From: Nelson, Colleen McCain [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2015 12:48 PM
To: Barnes, Desiree N.
Subject: Travel Pool Report #5 -- pool spray and Sotloff meeting
At the conclusion of President Obama’s hurricane preparedness briefing, the pool was led into the room to hear brief remarks. The president sat at a U-shaped table with 17 other officials. He was flanked by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and FEMA’s Craig Fugate.
Obama started by saying that his thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Texas floods. Lives have been lost, he said, and condolences go out to the families.
Federal, state and local respondents have been working together, he said.
“Coordination is good,” he said. “They appear to have the assets they need at this stage to respond.”
“There’s going to be a lot of rebuilding,” he said, adding that the federal government will stay in close coordination with Texas officials.
“It does remind us that it is never too early for disaster preparation,” Obama said. Federal officials are in constant coordination with state and local partners, he said.
“The truth is, we are better prepared than ever for the storms of today,” he said. “Technology has improved, forecasting has improved.” The tools have gotten a lot better, he said.
“We are also focusing on making ourselves more resilient for the impacts of a changing climate,” he said.
“The best climate scientists in the world are telling us that extreme weather events like hurricanes are likely to become more powerful,” Obama said.
The combination of stronger storms with rising seas, that’s a recipe for more devastation, he said.
“Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it might have made it stronger,” he said.
Obama said he is working with Congress to make sure we are focused on resilience.
“Miami, for example, already has to spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to adapt its water system to more frequent flooding,” he said.
“Responding to a hurricane is a team effort,” Obama said. He encouraged Americans to check out the resources the federal government has made available online.
He praised public servants, saying that we don’t always appreciate their role and the essential information they provide. “They may be in the background until disaster strikes, and suddenly we realize how much we depend on them.”
He also thanked the military and the National Guard for the work they do.
The White House advises that Obama earlier today met with the Sotloff family in Miami.
Statement from Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council Spokesperson:
Today in Miami, President Obama had the opportunity to meet with Art and Shirley Sotloff, the parents of Steven Sotloff, and Steven’s sister Lauren. The Sotloffs live in Florida, so this was an appropriate occasion for the President to visit with them. The President expressed his and the First Lady’s condolences for Steven’s death. He appreciated the chance to hear from the Sotloffs more about Steven’s work as a journalist, including his passion for bringing the stories of people who are suffering to the rest of the world in the hope of making a positive difference, including in Syria. The President also recognized the family’s “2Lives: Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation”, which was created to provide support and assistance to journalists reporting from conflict torn areas of the world.
Colleen McCain Nelson
The Wall Street Journal