Barack Obama, the US president, has said the public needs to prepare for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall on the East Coast on Monday evening and predicted millions of people will be affected by the storm.

Obama said those in the region affected by the Hurricane should listen to local and state officials on whether or not to evacuate.

The president expressed confidence that emergency crews are prepared to tackle the storm preparations needed and the clean-up that will be necessary in the coming days.

“This is going to be a big and powerful storm and all across the Eastern Seaboard I think everybody is taking the appropriate preparations,” he told reporters after having a briefing on the storm in the White House Situation Room.

“This is a serious storm and it could potentially have fatal consequences if people haven’t acted quickly.”

Scrapping campaign plans to return to Washington, Obama sought to show voters just eight days before the November 6 election that he was giving top priority to his presidential duties in a looming national crisis, rather than his bid for re-election in a tight race.

He also appeared determined to demonstrate that his administration had learned the lessons of White House predecessor George W Bush’s botched handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which inflicted serious political damage.

Rushing back from a campaign visit to Florida, Obama huddled with top aides in the White House Situation Room for an update on Hurricane Sandy, which started to batter the densely populated East Coast as one of the biggest storms to ever hit the US mainland.

Hurricane Sandy is continuing to head towards the area as residents make last-minute preparations.

Sandy could be the biggest storm to hit the US mainland when it comes ashore on Monday night, bringing strong winds and dangerous flooding from the mid-Atlantic states to New England, forecasters said on Sunday.

The storm could have a brutal impact on major cities in the target zone such as Boston, New York, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, in one of the most densely populated regions of the country.

New York City’s subway, bus and train services were suspended on Sunday evening, bringing the country’s financial centre to a virtual standstill.

Bloomberg statement

Michael Bloomberg, New York mayor, also ordered public schools to close on Monday and said that areas of the city from City Island to Coney Island to Battery Park City were under mandatory evacuation.

“We are ordering the evacuation for the safety of the approximately 375,000 people who live in these areas,” he said.

Stock market executives, regulators and brokers have agreed to close stock markets on Tuesday due to the hurricane.

The stock market’s closure on Monday was its first weather-related shutdown in 27 years.

Every effort is being made to reopen markets on Wednesday, but a final decision has not been made yet, a source said.

The decision involved senior leadership of the exchanges, executives from brokerage firms and officials from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

“It doesn’t make sense to put people in harm’s way or to only have half a market,” said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group in New York.

“If just the electronic market was open, that wouldn’t provide enough interest, with everything else still closed.”

‘Life-threatening’ storm

The hurricane forced the evacuation of tall ship HMS Bounty, a replica of the ship famed for the 1789 mutiny, approximately 145km off the North Carolina coast

US Coast Guard officers told reporters the 17-member crew of the training ship, used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, managed to get on board two life-rafts. The Coast Guard has dispatched aircraft to bring the crew to safety.

The crew decided to abandon ship after taking on water and losing communications and propulsion. The vessel was about 250km west of the eye of the hurricane.

Author: Moses Echodu

Moses is a Ugandan writer and blogger. Studied information technology with major interests in Journalism.He is passionate about sports but at times ventures into other fields

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Moses EchoduWorldBarack Obama, the US president, has said the public needs to prepare for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall on the East Coast on Monday evening and predicted millions of people will be affected by the storm. Obama said those in the region affected by the Hurricane should listen to local and state officials on whether or...People Media