Obama urges those in Irene's path to prepare

CHILMARK, Mass. - (AP) - President Barack Obama urged the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Irene to heed instructions from state and local officials, especially if directed to evacuate. "Don't wait, don't delay," he said Friday.Speaking from his vacation rental on Martha's Vineyard, Mass.,also in Irene's path, the president said the federal government is"bringing all federal resources to bear" in response to whatlooks to be a historic storm.

"I cannot stress this highly enough, if you are in theprojected path of this hurricane you have to take precautionsnow," the president said.Obama said he had been briefed on Irene's status Friday morningby top federal officials. He said he also called governors ofstates and mayors of communities in the expected hurricane path.Warnings were in effect from North Carolina to New Jersey.As he spoke, rains from Irene's outer bands began hitting theCarolinas, along with 6- to 9-foot waves. On Martha's Vineyard,though, Obama stood in the shade of a poplar tree outside agray-shingled cottage. Otherwise it was bright sunshine, not acloud in the sky.Obama isn't expected to change his schedule as a result of thestorm. He already planned to leave the island retreat to return tothe White House on Saturday, the day the storm is expected to passthrough the Washington region.Obama said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has beendeploying teams up and down the East Coast along Irene's projectedpath. He said the agency has millions of liters of water, millionsof meals and tens of thousands of cots and blankets positionedalong the Eastern Seaboard.The American Red Cross has been preparing shelters in NorthCarolina and other states, he said.He cautioned that it would take time for first responders tobegin rescue operations and get resources to people in need."So the more you can do to be prepared now, making a plan, makea supply kit , know your evacuation route, follow instructions ofyour local officials, the quicker we can focus our resources afterthe storm on those who need help the most," he said. "All indications point to this being a historic hurricane."

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