South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
1:44 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Can you all hear me?
ADMINISTRATOR CRISWELL: We can, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Well —
ADMINISTRATOR CRISWELL: Can you hear me?
THE PRESIDENT: I can hear you clearly.
Let me begin by thanking you all, every one of you, for the incredible work you’re doing. You know, and I want to thank you for joining me on this call today. And I know so many of you have been working flat out, nights and weekends, for a long time now.
Hurricane Ida is coming fast on the heels of a tragic flooding in Tennessee, Tropical Storm Henri, and you’ve all been part of the COVID-19 response for so many months now. You’ve been overwhelmed, but you don’t show it. You’ve been incredible. Thank you.
You know, Ida is turning into a very, very dangerous storm; I need not tell you. I just got another briefing from the Hurricane Center and, as you know, it’s now heading straight for — right toward Louisiana.
This weekend is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. And it’s a stark reminder that we have to do everything we can to prepare the people in the region and make sure we’re ready to respond.
Administrator Griswell [sic] — Criswell, you and I have spoken extensively about this. We were together yesterday and we spoke to the governors of Louisiana, of Alabama, and Mississippi to ask what they need from us before the storm arrived.
And I’ve already signed an emergency declaration for Louisiana to make sure we’re ready for the surge response capa- — capability to deal with whatever comes our — their way — our way, but it’s — it’s their way.
You know, we’ve deployed 500 FEMA emergency response personnel in Texas and Louisiana, in addition to 2,000 FEMA personnel already supporting our COVID response in the region. And we’ve pre-positioned food, water, generators, and other supplies in the area. Power restoration and mobile communication support teams are also en route.
We’ve also closely coordinated with the electric utilities to restore power as soon as possible and to support your response and recovery efforts.
And above all, I’m urging the people of the area to pay attention and be prepared. I want to say it again: Pay attention and be prepared.
Have supplies for your household on hand. Follow the guidance from local authorities. And if you have to move to shelter, make sure you wear a mask and try to keep some distance because we’re still facing the highly contagious Delta variant as well.
Administration Criswell — Administrator Criswell, you’re, you know — I’m going to turn this over to you in a moment here to give an update on the latest steps we’re taking. And I want you to know what more can — I need to know everything you think we need to be able to do. If you haven’t gotten the authority for it, tell me now. We’ll get it done. It’s like — most importantly, I just want to say to all of you: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Everything you’re doing to prepare for this dangerous storm is — is going to mitigate the impact of potential nas- — natural disasters, results that are going to be visited on so many people in the region. The work you’re doing is vital, and you all know it.
So, Administrator Criswell, let’s you and I have a conversation. Tell me what you need and what’s going on.
1:48 P.M. EDT