With Hurricane Florence barreling toward the Carolinas, President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged folks in its path to take steps now to prepare themselves.
The president, addressing the country from the Oval Office, said the storm could be unprecedented.
“I would say everybody should get out,” he said. “You have to listen to your local authorities.”
Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), described the hurricane as a cross between Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Florence in 1999. He said residents could lose power for weeks.
“As this system comes in and makes landfall during the weekend, it’s forecast to stall out, lose its steering currents and drop copious amounts of rainfall,” he said.
Long added that inland flooding likely will be even worse because streams and rivers already are unusually high due to recent rains from the remnants of Hurricane Gordon. He said the totals from the current storm could be as much as 30 inches in some areas.
“I think the expectation needs to be set with the citizens in this area that if you’ve been asked to leave, get out of the areas that are going to flood and get into a facility than can withstand the winds,” he said.
Trump said the safety of Americans is his top priority.
“They haven’t seen anything like what’s coming at us in 25, 30 years — maybe ever,” he said. “It’s tremendously big and tremendously wet. Tremendous amounts of water.”
Trump brushed aside questions about Puerto Rico, which got hit twice last year. His administration has come under fire for its handling of those hurricanes.
“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. Puerto Rico actually was our toughest one of all, because it’s an island,” he said. “So, you can’t truck things on to it. Everything’s by boat. We moved a hospital to Puerto Rico, a tremendous military hospital, in the form of a ship.”
Trump said the electrical grid is in much better shape on the mainland than it was in Puerto Rico.
“I actually think it was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about,” he said. “Puerto Rico got hit not with one hurricane, but with two.”
Trump also vowed to do whatever it takes to get the region back on its feet in the aftermath of the storm as quickly as possible.
“Congress will be …