WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday urged those in the path of Hurricane Sandy to pay close attention to instructions given by state and local authorities.
Obama returned to the White House Monday morning, ahead of Hurricane Sandy.
The massive storm has been bearing down on the East Coast, forecast to make landfall around 4 p.m. local time (1 p.m. Arizona time).
He said the key to getting through the storm is to make sure the public is following instructions to take precautions.
"The most important message that I have for the public right now is please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay. Don't pause. Don't question the instruction that are being given because this is a serious storm and it could potentially have fatal consequences if people haven't acted quickly."
Damage is expected to be widespread, but Obama says he's confident that state and federal governments have done all they can to prepare for the superstorm barreling up the East Coast.
"We're confident that the assets are pre-positioned for an effective response in the aftermath of the storm. ... We're making sure that food and water and emergency generation are available for those communities that are going to be hardest hit."
Speaking from the White House briefing room, the president said the slow-moving storm will affect millions of people.
"The public should anticipate that there are going to be a lot of power outages," he said. "Transportation is going to be tied up for a long time. ... We anticipate that there are going to be a lot of trees down, a lot of water."
A week from Election Day, he says he's not worried about the impact of the storm on his re-election chances, saying that the No. 1 priority is to make sure lives are saved.