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MSNBC Countdown - Transcript

Location: Washington, DC

MSNBC Countdown - Transcript
Tuesday, October 18, 2005


COSBY: Byron, thank you very much. Please keep us posted.

And Massachusetts officials (INAUDIBLE) say they're very worried that they could have a catastrophe in their own backyard. We're joined now on the phone by Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Governor, you know, how worried are you? This sounds pretty bad. You know, we're just hearing from Byron that downtown could be a lake.

GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, there's no question we're concerned about the status of this dam. I think the mayor is taking the right action in evacuating the 2,000 or so people who would be affected by this dam giving way. Fortunately, it's not such a wall of water that it would case enormous damage to property, we don't believe, but there'd be a lot of water. And if people were there, they could be hurt. So we're taking all the precautions necessary, and hopefully, the dam will be able to hold.

COSBY: Now, you've asked for the federal government to step in just a few hours ago. Are they stepping in? What do you need? What kind of local support and federal support are you getting?

ROMNEY: Well, the federal government really takes some responsibility for helping us financially when there's a major emergency of some kind. But the emergency response that's being coordinated today is being done by Mayor Nunes and by his team. They're doing a great job. The state is supporting them with our own state police and other resources. And the federal government will really not be necessary in terms of personnel, but when a situation like this develops, we, of course, acquaint FEMA with the circumstance. And hopefully, if we need additional financial support, they'll be there for us.

COSBY: You know, as you look back at the dam-I was looking at some of the history of it-in 1968, it flooded, right? In 1886, it flooded. There's a big history. The dam itself was built in 1832, related as "fair," quote, condition in 2003. Why didn't anybody sort of see this coming, that this dam is a problem?

ROMNEY: Well, the dam has been rebuilt, of course, over the years many, many times. It now has a concrete base and is inspected. It was inspected regularly, had most recent inspection two years ago. And repairs are under way at the dam for various aspects of its maintenance. But what we have right now, of course, is a record-breaking rainfall. And with the 3,000 dams in our state, we're very fortunate that none have given way. This is one we're watching very carefully, and obviously, we think that we have, you know, a lot of challenges, but this one we hope we're going to be able to weather.

COSBY: You know, and Governor, you talked about looking at some of the other dams, as the assessment is that there are at least two others that are sort of, quote, "deemed as unsafe," 38 others in, quote, "poor shape." Obviously, I understand (INAUDIBLE) you're doing sort of an emergency inspection. How worried are you that other dams may give way?

ROMNEY: Well, at this stage, we've gone through the heaviest of the stress on the various dams, and so we're not terribly concerned or worried, although we do see more weather coming this weekend. We recognize that there's a lot of private dams out there. In this case, we have, oh, about 2,700 privately owned dams. These are typically small bodies of water that are affected. Old mills from the 1800s were built that put dams in, and those are maintained by their private owners. And we watch them pretty carefully and have every confidence that they will be able to hold up.

COSBY: Governor Mitt Romney, thank you very much. We really appreciate you being with us, sir. I know you're very, very busy, and we're praying for the best for your folks there. Thank you.


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