Hurricane season officially begins Monday and the Obama administration is warning people to be prepared.
Following a disaster-preparedness briefing today at FEMA headquarters, the president said the government will be ready whenever the next large storm his the U.S., but emphasized that citizens in hurricane-prone areas need to chip in as well.
"I have no greater responsibility than the safety of the American people," Obama said. "But as we enter into hurricane season, I hope that everybody who's watching is going to be paying attention and take seriously their responsibilities as citizens so that the entire country is ready."
To help residents prepare themselves appropriately for hurricane season, Mr Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate introduced the web site, ready.gov.
"One of the most important things we can do is make sure the families have prepared appropriately," Obama said, as he explained the site provides information on how to formulate personal disaster plans as having a basic emergency supply kit with water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, radio, and first aid kit, as well as encouraging citizens to stay informed of weather developments and community emergency plans.
The president said that while individual states and local communities, who have the primary responsibility for preparing and responding to disasters, will have the "full resources of the federal government backing them up," there is a grave need for individuals to take some of the strain off the state, local and federal governments.
"Those people who have the capacity to plan, they will thereby relieve some of the resources that the government has to provide and we can stay focused on those folks who are most vulnerable and have the most difficulty dealing with a storm."
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration has predicted a "normal" season with four to seven hurricanes likely in 2009.