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America Under Attack: Talk with Director of FEMA

Aired September 12, 2001 - 08:11   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we're going to go to Joe Allbaugh, who is the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Sir, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

JOE ALLBAUGH, FEMA DIRECTOR: Good morning, Paula.

ZAHN: Can you explain to us what you're going to be up to today?

ALLBAUGH: Well, right now I'm in Washington making sure that we have all of the resources that are necessary, both in the D.C. area, the Pentagon, Northern Virginia and for New York City. I have talked with -- I have spoken with Governor Pataki, Governor Gilmore, Mayor Giuliani. They have what they need right now.

Yesterday afternoon, I activated 12 urban search and rescue teams; eight for New York City; four for Northern Virginia. They're on the ground or on their way right now.

Our focus is still in a response mode, and that would be to identify, if we can, those that are still alive and removing them from the rubble.

ZAHN: Can you explain to us what these urban rescue teams are capable of doing perhaps that other rescue operators are not?

ALLBAUGH: Well, they are highly trained search and rescue individuals from all over the United States. We have 28 national teams. We will use all of the resources we possibly can. I'll be going to New York City this afternoon to make sure that we're doing exactly what we need to do. I think everyone understands the gravity of the situation. We have a huge task ahead of us.

I am concerned for those law enforcement officials and New York City firefighters who will be at the -- almost at the end of 24 hours in a few minutes. They'll be getting tired. We need to be rotating fresh troops in and out, making sure we continue during this time of need.

ZAHN: You will be briefing Congress later today, correct?

ALLBAUGH: I will, indeed, bringing them up to date on what we've done and what we will need in the near future. ZAHN: What will you be asking for from Congress? Do you need additional funds?

ALLBAUGH: Probably some additional funding right now. We're at the tail end of our current fiscal year. We've had numerous tropical storms. This is a tragedy that strikes at the heart of our entire country, and I am sure Congress will make sure that all needs are met.

ZAHN: And I know, Mr. Allbaugh, you say you are bringing in highly talented specialized teams to assist in the rescue efforts here.

ALLBAUGH: That's correct.

ZAHN: What do you think will be the biggest challenge that you and your team will encounter?

ALLBAUGH: The biggest challenge right now are identifying those individuals who need assistance right now, either temporary housing or emergency cash. I would urge those individuals who have been affected directly by this tragedy to call our 800 number 462-9029 -- 800-462- 9029 -- if you need immediate assistance. Identifying those folks is going to be a difficult challenge.

But more importantly, we need to get to those individuals who are still alive in the building in the rubble, and we'll do that.

ZAHN: And the most encouraging news, Mr. Allbaugh, is that our Gary Tuckman is reporting that six firefighters...

ALLBAUGH: That's right.

ZAHN: ... have been rescued, one police officer in addition to two police officers last night, bringing the total to nine victims rescued from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

ALLBAUGH: And that gives us hope for others that will be alive, which has to be our focus. And I know everyone is doing their best to get to those individuals as quickly as they can.

ZAHN: Mr. Allbaugh, thank you very much for your time -- good luck.

ALLBAUGH: Thank you, Paula.

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