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Transcript: Katrina Discussions, Aug. 29, 2005

The following is a transcript of a discussion held among federal, state and local officials on Aug. 29, 2005, the day Hurricane Katrina came ashore in Louisiana:

Click here to read the Aug. 28 transcript.

08/29/05 12:00 PM

DIRECTOR RHODE: I want to welcome the Department of Homeland Security Secretary and Deputy Secretary. I also want to welcome (Incomprehensible) as well, and all of our Federal family, certainly their state and local partners. There is an awful lot of activity going on right now (Incomprehensible) for the latest forecast.

Gentlemen?

NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Thank you, Mr. Rhode. Does everyone follow along the "fema.gov" agency Web site? We have the latest 11:00 storm surge run, and we'll be updating those throughout the day.

With that, we'll turn it right over to Max Mayfield, the director of the hurricane center.

MAX MAYFIELD: Thank you. I'm here at slide 100. This is the principal loop. The only reason I'm showing you this is to show how large this hurricane is. All the way over here (Incomprehensible) Bay here in Louisiana all the way over here in (Incomprehensible) Apalachicola, Florida, even the rains up into Mississippi and Alabama.

Let's go to slide two, the red loop, just to give a little bit of background here. (Incomprehensible) hurricane port there waiting a little bit, some dunes area category four hurricane, but made first landfall, came over southeastern port of Louisiana here in the lower Clacamas Parish, (incomprehensible) in the mouth of the Mississippi River south of a little town called Lobirus, I believe is how they pronounce it there. And then moving to the next, mainland‑‑landfall here near the Louisiana/Mississippi border, it's down to Category 3 hurricane right now, the actual sustained winds are likely about 125 miles per hour.

When it reaches landfall here, the strongest are ever likely to strike the mouth of the Mississippi River like the‑‑around 140, 145 miles per hour. If you look at the minimum central pressure to kind of put this in perspective, this is the third lowest pressure in a hurricane to hit 9 states that we know of. Only the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille had more pressure. This hurricane got a lower pressure than Hurricane Andrew did that hit Miami in 1992.

The winds, we don't really know for sure what the winds are on the surface. I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done after the post‑analysis.

A little bit of good news, the eye itself stays east of the City of New Orleans, and the (incomprehensible) winds are on the east side, but the western and south high wall did move over the city itself there.

Let's go to the next slide, 300, the water vapor loop, just very briefly here to show you that there is kind of a little trough going out to the west of the hurricane, and that's what's going to be seen over the next few days that will go up to Tennessee and Kentucky and eventually raises up into Canada.

The next slide, 500, is the radar‑‑I'm sorry, 400 is the radar, and there is the eye wall here, and the northeast quadrant is still very, very strong here as it moves through southern Mississippi.

This is also as it came through, landfall, again up here, in the Louisiana/Mississippi border area, there is mouth of the Pearl River. Tremendous winds here, although Mississippi caused‑‑in fact, the strongest winds were likely there, and I saw it from there down to the mouth of the Mississippi. What that means is that the storm surge really piled up there to the east.

Let's go to the feature forecast here. Slide 500 is the (incomprehensible), and it will likely be up in Tennessee by tomorrow morning, likely down to a tropical storm. Typically, the intensity is about 50 percent in first 12 hours or so after actual landfall, so it will likely remain a hurricane until sometime tonight, but I think we could have it set up as a tropical storm through Tennessee and then racing on up through Ohio and into Canada here in a couple of days.

The next slide is the hurricane wind squall, just to show how important the impact will be. The red represents our best guess of the hurricane force winds. The yellow 50 nauts or 58 mile per hour winds all the way up into‑‑all the way up into northeastern Mississippi and Alabama. This is another reminder that we don't have to have hurricane force winds to down tall trees and power lines, and so it will be wind damage and a lot of power outages in this area in here.

Okay. The next slide will be 700, which is the storm surge slide for the Biloxi Basin. This, I'm afraid, is going to be very, very devastating. Again, the strongest winds are on the east side, so that will pile that water out on the Mississippi coast. The valley here, 15 to 20 feet, some amount is probably up to 21 feet or so along the Mississippi coast. And we are talking about (incomprehensible) the Gulf port, Biloxi, all the way over to Pascagula, we will have very significant storm surge, and I would expect extensive damage to that area.

The rest of the track we have 10 to 15 feet, in a few areas up around 16 feet. At least glimpsed it out, and Louisiana can talk a little bit more about this than I can, but it looks like the Federal levies around the City of New Orleans will not have been (incomprehensible) any breaches to.

Let's go to slide 800, which is the Mobile Basin. At this point, this is something circulation that's going to have certain impact over such a large area. This is Mobile Bay, and what I can say, the valley is there, six to eight feet. Sun Valley is up in the northern part of the Bay, perhaps to nine feet. I'm a little worried about that because we had five to 8 feet there from Hurricane George back in 1998, and that made the landfall over here, so it must be the hurricane, so anyway '94. Certainly we will have storm surge flooding up in the Mobile Bay.

And also Florida Panhandle‑Pensacola area, storm area down here (incomprehensible) around Pensacola and then tapering off going eastward, Apilachicola, and that's got about 3 feet or so in Apilachicola Bay.

With that, I will be glad to take any questions on my end before I toss it up to the rainfall experts in D.C.

Anything for me?

DIRECTOR RHODE: Any questions for Max?

Okay. Hearing none, we'll go to Jim Hope with HPC. Are you with us?

JIM HOPE: Yes, Brian, thanks a lot. There is some good news with this storm is that it's move fast, or will be moving fast, as Max mentioned. The forecast and precipitation so far have been turning out very well. We have reports of radar estimates of eight to eleven inches, south to southeastern Louisiana. New Orleans, 11 inches of precipitation has fallen, Baton Rouge two‑and‑a‑half inches. So far, precipitation of the forecast are very well, working out fairly well.

If you turn to slide 900, we have a precipitation forecast that we expect for the next 24 hours. We need one slide to day one on that. And if you could back that up, this is the day one, this is the day one slide, and it shows that the precipitation amounts will be anywhere in‑‑shows green more than one inch, amounts greater than four inches are shown in blue, and we're extending that up to around eight inches in central Mississippi as the storm moves up rapidly up just east of the Mississippi Valley.

We get to the next slide, slide 11‑‑or ten‑hundred or 1000, we see what the forecast is for tomorrow, from Tuesday morning until Wednesday morning. We see the storm is now in the Tennessee Valley moving into the Ohio Valley with amounts of two to four inches.

Day three, Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, the storm is now in the eastern Great Lakes moving towards the mainland, amounts two to four inches once again.

And then finally, if you look at the last slide, slide 1200, we have accumulated amounts for the next three days from this morning to Thursday morning calling for amounts on the order of five to ten inches and the along the Mississippi Valley with possible amounts up to 15 inches in isolated thunderstorms, and as the storm moves into the Tennessee Valley, the Ohio Valley, are amounts on the order four to eight inches.

That's all we have here from the weather prediction center. Back to you, Brock, in Miami.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you, Jim. We'll turn it over to John Schmidt, our hydrologist, at the hurricane center.

JOHN SCHMIDT: Thanks for that briefing, Jim. As you mentioned, the rainfall for southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, this is the rainfall, as we said this morning. We see this area of red is 4‑inch funnel, and the areas of the pinks and purples are seven to nine‑inch total. That was through 7 a.m. As you move towards the rest of the morning hours, we have three to 5 inches, especially of Mississippi county, so this is rainfall area of seven to twelve inches (incomprehensible) inside that area.

We had observed report (incomprehensible) earlier. We had eight‑inch plus, that was through 7 a.m. That was before we lost contact with our Slidell River Forecast Center in southeast Louisiana‑‑New Orleans, Louisiana.

If we go to slide 1400, please.

We showed this slide yesterday. This is now into this hot pink color. We have significant flooding occurring right now, beyond storm surge flooding. As that storm surge moves upstream into some of these rivers, we are getting the first forecast points that we have through southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and southeastern Louisiana. That first surge is going to put the rivers up above significant flood levels. As the surge wanes, we'll have significant rainfall amounts in that area.

The runoff from that rainfall is not expected to be as severe as the storm surge flooding in this area, so that's good news, but the duration of the flooding will be a little bit longer as that runoff goes into the rivers.

Outside those areas you move along the intense rainfall area, we are going to have reports of significant flooding in this area. This entire area won't be rivers will be under water like that. We'll have some significant flood reports in that region.

As you move into the orange area up into the Tennessee Valley and Kentucky, this is going to have reports of significant flooding where the intense rainfall amounts occur. There won't be river‑wide flooding in these areas.

Over the last couple of days we have had some intense rainfall through the southeast Kentucky in the two‑to four‑inch range. If that secondary rainfall, Max, that Jim talked about occurs in this area, we could have reports of locally heavy flooding in this area. This is a little bit off, and we should be able to handle it.

One other point I want to bring up is that we talked to folks up on the Ohio River Forecast Center. They want to make sure I find out‑‑the Ohio River is not expected to flood in this runoff. We will have some headwater flooding through Kentucky and Tennessee, but as I make clear, they don't expect the flood to occur.

Are there any questions?

JIM HOPE: This concludes the weather portion, Mr. Rhodes. We will turn it back over to you for questions.

MISSISSIPPI: This is Mississippi.

JIM HOPE: Go ahead, Mississippi.

MISSISSIPPI: Brock, can you give us an estimate of when we can expect the surge to start subsiding off our coast?

MAX MAYFIELD: I think that as long as those winds remain on the shore, it's not going to go back down. You had max winds already, so I would think that would not be increasing. You should be having the maximum about now, and hopefully they will very slowly start to recede, but that's not going on happen any time soon.

It looks like‑‑I think you have to deal with this all day. By early evening it will be significantly going down. I'm afraid that it will be here with us for some time.

MISSISSIPPI: Thank you.

JIM HOPE: Any further questions for us here? Thank you.

DIRECTOR RHODE: I appreciate all the work you have been doing in there keeping us in the loop. It's fantastic.

We want to move on right now. We have our FEMA Director, Mike Brown, who is deployed in Baton Rouge, and we have him on the line.

Mr. Director?

DIRECTOR BROWN: Thanks, Patrick. Here in the EOC in Baton Rouge, I have Governor Blanco. Senator Landrieu is here somewhere, and Senator Vetter is here. Congressman is here. We have everybody here, it looks like. They're doing a great job.

I want to speak to Mississippi and obviously Alabama, and all the folks there both in the field and headquarters. I talked to the President twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One. He remains very, very interested in this situation. He's obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he's asking questions abouts reports of breaches. He's asking about hospitals. He's very engaged, and he's asking a lot of really good questions I would expect him to ask.

I say that only because I want everyone to recognize, and I know and appreciate of everybody here of how serious the situation remains. I get frustrated when the media talks about it's gone from a Category 5 to 4 to 3. What they don't realize is there is a lot of rain, a lot of storm surge, a lot of potential victims out there.

So, I go back to what I said a couple of days ago. I expect my team, and I hope the other teams, and I continue to lean as far forward as possible, push the envelope as far as you can. Those of you who feel the need to push or jump over the edge of the envelope, you may do so as long as you let me know you are getting ready to jump over the envelope, just so that I have a little bit of the heads up.

I have a lot of great work going on down here in Louisiana, and Governor Blanco, you have a really good team and they're just doing an excellent job. I was very pleased to‑‑when I arrived last night, we took the Gulfstream and flew around and looked at some of the other states. I thought the evacuation was going very, very well.

So, having said all of that, now is not the time to let up. I know there is this natural tendency, once it makes landfall, to get a little of Whew, okay, we dodged that one. Well, there still a lot of work to do, so keep it up and do a good job.

Look: In my four‑and‑a‑half, five years at FEMA now, I have seen it all, from the space shuttle, particularly last year's events in Florida and Alabama. You guys are doing a great job. I just don't want you to get yourselves so worn out that you quit doing such a great job. So, to Scott Wells (incomprehensible) across the table here, get some rest, but keep working your butts off. Lokey, the same goes for you.

Are there any questions? Is there anything anybody needs me to do while I'm down here in the midst of this zoo?

All right. I will turn it back over to you. Just keep it going, and we'll listen here.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you, Mr. Director.

While we are at the microphone with you in Louisiana, I was hoping we could go ahead and gravitate to our state reports out of Louisiana as well, too.

DIRECTOR BROWN: Sure. They're ready to role.

COL. JEFF SMITH: Yes, this is Jeff Smith. I will tell you that we have been fully manned here for three days now. The coordination and support we are getting from FEMA has just been outstanding. If I conference call in the region with folks up in D.C., the ideas are flowing. What I'm going to do is turn this over to the operations officer to give you a little bit more detailed briefing, but I think you will hear from what he's telling you, we are truly experiencing some devastation down here, and we have just got to be ready.

Bill?

BILL LOKEY: Thank you. The EOC is currently at level one. In area we got over 300,000 without power. We have got approximately 15,000 people in the Superdome, which is going to need relief soon with water and food. We have got shelter and statewide shelters over a thousand, and general population centers over 60,000, plus others that are outside the state‑‑Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas‑‑and hotels and shelters that they set up in those areas.

To give you an idea of what's going on down there, there is eight to ten feet of water in St. Bernard Parish. In New Orleans Parish, we have got water in the eastern part. And down in the ninth ward that borders St. Bernard Parish, we're going to have serious search and rescue efforts that are going to need to take place once we can get back in, and support at charity hospital has 45 patients that are on life support that are currently being used with bags to maintain their‑‑because without power they have got to maintain their breathing.

So, there is a lot of things going on down there without throughout the mainly New Orleans area and surrounding area. We are pretty much inundated right now, and our next priorities are going to be search and rescue and saving lives. That's all I have, sir.

Going along with that, Louisiana has established a task force.

JEFF SMITH: Going along with that, Louisiana has established a task force, dedicated to doing nothing but search and rescue. Our wildlife and fishereis are prepared, along with other state resources to launch as soon as the weather will allow us to begin the search and rescue activities. We have got EMAC activated, and those teams are moving rapidly into our area. In fact, we have teams from Texas to be arriving here momentarily. We started working with FEMA in determining just how much supplies we need as far as water, ice, and so forth. We have our distribution plan ready to go.

And we heard Secretary Brown yesterday just say push it, push it, we are ready to receive it. We know we are going to need it, and we are prepared to start that process just as soon as we can.

So, I think a lot of the planning that FEMA has done with us over the last year has really paid off in this particular operation. We are certainly prepared to take any questions, if anyone might have any.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Does anyone have any questions for Louisiana?

Hearing none, we certainly thank you for all the great work that you are doing, and we know we are working on some of those search and rescue issues and the commodity issues as well from.

Let's move on ahead.

I'm sorry, Joe, do you have a question?

JOE HAGIN: Yeah, what's the current status of the levee system and the roof of the Superdome?

DIRECTOR RHODE: Louisiana, did you receive that question? Louisiana, are you there?

GOVERNOR BLANCO: Kathleen Blanco.

The Superdome structure is still sound, as far as we know. Some of the roof materials have peeled off, creating a situation where there is leaking onto the floor of the Dome.

We have some 10, 12, 15,000 people in there. They were on the floor of the Dome itself, but they have been moved up into the upper areas of the Dome. We still have a lot of room up there. It's just a matter of leaking and not structural damage that we know of at this point in time.

What was your other question? The levees.

We keep getting reports in some places that maybe water is coming over the levees. We heard a report unconfirmed. I think we have not breached the levee. We have not breached the levee at this point in time. That could change, but in some places we have floodwaters coming in New Orleans East and the line St. Bernard Parish where we have waters that are eight to ten feet deep, and we have people swimming in there, that's got a considerable amount of water itself.

That's about all I know right now on the specifics that you haven't heard. And we are still very concerned, and we will have to have an important search and rescue mission operation, so that as quickly as we can when the winds have stopped and we can reasonably and safely get people in there to check on all the calls that we have received.

We have received a number of calls. I would estimate probably maybe as many as 30 or more calls from people who are trapped or from their relatives who have heard from them or have not heard from them.

So, that will get asked when we get down with this. Thank you.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Governor.

Any other questions of Louisiana at this time?

Hearing none, let's move on to Mississippi.

Robert, are you on?

ROBERT: I am. I could say that we are doing everything we could possibly do to be prepared for this event, and it certainly looks like it is a catastrophic event that we all expected. They review with me strategies by command, the resources, the commodities are in place thanks to FEMA, where the distribution plans are in place to do that, once we could do it. I could tell you that the preliminary reports coming off of our Gulf coast are not good, not good at all. We know for a fact that there is significant damage to hospitals, patients are still in those hospitals. The reports are that the Hancock County emergency operation center collapsed, and we had 30, 35 people in that facility. We know Jackson County EOC is flooded. They evacuated to the secondary on the EOC side. Harrison County, we have sporadic communication with them. Search and rescue is going to be a major priority. We have got those resources in place, but until this weather clears, we just can't get them in there.

We have got the same situation as Louisiana here. We are getting calls from citizens who are trapped in the second floor of their homes, in the attics of their homes and roofs, and we cannot get to them. And until the weather improves, we are not going to be able to do that, but the resources are in place everywhere to get in as quick as possible.

Priorities right now, EMAC assessment, we have a lot of these EMAC requests out there. The one we seem to be having trouble getting responses on is the IA and PA. National Guard, we have got EMAC, we could start with that, we know that's working. We will need help as local EOCs and staffing with experienced people, logistics experience, operational experience. Certainly, we will be calling on our friends in Florida and Georgia and other states that have not been impacted quite as possible, has been gracious to offer his experience, and he certainly has more than I have, but we are going to have the nation to recover from this. I suspect that the history books, that this event will replace Camille as far as Mississippi is concerned.

Bill, do you have any comments?

BILL CARWILE: We are positioned well to get, when the weather clears, charge of search and rescue, medical support, and our ability to clear the road for the Guard and the U.S. Forest Service hotshot teams. I think we are in pretty good position. We are very concerned as you are about the folks in the southern counties there.

ROBERT: You probably already received the Governor's expedited request, expanding the declaration. You should already have that by now.

Are there any questions of Mississippi?

DIRECTOR BROWN: Bob, this is Mike Brown.

Bill Carwile, could you shoot me an E‑mail about where you got MDMS and you saw our position?

ROBERT: Yes, sir. The short answer is they are in Meridian at the Naval Air Station and they are in position to move forward. As soon as we get them, we have to light teams, one for search and rescue, and EMAC teams who are in south Alabama. They will be moving over, God forbid, if we ever got to use them.

MISSISSIPPI: We have got about close to 20 light search and rescue teams from across the state that are pre‑positioned here in Jackson, three‑ and four‑man teams that were prepared to move forward as well as just trying to find a break where we could get around the storm or wait until it passes to get in there.

DIRECTOR BROWN: Thank you. Governor Blanco, we do have your requests in. I have spoken to the White House about that, and we'll have some news for you on that shortly.

MISSISSIPPI: Thank you, Mike.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Any other questions of Mississippi?

Thank you very much. We appreciate that report.

Let's move on to Alabama, if we could.

Bruce?

BRUCE PATRICK: Bruce Patrick. Governor Riley and Ron Sherman are with me. I will start off with an operational briefing by my operation officer Bill Filter.

Bill?

BILL FILTER: Currently, we're at level one and continue with unified command (incomprehensible), the counties. We are building up our stockage at Air Force Base to be prepared to establish distribution sites in all the counties. That will be limited until the storm moves through because it's coming all the way over to Interstate 65.

Currently, we have 200,000 people without power, and that's just primarily in Mobile County. We anticipate this as the storm moves north.

South of Mobile County is flooded. I‑10 just was closed eastbound due to debris, and we are hoping to get that cleared as soon as the storm winds are allowed.

Our conservation water teams have been out and (incomprehensible). Much of it was limited based on the current weather. We have our mutual aid teams, water rescue and heavy and medium, standing by to move in once the weather allows it.

We have pre‑positioned approximately 77 of our State Troopers, and we are looking at approximately 60 national guardsmen being moved down for security and to assist.

We have 26 shelters open with 2500 people.

ALABAMA: We have also been in contact with Louisiana and Mississippi, and offered our assistance once we're out of the woods, so we have got teams on standby, and Ed Garson who could help them in those states also.

That's our report.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Very good. We certainly appreciate that. Thank you, Governor Riley, for joining as well.

Any questions of Alabama?

Hearing none, let's move on to the State of Florida.

CRAIG-FLORIDA: The State of Florida, Craig.

Continuing operations south Florida, continue operations supporting the panhandle, preparing for possible damage assessments in first light tomorrow morning and continue to fill EMAC resource requests, as required. My recommendation based upon logistics is let Florida focus their assistance to the State of Mississippi and Alabama, if needed, and allow those states to support from the west in Louisiana.

That's all from Florida.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Very good, Craig. Thank you very much. We appreciate all your offers of support, as well.

Let's move on to Texas.

Texas, are you with us?

TEXAS: Texas has deployed type one search and rescue team to Shreveport. We are in the process of deploying a 35‑person water rescue team with five boat squads that's in route now. We have opened 17 shelters with 1763 occupants. We have 23 shelters on standby, two of which are special‑needs shelters. We have deployed a liaison team to Baton Rouge on Friday. We have gone to level one, our highest level of activation to support Louisiana. We have six Unit 60s and two CH 47s on standby as needed. So, we're prepared as far as Louisiana in any way we can.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Very good.

Any questions for the State of Texas?

Did we hear that Tennessee is on? Is Tennessee on with us? Anyone here from Tennessee?

Not hearing Tennessee, are there any other states that we have missed?

Hearing none, let's move on to the FEMA regions.

Region 6.

BILL LOKEY: Yes, Patrick, BILL Lokey, our FCO down in Louisiana, will start the briefing. Bill?

BILL LOKEY: Thank you very much, Gary. Our efforts have mainly focused on the life‑saving aspects of developing and getting ready to launch the search and rescue effort, cooperation with the wildlife and fisheries, the National Guard, Coast Guard and FEMA assets, also moving the medical assets that were prestaged as closely as we can, to move in as soon as the weather clears.

We have also been working on the life‑sustaining issues of getting the commodities in the pipeline. We did get some last night to the Superdome, and we have been working with the State to meet their requests to keep those commodities moving as soon as we can.

That's pretty much it.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you very much, Bill. We want to commend you on your herculean efforts of getting those commodities into the Superdome. It was very well done.

Go ahead.

LOUISIANA: Good afternoon. The response coordination center remains at level one, we are plussing up our staff to support the state with life‑saving and life‑sustaining operations as well as participation of damage assessment and needs assessment operations.

We are moving Region 1 emergency response team advanced element later today to Louisiana, and to also support field operations with some 20‑person teams to assist Louisiana with their distribution operations. We continue to coordinate to keep commodities, pipelines flowing and moving, to remain at levels to staff anticipated needs. We are working closely with the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the status of the nuclear power plants and the other power facilities in the area.

Any questions for Region 6?

DIRECTOR RHODE: Any questions of Region 6?

Hearing none, let's move on to Region 4. Thank you.

REGION 4: Yes. We have established Federal operations staging centers Maxwell and Meridian.

We also ESF 8 is with anticipation of a high number of requests for evacuation for the hospitals. As reported earlier, we had Mississippi. We also have EMTs for this that has been established. MDMS is in place in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. DMATs and metal contracting, they are staged and ready for deploy.

We are also coordinating with field as well as headquarters. Air support requirements may be needed to relocate staff in commodity.

Army Corps of Engineers has established a specialist for‑‑structural specialist to support the USAR teams. We have got that accomplished. We are also coordinating with the housing air command for joint solution center.

We have been in contact with Region 2 and Region 7. Region 2 has got (incomprehensible) established ready to support any requirements may be identified in Tennessee. We have a liaison for both Region 2 and Region 4 in Tennessee. We also have a liaison identified in Kentucky, if required.

That's also we have, sir, if are there any questions.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Any questions of Region 4?

JOE HAGIN: Patrick, this is Joe Hagin. I'm sorry. We just landed. We are going to sign off your being able to get a hold of us.

DIRECTOR RHODE: We certainly appreciate your support. Thank you.

JOE HAGIN: Thanks.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Let's at this time move on to the Florida long‑term recovery office.

SCOTT MORRIS: Good afternoon, Patrick, and everyone. This is Scott Morris. We are clearly continuing to work very closely to the Craig Fugate and his down in south Florida. We have PA teams rostered and ready to drop in up in the panhandle as soon as possible upon request, and we obviously we pledge our full support to you up there. If you need anything, just let us know.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you very much, Scott. That's great work down there in Orlando. We appreciate it.

Let's come here to headquarters staff, and let's go to operations chief for a report.

HQ-OPERATIONS: The NRCC remains at level‑one activation 24‑7 with all of (incomprehensible) at present, including DOD, safety, security, a representative from the emergency management assistance compact, and a representative of IAIP.

We have established an error ops section with the movement coordination branch here at headquarters to support operations. We have a backup team that we have rostered for support of the red and blue.

We also have resource needs assessment team staged at Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. The American Red Cross has locations that they deployed to to support operations in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

As previously stated, we have locations of the MDMS teams to a total of 38 teams with 947 personnel having been deployed.

From the standpoint of urban search and rescue, we have 10 task forces with 527 personnel to support before this disaster.

We have taken satellite imagery both prior to this event which will be used to compare against what the impact of this disaster has been.

We are planning on doing a P3 overflight mission on Tuesday. ESF 2 is providing priority services for communication through guest and wireless priority services connectivity to deploy headquarters and regional staff in the field.

ESF 3 has subject matter experts present with the contractors for ice and water missions at the NRCC, and we are continuing to plan and prepare for anticipated underwater pump operations, as required.

ESF 4 has a type‑one instant management team en route to stage in Orlando, and a logistics management team is on order to the national mobilization center at Clarksdale Air Force Base.

The National Voluntary Organizations Act of the disasters are coordinating information on member organizations that are ready to support this effort and looking at the impact locally on the communities affected by Katrina.

In regard to DOD support, the United States Navy has assets that are ready, if required, to support disaster response, and they are pre‑positioning some of these assets that may be of help. For example, the U.S.S. Bataan is currently underway off of Corpus Christi. That includes one LCU craft, two MH 60 helos, and MH 53 helos. The U.S.S. Swift, which is currently at Engelside, Texas, is standing by. That was used to‑‑for tsunami relief earlier this year, and it has the same commanding officer who was in charge of that operation.

There are three other amphibious support ships that are prepared to get underway, as necessary, from Norfolk. This includes the U.S.S. Wasp, the U.S.S. Shreveport, and the U.S.S. Tortuga.

In addition to all of the above, we are currently reviewing the state plan for disaster response to this event with operations personnel at the region, state.

And in conclusion, we are proactively standing by to provide whatever supports are required to support this effort.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you very much.

Any questions of headquarters operations?

Let's move on to headquarters logistics.

HQ-LOGISTICS: We continue to coordinate with the regions for their commodity requests, and meet the shortfalls from last night that we had to stop transport for the storm. We will continue to push those commodities today. We are preparing for direct delivery, but again we request that the quantities that you could effectively distribute so we could get the power units back in the pipeline to continue to upload and push commodities.

Are there any specific questions for logistics?

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you very much for that report.

This concludes the headquarters portion of the report.

Mr. Secretary, certainly we are honored to have you on today. I don't know if you have anything to add.

SECRETARY CHERTOFF: I just want to compliment you all on the hard work you have done. I want to echo what Secretary Brown said. Obviously this is the long haul. It's not going to be over in the next 12 hours. (Incomprehensible). We do want to move forward on getting the necessary supplies or make sure we are equipped as soon as we can to find some of these people.

So, we support anything we could do for you here, let us know, I think we could help.

GOVERNOR BARBOUR: This Haley Barbour of Mississippi. I wanted to say, as I said earlier on the phone, we appreciate very much your support, your cooperation. Whether it's FEMA, the Coast Guard, we are grateful. My guys have already made their reports, so I'm not going to punctuate that, but I just want to say thank you.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Governor Barbour.

Is there anyone else on that would like to comment?

Thank you again, Mr. Secretary, for your support. We have one other issue that we would like to discuss, and I would like to ask our Director of Response, Ed, to tell us.

ED BUIKEMA: Thank you, Patrick. We are obviously getting started with the response for this historic event, but I hate to end this on a sad note, but one of the FEMA staff was killed yesterday. It was part of his response to the situation. A gentleman by the name of William McLaughlin who was part of our (incomprehensible) attachment, Meynard, Massachusetts, was driving a tanker truck down to Selma, Alabama, when his right front tire blew out and the truck flipped over. Mr. McLaughlin was pinned down and ultimately died as a result of the accident.

So, we are very sad for his family and as part of the response of the FEMA family of this tragic accident. We know that there are thousands of people involved right now with this response throughout the United States, and we wanted to take this moment to acknowledge Mr. McLaughlin and to remind everybody about the heavy nature of this particular situation.

So, with that, we are planning to do a follow‑up VTC tomorrow again at 12 noon. Good luck, everybody, and we will be talking with everybody between now and then as well. Thank you.

DIRECTOR RHODE: Thank you all very much. That will conclude our VTC for today.