The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitaton is urging President Obama to stay away from flood areas in North Dakota and Minnesota ... for now.
While the President might want so survey the region first hand, Napolitano told reporters on a conference call Friday that she would advise the president to wait, given the "extraordinary circumstances" facing the area.
"The focus needs to be on taking care of the residents of Fargo, [N.D.,] Moorhead [Minn.,] all those surrounding communities through the most serious part of this flood," she said. "And then we can begin to work on the issues of recovery. But having him come diverts resources — quite frankly — from the immediate response to the flood."
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Napolitano said she briefed the president on the situation earlier in the day and will again "later this evening."
However, she stressed Obama would be monitoring the crisis closely.
"He's watching it very, very carefully," Napolitano said.
Napolitano added that she has been on the phone with governors of both states, DHS personnel on the ground and officials from the National Guard.
If Fargo decided to evacuate, 80,000 to 100,000 people would need to be relocated, she said, and while most would go to the homes of friends and family, about 30,000 people would need shelter.
"The current situation is that they are going to evacuate hospitals and special needs populations and that's about 3,500 individuals, but beyond that for the time being, any evacuation is voluntary," she said.
However, the secretary said her department is preparing to support the shelters that will be open with food and water.
"We have food and water in place or closely nearby right now that would support 30,000 people for a week and have more available obviously should it be necessary."
Eighty-two rescues had already been made, according to Napolitano.
"You have a number of us who have been through different types of emergencies, but similar in the sense of having to make decisions about opening shelters, evacuating people, keeping track of special needs populations, making sure that highways are closed to one-way direction, making sure that shelters have food, baby food, places for pets, all the rest," she said. "I certainly have been through that quite a bit."
FOX News' Mike Levine contributed to this report.