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Monday, August 27, 2012

Obama Gets Briefing on Tropical Storm


President Obama received a briefing on Monday afternoon about Tropical Storm Isaac as it approached hurricane force, but aides say no decision has been made to cancel his campaign trip on Tuesday to two swing states, Iowa and Colorado.

With forecasts warning that the storm could hit New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of that city's devastation by Hurricane Katrina, the administration is warily watching it, after it interrupted the Republican convention but largely spared the host city, Tampa, Fla. At the White House, Mr. Obama got updates from Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Rick Knabb, the director of the National Hurricane Center.

The center said the storm could become a Category 1 hurricane later in the day, and, according to a White House statement, Mr. Fugate gave Mr. Obama “an update on the resources FEMA has prepositioned along the Gulf Coast to support state and local officials as they prepare and begin to respond.”

FEMA and the Defense Department have stocked supplies at bases in Jacksonville, Fla., and Montgomery, Ala., the statement said, and FEMA has sent teams to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi to support state and local officials.

“The president directed Administrator Fugate to ensure that FEMA was prepared regardless of the ultimate strength and impact of the storm,” the White House said.

Mr. Obama then convened a conference call so that Mr. Fugate and Mr. Knabb could discuss the storm's track and the government's preparations with three gulf state governors, all Republicans â€" Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who canceled his prime-time speech to the Republican convention to oversee his state's response, Robert Bentley of Alabama and Phil Bryant of Mississippi â€" and the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat.

The president told Mr. Jindal that he had approved Mr. Jindal's request to declare a federal emergency in Louisiana ahead of the storm, a finding that allows the state to receive federal money to cover its costs for certain emergency measures. And Mr. Obama told all the governors and the mayor to identify other needs if they arose.