Obama spoke on Saturday pledging his support according to USA Today.
“Even as we face an economic crisis which demands our constant focus, forces of nature can also intervene in ways that create other crises to which we must respond — and respond urgently,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
“I will continue to monitor the situation carefully,” he pledged. “We will do what must be done to help.”
The president told residents in the two states to be vigilant in reading the flood reports and to follow the evacuation orders from federal, state and local officials if they are declared.
Obama heaped praise on the thousands of volunteers who have spent the past week building sandbag dikes.
While Obama is at Camp David this weekend his aides stress that he is being kept up to date with the flood details.
Obama doesn’t want another Katrina on his hands. In August 2005 former President George W. Bush’s popularity took a nose dive as New Orleans struggle after Hurricane Katrina and the levees surrounding the city broke down.
The past few days President Obama has been signing emergency and disaster declarations for Minnesota and North Dakota. On Saturday during his weekly national address Obama outlined the scope of his administration’s involvement. Both the Homeland Security Department and FEMA are coordinating the federal response. Both Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA administrator Nancy Ward have been in close contact with state officials. Ward has been sent to Fargo already.
FEMA acting administrator Nancy Ward says that New Orleans has taught FEMA that the agency needs to be in place when a disaster happens instead of later. That is the way to insure the help that is needed happens sooner.
Ward is in Fargo Saturday because she wanted to see the situation firsthand to better understand the challenges.
USA Today reports:
“At moments like these, we are reminded of the power of nature to disrupt lives and endanger communities,” Obama said. “But we are also reminded of the power of individuals to make a difference.”
“In facing sudden crises or more stubborn challenges, the truth is we are all in this together — as neighbors and fellow citizens,” Obama said.
With the highest levels ever reported Red River could leave thousands homeless.
“In terms of natural disasters that can strike this country, floods are just the worst, at least in my experience,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Reuters in an interview in Washington.
“It is a horrible human tragedy to watch this,” he said. “I think the folks in North Dakota and Minnesota have done an extraordinary job in trying to protect against this.”
The flooding could affect planting this year. Up to 500,000 acres could be reduced for the spring wheat crop. More than half of the sugar beets and a large portion of spring wheat for the United States is grown in the area.