after hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans in 2005.
"All of us have to take this storm seriously … If you are given an evacuation order, please follow it," Obama said.
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