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FEMA Director Witt Discusses Damage Assessment, Federal Disaster Declaration in Los AlamosAired May 11, 2000 - 2:36 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: As you know, our top story today is that continuing out of control fire in Los Alamos, New Mexico, which is unable to be effectively fought by firefighters because of the dangerous weather conditions.
In Los Alamos today is the Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt, who we heard from a short while ago saying that he was there to assess the damage, under the president's federal disaster declaration.
What, in effect, practical effect, does this disaster declaration have in Los Alamos, Mr. Director?
JAMES LEE WITT, FEMA DIRECTOR: Well, Lou, right now the primary thing right now is to make sure that people are OK, and make sure that we can follow through and help the Governor Johnson and the firefighters to protect what is left here.
And I am with the governor now and Senator Bingaman, and we are driving through these neighborhoods right now that just -- you can't imagine the homes that are burnt, and the firefighters still fighting on the lines, trying to save other homes. And the fire was so hot that the power lines are downs and melted, cars burnt. It's just really a very bad area here, and one whole subdivision looks like it's burned. But we will follow through. President Clinton signed the emergency declaration yesterday, and whatever resources that we have to help fight the fire and take care of the people. That is why I am here.
WATERS: Does that also include rebuilding for these folks?
WITT: Well, first of all, we have got to take care of the people and help make sure they are OK, and try to help get the fire put out. And then, as we do the assessments, with the state, we will see what is going to required either through SBA, FEMA, or other agencies in helping rebuild.
WATERS: Secretary Richardson was telling us earlier about these radiological tests that were going on as he was speaking he said. Have there been any results of those tests yet?
WITT: Well, they just wanted to make sure that they had everything in place, and take precautions, and just to reassure the people here in New Mexico and the workers in this area, that there was no releases and they are going to monitor everything to make sure...
WATERS: All right, thanks so much, James Lee Witt, FEMA director, in Los Alamos, taking a look and assessing the situation today as the fire continues to burn.
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