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CNN Paula Zahn Now - Transcript

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CNN Paula Zahn Now - Transcript
Thursday, September 22, 2005


ZAHN: John Zarrella, just hope those folks get further north to safety. Thank you.

One-and-a-half-million people are in the situation that John was just talking about. They are under orders to flee from Rita.

And, a little bit earlier on, I spoke with Texas Governor Rick Perry who says this is, in fact, the biggest evacuation in his state's history.


ZAHN: Governor Perry, thanks so much for joining us.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Yes, ma'am.

ZAHN: The main way north out of Houston is being described as a parking lot. We talked with one man who says he has only traveled 48 miles in 13 hours. If that pace doesn't pick up, what are the chances you're going to have people trapped on freeways once Rita hits?

PERRY: Well, we have got the counterflow going now, the good news is, after about 11:00, 12:00 today. You've got both lanes of I- 45 flowing north. You have got both lanes -- or not both lanes -- both sides, so, eight, 10, 12 lanes in some places flowing north; 290, which is another main artery out of there, still is only one half of it, but there are some of those that you just can't counterflow.

So, we have had a substantial opening. And knowing your physics, when you double that size and volume, you quadruple the number of the amount of vehicles that can go through there. So, we should be able to move those people out of harm's way. And that's the most important thing. Every mile we get away from that coast, we put those people in a safer position.

And I know it's frustrating for them, but be patient and be calm and we will get those folks moved out of harm's way.

ZAHN: So, what do you say to the folks tonight who say, uh-uh, we're going back home?

PERRY: Well...

ZAHN: We're not going to sit here and chance it?

PERRY: The good news is that this storm appears to be moving on to the east. But, again, I wouldn't recommend anybody going back into Galveston or those areas, where that storm surge could still be very deadly.

ZAHN: What is the potential damage that you are most worried about tonight?

PERRY: Well, certainly getting those people out.

And I keep going back to that, and it's the emergency evacuation process that's going in. We have got a lot of resources at our beck and call. But moving that many people is your great concern, always.

ZAHN: But, beyond the human toll, are you most worried about the flooding, wind damage?

PERRY: Well, it depends on where the storm comes in. Again, I'm sorry I'm not being real specific with you. But the fact of the matter is, if this storm comes up the ship channel, we have got forces facing us that it doesn't make a difference how much you plan and how much you do. It's going to be catastrophic.

ZAHN: Well, we wish you tremendous luck.

PERRY: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: You have got a lot of responsibility on your shoulders.

PERRY: Yes, ma'am. Keep us in your prayers.

ZAHN: We certainly will. Thanks again for your time.

PERRY: Yes, ma'am.



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