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Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on Texas' Hurricane Preparations

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," September 20, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Evacuations are underway now in Galveston, Texas, as the city braces for Hurricane Rita (search). Forecasters say the Category 2 could get to be Category 4 (search), could hit the area this weekend.

Joining me now, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She is — are you from Galveston, Senator?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: I was born in Galveston. I certainly was. I’ve lived through a lot of hurricanes, John.

GIBSON: Well, everybody worries about the 1900 hurricane in Galveston that claimed between 6,000 and 12,000 lives. So what’s going on right there now in this mandatory evacuation?

HUTCHISON: Well, of course it’s not mandatory yet, John. Right now, it is voluntary, but it is preparing for mandatory by Wednesday if, in fact, it is a four.

But we have lived with these a long time. People know how to prepare their houses. There are a lot of houses on Galveston Island that survived the 1900 storm, even though it did take almost a fourth of the entire population of the island at the time.

And Hurricane Carla (search), one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit Texas, the worst actually, besides the 1900 storm, and that was a four, as well. That was 1961. So they know how to prepare.

But of course, Houston is overloaded right now. And so they are now saying don’t go to Houston. And that’s where a lot of people could normally go when they leave Galveston. So really, everyone is saying go further inland and try to find a place that isn’t Houston, because Houston is saturated with volunteer efforts trying to help the people from Katrina.

GIBSON: So where do they go?

HUTCHISON: Well, you try to go to Dallas, San Antonio, Austin or with relatives elsewhere in Texas. And they are even moving some of the Katrina evacuees out of Houston and into Arkansas and Tennessee and trying to prepare, if we do have to have Houston for a place for people from Galveston, even as far down as Corpus Christi to come.

GIBSON: Senator, you know the controversy about the evacuation orders and the preparedness in New Orleans. How is Galveston?

HUTCHISON: Well, Galveston — I think Texas is very much prepared. We’ve had these kinds of hurricanes, and there are systems in place that are already tracking the storm.

They have right now a voluntary evacuation. By Wednesday, it will go to mandatory, if it really is coming that way. They have pre-positioned equipment ready to start more evacuations or help for people or things. And I think they will be able to do it.

They’ve called back National Guard (search) from Louisiana to be there and ready for any kind of rescue operations that need to be done. So I think that they are doing everything to get in position what we need.

But of course, with Houston having so many places already being used, that has to be factored in. And so they are trying to — by Wednesday, they will have moved the people out of Houston to make more room for the Galveston people if, in fact, this is as bad as they think.

GIBSON: All right. Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Senator, thanks very much.

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