WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama delivered a sober warning to millions in the path of Hurricane Sandy on Monday, declaring that even though food, water and generators have been moved into position, "this is going to be a difficult storm" with long-term power and transportation outages possible.
In a direct appeal to those who live in harm's way, the president said, "Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don't delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given because this is a powerful storm."
The president made his remarks in the White House briefing room eight days before the Nov. 6 election, and a few hours after he canceled a campaign appearance in Florida to return to Washington. He turned aside a question about the storm's impact on the campaign, saying safety was his top priority.
The huge storm posed a threat to an estimated 50 million people and some of the nation's most densely populated areas. Even before a nighttime projected landfall along the mid-Atlantic Coast, dire warnings of winds, rain and storm surges prompted officials to close mass transit systems in New York, Boston and Washington, as well as Connecticut's highways. The federal bureaucracy in Washington also was shuttered.
Obama said he had spoken with the governors of all the states likely to be affected, and he added there had been "extraordinarily close coordination" among various levels of government.
Yet he stressed repeatedly the dangers posed by the slow-moving storm, and said its effects would not dissipate quickly.
"The public should anticipate that there are going to be a lot of power outages," he said.
He added, "Transportation is going to be tied up for a long time. ... We anticipate that there are going to be a lot of trees down, a lot of water."
The president said, "We're making sure that food and water and emergency generation are available for communities" that need them.
Striking one upbeat note, he said that at difficult times like the current one, "we all pull together. We look out for our friends, we look out for our neighbors and we set aside whatever issues we may have otherwise to make sure that we respond appropriately and with swiftness, and that's exactly what I anticipate is going to happen here."
Obama had been scheduled to make a campaign appearance in Florida before flying back to the nation's capital, but he scrapped those plans in favor of an immediate, bumpy flight aboard Air Force One.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The judge presiding over the trial to oust District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg ruled Wednesday that she'll stay in office.
Mack Brown’s longtime friend and attorney said Wednesday that the veteran coach of the Longhorns has not yet made a decision on his future, but that it will come soon.
The Austin City Council will take up billing errors and problems with the appeals process at Austin Energy during Thursday's meeting.
Options for high speed Internet in Austin continue to expand. Google Fiber is coming to Austin soon, and now AT&T has announced the city will be the first for its own faster-than-ever Internet speeds.
After hundreds of park-goers complained about a lack of off-leash dog space in the new design of Auditorium Shores, the Austin Parks and Recreation Board is hoping a compromise will alleviate any concerns.
The sign-language interpreter on stage at Nelson Mandela's globally broadcast memorial service was a faker who was waving his arms around meaninglessly, advocates for the deaf said Wednesday.