DUBLIN, Ohio (CNN) – Barack Obama and Joe Biden urged Gulf Coast residents to evacuate as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the region.
"Even if you've ridden out this storm before, even if you think that it may pass over, even if you think that you can wait until the last minute, this is going to be, potentially, very, very serious," said Obama, in a hastily assembled press conference in front of their campaign bus in Central Ohio. "For your own safety and your family's safety, people have to follow the instructions of the officials there to make sure that this evacuation is going smoothly."
Obama spoke to officials including FEMA Director R. David Paulison, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Saturday and said he was passing along their message to evacuate. Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans Saturday, calling Gustav "the storm of the century."
Biden also spoke directly to those in the storm's path, telling them to get out of town to avoid weather that may be worse than Hurricane Katrina three years ago.
"Those folks who rode out, do not ride out again, ride out of town. Get out of town. Do what the governor is suggesting, what the mayor is suggesting, what the senators are suggesting. Get out of town," said Biden.
Obama says they're monitoring the situation and urged continued cooperation between FEMA and the Gulf Coast states, noting that not just Louisiana is likely going to be affected but Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Texas.
Word came late Saturday that John McCain would visit an emergency command post in Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday. Asked if he would visit the area, Obama said that because of the large number of staff and press traveling with him, he might be a distraction.
"I will do whatever is required that is useful but right now the main thing that's useful is letting everybody out there know, please evacuate the area," said Obama.