Federal Emergency Management Agency acting Director Pete Gaynor said the uncertainty surrounding Hurricane Dorian is proving to be the most challenging aspect of dealing with the strengthening storm.
“I think,” Gaynor told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,“ Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean “hit the keyword: the uncertainty.”
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“We’ve been dealing with uncertainty pretty much the entire time with Dorian. It’s going to stall out tomorrow and into Tuesday. Cat. 5, 160 mile an hour winds, surge. And I know people are getting tired because this has been a long-duration storm and it hasn’t even touched Florida or the East Coast.
On Sunday morning, Dorian reached Category 5 strength as it moved closer to the Bahamas, joining the ranks of several other high-power storms that have surpassed 145 mph winds in the month of August, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Dean in 2007. Forecasters expect Dorian to move closer to the East Coast on Monday and believe it could make landfall on the South Carolina coast as soon as Wednesday. A state of emergency has already been declared for all of Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as a dozen counties in Georgia.
“So we want people to — don’t dismiss this storm,” Gaynor added. “We are not out of it. Life-threatening, dangerous surge, water, wind is coming your way. Take the time now to prepare you and your family.”
Although Florida could avoid a direct hit, Gaynor warns there is still serious danger.
“Well, storm surge is one of the things we’re worried about most,” he said. “You know, the majority of — 90 percent of all weather-related deaths come from water, flooding, surge; 50 percent of those deaths are people in cars driving through flooded waters. You’ve got to take this storm seriously.”
Gaynor reiterated FEMA is prepared for the impending storm.
“We’ve been at this for five or six days, preparing,” he added. “We’ve been activated in the national response coordination center, which you can see behind me. We have food, water, generators, staff, helicopters, ambulances — from Florida all the way to North Carolina.”
The acting head also noted that his agency has “plenty of money and resources to deal with 2017 and 2018 disaster recoveries and to include response in 2019, this season” — despite the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to divert $155 million in federal disaster aid to bolster immigration enforcement last month.
“We live with risk everyday,” Gaynor said. “We assess risk. We assessed that the $155 million was low risk and is not affecting our preparedness whatsoever for Dorian.”