Obama Gets Storm Relief Update at FEMA Headquarters
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2012 President Barack Obama today convened a briefing at the National Response Coordination Center at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters here to receive the latest update on federal efforts to support state and local response and recovery activities for Hurricane Sandy, according to a White House news release.
At FEMA headquarters, the release said, Obama was joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator William Craig Fugate, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Richard Reed, and other senior officials.
Secretary of Transportation Raymond H. LaHood, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Northern Command commander Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. joined the briefing by phone, according to the release.
On the call Obama received an update from the National Weather Service, including a forecast on a coastal low pressure system that could be moving into the area in coming days, and spoke directly with a number of state and local officials, who also joined by phone, including Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as New York City borough presidents and mayors from across the affected area.
This conversation provided the president and his team another opportunity to discuss specific challenges with state and local leaders, including issues related to power generation, fuel challenges, and long-term housing needs among others, the release said.
Obama made clear that all available resources would be employed to support the deployment of necessary assets, and directed his team to continue to focus on identifying and removing any barriers to the movement of these resources, according to the release. On Nov. 1, following a conversation between the president and utility executives, the Department of Defense airlifted utility resources, including bucket trucks and other assets, from California to New York to support power restoration efforts.
FEMA announced Nov. 2 that the president directed the Defense Logistics Agency to purchase up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for distribution in areas impacted by the storm to supplement ongoing private sector efforts, the release said. This purchase will be transported by tanker trucks and distributed throughout New York, New Jersey and other communities impacted by the storm. This announcement, the release said, followed a decision earlier in the day to provide a temporary blanket waiver to the Jones Act, to ensure tankers could move oil and refined gas to the New York area as quickly as possible.
On today’s call, following a discussion of additional resources available to individuals impacted by the storm, the president also directed SBA Administrator Karen Mills to brief local officials directly on the low-cost loans available through the FEMA Disaster Declarations provided to eligible families, according to the release.
The President thanked the state and local officials on the call for their hard work, and specifically praised the heroic efforts of the first responders still on the front lines, and told his team that continuing to surge all available resources was his top priority, the release said. The President closed by making clear he expected no letup in these efforts.