White House Oval Office Washington D.C. September 4 12:19 P.M. EDT
We thought we'd give you an update on the hurricane. We got lucky in Florida - very, very lucky indeed. We had - actually, our original chart was that it was going to be hit - hitting Florida directly. Maybe I could just see that, Kevin. It was going to be hitting directly, and that would have affected a lot of other states. But that was the original chart.
And you see it was going to hit not only Florida, but Georgia. It could have - it was going toward the Gulf. That was what we - what was originally projected. And it took a right turn and ultimately - hopefully, we're going to be lucky. It depends on what happens with South Carolina and North Carolina. But it's heading up the coast, and Florida was grazed. Mostly wind. And we're going to have a report on that.
We have been sending, through the United States Coast Guard - who have been incredible. They are on the Bahamas right now and they're helping with the Bahamas. The Bahamas was - a big section of the Bahamas was hit like few people have seen before.
But we're helping in a humanitarian way. We've been asked to help by the government of the Bahamas. And we have numerous helicopters, and we're sending some - some people to give them a hand, and they need a big hand. What's going on over there is incredible. Few people have seen anything like that, although, I must tell you, over the years, there have been some hurricanes that were bigger and stronger and more powerful that hit us very hard also.
But I'd just maybe like to start - Kevin, if you could just say a few words about where we are.
ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN:
And then I'll ask the Admiral to talk a little bit about what you're doing in the Bahamas. And then we'll get back to South Carolina, North Carolina, and what we expect.
Okay? Thank you, Kevin.
ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN:
Yes, sir. Mr. President, we have Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor, from FEMA, on the line as well. He's been in Florida yesterday. He's in Georgia right now, headed up to South Carolina, touching base with the emergency managers in all of the states that are on the path of Dorian.
Obviously, the hurricane remains a Category 2 - a very powerful, very large storm. We are worried about significant impacts to South Carolina, from Charleston to Wilmington, as well as the Outer Banks. And it's that triple threat of potentially hurricane-force winds, certainly tropical storm force; as well as a storm surge - four to seven feet; and then a significant rain event, up to 10 inches or more in parts of the Carolinas.
So we've been very well prepared. Coordinated fully with the states. A lot of pre-deployed assets ready to come in and fully respond after the storm. *311 are repositioning some of the assets that were further south in Central Florida.
So we're ready for the storm, Mr. President. FEMA and the interagency partners, supporting the states, have done a tremendous job, and we're on our toes, looking forward to responding effectively.
I think we want to also say we were really well prepared in Puerto Rico. It - we got lucky in Puerto Rico, where it missed it by quite a bit, actually. But we were ready just in case. And tremendous supplies, people. A lot of things going on in Puerto Rico. And they were very happy, and it worked out very well - the optimum - because they didn't get hit. But it took a different path and it hit the Bahamas very hard.
So, again, we're working with the government of the Bahamas at their request. And we have a lot of - a lot of people helping. And we have, most importantly, the United States Coast Guard, which has done so incredibly well in Texas and Florida and in Puerto Rico on the last hurricane - the last big one.
Admiral, if you could say a few words about that.
Yeah. Thank you, Mr. President. Just to reinforce the Secretary: We're ready, domestically, here, from Florida up through the Carolinas. We're Coast Guard, part of the DHS/FEMA team, sir. So we're 100 percent ready to roll there.
In the Bahamas, it's been challenging. We accessed the Bahamas - the Abaco - which is in the northeastern reach of the Bahamas. On Monday, the first flight crews - those were rotary-wing helicopters - got in there. We've rescued probably, you know, 50 folks to date. We're just starting to get a site picture on Grand Bahama Island in Freeport, which is the center of gravity, population-wise, in the northern Bahamas. So today, we'll start to have a much fuller picture. That's the region where Dorian sat almost 36, 48 hours, and just pounded the region.
So we expect the impact to be severe, sir. We're rendering, you know, lifesaving support here, humanitarian assistance. We're working with USAID and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, who is the lead agency here on providing, you know, urgent support. Our CBP Air and Marine counterparts are there with helicopters. And, you know, we'll see where this evolves to in the next 24 hours and what type of additional support, possibly from DOD, may be warranted, sir.
Good. Will you be using some of the supplies from Florida and even from Puerto Rico, where - to areas that will definitely get hit? If you look at North Carolina, South Carolina -
So, Office of - the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, under AID, has a warehouse in South Florida. So we're working on an air bridge of supplies into the Bahamas, a maritime bridge, aboard Coast Guard cutters.
What's challenging right now, sir - because we haven't gotten into Freeport, Grand Bahamas, and there's no open airports there. The airports are under water. Those airports that are accessible are not accessible from roads. So most of the stuff has got to come in rotary-wing. AID has got to get, you know, sort of a network in place to start distributing supplies, sir.
But we're working diligently with our partners on that, on trying to bring some relief to the Bahamas, sir.
And I guess the other problem is we don't know how hard South Carolina and North Carolina; Georgia, to an extent, could be - to a big extent - we don't know yet. We don't know where the hurricane is turning, I guess.
Admiral, would you like to say something about that?
Certainly, Mr. President.
Secretary McAleenan discussed the major risks - the storm surge, the heavy rainfall, and the tropical storm- and the hurricane-force winds. The other aspects of this storm that make it particularly troublesome are the duration of it. It's going to be yet another two days before we clear the North Carolina coast. On it's current track, there is a potential for landfall.
But even without landfall, the heavy rain that's going to impact South Carolina and North Carolina is coming right on top of areas that were damaged in Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018.
So FEMA is well prepared for what they're calling "response on top of recovery." These are communities, families, who have already been affected by previous hurricane seasons.
That's pretty amazing. This is the original path that we thought. And everybody thought that this was about a 95 percent probability, and it turned out to be not that path. It turned out to be a path going up the coast, and we'll see where that happens now. There's even a chance that it could start going further right. That could happen. That would really be luck.
But we certainly got lucky in Florida. Now, if we can get lucky in Georgia and - if you look at South Carolina, North Carolina, but it could even extend even beyond that. So we're talking about Virginia. Hard to believe. So we'll see what happens.
But it's a very erratic, a very slow, very powerful hurricane, so that it's built up tremendous water and water supply like few have seen. Texas had something similar, where the water was tremendous - the water dump was tremendous. And we have that here.
But again, it looks like Florida is going to be in fantastic shape by comparison to what we thought. We thought it was going to be a direct hit. We were thinking in terms of Andrew - Hurricane Andrew - from many years ago, where it went right through the middle of Miami, and that was a disaster. And so we're very happy about, so far, Florida, and we'll see how it comes with respect to other states.
But it's starting to move up along the coast. It's a little bit further away, I think, than we would have projected right now. But it can rapidly turn left, or west. And we hope that doesn't happen, but we're very well prepared. Everybody has been incredible.
I have, actually - Peter Gaynor is on the phone listening to what we're saying. Peter, do you have anything you'd like to add?
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