As Hurricane Dorian moved toward the northwestern Bahamas as a massive Category 5 hurricane, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan talked about the storm’s approach toward the U.S. mainland.
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“We expect hurricane force winds to potentially hit the coast of Florida and then a prolonged rain event combined with storm surge that’s going to be very difficult,” he told “This Week” Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz, adding that National Hurricane Center models show the storm staying offshore and moving north slowly.
Forecasts showed the storm, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, targeting Georgia and the Carolinas and bringing a life-threatening storm surge. Officials declared states of emergency in parts of those states.
(MORE: Hurricane Dorian now Category 5, expected to hit Abaco and Grand Bahama Island soon)
The eastern coast of Florida, which was initially predicted to heavily impacted by the storm, was still expected to see a dangerous storm surge. Evacuation orders for some areas of the state remain in effect.
“We want people to listen to the state and local emergency managers. Listen to the evacuation orders. Make sure you’re prepared,” McAleenan said on ABC’s “This Week,” advising people to be “very aggressive” in watching the storm and have a week’s worth of supplies prepared.
(MORE: Hurricane Dorian shifts course, now may hit Georgia and Carolinas)
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference in San Salvador, El Salvador August 28, 2019.
(MORE: Trump to tap FEMA account to step up migrant deportations, House Dems say no way)
President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he had canceled his trip to Poland and he sent Vice President Mike Pence in his place, so that he could remain in the country to monitor the storm.
Trump left the White House for Camp David on Friday, where he met with experts and received briefings on the storm’s progress.
(MORE: FEMA staffing stretched thin as Atlantic storm season intensifies)
On Saturday, the president left Camp David for his golf club in Virginia. He was expected to return to Washington later on Sunday to attend FEMA briefings.
During his interview with Raddatz, McAleenan touched on reports of Trump administration plans to rearrange the Department of Homeland Security budget to direct more funds to the costs of detaining migrants and more quickly processing asylum seekers. The plans included directing more than $155 million from FEMA to create space for new immigration courts.
“I want to emphasize that no potential transfers–no money has been moved yet,” he said. “Any potential transfers will not impact our ability to respond to this storm or any other storms in the rest of the hurricane season.”
He also responded to reports of understaffing at FEMA. Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor told lawmakers in June that “It has been a struggle for FEMA to make sure that we have enough disaster responders in reserve,” adding that the agency was “probably short a few thousand employees.”
McAleenan said Sunday that the shortage is fixed. “We have 3,000 people already deployed across the federal government agencies for this storm,” he said.
Speaking from the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters on Sunday, McAleenan also touched on the mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, where 4 people were killed and 21 injured, saying that it was “extraordinarily concerning” and “devastating.” He added that the Department of Homeland Security would be following up “aggressively.”