As Hurricane Irene moved up the Eastern seaboard on Saturday, President Barack Obama paid a visit to the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
USA Today reports that Obama arrived at FEMA's National Response Coordination Center at 12:20 p.m. eastern time, then toured the facility and took part in a video teleconference with state and federal officials.
"You guys are doing a great job," Obama told a group of emergency workers. "This is obviously going to be touch and go."
"It's going to be a long 72 hours," he said.
In a statement, the White House said Obama would be kept informed of the storm's progress throughout the day and night.
"The president reiterated that we know that this storm's impacts will continue to be felt throughout the weekend and that we still have work ahead of us to support potentially impacted states and communities," the statement said. "The president asked the team that he be updated, as necessary, throughout the day and overnight."
Before the visit to FEMA headquarters, Obama took a conference call with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to discuss federal emergency response and recovery plans.
On Friday, the Obama family cut short a vacation in Martha's Vineyard in order to return to Washington ahead of the storm.
"The president simply reached the conclusion it would be more prudent for him to be in Washington, D.C., and to be at the White House," deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told USA Today.
Irene made landfall in North Carolina on Saturday morning, becoming the first hurricane to hit the continental United States since 2008. And while the storm has weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center still considers the storm very dangerous. Hurricane warnings have been issued for the next 48 hours in North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
More than two million people in Irene's path have been told to evacuate, including in New York City, which was preparing to shut down its entire mass transit and subway system for the fist time in history on Saturday.