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Transcript: Jefferson County Supervisor on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published September 26, 2005 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a transcribed excerpt of "FOX News Sunday," Sept. 25, 2005.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: So what happened in some of the smaller towns that were right in the path of the hurricane? For answers, we welcome the Jefferson County supervisor, Judge Carl Griffith (search).
And, Judge, you say that your area looks like a war zone. Tell us what you've seen.
JUDGE CARL GRIFFITH, JEFFERSON COUNTY, TEXAS, SUPERVISOR: Well, clearly, in the city of Beaumont, (search) Port Arthur (search) and mid-county, many of the trees are laid over, the streets are blocked. You've got trees on homes, business roofs ripped off, some roofs collapsed, just — it just looks like a war zone.
WALLACE: Do you have power? Do you have water there in the area?
GRIFFITH: No water, no sewer and no electricity.
WALLACE: So I take it you're not in any hurry for people to come on back to to Jefferson County.
GRIFFITH: We're clearly asking — the mayors and I are asking that the residents not return to the county, with the exception of if they live in the outlying areas and they have a generator running, a well and a septic system, then that would be fine.
But short of that, we don't want them in the cities because there's just no water and sewer and it's not sanitary. And most of the streets are impassable.
WALLACE: Port Arthur is a city of about 60,000. Beaumont is about double that. What's your best guess on how many people evacuated the area before Rita?
GRIFFITH: You know, I'd say probably 90 percent of the people did evacuate prior to Rita. It's the largest evacuation that I've been involved in in the last 16 years that I've been in elected office.
WALLACE: And what happened to the people who stayed and rode out the storm in their own homes?
GRIFFITH: Many of them are calling us now to pick them up and get them to shelter because they don't have water and sewer, and some of it's difficult, particularly when we've had medical responses, because you can't get down the streets. It's put us in a bind.
WALLACE: But at this point, no loss of life?
GRIFFITH: At this point, the best I can tell you, there is no loss of life.
WALLACE: And what are your biggest concerns now, Judge?
GRIFFITH: My biggest concerns is after this is all over, that we sit down — the state sits down with the federal partners and fixes the problem that we saw in Katrina this is still happening today.
It's clear that there's a breakdown. The state makes the request to the federal government, and without — as last week, I had to have intervention. I had to call Senator Hutchison to get the president involved, to get the people out of here that wanted to leave. And it was at the last minute.
We even had to leave some in the hospital. Fortunately, all of those survived. But there's just a breakdown. The state requests the stuff, and the bureaucracy is too large in Washington, and it doesn't get through and they don't meet the needs of the community.
And now today, I've had serious difficulties getting generators here to get my water and sewer plants on in all our cities.
WALLACE: And real briefly, because we're running out of time, but Judge, how much sleep have you gotten the last two nights?
GRIFFITH: In the last four — last night I slept four hours. And I hadn't slept the other nights but three hours. So in four nights, I've slept about seven hours.
WALLACE: Well, Judge Griffith, I have a feeling you're not going to be getting a lot of shut-eye coming up. But we want to thank you so much and good luck with your cleanup effort, sir.
GRIFFITH: Thank you very much.