Hurricane Sandy: President Obama's Warning

The president urges people living in the storm's path to heed state and local advisories.
3:00 | 10/29/12

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Transcript for Hurricane Sandy: President Obama's Warning
This is an ABC news special report. Good afternoon I'm David you're from ABC news headquarters here in New York -- become on the air this afternoon because we are expecting the president to make a statement just a short time from now. On this super storm hurricane sandy as it inches closer to landfall it's already whipping much of the coast we do have some pictures coming in. These are pictures from the Carolinas this afternoon the outer banks but. This is the scene has been -- up and down the East Coast and the hurricane is not even here yet in fact already at this hour 36000. Americans are. In the dark they've already lost their power this is a category one hurricane. But don't be fooled by the fact that it's only a category one as it approaches shore it's gonna be combined with two other major weather systems. That's why we're calling this a super storm of course will be checking in with Sam Champion in just a moment for the latest on the track we know at the center of the storm. The winds are right now ninety miles per hour gusts up to 100 miles per hour that's just shy of a category two. And of course we've been tracking this all evening long and into this morning on Good Morning America and right there you can see the -- churning off the coast. The concern here is that people do not go out in some of these low lying areas because of the storm surge we've been hearing this. But throughout the day to day that that is the biggest fear that these could be life threatening storm surges when they come on shore. In fact I was talking with -- -- just before we came on the air where she is an Atlantic City that's where the eye of the storm is expected to hit. And she's already standing and water completely flooded out that whole area and we'll be checking in with her shortly as well. You can see the track they're on your screen that giant system and of course again the concern is just -- The scope of this a thousand miles across you can feel those wins 500 miles in every direction of the -- and when that makes landfall. It then combines that those two weather systems as I mentioned a moment ago. There are blizzard warnings that have been up in effect they're expecting not only the winds the rain the storm surge. But also snow from this. We're -- the president to make comments on this and as you may have heard us report earlier in the day and an President was to be in Florida today. For a campaign stop with former President Bill Clinton canceling that flying back on air force this one the Washington DC. We have also learned that governor Romney while holding a rally today in Ohio and then in Iowa will canceled this evening's events and events into tomorrow. Because of the storm as well so this is just a week. To go before this election and there's going to be a lot of talk about how this hurricane. Could affect Election Day but in the meantime of course the real concern the safety of fifty to sixty million Americans. We're going to be in the path of the storm you're looking at the pictures right there those were pictures coming in overnight in appropriately some of these towns look like ghost towns and that is what. So many of the authorities had hoped for in fact governor -- is typical a blunt fashion saying don't be stupid get out. And we were watching over the last 24 hours evacuations in several of these low lying areas. People heeding the warnings here in New York they are really concerned about lower Manhattan as you might we're calling a year ago was Hurricane Irene. -- we'll talk more about that in a moment but here's the president and the group. -- I just -- a full briefing from our emergency response teams including -- And agencies that are going to be helpful in the response and recovery efforts the department of energy Department of Transportation. The department of health Homeland Security Department. Health and human services. Obviously urban areas where at this point that this is going to be a big. And powerful storm and all across the eastern seaboard think everybody is taking the appropriate preparations. I've spoken all the governors in all these states they have. Issued emergency declarations. Those have been turned -- quickly. -- in the White House we have prepositioning assets. So that FEMA personnel are working closely -- state and local governments were making sure the food and water. And emergency generation. Is available for those communities that are going to be hardest hit. We anticipate that that. The center of the storm is gonna hit landfall. Sometime this evening. But because of the nature of this storm. We are. Certain that this is going to be a slow moving process through a wide swath of the country and millions of people are going to be effective. So the most important message that I have for the public right now is please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate. You need to back -- do not go away. Don't -- don't question. The instructions that are being given because this is a serious storm and it could. Potentially have paid -- consequences people had an act and acted quickly. The good news there's -- The governors and local officials I think -- had a few days of preparation there's been extraordinarily close coordination between state federal and local governments. And so -- confident that the assets are pre positioned for an effective response in the aftermath of the storm but keep in mind. For folks who are not following instructions if you are not evacuating when you've been asked to evacuate. You're reporting first responders and danger. We're gonna have to have search and rescue teams. In. And around. Multiple states all of the same time although we've got Coast Guard and the Department of Defense all positions. If the public's not following instructions that makes it more dangerous for people and it means that we could have fatalities that could've been avoided. Transportation is going to be tied up for a long time and probably the most significant impact for a lot of people in addition to flooding. Is going to be getting power back on we anticipate that there going to be a lot of trees down. A lot of water and are that despite the fact that power companies are working very closely -- it. There -- various state officials and local officials to make sure that they are bringing in as many assets as possible. And getting those ready in preparation for the storm the fact is that a lot of these emergency crews are not going to be able to get into. Position to start restoring power until some of these winds have died down. And because the nature of this storm that may make that may take several days so that the public should anticipate that. There's going to be a lot of power outages and it may take time. For that power to get back wrong but the same is true transportation. They're going to be a lot of back walks and even after the storm has cleared its gonna take considerable amount of time for. Airlines. Subways trains and so forth potentially get back. You know on schedule depending on -- -- of damage that has occurred. Let me summarize just by saying that. I'm extraordinarily grateful for the cooperation. Our state and local officials. The conversation but I -- were all governors indicate that at this point there are no unmet needs. I think everybody is taking this very seriously. We've got. Pre position all the resources that we need but right now the key is to make sure that the public is following instructions for those of you still need additional information. About how to respond a you can go to ready dot gov that's ready dot gov and that web -- should provide you. We've. All the information your family needs in terms of how you can prepare. For this story. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all people who -- potentially affected. We are extraordinarily grateful for our first responders because they're going to be working 24/7. Around the clock nonstop. And I want to make sure there. Our thoughts and -- brought. All those who made end -- -- dealing with the very difficult. A situation over the next several days last 10 Mexico. -- there's going to be a big storm it's going to be -- difficult storm. The great thing about America is when we go through tough times like this we all pull together we look out for our friends we look out for our neighbors. And what we set aside whatever. Issues we may have otherwise to make sure that we respond appropriately. And -- swiftness and that's exactly where anticipates gonna happen here so I want to thank all federal team state. And local teams that are in place. I'm confident we're ready. But I think the public means prepare for the fact that there's gonna take a long time for us to clean up the good news is we will clean up and we'll get through this. -- I am not worried at this point about the impact on election I'm worried about the impact on families and -- word about the impact. On our first responders. I'm -- about the impact of our on our economy and on transportation. The election will. Take care of itself next week right now are number one priority is to make sure that. We are saving lives. That starts search and rescue teams are going to be in place the people -- good food water shelter that they need in case of emergency. And that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back country. So there he is the president in the briefing room at the White House is -- short time after being in the situation room being briefed on this stormy hurt him I'm not worried about the impact on the election I'm worried about American families. The election will take care of itself he did say this is going to be a big and powerful storm and the two most important -- heard from the president there please listen. He was talking about authorities all of them down the eastern seaboard and England this we know the storm is going to be deep -- -- as well. Asking Americans to listen the same first responders will be there ready for the call but to please help them I'm listening to authorities and to evacuate if you've been asked to evacuate. I want to get straight to ABC's weather editor Sam Champion in lower Manhattan for the latest on the track of the storm in -- -- and -- were talking just before we came on. And those water levels are already dangerously high and -- hurricane has even made landfall yet. Exactly -- we were a little caught off guard and surprised by how high it was at high tide time. This morning at about 830 we've got another high tide coming at about 830 at night. But the battery which is just about when that storm should be settling on short. Let's give you look at the health of this storm system we'll show you that -- with a satellite -- look at a deep kind of collected. Area of clouds that is off the Jersey Shore that is still -- well organized center. Of sandy setting record low pressure levels as it develops and continues to sit there the radar will show you. And that this is spending an awful lot of moisture take a look at the yellow and the charges in the radar and that's where the heaviest rain is going and -- snow. The pinks -- the white are snow that are going in West Virginia also the mountains of Virginia already we're seeing those snow systems developing there. Then take a look at the path there's very little change here except we've narrowed the focus of exactly where this storm will make landfall. That has a lot to do with how much rain is falling in those areas right now and you may -- local areas north of that tapered down the rainfall in the short term but this storm it's going to be on. Shore for quite some time in Pennsylvania in western New York State. And even curbing its way up toward western Maine and finally ending up on that border with Maine and Canada as well but the time we get toward the end of the week. But where that storm comes on shore is definitely going to be a problem -- how it moves water onshore and -- Jersey is in Atlantic City right now ginger. Thanks embassy here in Atlantic City is on unbelievable we'll water filling the streets and the storm so far. Inland flooding -- become a problem we're seeing vehicles stranded up and down. We asked to leave the boardwalk because it's just that dangerous and the storm hasn't even hit -- Tonight. At eight admit -- I really think it's going to become ground zero of this storm. David. Did you think so much we can see the water almost a tear -- there and of course that's where the hurricane is expected to make landfall right there in Atlantic City and not -- hours from now a much later this evening and high tied again around 8 PM tonight that's going to get. Much worse we've heard the president -- moments ago saying our thoughts and prayers go out to people who will be affected millions in the path of this storm. President saying this is a time when we look out for our neighbors and our friends -- things to ginger -- Sam champion the entire extreme weather team will be out all day long. Diane Sawyer leading the team on world news later tonight and for updates throughout the afternoon Wolf. Break back in if it. Take care. It. Assessments. -- news.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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