TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Louisiana (search) has declared a state of emergency as it rushes to prepare for Hurricane Ivan (search). Joining me now is Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. She is the governor of Louisiana.
And Governor, thank you for joining us today. Tell me a little bit about your state’s preparations as Ivan approaches.
GOV. KATHLEEN BABINEAUX BLANCO, D-LA.: Well, Terry, one thing Louisiana people do definitely understand about hurricanes is the unpredictability of their final destination. Louisiana is in that swath of significant portion of the New Orleans area, and places south of New Orleans are definitely included in potential areas of landfall.
So we’ve got a tremendous amount of evacuation happening. I’m urging Louisiana citizens to be safe rather than to be sorry, and to move on, wherever they can, to take the opportunities to go visit family, friends, take a hotel room up in north Louisiana, wherever they can find a place to be.
Right now, our highways are pretty well filled up with people who are evacuating, both from Louisiana, as well as perhaps some folks from Mississippi and other southern states. But we are urge everyone travel very safely, to be patient, not to lose patience with this operation going on. But ultimately, we want our folks to be safe, instead of sorry.
KEENAN: Now, and as we look at those shots of New Orleans, it looks like a pretty orderly exit from the city. As you worry about this storm, is it the winds, the flooding, the erosion that poses the greatest danger to your state?
BLANCO: Well, it’s a combination of all of those things. Water can be very, very damaging. As we know, hurricane-force winds can destroy a great deal of property, and it can take the lives of our citizens. That’s the one thing that we are trying to avoid. We are trying to protect the lives of our citizens and not keep them in any path of danger.
KEENAN: And just quickly, the oil refining industry a multibillion dollar industry in your state and offshore. What is happening in terms of those rigs shutting down and some of the refineries shutting down right now?
BLANCO: Well, the oil companies are some of the smartest people. And they evacuate at a very early point in time. They do not put their employees in any danger. And so we know that the Gulf is evacuated, for all practical purposes, as we speak.
The rigs will sit out there and weather the storms. But that brings us to another concern.
Every time a hurricane threatens Louisiana’s coastline, we lose more of our wetlands. And it’s a very difficult problem for us. We are constantly fighting, we are looking for resources to try to restore the wetlands. And what man doesn’t do I guess nature does. And it will take away some more of our wetlands.
We don’t have any Barrier Islands to protect us from the storm surge. And so, you know, we live very concerned every time the hurricane season comes around.
KEENAN: Well, best of luck to you, and thank you for joining us today, Governor. Good to have you with us.
BLANCO: Thank you, Terry,
KEENAN: Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.
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