With Hurricane Irma seemingly headed for a landfall somewhere in south Florida this weekend, the White House on Friday expressed confidence in federal disaster preparedness for this second major hurricane to threaten the United States in recent weeks, but officials also warned those in the path of the storm not to underestimate the power of the tropical system that has left a path of destruction in the Caribbean.
"Let's hope there's no hurricane amnesia," said White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, as he urged Florida residents to follow evacuation orders from local officials.
"There are some people, probably some twenty percent of the population that might not remember or might not have gone through the last big hurricane in Florida," Bossert added, telling those who are staying to be ready to last on their own provisions for at least 72 hours.
"It's not a tough love message," Bossert told reporters at the White House, saying "at some point people are going to be on their own, so to speak, for a period of time during which the flooding, the raining, and the wind bear down on them."
The White House said President Donald Trump would monitor the weekend developments on the Hurricane from Camp David, which will host a full Cabinet retreat, including a Saturday morning Cabinet meeting.
"It's a really bad one, but we are prepared at the highest level"," the President said as he left the White House.
"The President noted that this is a storm of historic destructive potential," said Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "And he's asking that everyone in the storm's path remain vigilant and heed recommendations from government officials and law enforcement."
"The President is constantly monitoring Hurricane Irma," Sanders added.
The evacuation orders in Florida included the area where Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is located in Palm Beach.
While the mansion and club sit up on a crest above the ocean, separated from the beach and water by State Road A1A, the club is wedged in on the west side by the Intracoastal Waterway, making it possible that flood waters and storm surge could reach the retreat.
The White House thanked Congress for speedy action this week to replenish disaster relief funds for FEMA, which had been drained in the relief work for Hurricane Harvey that continues in Texas and Louisiana.
But a major hit from Irma might require more action by Congress on disaster aid funds before the end of the month, as the feds wait to see how much damage is actually done from the storm.
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