ABC News' Stephanie Z. Smith reports from Martha's Vineyard:
The words were stark and foreboding: “I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don't wait. Don't delay,” President Obama warned this morning from the Blue Heron Farm here where he is wrapping up his 10-day vacation.
As Hurricane Irene continues her ominous trek up the Eastern Seaboard, the president is spending his last full day of vacation here but keeping close watch on the Category 2 storm, saying Irene has the potential to be an “historic hurricane.”
Before his on camera statement, the president held a conference call with his emergency response team, FEMA Director Craig Fugate, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.
He also spoke with governors and mayors of major metropolitan areas along the Eastern Seaboard, “to let them know that this administration is in full support of their efforts to prepare for this storm and stands ready to fully support their response efforts.”
FEMA has been gearing up for the storm since last weekend, deploying its Incident Management Assistance Teams to staging areas and communities up and down the coast. They’ve pre-positioned millions of liters of water, meals and tens of thousands of cots and blankets in areas where the hurricane is expected to hit.
"I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now," Mr. Obama said. "We all hope for the best. But we have to be prepared for the worst. All of us have to take this storm seriously."
“If you're in the way of this hurricane, you should be preparing now.” Obama asserted. ” If you aren't sure how to prepare your families or your home or your business for a hurricane, or any other emergency, then you can visit ready.gov — that's ready.gov — or listo.gov — that's L-I-S-T- O-dot-gov.
Officials said the administration has been ”constantly exercising and preparing" for this type of national disaster for some time, including an exercise in 2009 which simulated a category 2 hurricane hitting New York City.