Late this afternoon, the President participated in a call in the White House Situation Room with Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and utility executives to underscore that restoring power to the millions of Americans who lost electricity during Sandy is a top priority and explore areas where FEMA and federal partners can provide additional assistance as companies and states work towards this goal. He thanked the executives for the efforts their companies made to preposition assets in advance of the storm and for the important work that has already begun to restore power, including the ongoing effort to move existing private sector assets from as far away as the West Coast. The President also commended the dangerous and exhausting work being undertaken by the lineman and utility workers on the front lines in the field, repairing downed power lines and conducting other important tasks.
On the call the President made clear his existing directive to agencies to eliminate any bureaucratic roadblocks the companies and their crews could encounter that delay the power restoration effort, and identified steps the companies and the Administration could take now to help speed this critical effort – including the deployment of an industry liaison to FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center beginning tomorrow. The President instructed his team to keep him updated on the progress made by the utilities to restore power.