President Obama is helping prepare the emergency responses to the severe winter storm threatening the Eastern United States, the White House said Wednesday.

Obama, who is being briefed regularly on the expected ice and snow, declared a state of emergency for 45 counties in Georgia, which authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to aid the state's response to the storm.

White House press secretary Jay Carney also Wednesday said that FEMA had activated its National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., as well as regional outposts in Atlanta and Philadelphia, to coordinate responses.

"We encourage residents and visitors in the track of the storms to follow the instructions of state, local and tribal officials, to monitor [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Weather Radio, and to monitor their local news for updates and directions provided by local officials," Carney said.

The powerful storm has already led to thousands of flight cancellations nationwide. In Georgia, hundreds of thousands of utility customers are without power, while areas of northern Louisiana were sacked with more than 5 inches of snow.

In anticipation of the storm, the White House also announced it was scrapping its "My Brother's Keeper" event scheduled for Thursday.

Obama was slated to announce the initiative, which aides said would ask businesses and foundations to fund programs across the country designed to support men of color in school and help reduce their negative interactions with the criminal justice system.

Carney said the cancellation was taken was taken out of an "abundance of caution" and the White House was looking to find a new date for the event.