The White House announced late Saturday that President Obama will be cutting short a campaign swing in the last days before the election and returning to Washington as Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.
Obama will campaign until past the last minute, though. On Sunday he stumps in Orlando, Fla., and on Monday he hits an event in Youngstown, Ohio, before coming back to the White House, meaning he’ll be flying into D.C. when commercial flights are expected to be grounded.
National Weather Service advisories for the Beltway currently begin at 2 a.m. Monday.
Mitt Romney canceled Sunday campaign events in Virginia and will head to Ohio instead to join vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) bus tour.
Obama has canceled a Monday event in Northern Virginia and a Tuesday event in Colorado. “Additional changes to Tuesday’s schedule will be announced as warranted,” said a statement from press secretary Jay Carney.
“The President is being regularly updated on the storm and ongoing preparations, and he has directed his team to continue to bring all available resources to bear as state and local partners continue to prepare for the storm. FEMA has already deployed teams and has pre-staged resources to potentially affected states and areas ahead of the storm, and FEMA remains in close contact with emergency responders in states up and down the East coast to ensure there are no unmet needs,” the statement continued. “The President will continue to receive regular briefings on these efforts, and has made clear that he expects his team to continue to lean forward as Hurricane Sandy approaches.”
On Saturday morning, Obama convened a call with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb, and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan to talk about the monster storm.
“Because Hurricane Sandy could produce significant precipitation over widespread areas and has the potential to cause significant power outages, FEMA continues to encourage state and local authorities responsible for coordinating with local utility companies to do so ahead of any impacts,” the White House said in a readout of the call. “The President reiterated his direction to his team to ensure there were no unmet needs as states continue to prepare, and to keep him updated as preparations for the storm continue.”
United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) is placing aviation assets such as light and medium lift helicopters and rescue teams on 24 hour Prepare to Deploy Order status in response to Hurricane Sandy, the Defense Department reported.
Lawmakers also scrambled to reach out to constituents about the need to prepare, whether the forecast said hurricane or tropical storm.
“Please – pay attention to the news media for updates, clear the way for first responders, check on those who might need assistance including seniors, and above all – stay safe!” Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), who represents Virginia Beach and Norfolk, emailed to constituents along with links to local emergency alerts and the number to report power outages.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) put a hurricane resource center on his website. “As we track this potential super-storm, I encourage families to stay together,” he said. “And please take special care to look in on elderly or disabled neighbors and friends. Let’s all do our best to look out for each other.”