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White House: Obama Ending Vacation Due To Irene

Update: The White House says President Obama is cutting his Martha's Vineyard vacation short because of Hurricane Irene. He'll return to Washington on Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama made the decision shortly after urging Americans in Hurricane Irene's path to heed warnings about the storm. Earnest says Obama decided it would be more prudent for him to be at the White House at the end of the day, instead of in the New England area.

On Friday, emphasizing vigilance, President Obama urged the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Irene to heed instructions from state and local officials, especially if directed to evacuate. “Don’t wait, don’t delay,” he said.

Speaking from his vacation rental on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., also in Irene’s path, the president said the federal government is “bringing all federal resources to bear” in response to the threat.

“I cannot stress this highly enough, if you are in the projected path of this hurricane you have to take precautions now,” the president said.

He said all indications point to Irene being a historic hurricane.

Obama said he had been briefed on Irene’s status Friday morning by top federal officials. He said he also called governors of states and mayors of communities in the expected hurricane path.

As he spoke, rains from Irene’s outer bands began hitting the Carolinas, along with 6- to 9-foot waves. On Martha’s Vineyard, though, Obama spoke in the shade of a poplar tree outside a gray-shingled cottage on the complex grounds. Otherwise it was bright sunshine, not a cloud in the sky.

This program aired on August 26, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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