President Barack Obama warned residents along the Gulf Coast Tuesday morning to take Hurricane Isaac seriously and to prepare for possible evacuations if mandated by local officials.
“Now is not the time to tempt fate,” Obama said. “Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously.”
Obama issued the warning during brief remarks to the press before departing from the White House for a three-day campaign swing to college campuses in Virginia, Colorado and Iowa.
The president spoke for a little over two minutes and declined to answer questions shouted by reporters asking if he thought it appropriate to continue his campaign in light of the approaching storm, reported the Boston Globe.
“We’re dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area,” Obama said.
The president said he approved a disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana “so they can get the help that they need right away, particularly around some of the evacuations that are taking place. And right now, we already have response teams and supplies ready to help communities in the expected path of the storm.”
However, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Obama’s offer is inadequate and that it only grants a small portion of what is required to recover from a hurricane.
In a letter Monday to the White House, Jindal said the storm threatens most of the state and that 34 parishes have declared a state of emergency.
Nearly a dozen communities have already issued mandatory evacuations, more than 4,000 National Guardsmen have been activated, and 5,000 shelters are operating.
“Given the extraordinary developments of this storm and its approaching impact on the state of Louisiana, I ask that you exercise your discretion to approve the state’s pending request for all emergency protective measures,” Jindal said.
Jindal cancelled his appearance at the Republican Convention in Florida where he was scheduled to be a speaker to remain in state and manage storm preparations.