This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 13, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Think last year's hurricane season is a worst-case scenario? I want to you think again. Already, experts predicting a storm system that will be just as severe, if not worse, than the one we saw ravage the Gulf Coast in 2005. Add that to a terrorism spate of tornadoes in the Midwest, mudslides in California, and you wonder if my next guest has the toughest job in America.
With us now is acting FEMA Director David Paulison.
Director, good to have you.
DAVID PAULISON, ACTING DIRECTOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Good afternoon.
CAVUTO: Boy, as a former fire chief, you are taking it all on. Are you up to this?
PAULISON: I'm up to the task and very confident in my abilities.
I also ran emergency management for Miami-Dade County. I have got a lot of experience doing this, so, born and raised in Miami. So, I have been through a lot of hurricanes. We are going to be about retooling FEMA, getting it ready for hurricane season.
CAVUTO: There is no doubt about your incredible background, Director, so I mean no insult. But you are working for a guy who, at least in Mr. Chertoff, is a bit of a micromanager. Is he going to second-guess everything you do?
PAULISON: I haven't seen that so far, quite frankly. I have gotten a tremendous amount of support from Secretary Chertoff and the deputy secretary, Michael Jackson. They have been there to help me to retool this organization, to get it back on track, and quite frankly, bring some 21st century tools into an organization that has some very experienced emergency managers.
CAVUTO: Sir, I want to quote Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, a close friend of the president, who said recently, along with Senator John McCain, that he was greatly concerned about too much authority being put in federal hands, when it comes to emergency responses to hurricanes and the like.
What do you think of that?
PAULISON: Well, the secretary's position, and my position also, is that all response is local. That's where it belongs.
You know, we know that. We are there to assist when the states step in to help the locals. And we are going to step in and help the states. Now, we are going to lean forward. We are going to make sure we have supplies where they need to be and people where they need to be, make sure we have a better situation we had in Katrina, obviously, but that that response belongs to the local community. And we respect that. And we are going to make sure that that stays that way.
CAVUTO: But, you know, what happened after Katrina, as you well know, sir, is that everyone was pointing fingers. Everyone blamed Michael Brown, dumped on him. Then, we got these tapes that came out. And it turned out that maybe Chertoff was more to blame than Brown.
But, bottom line, federal authorities were blaming local authorities; local authorities, federal authorities; governors, mayors; mayors, governors; governors, the president; on and on.
Who is to say we are going to avoid that?
PAULISON: Well, I think that part of the issue was a lack of communication, communication protocols between the locals and the states, and the state and the federal government. And, you know, there was obviously some issues between FEMA and Homeland Security.
And, quite frankly, that's not going to happen. We are part of Homeland Security. We are going to stay part of Homeland Security. And we resolved that piece of it.
We have to develop relationships with the state and the locals. And we are doing that. I was in New Orleans just two weeks ago, sitting down with them, working on their evacuation plans, to make sure that they had in place what they needed to have, and let them know that we were there to help them when they needed help.
So, it's going to be that kind of a relationship. You know, I came from the local level, so I'm very supportive of those people down there, because that's where the action is.
CAVUTO: Mr. Paulison, let me ask you something, though. Would you advocate people moving back to New Orleans? Do you think the city is safe to withstand another major hurricane?
PAULISON: I think the city is safe. But, however, you know, the levees are still tenuous at best. We have thousands and thousands of families in travel trailers. So, if there is a hurricane, they are going to have to evacuate. And that's why we were down there, making sure that they are working on their evacuation plans, making sure they know what we expect, and that we are there to help them.
So, the city is safe to live in. Obviously, if there's a storm coming in, people are going to have to evacuate, just like they would anywhere else.
CAVUTO: All right, David Paulison, thank you very much. We wish you well. You certainly have the task ahead of you.
PAULISON: Thank you, sir.
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