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Transcript: Katrina Discussions, Aug. 28, 2005

The following is a transcript of a discussion held among federal, state and local officials on Aug. 28, 2005, the day before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans:

MIKE BROWN, DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Everyone, let's go ahead and get started. It's noon, and we have a lot of business to cover today.

Before we get started, I wanted to very briefly introduce Michael Jackson, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, and my good friend from the old days. So, Michael, welcome to our little operation here.

MICHAEL JACKSON, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Hi.

BROWN: Let's get started immediately. National Hurricane Center, do you want to give us an update?

NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: For those following along on the Web site, we have made some last minute adjustments, so please refresh the Web site at fema.gov/hlt. We have both the Mobile Bay and New Orleans official storm surge slosh model best track runs posted on this Web site, and we will continue to post them as they are made available as the storm comes closer to the coast.

With that, we'll turn it over to Max Mayfield.

MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Okay. Good afternoon. I don't have any good news here at all today. This is, as everybody knows by now ,a very dangerous hurricane, and the center is about 225 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Putting the visual loop up here, Slide 100 here, just so you can see the size. You know, if there was ever a time to remind people not to focus on that skinny black line, this is it. This is a very, very large hurricane, and you can even see some of these outer rain bands have already moved across the southeast Louisiana coast and are moving into the New Orleans area right now. That band will dissipate, and additional bands will start coming in later this afternoon.

Let's go to Slide 200, the infrared satellite loop. And I show this to really emphasize the eye. Right now, this is a Category 5 hurricane, very similar to Hurricane Andrew in the maximum intensity, but there is a big, big difference. This hurricane is much larger than Andrew ever was.

And for the folks in Louisiana, in Mississippi, and Alabama, and the Florida panhandle, when we're talking about the intensity — in fact, especially the folks in Louisiana, if you remember Lily, Lily had been a Category 4 hurricane in the central Gulf of Mexico. It had a very, very small, pinhole eye, and those small eyes usually don't maintain themselves very long.

Lily weakened down to a Category 1 hurricane by the time it made landfall. This one is not going to do that. When you have a large diameter eye like this, and as strong as this one is, I really don't expect to see any significant weakening. So I think the wisest thing to do here is to plan on a Category 5 hurricane.

Okay. Let's go to Slide 300, which is the water vapor animation, and I'm just going to spend a minute on this to talk about the steering currents. All of the computer models are developing high pressure hereto east of Florida. The winds go clockwise around that high. That will help turn Katrina to the north, but there is also a drop — a low pressure, as you can see, moving in on the ends of the loop here from the northwest.

And this is where there are some differences in how the models handle that. If this drop were just to continue to sweep in, it will turn more toward the north and even northeast faster. If it stays back here and, you know, farther removed from the hurricane, it will allow it to come in more in a north-northwesterly track.

No one can tell you exactly where that landfall is going to be, but this hurricane is so large that no matter where it hits it's going to have an impact over a very, very large area.

Let's go to the HRVC (phonetic) slides, Slide 400. This is our forecast at the present time, takes the center over southeast Louisiana, just east of Lake Poncatrain and on up into Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, into Ohio, in the three-day time period.

I want to say that — and I know I'm preaching to the choir here — that the — this hurricane in particular is not just a coast event. The strong winds, the heavy rains, and the tornadoes will spread well inland, along this path that you see here. Having said that, I also want to make absolutely clear to everyone that the greatest potential for large loss of life is still in the coastal areas from the storm surge.

So let's go to Slide 500, where it says the storm surge forecast. This is the actual forecast based on the last forecast that came out about an hour ago that has the center coming over here, passing just east of the city of New Orleans, and covering the eastern side of the lake.

I really want to emphasize that, you know, and I think FEMA are staying here in southeast Louisiana, but Robert Latham and Bruce Bowman here, Mississippi and Alabama, these valleys that you see here along the Mississippi coast, those valleys are up over 20 feet. We're talking about a Camille-type storm surge here, even on the Mississippi coast. And we'll talk about Alabama here in a minute.

On the west side of the track, this is very, very complicated. You know, there's a very complex system of levies there in the New Orleans area. Some of the valleys that we see — and I'm sure that all of these areas area lready going under water out near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The colors that you see here show inundation over the land areas.

One of the valleys here in Lake Poncatrain, we've got on our forecast track, if it maintains its intensity, about 12-1/2 feet of storm surge in the lake. The big question is going to be: will that top some of the levies? And the current track and the forecast we have now suggests that there will be minimal flooding in the city of New Orleans itself, but we're — we've always said that the storm surge model is only accurate within about 20 percent. If that track were to deviate just a little bit to the west, it would — it makes all the difference the world. I do expect there will be some of the levies over top even out herein the western portions here where the airport is. We've got valleys of 10 feet that can't overtop some of those levies.

The problem that we're going to have here — remember, the winds go counter-clockwise around the center of the hurricane. So if the really strong winds clip Lake Poncatrain, that's going to pile some of that water from Lake Poncatrain over on the south side of the lake. I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levies will be topped or not, but that's obviously a very, very grave concern. Now, let's go to the next slide. This is Slide 600. I really want to make sure that various of the folks in Alabama know what can happen here. If you remember back Hurricane Jorge in '98,it made landfall in Mississippi as a Category 2, and you had five to eight feet of storm surge way up into the northern part of Mobile Bay.

You're going to have likely more than that from this hurricane. So we are, indeed, worried about the Mobile Bay area, and, of course, Dolphin Island and the Gulf Shores area there.

Now, let me go to the next slide, Slide 700. We have shifted the track here. This is not our official forecast right now, but if that track eases eastward just about 30 miles, which is almost to the noise level for us here, you could have much higher storm surge values both well up into the northern portion of Mobile Bay. And, you know, I'm showing 10 and 11 feet right now. We like to say we're within a couple of — you know, 20 percent. So you could have, you know, 12 or 13 feet of storm surge there.

This is a — this is going to have a real impact well out to the east, and I don't want to forget about Florida either. Even the northeastern Gulf there, east of the hurricane warning area, we full expect three to five feet of storm surge and wave setup that will have an impact on coastal areas. And I know some portions of Highway 98 there around Appalachia (inaudible) are already being eroded.

So big, big impact from the storm surge well out to the east. We need to understand that.

Okay. Any specific questions for me before I toss to the Hydranet Prediction Center and Jim Hope.

BROWN: Any questions for Max?

MAYFIELD: Okay. Thank you very much.

JIM STETHKOVICH: We do have a question here in Alabama.

MAYFIELD: Yes, sir.

STETHKOVICH: Hey, this is Jim Stethkovich, National Weather Service. We're getting some reports out of the Mobile office that they're starting to have projections of over 15 foot in northern Mobile County. We're wondering, based on what you just told us, Max, if that might be a little bit high.

MAYFIELD: Well, you know, they may have centered the track farther east, and just — you know, that's almost to the(inaudible). We've heard about 12 feet. Yes, two or three feet higher than that, that's certainly possible. That's not what we're forecasting —

STETHKOVICH: Thank you.

MAYFIELD: — but there is certainly that possibility. This is — you know, this one is not just the intensity, but it's the size that really has us concerned, too.

(Inaudible.)

BROWN: Okay. Mr. Buckley?

MIKE BUCKLEY: (Inaudible.)

BROWN: Max, there's a question coming from the audience.

BUCKLEY: This is Mike Buckley from Headquarters. Can you comment on the forward speed and what might affect the track as well as the intensity of the storm surges?

MAYFIELD: Well, we've got it going about, you know, 10 knots, about 12 miles per hour. Once it makes that turn to the northeast, it's going to start accelerating. If that motion occurs earlier, you know, that — that would speed everything up. But right now, we're talking about the center, you know, the actual center being on the coast tomorrow morning. But we really — again, we don't want to focus on that.

I mean, the storm force winds are going to be there, you know, later this afternoon and this evening. So, you know, people are already running out of time. And, quite frankly, for the folks in Louisiana, if you can't get people out, you know, if you're ever going to, you know, talk about vertical refuge, this is the time to do it.

BROWN: Thanks, Max.

Other questions for Max? If not, let's go to the HPC.

JIM HOOK: Thanks, Mike. This is Jim Hook from the HPC. Good morning — good afternoon.

I apologize for the quality of our video this morning. We have lost one of our video feeds, so I'm going to show you the presentation across the other feed. If you could follow along on the Web site, that would I think improve the quality of that feed.

The problem is on our end and not on your end. We expect considerable precipitation with Katrina over the next 48 hours. Fortunately, the storm is expected to move quickly once it makes landfall and move up through the central part of the United Sates. If you'll go to Slide Number 900, which is our Day 1 forecast, which is this morning at 7:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time until tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m., we're looking for precipitation amounts of greater than four inches in the area in the vicinity of New Orleans and slightly to the east of that.

On this graphic, amounts greater than four inches are indicated in blue, with a maximum amount over the next day or so expected up to maybe seven inches in the lower Mississippi Valley area.

In the next slide, Slide Number 1000, we're looking at the precipitation from tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. CDT to Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. And this is once the storm is now on land, is producing a considerable amount of precipitation, amounts greater than — we're expecting greater than four inches over a sizeable part of eastern Mississippi, western Alabama, and eastern Louisiana during that time period.

Then, the next day the storm will be quickly moving north and producing precipitation primarily in the Tennessee Valley and the Ohio Valley, and the storm will then continue up through the eastern Great Lakes. So for the three-day period, if you'll look at Slide 1100, you'll have our totals. We're looking for amounts of five to ten inches in the lower — lower central U.S., with maximum of over 15 inches in isolated spots. That should then proceed – be followed by smaller amounts, on the order of four to eight inches, in the Ohio Valley, with lesser amounts then as the storm moves into New England.

So the good news from this storm once it makes landfall is that we expect the storm to continue to move fairly quickly through the central United States.

Max, that's all from the Hydranet Prediction Center. Back to you.

NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Thank you, HPC. We'll turn it over to John Smith, our hydrologist here at the Hurricane Center.

JOHN SMITH: Good afternoon. As we get a little bit closer to landfall, we wanted to start talking a little bit about some of the hydrologic implications as the storm moves north and east. This is just a quick slide of soil moisture. You can go back to Slide 1200, please.

What you can see is over July and August we had a lot of heavy rains through southern Alabama and northern Georgia. That area is very wet right now. Earlier in the week, the track of Katrina was kind of troubling towards a flooding perspective, because of the storm moving over that wet area.

As the storm goes ahead and makes landfall somewhere along the Louisiana/Mississippi coast, and moves north and then east and accelerates like Max and Jim just talked about, that eases the river flooding (inaudible) a little bit. If you go to Slide 1300, the River Forecast Centers in both Slidell and Peachtree City are calling for the possibility of significant river flooding all along the corridor of Katrina as it moves north.

If it starts to turn east and accelerate, the rainfall total sought to come down a little bit. Flooding ought to be more localized when that happens. Down here is where we're really starting to get concerned. Much of this is storm surge flooding and is expected to reach well out to some of the rivers, some of the coast rivers.

Add to that the 10 inches of rainfall that might be possible, especially down along the Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana coast, and we're looking for some — the likelihood of significant river flooding in that area.

Are there any questions?

BROWN: Any questions?

NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Hearing none, this concludes the weather portion of the conference.

BROWN: Thank you very much.

At this time, I'd like to go to Crawford, Texas. Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce the President of the United States.

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Yes, Mike, thank you very much. I appreciate so very much the warnings that Max and his team have given to the good folks in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. Appreciate your briefing that you gave me early this morning about what the Federal Government is prepared to do to help the state and local folks deal with this really serious storm.

I do want to thank the good folks in the offices of Louisiana and Alabama and Mississippi for listening to these warnings and preparing your citizens for this — this huge storm. I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm to help you deal with the loss of property. And we pray for no loss of life, of course.

Unfortunately, we've had experience at this in recent years, and I — the FEMA folks have done great work in the past, and I'm confident, Mike, that you and your team will do all you can to help the good folks in these affected states.

Again, I want to thank Governor Blanco and Governor Riley and Governor Barber, Governor Bush of Florida, for heeding these warnings, and doing all you can possibly do with your state folks and local folks to prepare the citizenry for this storm.

In the meantime, I know the nation will be praying for the good folks in the affected areas, and we just hope for the very best.

Mike, thanks for letting me speak to the people I know who are working long hours. Again, I want to thank everybody involved in this effort. I appreciate the long hours you're keeping. I expect you to keep more long hours until we've done everything we can in our power to help — to help the folks in the affected areas.

Thank you, sir.

BROWN: Mr. President, thank you. We appreciate your support of FEMA and those kind words very much. Thank you, sir.

BUSH: Okay.

BROWN: Okay. We'll move on now to the states. Louisiana?

SMITH: Good morning, Mike. This is Colonel Jeff Smith here in Louisiana. We certainly appreciate those comments from the President, because I can tell you that our Governor is very concerned about the potential loss of life here with our citizens, and she is very appreciative of the federal resources that have come into the state and the willingness to give us everything you've got, because, again, we're very concerned with this. I'm going to turn the briefing over for a moment to our Operations Officer, just to kind of give you a quick lay down of things. This is Colonel Bill Doriant.

COL. BILL DORIANT: The Emergency Operations Center is at a Level 1, which is the highest state of readiness. We've got currently 11 parishes with evacuations, and climbing. Eight are mandatory, including a first-ever mandatory for New Orleans. We've got 38 parish declarations of emergency; also the state declaration and the Presidential declaration of emergency.

Evacuations are underway currently. We're planning for a catastrophic event, which we have been planning for, thanks to the help of FEMA, when we did the Hurricane Pam exercises. So we're way ahead of the game there. Our priorities right now are sheltering, and then planning for search and rescue and commodities distribution after recovery.

That's all I have at this time.

COL. JEFF SMITH: I'll just tell you that the evacuation process is going much better than it did during Hurricane Ivan. Nobody anticipated that it would be easy. Nobody anticipated that there wouldn't be traffic jams. But by and large, it has gone much better than it did with Ivan. And, of course, we still have a contra flow in effect at this particular point in time, and we do still have heavy traffic coming out of New Orleans, but by and large that process is going very well. We have established a unified command herewith our federal coordinating officer. Our ERD-A team, ERD-N team is on the ground here. And, again, as our Operations Officer pointed out, we're spending a lot of time right now with the search and rescue, making sure that we marry the appropriate state assets and the federal assets, so we can have an effective search and rescue effort just as quickly as possible.

We're also taking a look at our sheltering needs, long-term sheltering needs, looking at sites to start bringing in the temporary housing. So we're not only fighting the current battle, managing expectations here with our local parishes, but we are also working with FEMA and our other federal partners to have the most effective response and recovery that we possibly can during this time. So, again, I want to say thank you very much for all that you're doing. I think that at this point in time our coordination is as good as it can be, and we just very much appreciate the President and your commitments to resourcing our needs down here.

Any questions that you have, we'd be glad to take them now, unless you want to hold that until later. That's your call, Mike.

BROWN: Any questions? Colonel, do you have any unmet needs, anything that we're not getting to you that you need or —

COL. SMITH: Mike, no. (Inaudible) resources that are en route, and it looks like those resources that are en route are going to – to be a good first shot. Naturally, once we get into this thing, you know, neck deep here, unfortunately, or deeper, I'm sure that things are going to come up that maybe some of even our best planners hadn't even thought about. So I think flexibility is going to be the key. And just as quickly as we can cut through any potential red tape when those things do arise, you know, we just need to look at it. We appreciate your comments. I think they were to lean as far, far as you possibly can, you know, without falling, and your people here are doing that. And that's the type of attitude that we need in an event like this.

So, again, thank you very much.

BROWN: All right. I’ll be in Baton Rouge probably about 4:00 this afternoon, so I'll see you sometime this evening.

COL. SMITH: Okay. (Missing) as far as coordination.

BROWN: All right. Any (missing)? Mississippi?

MISSISSIPPI: Mr. Secretary, little did we know less than a week ago when we had the opportunity to meet that we would be sitting here today facing the challenges that we face. I appreciate you listening, appreciate you being there, Mike. FEMA has been great. You're leaning forward, and we appreciate that. We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and the region, but the nation, to respond to this event.

I was on the coast yesterday, and what I saw was, quite frankly, exactly what existed before Camille. People were not evacuating. I feared that. It seems to be now today we're in the middle of a panic evacuation. I can say that it's going well. The numbers are picking up. We're preparing to open shelters in all82 counties. Search and rescue resources from within the state are being pre-deployed to the Jackson area today, will be pre-deployed to the coast this afternoon. National Guard liaison teams will arrive no later than 1800 this afternoon for the three coastal counties. We also have been in close contact with our other assets in the region to see what we can bring in, should we need it, specifically search and rescue, water and ice and food. We had resources left from Dennis that we can carry over probably 24 to 36 hours.

We know that FEMA has got resources they can pre-deploy to help us. We're prepared to distribute those once the storm clears and we can get in there.

The priorities right now are evacuation for us, Mike. We just— we think that people are finally starting to heed the warnings. I hope it's just not too late.

The sheltering, obviously, is a big issue, but the shelter spaces are there. Search and rescue, as I said, is a priority. National Guard —we're also preparing to deploy some additional Guard resources to the Hattisburg/Camp Shelby area to get on the ground post-landfall for search and rescue, and even security purposes.

FCO is onsite. ERD-A is onsite. EMAC-18 is onsite. We've got everything that we need from the Federal Government. And, again, we appreciate what you and FEMA are doing. Mr. Secretary, I appreciate you being there. It shows the support at that level. We really do appreciate it. We certainly appreciate the words from the President.

That's all I've got, Mike, unless you've got some questions for me.

BROWN: Questions for Bob? All right, Bob.(Missing.)

ALABAMA: (Missing) still at a Level 1operations. We do have the ERD-A in place. Ron Sherman is team leader. We've been doing some joint planning. We've got liaisons down our coastal counties. We're still expecting a substantial storm surge in our two coastal counties.

We've got our search and rescue teams on standby. I have also volunteered help to Mississippi if they need some also. We've got our water rescue teams. Because of the flood problem, we've got sandbags stockpiled, so we're in pretty good shape. Water, ice, the other emergency commodities, we've been working with Ron on that, and we've got sufficient on hand to meet what we think are — will be our initial requirements, Mike.

The Governor is signing an emergency proclamation today. We'll be going in with a request for an emergency declaration for about six counties. The Governor will also be issuing a mandatory evacuation for parts of Baldwin County. We do have voluntary evacuations going on in Mobile County at this time. So we're in good shape.

BROWN: Good. I'm glad (missing).

BROWN: Oh, yes. When should we expect your request in, Bruce?

ALABAMA: (Missing) right now, Toby Roth, the Governor's Chief of Staff is here, so we've got all the documents ready to go, Mike. So as soon as that happens, we'll get it to Ron and get it on up toyou.

BROWN: All right. We'll turn it right around. Thanks.

Okay. Great. (Missing.)

FLORIDA: (Missing) responding. South Florida, we're maintaining that, and we're getting ready with the evacuations that are now occurring in the panhandle.

More importantly, I am not anticipating any FEMA assets other than the recovery assets we currently have. We're not going to put in a request for resources in lieu of the greater need to the west of us.

In addition, we're planning our search and rescue missions for our counties, also building our task force structures to provide assistance to the neighboring states in EMAC, and pretty much are gearing up with Governor Bush's direction to support our neighboring states as well as our initial response.

So other than what we already have, we're not going to ask for anything additional. We're going to try to do as much as we can in-house.

FEMA: Let me just (missing) Alabama, Mississippi, and (missing) Florida to be used. So if we need them, don't hesitate to let us know, so we can bend Craig's ear, move them out of Florida.

Thanks, Craig.

Are there any questions for Florida? Hearing none, we'll go to Georgia. Georgia? Texas? Do we have Texas on? You'd better. You're about to—

TEXAS: (Missing) Texas here. And we are basically preparing to move into a mass care assistance mode, standing up our capabilities to provide sheltering for evacuees who are moving into Texas.

We, in fact, already have several shelters that are open, and we are bringing on — the Governor has ordered 200 members of the Texas State Guard, which is the Texas State Guard militia under the direction of the Texas Army National Guard, to duty to provide volunteer assistance with shelter management operations.

So we are working closely in conjunction with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army to provide that service, along with our local jurisdictions on the eastern part of the state.

The Governor has dispatched to Louisiana a liaison officer to work in the State Operations Center there, try to provide a liaison and make us— or give us a better understanding of what — some of the needs we might be able to supply there. The Texas Army National Guard is inventorying their assets in expectation if we get requests for assistance from them to mobilize.

Our Texas Building and Procurement Commission, which helps us manage the contracts that we do with private vendors, has sent a representative to the State Operations Center to begin to monitor and to work with contract operations in the event that that type of assistance is needed anywhere other —in our sister states.

Of course, under the direction of FEMA, Texas Task Force I has been mobilized and is staged at Shreveport under the direction of FEMA to provide assistance, and we continue to monitor this situation.

We have got the mass care ESF coming to active duty at the State Operations Center beginning tomorrow morning. We have increased our staffing level in the State Operations Center.

BROWN: Thanks, Texas.

Any questions? Okay. Let's go to the regions. Region (missing),Gary?

GARY: (Missing) that's in Louisiana with Colonel Smith to kick off this presentation. Bill?

BILL LOKEY: Thank you very much, Gary. The —we've got the ERD-N and the ERD-A established here, and also some of the FEMA staff members who were evacuated from the Disaster 1601 helping, working with the state. The basic priorities are life-saving missions, life-sustaining missions, and then moving to immediate and long-term recovery.

In essence, we formed planning groups in various areas, the priority being for search and rescue and some of the medical issues in supporting that, and refining some of the plans that were left over from the catastrophic planning efforts that were done here that have been helpful in getting things organized. We have a number of other efforts going on in the distribution and staging, power, rapid needs assessment, debris clearance, temporary housing and roofing, external affairs, specialized needs, and setting up disaster recovery centers, and we're working on a safety plan for our own folks for riding out the hurricane.

We're meeting all of the state objectives as last we heard, and planning is going well. That's kind of a summary, Gary, of what we're up to.

GARY: We'll go ahead and give a couple more updates here from the region, Undersecretary Brown. Go ahead, Tony.

SPEAKER: Yes. Our Regional Response Coordination Center has activated a Level I with all ESFs on a 24/7 basis. We do have an operational staging area that has been established at Camp Bureaugard with commodities of ice water, MREs, and tarps onsite. We are initiating actions to work with the Corps of Engineers to potentially some quarter boats to house workers as housing will become an issue in the Baton Rouge area. We are moving requested commodities forward to support some state requests in Orleans Parish. We have established Camp Menden as a temporary housing staging area.

The Department of Energy is here in the RRCC and has started running modeling to provide estimates on the potential effects to the power infrastructure, and when we could potentially look at restoration, so we can identify where we need to move our most critical assets the quickest.

We've gotten a heavy generator kit that's scheduled to arrive in Barksdale at the Mobilization Center along with USAR task forces are to be in Barksdale as well today. All the Region 6 permanent staff are being made available for any response and recovery duties that will come up.

We have the Denton MERS Detachment that's onsite at Camp Beauregard and also in Baton Rouge. The Denver MERS unit is en route to stage here in Denton for further deployment, along with an emergency response team advanced element from Region 1 Boston is due in here this afternoon to Denton, in case we are needed to move them forward.

And we just continue to coordinate with the National Response Coordination Center, the ERD, and the state to refine our response plan and finalize getting our resources in place prior to tropical storm force winds.

BROWN: Any questions? (Missing) on the commodities that I want to see that supply chain jammed up just as much as possible. I mean, I want stuff (missing) than we need. Just keep jamming those lines full as much as you can with commodities.

My gut tells me we're — that's going to be one of our biggest needs. So just (missing) up tight.

Any questions for (missing)?

Region 4?

REGION 4: (Missing) supporting the ERD-A in Mississippi and Alabama, and also rapid needs assessment teams are on standby and in place in Mississippi and Alabama.

We also are running our models for our Cat. 5 for Biloxi and Mobile in the panhandle. We were planning for anticipated increase in commodity flows. We are monitoring and identifying status and locations of teams and commodities. We're coordinating logistics and operations support with the Headquarters, as well as the field.

We have Region 9's support in the lead in Mississippi, and we also have Region 4 en route and supported by Region 10 in Alabama. We also have MERS support at both Alabama and Mississippi.

We're working with the NDMS folks in identifying potential areas of critical facilities that we may need to look at after impact.

And at this time, I'd like to turn to our team leaders in Mississippi and Alabama for any additional comments they may have.

Mr. Carlisle?

MR. CARLISLE: Well, Paul, as you indicated, we're on the ground here. As the Undersecretary said, we also believe the commodities are going to be a major issue, and we're trying to get visibility over the things that are flowing to the states. But other than that, our biggest concerns, of course, are the urban search and rescue teams. We've got two of those moving into Meridian today.

Of course, DMAT and VMAT, with the large potential for loss and pollution down — and carcasses down in the southern counties are also a concern. We're working that issue now.

But other than what has been covered by Robert, we're in pretty good shape in terms of where we are right now.

PAUL: I'd like to call on Mr. Sherman in Alabama for any additional comments he may have.

SPEAKER: Just one, Paul. One of the things we're going to finish working on today is clarifying the process we're going to use for transferring the commodities from FEMA to the state as the requester generated. That's it.

Sir, that's all we have from Region 4. We're open for comments.

BROWN: Okay. Thanks, Paul.

(Missing.) Hearing none, let's go to Florida (missing). Scott, are you there?

SCOTT: I am here. (Missing.) We clearly are doing whatever we can to support the operation over in Louisiana and Mississippi. Just got off the phone with Mayor Croddy's office, and they have given us the go-ahead to use the Orange County Convention Center to bring in all the DAEs as a staging area, so we can process those and get them all of the —all of their credit cards and everything taken care of down here.

And I think that's the best way we're going to be able to support now, as well as whatever personnel you all think you would need from us. We are willing to support whatever we need to do.

BROWN: Good. (Missing) issue an advisory to everybody. Everyone is on call. So it's all (missing). So, Scott, we'll fill up the Convention Center in Orlando. Tell them to get ready.

SCOTT: They're ready for it.

BROWN: Any questions (missing)? Hearing none, let's go to Headquarters. Operations?

OPERATIONS: The National Response Coordination Center has activated 24/7, a Level I. All of the emergency support functions are represented. So together (missing) we're all here to support life-saving and protecting property.

The Movement Coordination Center Branch has been activated at Headquarters to support all operations with ESF-1. The NDMS and national urban search and rescue resources are (missing). We have made arrangements for pre-landfall satellite imagery, and we have completed that (missing) Louisiana and surrounding parish area down to one meter and in color.

We also have ready Aviation and Maritime Office P3 flights arranged for post-event visual imagery.

We have made arrangements with the Coast Guard and EPA to prepare for Katrina's second landfall, to respond to flooding conditions and potential oil spills and hazardous material releases.

The NCS is working with industry around the clock to make sure that we identify what resources are pre-staged and available. We are also working on taking care of requests for wireless priority services. The Corps of Engineering is very actively involved in preparing (missing) New Orleans(inaudible) missions for post-landfall.

In addition to that, we are assessing the potential impact of the storm on the critical infrastructure, and we stand by to proactively support requests for assistance as necessary.

BROWN: Good. Any questions for Ops? Logistics?

LOGISTICS: As reported, we have been in constant communication with the (missing) and the field elements in our positioning of our commodities. Just to give everyone a rundown (missing) on hand by — water, 619 trailer loads, (missing) million gallons, five-day supply. (Missing) 17million pounds, (missing) supply (missing), which is about (missing) half a million MREs, which is a two-and-a-half day supply. We have additional mission assignments and procurement actions in place for all of those commodities. All of the field elements when you're (missing) these commodities, order them, but(missing) quantities that you can realistically distribute (missing) tie up our(missing).

Any questions for Log?

BROWN: Any questions? Recovery?

RECOVERY: Number one priority for recovery is housing mission. We have sent Brad Gare and Kevin Suza down there to lead it up and meet up with the ERD-N team. They will be setting up the Housing Command Center in Baton Rouge to start, and working out the IOF. (Missing) Logistics to start moving housing entities down towards the southeastern area of the country to prepare post-hurricane.

(Missing) is to ensure that the call centers are up and running. They will go 24/7 tomorrow morning (missing) will be ready. Their priority is ensuring that we have IA staff, PA staff in the field, and they are surging down to Orlando like we heard earlier. And it's (missing).

BROWN: Questions for Recovery? Others? Mike?

MIKE: Mr. Undersecretary, let me just mention that given the predictions on the wind speeds, it's possible that some of the shelters — that those wind speeds may exceed the design level of some of the shelters. So there does need to be some attention paid to those areas that might not be up to a design standard, and be prepared to deploy any medical resources to (missing), particularly in those shelters that are closer to the (missing) where the wind speeds are expected to be higher.

BROWN: In fact, let me just go ahead and (missing) and tell you what my priorities are and what my concerns are. Number one, you know that the Mayor has ordered the Superdome to be used as a shelter (missing) first resort. I didn't hear about any other shelters for people to go to as they left New Orleans.

As you may or may not know, the Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level, so I don't know what the heck (missing). And I also am concerned about that roof. I don't know whether that roof is designed to stand— withstand a Cat. 5 hurricane.

So not to be (missing) kind of gross here, but I'm concerned about NDMS and medical and DMORT assets and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe. So if I could get some sort of insight into what's going on in that Superdome, I think it would be very, very helpful.

While we're on (missing), I want to make sure that NDMS and the DMORTs and DMATs are ready to go, as soon as, because I do believe I also heard there is no (missing) mandatory evacuations. They're not taking patients out of hospitals, taking prisoners out of prisons, and they're leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans. So I'm very concerned about that. So let's just keep that in mind (missing).

I've already mentioned a lot of these. I am concerned (missing) there's going to be a huge demand. I think the point that Log made about making realistic requests resources and commodities is good. But my point to Gary and the others is I want lines jammed up. So whatever those requests are, that we can fulfill those.

And then, finally, we need to reach out to all of your colleagues in the Departments, that this is really all hands on deck, and I really do expect to be able to call everyone — everyone within FEMA is actually on call, and we may need you to deploy and go somewhere.

I don't want anybody to self-deploy, but be ready to go. And while I have the Deputy Secretary here at some point we may want to reach out to the broader DHS and ask for — putting some men and women down there.

My gut tells me — I told you guys my gut was that this (missing) is a bad one and a big one. And you heard Max's comments. I still feel that way today.

Now, the good thing about this is we've got a great team around here that knows what they're doing, and they (missing) to do it. I want to emphasize what I said yesterday, get to the edge of that envelope. And, in fact, if you feel like you (missing), go ahead and do it. I'll figure out some way to justify it, some way (missing) tell Congress or whoever else it is that wants to yell at me, just let them yell at me, (missing) not to worry about — in fact, I don’t want any of these processes in our way.

We're going to do whatever it takes to help these folks down there, because this is, to put it mildly, the big one I think. All right?

BROWN: Yes.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: (Inaudible.) Yes. Hi, this is Secretary Chertoff. And, again, as it relates to the entire department, if there's anything that you need from Coast Guard or any other components that you're not getting, please let us know. We'll do that for you, OK.

BROWN: I appreciate it. (Missing.) Having been through many of these, the Coast Guard and ICE and all of the others have been incredibly good to us. And I hope we never have to call you and tell you that I can’t get help from the Coast Guard or somebody. Thank you for those comments.

CHERTOFF: Secondly, are there any DOD assets that might be available. Have we reached out to them, and have we I guess made any kind of arrangement in case we need some additional help from them?

BROWN: We have DOD assets over here at the EOC. They are fully engaged, and we are having those discussions with them now.

CHERTOFF: Good job.

BROWN: (Missing.)

CHERTOFF: I did, yes. Thank you.(Missing.)

(Laughter.)

BROWN: Are there any other questions or comments anyone needs to make? If not, carry on. Next meeting noon tomorrow. I'll see you from Baton Rouge.

Click here to read the Aug. 29 transcript.

Stenographer's certification: The foregoing text was transcribed from audio recordings provided by the Department of Homeland Security, and is as true and accurate a presentation of the oral discussion as possible.