This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," Sept. 10, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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UMA PEMMARAJU, GUEST HOST: Joining us now from Washington, Michael Brown, director of FEMA and undersecretary of homeland security. Welcome. Nice to have you here.
MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA DIRECTOR: Thank you, Uma.
PEMMARAJU: I understand that your agency has suspended operations at 11 disaster recovery centers in Florida to let local emergency workers concentrate on preparations for Ivan. What impact will this have on the recovery effort that's been under way in the aftermath of Hurricanes Charley and Frances?
BROWN: It won't have any impact, Uma. And in fact, we're continuing to process applications. We've processed over 280,000 applications since Charley first hit. But we are practicing what we preach. We don't want our people, who are really trying to help Floridians, to themselves become victims.
So just as the governor's asking everyone in Florida to take precautions, we're doing exactly the same thing.
PEMMARAJU: So how do you make those tough choices, when it comes to juggling the needs of those residents hit by Charley and Frances against those that may come with Ivan?
BROWN: Well, that's why people in Florida need to help us help them. We understand this is a horrible situation they're in. You know, stop and think about it for a second. Some people got hit by Frances, Charley, and now possibly by Ivan. This is a three-punch they're getting here.
So what we have to do is make certain that we focus on life-saving, life-sustaining efforts, so our rescue teams, our medical teams, our rapid needs assessment teams, all of those folks are being pre-positioned so that we can move in immediately when it's safe to start focusing on those life-saving missions.
PEMMARAJU: Now, I know that FEMA has handled multiple disasters before. But with these back-to-back storms, has this stretched the agency's ability to react?
BROWN: Not at all. And in fact, President Bush is such a strong supporter of FEMA, he went to Congress on Monday and said FEMA's got to have an additional $2 billion, and in a record amount of time, they were able to approve that on Tuesday. The president assured me when we were traveling together this week that if we need additional resources, he will go right back to Congress and ask for those additional resources.
Our people may be tired, but they are devoted to helping everybody in Florida. We had a staff meeting this morning, and the entire planning team is ready to go. All those workers are ready to move back into the state. They want to concentrate on helping these people in Florida, who are just, unfortunately, just getting banged around by these hurricanes.
PEMMARAJU: All right. It's going to be a tough situation in the days ahead. Michael, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
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