As Hurricane Dorian moved toward the northwestern Bahamas as a massive Category 5 hurricane, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan talked about the storm's approach toward the U.S. mainland and preparations that were underway.
"We expect hurricane-force winds to potentially hit the coast of Florida, and then a prolonged rain event, combined with a storm surge -- that's going to be very difficult as the storm starts to move northward," he told "This Week" Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz.
The eastern coast of Florida, which was initially predicted to take the brunt the storm, was still expected to see a dangerous storm surge as the National Hurricane Center models show Dorian staying offshore and moving north slowly toward Georgia and the Carolinas.
Evacuation orders in parts of Florida remain in effect and officials declared states of emergency in parts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
"We want people to listen to the state and local emergency managers. Listen to the evacuation orders. Make sure you’re prepared," McAleenan said on ABC's "This Week," advising people to be "very aggressive" in watching the storm and have a week’s worth of supplies prepared.
"That has been fixed and we have 3,000 people already deployed across the federal government agencies for this storm," acting DHS Sec. McAleenan says when asked about vacancies at FEMA.September 1, 2019
In June, acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor told lawmakers, "It has been a struggle for FEMA to make sure that we have enough disaster responders in reserve," adding that the agency was "probably short a few thousand employees."
On Sunday, McAleenan said that the shortage has been addressed.
"We have 3,000 people already deployed across the federal government agencies for this storm," he said.
President Donald Trump returned to Washington on Sunday to attend FEMA briefings.
McAleenan said several cabinet secretaries, including the secretaries of Defense, Transportation, Commerce and Health and Human Services were coming together for Trump’s visit later in the day.
"The president's going to make sure that we're on the same page," he added.
Pres. Trump is set to visit the FEMA headquarters today in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
"It's really a whole of government effort and the president's going to make sure that we are on the same page," acting Homeland Security Sec. Kevin McAleenan says https://t.co/Odl0AJxnzP pic.twitter.com/KoMDxpptfb— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 1, 2019
Trump had canceled a weekend trip to Poland and sent Vice President Mike Pence in his place so that he could monitor the storm.
The president left the White House for Camp David on Friday, where he met with experts and received briefings on the storm.
During his interview with Raddatz, McAleenan discussed reports of Trump administration plans to divert some DHS funds to the costs of detaining migrants and more quickly processing asylum seekers. The plans include directing more than $155 million from FEMA to create space for new immigration courts.
"I want to emphasize that no potential transfers -- no money has been moved yet," he said on "This Week" Sunday. "Any potential transfers will not impact our ability to respond to this storm or any other storms in the rest of the hurricane season."
McAleenan also responded to criticism from members of Congress over the plans by noting that hurricane season began in June, three months ago.
"We asked for this funding from Congress in the emergency supplemental," he said. "We needed that funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to respond to the ongoing humanitarian and border security crisis. The Congress didn't see fit to provide that funding, so we have to look at departmental sources across that have a limited impact, but will support the ongoing management of that crisis as well."