HURRICANE IRENE

Hurricane Irene: President Obama advises to prepare for Hurricane Irene

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CHILMARK, Mass. (AP) - Emphasizing vigilance, President Barack Obama urged the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Irene to heed instructions from state and local officials, especially if directed to evacuate.

"Don't wait, don't delay," he said.

Speaking from his vacation rental on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., also in Irene's path, the president said the federal government is "bringing all federal resources to bear" in response to the threat.

"I cannot stress this highly enough, if you are in the projected path of this hurricane you have to take precautions now," the president said.

He said all indications point to Irene being a historic hurricane.

Obama said he had been briefed on Irene's status Friday morning by top federal officials. He said he also called governors of states and mayors of communities in the expected hurricane path.

As he spoke, rains from Irene's outer bands began hitting the Carolinas, along with 6- to 9-foot waves. On Martha's Vineyard, though, Obama spoke in the shade of a poplar tree outside a gray-shingled cottage on the complex grounds. Otherwise it was bright sunshine, not a cloud in the sky.

Obama isn't expected to change his schedule as a result of the storm. He was already scheduled to leave the island retreat to return to the White House on Saturday, the day the storm is expected to pass through the Washington area.

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