Cross-posted from The White House Blog.
The President made the following statement on the earthquake in Chile and preparations for a possible tsunami that could reach American shores later today:
Good morning, everybody. Earlier today, a devastating earthquake struck the nation of Chile, affecting millions of people. This catastrophic event was followed by multiple aftershocks, and has prompted tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean. Earlier today, I was briefed by my national security team on the steps that we're taking to protect our own people, and to stand with our Chilean friends.
Early indications are that hundreds of lives have been lost in Chile, and the damage is severe. On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the Chilean people. The United States stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts, and we have resources that are positioned to deploy should the Chilean government ask for our help. Chile is a close friend and partner of the United States, and I've reached out to President Bachelet to let her know that we will be there for her should the Chilean people need assistance, and our hearts go out to the families who may have lost loved ones.
We're also preparing for a tsunami that could reach American shores later today, particularly in Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam. A tsunami warning is in place, and people have been alerted to evacuate coastal areas. I urge citizens to listen closely to the instructions of local officials, who will have the full support of the federal government as they prepare for a potential tsunami, and recover from any damage that may be caused.
I also urge our citizens along the West Coast to be prepared as well, as there may be dangerous waves and currents throughout the day. Again, the most important thing that you can do is to carefully heed the instructions of your state and local officials.
Once again, we've been reminded of the awful devastation that can come at a moment’s notice. We can't control nature, but we can and must be prepared for disaster when it strikes. In the hours ahead, we'll continue to take every step possible to prepare our shores and protect our citizens. And we will stand with the people of Chile as they recovery from this terrible tragedy.
Thank you very much, everybody.
We will post video shortly.
Tsunami warnings are in affect for Hawaii, N. Marianas, American Samoa, Marshall and Solomon Islands. A tsunami advisory is in effect along the west coast of the United States and Alaska. More information can be found at the National Weather Center's website.
FEMA continues to monitor the situation, and through Region IX in California, is in contact with the State of Hawaii, and recommends that individuals follow the advice of local officials. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is monitoring the situation from FEMA Headquarters in Washington, DC and released the following statement:
FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security are closely monitoring the situation, and officials are in close contact with the State of Hawaii and the U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean that could be impacted by a potential tsunami. FEMA stands ready to assist should a request for assistance be made, and does have pre-deployed assets in Hawaii, including food, water, generators and other resources. We urge all individuals to follow the direction provided by local officials.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been briefed and is monitoring developments from Vancouver, where she is serving as the lead of the US Delegation at the Olympics.
More information and resources:
- The National Weather Center's Tsunami.gov.
- General Information on Tsumani preparedness as well as a tool to determine if your address is in a tsunami evacuation zone.
- In Hawaii, citizens can go to http://www.scd.state.hi.us/ for the latest news and information. Additionally, the States of California, Washington, and Oregon have similar sites on their web pages dedicated to this.
- If you are U.S citizen looking for a loved one in Chile, please contact State's Consular Affairs Bureau on 1-888-407-4747.
- A "person finder" has also been published to help find individuals in affected area in Chile – this resource is not maintained by the US government.
Robert Gibbs is White House Press Secretary