NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF, “YOUR WORLD”: It is all about keeping calm, though. And doesn’t one Jeb Bush know it? As Florida governor, his was, of course, a very reassuring presence on eventually national TV through countless hurricanes and storms.
I can still remember his message then, as now: Be on top of things, but don’t get overwhelmed or become crazy by these things.
Governor, good to see you.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Good seeing you.
It’s where I got my gray hair.
(LAUGHTER) BUSH: All these disasters bring back many fond memories.
CAVUTO: I remember many of your pressers well, Governor. And I remember always trying to keep the calm. And you were always in the middle of some pretty big storms, Category 4 and what have you.
We have a hurricane to worry about that’s going to hopefully swipe past much of the Eastern coast, although there’s no guarantee of that. But now we have this. How do you advise people when they just get news of this? What do you do?
BUSH: You can’t plan for an earthquake on the East Coast. But once it happens, and then there’s all these uncertainties that can change people’s lives, it’s important to listen to the elected officials, that -- Mayor Bloomberg has got one the best emergency response teams in the country, if not the best.
To listen to him and to listen to the governors talk about what this means and what to expect I think is really important. And to have seismologists on that actually know what they’re talking about is kind of important, because if you and I had an opinion, and we were conjecturing about this, it could be pretty ugly and pretty dangerous.
So, good information calms people’s nerves. And I think that’s exactly what you’ll see across the East Coast now.
CAVUTO: Now, what I remember distinctly when you were governor is that you would try not to create panic, because, obviously, when everyone leaves at once and gets to the roads, and roads are blocked and all that -- you were one of the early ones to change even traffic patterns to clear areas. That was unthinkable before. But, nevertheless, people do hurt each other and cause damage in a -- in a flight. What do you tell folks now?
BUSH: Well, if it’s a hurricane, you have the advantage of five days’ notice. So shame on you for not being prepared.
If Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA, was here today, he would say, where’s your plan? Each person has a family responsibility, the responsibility for their families to have a plan. Do you have batteries? Do you have ice and water? Do you have your medicine? Do you -- if your mom is a shut-in, are you prepared to take care of her?
Can you strengthen your home, so that the winds won’t destroy it? Are you in a low-lying area and you know where you’re going to evacuate? All those things in a hurricane, you can plan. Earthquakes are a little bit harder.
You know, with this Irene approaching, Governor, and I was thinking of you, because I don’t know whether people are getting lackadaisical or just sort of lazy or dismissive, but I don’t see the worry out there. You don’t want to panic, of course.
BUSH: No, I...
CAVUTO: But I worry.
BUSH: I worry about it as well.
We haven’t had a storm in Florida since 2006. So, it’s been five years now. A lot of people have moved out. A lot of people have moved in. So, there is a little hurricane amnesia in the state. And human nature is to kind of move on.
So, I hope people aren’t surprised by this. Thankfully, for Florida, at least right now, it looks like there is -- the storm’s been pushed to the east. But the Northeast hasn’t had a hurricane in a while.
CAVUTO: That’s right.
BUSH: And the amount of damage that can be inflicted in places like Long Island and other places, the insurers say these are -- these are tens of billions of dollars of potential losses. So this has an economic impact as well. It’s not just individual lives, of course, which is the most important thing.
But these hurricanes can stall the economy.
CAVUTO: That’s right.
BUSH: We’ve had a series of disasters this year that have not helped us in our attempts to recover.
CAVUTO: You know, what’s different now, of course, from those days when you were in power to now is, there is not a whole lot of money to go around to deal with these crises.
Of course you spend the money when you have to. No one second-guesses that in times of calamity. But we’re less financially prepared, aren’t we? I mean, I’m not just talking Florida. I’m talking about in general as a nation for disasters of any sort.
BUSH: Well, in Florida, for two years, we had eight hurricanes, four tropical storms.
And so that created, my guess -- I’m guessing now, if I can remember, something like $40 billion of insured losses, and then another $40 to $50 billion of uninsured losses. That’s a lot of money. Now, that was a strange sequence of events, where there was like two million homes or 1.5 million homes that were damaged. A 100,000 homes were completely wiped out. There was loss of life. It was a serious -- like Katrina, additionally -- and Katrina hit Florida first. People forget that.
CAVUTO: Sure. People forget that.
BUSH: But the best way to deal with this is to prepare, so that you are not -- you can mitigate the damage if you prepare in advance -- and then to recover as quickly as you can, because there’s a lot riding on the recovery. If you just stall out, it creates huge hardship for people that weren’t hit by the storm.
CAVUTO: Governor, if you will indulge my inner nerd here -- and we’re looking at the corner of Wall and Broad, stocks having a nice day today.
Some interpreted that, the Mother Nature news notwithstanding, as proof that we’ve hit this bottom in this financial storm and that we’re moving north and we can calm down.
Do you agree with that?
BUSH: I’m no -- I’m no expert. I just know our country is the only developed country in the world that could grow a 3 percent or 4 percent over a sustained period of time. And we need strategies to -- and policies to make that happen.
We’re the most dynamic country.