Washington, Oct 5 President Barack Obama today urged residents in the southeastern United States to prepare for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Matthew and to heed evacuation orders.
"This is something to take seriously. We hope for the best, but we want to prepare for the worst," he said, describing Matthew as a "serious storm" that could have "devastating effect." Matthew has already hit Haiti and Cuba, with fatal results, and is barreling towards Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
"If you get an evacuation order, just remember that you can always rebuild. You can always repair property. You cannot restore a life if it is lost," Obama said at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The hurricane forced Obama to cancel a visit to Florida on Wednesday. Instead, he made the short trip across Washington to FEMA headquarters. "We've already got response teams and supplies prepositioned and ready to help communities in the region," Obama said.
"I want to emphasize to the public, this is a serious storm. It has already hit Haiti with devastating effect. It is now in the process of moving through the Bahamas. Because it's not going to be hitting enough land it is going to be building strength on its way to Florida."
"Even if you don't get the full force of the hurricane, we are still going to be seeing tropical force winds, potential for storm surge and all of that could have a devastating effect." Matthew hit Haiti and Cuba as a Category Four hurricane but has since been downgraded to three, on a scale of five, by the US National Hurricane Center.