Last updated: 09:54 PM ET, Thu October 06 2016

White House Pleads To Tourists, Residents To Evacuate From Hurricane Matthew

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | October 06, 2016

White House Pleads To Tourists, Residents To Evacuate From Hurricane Matthew

PHOTO: President Obama briefs the press regarding Hurricane Matthew. (Courtesy The White House)

Portraying a more proactive stance than reactive, the Obama administration on Thursday appealed to tourists and residents of the southeast United States with a simple message:

Get out.

“I want to emphasize to the public, this is a serious storm,” the President said. “We anticipate that by (Friday morning) it will already begin to have a significant effect in Florida, and then to strengthen and move on up the coast through the course of the day. … If there is an evacuation order in your community, you need to take it seriously.”

Obama spoke by phone separately with Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina, and Governor Rick Scott of Florida about preparations ahead of the hurricane. The President committed to providing necessary federal resources to help the states respond.

To that end, he declared that a state of emergency exists in Florida and South Carolina, and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts.

READ MORE: Airbnb Offering Free Accommodations to Evacuees

Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a native of Florida and still has family there, and made his own urgent appeal with a letter on the FEMA website.

“Hurricane Matthew is a dangerous storm. We have not seen a hurricane this strong in almost a decade,” he wrote. “It has already devastated Haiti, and has been building strength on its way to the U.S. As it makes landfall in Florida tonight and tracks up the eastern coastline over the coming days, Americans living in its path can expect to see life-threatening hurricane conditions, storm surges, tropical force winds, heavy rains, and all the devastation that that may bring.”

You can download the FEMA mobile app for shelter information, disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips, in English and in Spanish.

“As a native Floridian, I am intimately aware of the devastation hurricanes can wreak,” Fugate wrote. “As the head of FEMA, it is my job to make sure that we do everything we can to prepare our communities for the oncoming storm and ensure that our emergency response efforts are ready to go as soon as we're needed.”

FEMA has deployed teams to emergency operation centers in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia to support preparation activities. FEMA is staffing bases in Albany, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina to collect and provide commodities and resources close to affected areas, including more than 414,000 liters of water, more than 513,700 meals, more than 8,000 blankets, and more than 20,600 cots in these locations.

“Here at FEMA, we are hoping for the best but are preparing for the worst,” Fugate wrote.


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