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Public Statements

CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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BLITZER: Fran Townsend, thanks very much.

I want to get back to the breaking news right now to the Dallas- Ft. Worth area, a series of tornadoes pummeling major parts of the community. You are looking at these live pictures coming in courtesy of our affiliate WFAA. That's earlier. You see that funnel from that tornado moving towards those trailer trucks. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst (ph) of Texas is joining us on the phone right now. Lieutenant Governor thanks very much. First of all, do you have any reports of casualties yet, because we see the physical property damage pretty destructive.

LIEUTENANT GOV. DAVID DEWHURST, (R) TEXAS (via telephone): Wolf, no. The pictures that you're seeing and that I'm seeing are just -- just horrific, but we've got reports of a number of injuries, but no reports of fatalities at the present time. Our local news --

BLITZER: Thank God for that.

DEWHURST: Absolutely. Absolutely, but local news has reported that five tornadoes have gone through the -- through the Dallas area. We've got, of course, the whole storm system is in Dallas and Fort Worth and it's affecting Dallas County, Tarrant County, Johnson County, and Ellis County. But most of the damage to date has been done in southwest Dallas County including a lot of hail damage. We've got an unconfirmed report that a nursing home has been damaged. We don't know if there are any injuries. And we've got a lot of flooding, but the most important thing, and I know you've been pressing it -- you've been stressing this in the past is with such severe weather and such power in the tornadoes that, ladies and gentlemen, if you're, if the National Weather Service or local officials urge you to take shelter, please go down on your ground floor inside a hallway, don't have any exposure to glass and to the windows and please, please be safe. There's plenty of time to go outside and take a look at damage. Right now is not the time to do it --

BLITZER: Even if you go outside now, Governor, as you well know with the power lines down, a lot of glass --

DEWHURST: Right.

BLITZER: -- a lot of nails out there, it's pretty dangerous even if you think the tornadoes and the severe weather have passed, it's still pretty dangerous to simply walk around in your neighborhood.

DEWHURST: That's exactly right, Wolf. And we do have -- we have activated the state of Texas Emergency Management Center. We are monitoring this. Unfortunately, Wolf, we've had a lot of experience over the years and with hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. And so, ladies and gentlemen, we have got text (ph) on our Highway Department standing by for debris cleaning as soon as it's safe for them to move in. So just please, stay right where you are, stay safe, and pay attention to the National Weather Service and CNN and other stations.

BLITZER: Is it premature, Lieutenant Governor, to ask for FEMA or any federal assistance into this emergency that is taking place in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area or is that something you'll decide down the road?

DEWHURST: We'll decide that as soon as we can get -- it may not be premature -- we'll decide that as quickly as we can get crews out and take a look at the damage which has been done. We know that there's been -- there have been quite a few individual truck stops and the 18-wheeler that we all saw and different homes which have been destroyed, but we have to get a check on this before we turn in any application.

BLITZER: And you, of course, know better than I do, Lieutenant Governor, the tornado season is only just beginning. I assume you're bracing, unfortunately, for more of these kinds of disasters.

DEWHURST: We always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. In other words, we think we got -- last summer we got through the hurricane season after going through a rough time in 2005 and 2008 with Hurricanes Rita and then with Hurricane Ike came through which was devastating for us, but we're -- but we're in the tornado season, so please, ladies and gentlemen, pay attention and if there are any warnings from either the TV stations or the National Weather Service go inside, inside room, ground floor and be safe, please.

BLITZER: Lieutenant Governor, good luck to you, good luck to all the folks in Texas. Right now we are praying for you, with you. Appreciate it very much.

DEWHURST: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you. Bye..

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