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MSNBC Meet the Press - Transcript

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MSNBC Meet the Press - Transcript
Sunday, September 25, 2005


Mr. Tim Russert: Our issues this Sunday: Hurricane Rita, devastation and destruction in her path. What now? With us, the governor of Texas, Rick Perry. From Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, Dr. Ivor Van Heerden, and the president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Aaron Broussard. Then insights and analysis from three New York Times columnists with very different views, David Brooks, Maureen Dowd and Tom Friedman, together only on Meet the Press.

But first, with us now is the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, who's in Beaumont, Texas.

Governor, good morning.

How widespread is the devastation? How many Texans are without water and power?

Gov. Rick Perry, (R-TX): Well, it is widespread. It's probably as big an area as you would think it would be, a storm of this size coming in. And almost everyone in an eight-county area through the coastal region where this came in, Jefferson County, Liberty, Chambers, Polk, all the way up into Jasper, Newton and particularly hard hit Orange County, all of those without electricity, water, the necessities of life, if you will, or the necessities of normalcy. A lot of that coming in on the back of trucks this morning as we speak. Last night, generators arriving at the hospital, so over half a million gallons of gasoline brought in to southeast Texas in the last 24 hours. So there's a lot of relief coming into this area.

I just want to caution people that folks who have left, stay where you are. It's still a dangerous place for just the average citizen to be. We've got the place secure. We've got a lot of troopers. We've got a lot of folks in uniform here, so we're trying to get the electricity and the generators, if you will, back on for those that either decided to stay here or that were forced to stay here.

Mr. Russert: How many deaths have been the result of this hurricane?
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Gov. Perry: Well, from the direct impact of the hurricane, it appears at this particular point in time that it's zero. I know that's a miraculous number, I mean, the idea that you had a storm of that size come in with that power. Now, I can't speak over in Louisiana 'cause I haven't been in contact with their officials. But in the state of Texas, we have not had a death directly associated. Obviously, we had a tragedy up in--just north of Dallas with the mass evacuation that was going on and that freak accident with the truck--or excuse me, the bus that caught fire and those individuals there lost their lives. But it's been from the standpoint of loss of life--and that's what you got to look at. We'll rebuild. We have truly dodged a major bullet here.

Mr. Russert: Regarding that burned-out bus outside of Dallas, The Dallas News reports today that that bus had--registration had expired in July and that you signed a waiver to allow buses like that to go back on the road for the evacuation. Any regrets?

Gov. Perry: Well, we didn't sign any waivers to allow for any safety standards to be overseen, so the fact of the matter is we were trying to get as many people out of harm's way as we could. And that type of registration didn't have anything to do with the safety standards that are required. So if we had to all do it again, probably do the same thing because it's important to get people out of harm's way. And again, when that investigation is fully completed, then we'll know exactly what happened and transporting those patients with oxygen cylinders. There may be some type of changes that need to be made there for all motor vehicles of that form, but we'll wait until the investigation is done.

Mr. Russert: All the world, all the country watched as people, millions, fled Houston; hundreds of miles of cars backed up on the freeways. Miraculously so many people got out of the way of the storm. But Houston Mayor Bill White said that the state should have prepositioned gasoline along the highways so people didn't run out. Is that a lesson that you've learned?

Gov. Perry: I think it's obviously one of those recommendations that makes a lot of sense. The idea that you're going to move two to two and a half million people in 36 hours, I'm not sure anyone ever envisioned that occurring. Yes, it was a possibility. But there's going to be a lot of look back, take recommendations so that when this is done again in the future and, you know, in Texas most likely it will with the coastal region that we've got. But the fact of the matter is, we moved two and a half million people with a relative small amount of problems: 15 hours on the road. We understand that. But you just--you can't force that many people down a--those highways. One of the reasons that we're going to be building more highways in the state of Texas is to handle the huge population growth that we've had over the last decade and a half.

Mr. Russert: Governor Rick Perry, we thank you. And good luck on your recovery.

Gov. Perry: You're welcome, Tim. Thank you. Keep us in your prayers.

Mr. Russert: I will do that.


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