LOS ANGELES, CA - Speaking to assembled press today, officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs announced the closure of all VA facilities west of the Mississippi river in response to possible dangers that may arise from Hurricane Sandy.
The storm, which is being dubbed a "Frankenstorm" due to its mixture of winter weather and hurricane winds, is due to slam into the eastern seaboard of the United States, making landfall in New Jersey Monday evening and heading north towards Canada.
With widespread fears of power outages, fierce winter weather and possible storm surges on the horizon for much of the east coast, VA officials feel they are making reasonable accommodations to keep their employees safe.
"We have been tracking this storm since it first popped up on the radar," said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who spoke from the VA's $17bn Malibu Beach headquarters, wearing a cutoff shirt and board shorts. "And the moment we knew it would be hitting the northeast, like we always strive to do, we took aggressive actions to minimize the amount of work being done across the VA system."
The storm is expected to last for a matter of days, but VA officials are stressing the importance of improvising, adapting, and using 21st century technology to counter the storm's impact.
"This storm really will highlight our technology innovation at the VA," said spokesman Dan Baker. "A great example of this is our recent acquisition of a large fleet of Chevy Volts at the discounted price of $80k each, which will be used to transport our sophisticated pencil and paper processing equipment out of the danger zone."
"Every effort has been made by our employees to ensure that no phones will be answered and no claims will be processed," said Shinseki. "We realize that a natural disaster like this does not have to lend itself to productivity, or what I would call an 'office disaster'."
The facilities closure is set to last for approximately 2 weeks, although Shinseki has said that the VA will do everything in its power to keep its doors closed to veterans for longer, if possible.
"If this storm suddenly makes a hard right and heads out into the Atlantic, then we'll certainly have to reevaluate our response and possibly close all facilities in the U.S.," said Shinseki, "Right now, we'll just have to wait and see."