WASHINGTON -- A huge storm is unleashing wind, rain and even snow that is sure to cause widespread damage extending from Florida to Connecticut and from the shoreline through to West Virginia and beyond, but the federal government is ready to respond, said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"It's a multi-hazard event," he told reporters on a conference call this afternoon regarding Hurricane Sandy. "Certainly time [to prepare] has either run out or is running out in many areas," he said. "Hopefully people have done things to protect themselves."
He said the $3.6 billion in the federal disaster fund will be enough to respond to the immediate effects of the storm but more may be needed to help rebuild storm ravaged areas.
"We see no limiting factors for response activities," he told reporters on a conference call this afternoon. "The concern will be ??? recovery and rebuilding efforts that would require additional funding."
He urged caution and asked for patience as FEMA workers transition from preparation mode to response mode, when they'll make their way into affected areas to distribute more than 600,000 liters of water and 490,000 meals. They'll also be working with the military to provide industrial generators to serve hospitals and water treatment plants.
President Barack Obama has declared federal emergencies in several states including Pennsvlvania, making them eligible to receive that assistance along with funding to address local storm-related problems.
"We can start releasing to them commodities, generators and ??? financial reimbursement for the cost of the response or the damages that are incurred," he said.
FEMA is one many federal agencies geared up for the storm, Mr. Obama said today during a White House briefing.
The Coast Guard is ready, search and rescue teams are in place and there is a supply of food and water for distribution to storm ravaged areas, Mr. Obama said.
But, he said, the public is going to have to do its part, too.
"Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate," he said. "Do not delay. Don't pause. Don't question the instructions that are being given because this is a serious storm and it could potentially have fatal consequences."
When people don't follow instructions it increases danger for first responders.
People will have to be patient, too.
Mass transportation, power and flooding could affect people for days after the storm has cleared, he said, but the government has done all it can to prepare, he said.
"This is going to take a long time for us to clean up. The good news is we will clean up and we will get through this," he said.
For more information on how to prepare for Hurricane Sandy, visit www.ready.gov.
Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello: firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-996-9292.