FNC FOX News Sunday - Transcript
Sunday, September 25, 2005
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: To bring us up to date on the situation across the state, we now welcome Texas Governor Rick Perry (search).
And, Governor, thanks for finding the time to talk with us.
TEXAS REPUBLICAN GOV. RICK PERRY: You're welcome, Chris. Good morning.
WALLACE: What's the latest on your state? How badly were you hit?
PERRY: Well, there's a lot of damage. I think assessments are still going on. The good news is it appears that there's been no loss of life. I mean, that's almost a miracle, a blessing - a storm this size to come in. Of course, that's preliminary.
So the fact of the matter is, our search-and-rescue operation's going to be substantially smaller than we thought it would.
The effort to resupply Southeast Texas is where the real focus is right now. Beaumont, Port Arthur, those wonderful cities in the golden triangle - they took a pretty big hit, so we've got a lot of residential damage, obviously, a lot of commercial damage.
And electricity is the big issue right now. We're working double overtime to try to find all the generators that we can in the country to move in here to get these people back to where they have at least some semblance of ability to put their water, their sewerage and those types of things on. And that's the real focus right now.
The cleanup effort is just beginning. And we want to ask people to stay where they are. Don't be coming back into this area, certainly. It's still dangerous, and if they've got clothing and bedding and food and water where they are, let's just be patient and stay there for right now.
WALLACE: Governor, how many people across Texas are still without power, and what about the problem of inland flooding in the northeast part of your state?
PERRY: Well, it's certainly up there, but not anywhere near as bad as we thought it was going to be. Lake Livingston, which is up in Polk and the Livingston area - we've got a lake up there that appears that there's some dam problems, and we've had to evacuate three counties there.
So again, it's a little bit early in the process to completely have our assessment in. When it gets light today, we'll be able to do some visual reconnaissance of the area and make a better decision about what the flooding impact is up in northeast Texas.
WALLACE: About one-quarter of the nation's energy production comes from this area. How badly were the oil platforms and the oil refineries hit, and when do you think you can get those back on-line again, sir?
PERRY: Well, the refineries appear to be in relatively good shape. I think we had one gasoline - or, excuse me, one gas pipeline that was ruptured, but it's being repaired as we speak.
So we may have really been blessed in the sense of missing a major hit on our oil refinery. The reports from the Gulf yet are still spotty coming in, but it appears that those platforms made it through this in relatively good shape also.
WALLACE: Governor, one problem that seems to have been exposed is what's called the so-called Katrina effect, and that is that so many people evacuated and yet it took almost a day to move all of the lanes out of Interstate 45 in Houston all to be directed out of town.
People ran out of gas in massive traffic jams. Of course, nobody had ever anticipated 2 million people leaving an area at the same time. But did this expose some problems with your evacuation plans in Texas?
PERRY: Well, you're absolutely correct. It was a monumental evacuation, probably the largest in America's history. We moved over two million people in 36 hours.
And actually, that decision to mandatory evacuate Houston started about 6 o'clock in the morning, and by early afternoon we had contraflowed Interstate 45. You don't just go out and plug up an interstate on one side and shift it over in an hour or two. I mean, it takes some time. It takes some personnel.
But we all learned, and I think every city learned something by watching this, whether it was Los Angeles or Chicago or New York - any of the major cities - that when you start talking about mass evacuation, we need to rethink that, look at the ability to pre-place - whether it's fuel, other assistance to those individuals.
But by and large, our citizens did a great job of listening to the officials and moving out in a relatively orderly - I know 15 hours in your car is a frustrating thing, but getting them out of that storm's path was the mission, and they did it and they did it in a very timely manner.
WALLACE: Governor, just to follow up on this a bit, last March your state reviewed evacuation plans for the Houston-Galveston area and found some serious weaknesses. But state officials are saying that few of the 18 recommendations were actually implemented.
Did that add to the problem? Would that have made a difference?
PERRY: Well, any time you're going to have a major event like that, again, the idea that you're moving two million people in a 36- hour period of time - it's a fascinating thought that you can even do that in an orderly way. But we did, and I think there are recommendations that we'll look at.
And certainly, we've had over 150 exercises in this state since September the 11th, 2001 - manmade disasters, natural disasters. Some of them have been the real thing, like the space shuttle disaster. We had Tropical Storm Allison (search) that did over $5 billion worth of damage in Houston. All of those exercises we've learned from.
We will learn from this one, and we will implement those and share them with other states. And I think that's really important that we're sharing that information, so when this happens - it may not be a hurricane, it may be some other event that occurs that a city like Los Angeles or Miami can use some of the things that we've learned in Katrina and in Rita.
WALLACE: Governor Perry, we want to thank you so much for talking with us, and best of luck, sir, in getting your state back together.
PERRY: You're welcome, Chris. Thank you.