THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. This morning I want to say a few words about tropical storm Isaac and the steps that we're taking to keep people safe and minimize the damage.
I just got an update from Secretary Napolitano, Administrator Fugate, the head of FEMA, and Dr. Rick Knabb, the director of the National Hurricane Center, on preparations that underway in the Gulf. This storm isn't scheduled to make landfall until later today, but at my direction FEMA has been on the ground for over a week working with state and local officials in areas that could be affected -- from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Florida, and more recently, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Yesterday I approved a disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana so they can get the help that they need right away, particularly around some of the evacuations that are taking place. And right now, we already have response teams and supplies ready to help communities in the expected path of the storm.
As we prepare for Isaac to hit, I want to encourage all residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to your local officials and follow their directions, including if they tell you to evacuate. We're dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area. Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously.
And finally, I want to thank everyone who has been working around the clock to get ready for Isaac. The hardest work, of course, is still ahead. And as President, I'll continue to make sure that the federal government is doing everything possible to help the American people prepare for and recover from this dangerous storm. And as we get additional updates from the Hurricane Center as well as from FEMA in terms of activities on the ground, we'll be providing continuous updates both at the local and the national level.