During a visit to FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center on Friday, President Obama said that preparing for hurricanes and other disasters was a “personal responsibility” and a responsibility of citizenship. According to the President:
“True preparedness means having federal and state and local governments all coordinating effectively, and as you just heard, one of the most important things we can do is make sure the families have prepared appropriately. We just saw some statistics coming out of Florida indicating that a huge percentage of people in hurricane areas simply don’t make plans. They don’t have a plan, they don’t have a set of contingencies that will allow them to respond in an effective way. Those people who have the capacity to plan, they will thereby relieve some of the resources that the government has to provide and we can stay focused on those folks who are most vulnerable and have the most difficulty dealing with a storm. So I hope that message of personal responsibility sinks in…As we enter into hurricane season, I hope that everybody who’s watching is going to be paying attention and take seriously their responsibilities as citizens so that the entire country is ready.”
(President Obama confers with Homeland Security adviser John Brennan at the conclusion of a hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA headquarters in Washington Friday, May 29, 2009. At left is Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Obama’s visit was to check on and highlight the federal government’s planning as hurricane season begins. However, his strong language about the role and responsibility of the public in that planning process was terrific to hear.