How Did the Red Cross Prepare for Ivan?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Sept. 15, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: Joe Becker is Vice President of Response for the American Red Cross (search). He joins me now from Washington.

Joe, how does the Red Cross prepare for something of this magnitude?

JOE BECKER, VICE PRESIDENT, RESPONSE FOR AMERICAN RED CROSS: What's important at this point is that we have the shelters open and place for people to go that's safe and out of harm's way. So, as people need to evacuate, we'll be there to operate the shelters.

It is so important to leave and leave now if the local authorities have ordered an evacuation.

NAPOLITANO: Give me an example of what you're going to do. Take the Superdome (search) in New Orleans. They're going to play a football game there on Sunday, but what's going on in that indoor stadium now to prepare for the onslaught of folks that want to take refuge there?

BECKER: That's just a large-scale example of what happens in a lot of high schools and smaller shelters all throughout the Gulf Coast (search) tonight. We'll have hundreds of shelters open and tens of thousands of people will call that home tonight. It will be a place where it's not elegant, it's not a hotel but it is a safe place where you can be out of the storm and your immediate emergency needs will be taken care of.

NAPOLITANO: Can you just walk in there with just the clothes on your back and expect a place to sleep and sanitary facilities and breakfast in the morning?

BECKER: You can, but it's better if you bring those necessities with you, in terms of maybe even a bedroll or something like that. But we will do our best to keep you as comfortable as you can through the night and hope that you have a place to return to the next day.

NAPOLITANO: Sometimes Americans admire heroes and there always are people who want to stick it out, no matter what the warning and what the danger. And sometimes it turns out to be a dumb move because they don't survive. What message do you have for those in the low-lying areas that don't want to evacuate?

BECKER: Please listen to your local authorities. And if they tell you to evacuate, there's two important issues here: Where are you going to go? Have a plan. And call somebody and tell them where you're going. Somebody who lives out of town in a safe area, so that they can tell everybody else that you're safe.

And secondly, think about what you're going to take with you, those immediate emergency items that you might need. has a wonderful list of things that you might not be thinking of that you'd want to take with you.

NAPOLITANO: OK. Joe Becker, Vice President of Response for the American Red Cross. We wish you and all of your volunteers good luck tonight.

BECKER: Thank you very much.

NAPOLITANO: You're welcome.

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