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President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he anticipates that Hurricane Florence will be one of the worst storms in decades and said everybody should "get out" if they are in the path of the storm.
The president also defended his administration's response last year to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the island of Puerto Rico, calling it "incredibly successful."
"Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all, because it's an island, so you can't truck things onto it, everything's by boat," Trump told reporters. "It was one of the best jobs that's ever been done."
Nearly 3,000 people are believed to have died on Puerto Rico as a result of the damage caused by Maria. Trump also noted on Tuesday that Puerto Rico is potentially in the path of another upcoming storm, Hurricane Isaac.
Speaking of the government's preparations for Florence, Trump said his administration is "sparing no expense. We are ready. We are as ready as anyone as ever been." He added: "This is going to be a very large one ... It's tremendously big and tremendously wet. Tremendous amounts of water."
Seated in the Oval Office, Trump surveyed poster charts of potential hurricane trajectories with Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Earlier in the day, Trump told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base that his administration is "absolutely, totally prepared" for the hurricane.
"We're ready. FEMA is ready. Everybody is ready," Trump said. "We have everybody standing by. We hope for the best," he said. "There's a chance it could be a very bad one, as you've probably heard ... but we are absolutely, totally prepared."
Speaking on a conference call with reporters Tuesday, officials from both FEMA and the American Red Cross predicted that electrical power and roads could be out for weeks in communities hit hard by Hurricane Florence.
"This is not a storm that on day three the roads are gonna be back and trees will be back green and power will be back on," said Jeff Byrd, associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery at FEMA. Florence, he said, "is going to definitely knock out power days into weeks."
On Monday, Trump approved federal emergency declarations for North Carolina and South Carolina, and on Tuesday he issued a similar emergency for the state of Virginia.
As forecasts of the hurricane grew more serious on Monday, Trump's public response consisted largely of tweets. "To the incredible citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina and the entire East Coast — the storm looks very bad!" Trump said in a tweet Monday afternoon. "Please take all necessary precautions. We have already began mobilizing our assets to respond accordingly, and we are here for you!"
Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall in the Carolinas on Thursday.
— CNBC's Carmin Chappell contributed to this story.