Skip to main content
U.S. Edition
Search
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN PRESENTS

CNN PRESENTS: Security Watch, Is America Prepared?

Aired September 25, 2005 - 20:00   ET

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


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Carol Lin at the CNN Center in Atlanta. And here's a look at the headlines this hour.
FEMA says it has hundreds of search and rescue personnel in Texas and Louisiana. Hundreds of people have been rescued so far.

And the Coast Guard's Vice Admiral Thad Allen says levees in Louisiana were topped by about two feet of water from Hurricane Rita. The city's levees had only been temporarily repaired with sandbags after Hurricane Katrina. More repairs have been made and Allen says the situation is just about under control.

Houston's residents are making a steady return home tonight. Things are going much smoother with none of the 20 hour delays many people faced on the way out. That is because officials are asking people to come back in different phases to keep traffic from backing up.

And despite Rita's power, officials say damage to vital oil and gas refineries along the coast appears relatively light. However, they stress that it is too early to determine whether there will be an impact on oil prices.

Vice President Dick Cheney has left a Washington hospital a day after undergoing surgery to repair aneurysms on the back of both knees. A spokesman says the vice president is doing well and plans to work from home tomorrow.

In Iraq today, the U.S. military says an American soldier was killed and two others were injured when their vehicle rolled over in the western town of Traveal (ph). Meantime, a man exploded a bomb on his motorcycle near a mosque south of Baghdad. Iraqi police say at least six Iraqis were killed, 19 wounded.

At 10 p.m. Eastern on CNN Sunday Night, hundreds of people who decided not to evacuate ahead of the hurricane have been rescued. But an unknown number are still waiting for help. I'm going to have more on their rescues coming up at 10 o'clock.

More of the headlines at the bottom of the hour, but straight ahead, "CNN Presents: Security Watch, Is America Prepared?"

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of CNN PRESENTS. Harsh lessons of Katrina still painfully fresh. Many wonder if America is prepared for the next big disaster, whether it is from nature, or man.

Tonight, a look at response plans for worst-case scenarios. A major earthquake plunges the Bay area into chaos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So at the front door here, I have a earthquake backpack, first aid kit, a vest, a flashlight.

ANNOUNCER: Terrorists contaminate the air with the small pox virus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once a person develops a rash, when they are most contagious, the vaccine doesn't offer any help.

ANNOUNCER: America's milk supply tainted with a deadly toxin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would alert of our partners in the hospitals, which would be what we call an emergency 24/7 contact.

ANNOUNCER: A dirty bomb detonated, unleashes radiation on the nation's capital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every engine company in the city is equipped with detection devices.

ANNOUNCER: Terrorists attack a chemical filled ship, discharging a toxic cloud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one of the most realistic terrorists attack scenarios.

ANNOUNCER: In this CNN security watch special, contemplating catastrophe, IS AMERICA PREPARED? THE NEXT DISASTER.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Jeanne Meserve in San Francisco. Here when they talk about disasters they usually mean earthquakes. And here, as in every community around the country, the do disaster planning for natural catastrophes, as well as terrorist attacks.

And yet for all that planning in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some serious doubts are being raised about the country's ability to respond to a crisis. Over the next hour we will separate fact from fiction; look at some very real threats facing the country. And ask just how ready we are to respond?

We'll begin here in California with earthquakes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 9/11 Emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You people have an earthquake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a humongous, humongous earthquake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 9/11 Emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have an emergency here, right now. The water pipe broke I guess and its spreading the building and the building is cracking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Send an ambulance, a couple people are hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a gas leak over here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there is gas in there, get out of the building now.

MESERVE (voice over): As bad as it seemed, San Francisco's 1989 Loma Preata (ph) earthquake was a mere shudder says seismologist Mary Lou Zoback.

MARY LOU ZOBACK, USGS SEISMOLOGIST: It would take 30 Loma Preata earthquakes occurring all at the same time to equal the 1906 earthquake.

MESERVE: The magnitude 7.9 quake of 1906, triggered a ferocious fire. In the end 3,000 people were dead, half of San Francisco residents, homeless. With two major faults slicing through the Bay Area, seismologists say there is a 62 percent chance of another mega quake by 2032.

ZOBACK: They Hayward Fault is the fault we're most concerned about in the Bay Area.

MESERVE: The Hayward runs through nearly every city in the East Bay, bisecting the Berkley football field end zone to end zone. Running right underneath Mike Holloway' house.

MIKE HOLLOWAY, SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENT: If it comes, and it's on this fault, it's going to be serious.

MESERVE: Very serious. Not just for Holloway, but for the almost 7 million people in the Bay Area.

ZOBACK: The housing, the density of population, the major freeways crossing it, the water, gas pipelines, all sorts of things. The Bay Area depends on the lifelines that the Hayward Fault crosses.

GAIL GOLDENE (ph), EARTHQUAKE PREPARED: This is a couple of days afterwards.

MESERVE: Gail Goldene (ph) isn't sitting around waiting for the big one. She lives in the Marina District of San Francisco, hard hit by the Loma Preata quake.

(on camera): What was the big take-away lesson for you after 1989.

GOLDENE (ph): Education to learn how to take care of myself and my family in a future earthquake.

MESERVE (voice over): Learn, she did, and prepare.

GOLDENE (ph): So at the front door here, I have a earthquake backpack. A flashlight, leather gloves. It's a gas valve earthquake emergency wrench.

All kinds of water.

By every bed in the house, are whistles. You whistle alerts to other people that are where you are and that you need help.

These are cages that we put our parrots in if we have to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're like, oh, I have to shut off the gas, but where the hell are the tools?

MESERVE: Goldene (ph) and hundreds of other Bay Area residents have taken courses from local fire departments on the basics of search and rescue, first aid, and fire fighting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beautiful.

MESERVE: Hoping to help themselves and first responders in a crisis.

Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown says government must also do more to reach certain populations, including the elderly and the disabled.

MAYOR JERRY BROWN, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: Do we have system to have them all 100 percent accounted for? No. I'm going to use what happened in New Orleans, in their lack of preparation, as a goad to get more prepared here.

MESERVE: In an earthquake, one way to protect people is to make sure structures are strong and flexible.

CRAIG COMARTIN, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: And the fluid going through those shock absorbers dissipates the energy.

MESERVE: Structural engineer Craig Comartin shows us how 99 percent of state owned bridges and overpasses have been reinforced. But a new earthquake resistant Bay Bridge span is still not completed and the Bay Area rapid transit system has yet to retrofit its underway tunnel between Oakland and San Francisco.

COMARTIN: In terms of construction it will be several years. It's a monumental project.

MESERVE: Though new buildings conform to strict seismic building codes, an estimated 85 percent of San Francisco housing does not.

And only nine of 66 hospitals in the immediate Bay Area have been retrofitted to state standards as of 2003.

ANNE MARIE CONROY, SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE OF EMERGENCY SERVICES: These are big plans. There are big issues, big infrastructure, so it will take some time.

MESERVE (on camera): And big price tags?

CONROY: And big price tags. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, everybody, get a block back.

MESERVE (voice over): And 65 percent of San Francisco's firefighters and an even larger proportion of its police force live outside the city. Can ferries get them to work if roads and bridges buckle?

And although San Francisco has invested heavily in radio equipment that allows fire, police and EMS to talk with each other, communicating with other jurisdictions and agencies is still problematic.

First responders in California are accustomed to working together because of wildfires and other disasters. But a big earthquake, affecting many communities, would require help from afar, and after Katrina many are reassessing the federal role.

CONROY: I think it was a wake up call for local government.

MESERVE: Jerry Brown says not matter how much crisis planning one does gaps always become apparent.

BROWN: I never had a disaster in which people, within 10 days, were not complaining and in many cases, rightfully so.

MESERVE: But the holes in earthquake preparedness are apparent right now. The deadline for filling them, unknown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god, we're having an earthquake. Wait a minute. Hold on! Hold on! Can you feel that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sure can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is interesting. There goes the lights, Oh!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Throughout the hour will be giving you a summary of the challenges facing planners for each one of our scenarios. In the case of an earthquake in San Francisco, here they are.

(ON SCREEN GRAPHIC)

CHALLENG, EARTHQUAKE: Retrofit existing structure to meet earthquake standards; Get fire and police personnel into crisis areas.

ANNOUNCER: The next scenario, a small pox attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time is against you. So you really need to rush the response as much as possible in order to save the lives of as many as you can.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: Is America prepared? The Next Disaster: Planning for a small pox attack, New York City.

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New York late at night, as much as this city of 8 million ever sleeps. But in China Town, a middle-aged man is restless. He has chills, aches, a fever of 103, with no regular doctor he makes his way to the emergency room at New York Downtown Hospital, not far away.

The patient is sent to triage, where his vital signs are checked, so far, no suspicions and no precautions.

(On camera): The nurse is talking to the patient at this point.

PETER FROMM, ADM. DIR., EMERGENCY DEPT., DOWNTOWN HOSPITAL: Uh- huh?

SESNO: She wearing a mask?

FROMM: She's not wearing a mask.

SESNO: She's not wearing a mask?

FROMM: No, she's not.

SESNO (voice over): Peter Fromm manages the emergency department.

FROMM: This is a typical room in the emergency center.

SESNO: The patient is examined by a physician. But no alarm bells ring. He's sent home to rest.

(On camera): And told what, probably?

FROMM: Well, he'll probably get told that if their symptoms worsen or other symptoms develop then they need to call us back. They need to return to the Emergency Center.

SESNO (voice over): Over the next 12 hours a few more people show up with flu like symptoms. That prompts a call to the city's Department of Public Health, where Deputy Commissioner Doctor Isaac Weisfuse takes the call.

During the non-flu season, if we had a big spike in flu-like illnesses that clearly would set off the signals to us that we need to investigate.

SESNO: Across the region, people are getting sick. Many, otherwise healthy, young and middle-aged adults.

JOESEPH HENDERSON, SR. OFFICIAL, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL, NY STATE: This is going to be the trigger event, of something suspicious here. It's not flu.

SESNO: Joe Henderson, the Centers for Disease Control senior official in New York state, is now drawn into this rapidly unfolding event. Testing begins. Henderson has a check list. HENDERSON: Just details about the specific case and where we are in acquiring a lab specimen. It is what we call, pushing everything in the forward lean.

SESNO: Back at Downtown Hospital, that first patient returns, now with red spots on his tongue and in his mouth. Doctor Chester Lerner, director of infectious diseases sees him and is worried.

DR. CHESTER LERNER, DIR. INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You may very likely have small pox, we need to get the names and numbers of your family, people who you have close contact with.

SESNO: Investigators still don't know how bad it really is. A little over a week ago, terrorist sprayed small pox virus into the air at train stations, subways stops, and a packed event at Lincoln Center. The disease has been incubating ever since, 20,000 people may have been exposed.

It is a horrible disease. Between seven and 17 days from infection, victims experience aches, pain, fever and then disfiguring rashes. That is when the disease is contagious.

It is estimated each sick person could infect anywhere from three to 10 others.

HENDERSON: If you do the math, it doesn't take long to get up to 100s of thousands, if not millions of people, over the course of 30 days.

SESNO: About 30 percent of those infected, could die.

Back to our New York scenario, CDC tests now confirm the suspicions, it is small pox.

WEISFUSE: Well, this through my mind is, we have a major public health emergency, not only in the city, but across the country and perhaps the world.

SESNO (on camera): How critical is time?

HENDERSON: Time is extremely critical. The vaccine is only good up to four to seven days from the time they were exposed to the virus. Once the person develops the rash, when they're most contagious, the vaccine doesn't offer any help.

SESNO: It is a colossally difficult race. The federal government says it can get vaccine to local authorities within 12 hours. New York must then distribute it to about 200 designated locations.

We are beholden on the federal government to get the vaccine. Obviously, we will move heaven and earth, once we get the vaccine, to get it in the right place.

SESNO: More people are getting sick. Public anxiety grows as rumors and speculation spread. Hospitals are overwhelmed by the worried well, many are getting angry.

SESNO (on camera): Are you personally going to wade out into that crowd and say, folks we don't have the vaccine here and we're not going to be doing this. Go someplace else?

FROMM: You know that is a difficult question to answer. Somebody is going to have to do it.

SESNO (voice over): But the real front lines in this crisis are inside the hospital. The first responders here are health care workers. Only a few of whom have been vaccinated. For the rest, there is no vaccine on the premises, yet.

FROMM: Twenty-four, even 48 hours have passed and I'm counting on that vaccine arriving here on time in order to vaccinate our staff, because otherwise the health system collapses.

SESNO: And with no special provisions to vaccinate medical workers' family members, many health care workers stay home. In the intensive care unit, patients now exceed beds in isolation rooms like this one. So whole floors become small pox wards, isolated as much as possible. The newly sick are diverted elsewhere. People are starting to die.

WEISFUSE: I think the healthcare system is going to be stressed and overwhelmed in certain ways very quickly. I mean, clearly it is a dismal day, psychologically, when we have a small pox outbreak in our city.

SESNO: The crisis deepens. Schools and businesses are closed. Transportation in an out of New York, limited. Small pox is reported around the country.

This scenario is daunting. But there is a vaccine, a plan, and the CDC says enough doses now on hand for everyone in America.

HENDERSON: I think what we need to do is be imaginative, but not hopeless. Not to be morbid, but to think through how we will in fact survive the event.

SESNO: In 1947, New York had a small pox scare; 12 cases, two dead, about 6 million vaccinated in just under a month.

Still our 21 century scenario is unprecedented. Thousands deliberately exposed in a much more crowded place, where millions move in and out and around the world every day.

It is why bioterrorism is such a threat and why this city has spent so much time and money trying to prepare.

(ON SCREEN GRAPHIC)

CHALLENGE, SMALL POX ATTACK: Rapid vaccination program; control crowded health.

ANNOUNCER: The next scenario, a dirty bomb. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Human nature is going to be to flee.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: Is America Prepared? The Next Disaster, planning for a dirty bomb in Washington, D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: WTOP News time, 10:32. The high cost of gas ...

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An average morning in the nation's capital, fair weather, wind out of southeast at abut 10 miles an hour. Congress is in session. The president is in the White House. Buses along The Mall are carrying tourists to and from museums and other sites.

Suddenly, an explosion: A massive bomb in a school bus rips into a museum and federal office buildings nearby. Suddenly there are hundreds of dead, thousands of injured.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Always when we respond to incidents, life safety is first.

ENSOR: In such a scenario District of Columbia Police Commander Kathy Lanier, and Fire Battalion Chief Larry Schultz, the on-site emergency commanders would be on the front lines.

CHIEF LARRY SCHULTZ, WASHINGTON, D.C. FIRE DEPT.: Every engine company in the city is equipped with detection devices. So, right away as they approach a scene we would have a good idea of what we're dealing with.

ENSOR (on camera): Under this scenario, devised by a Washington think-tank, those devices detect radiation, a dirty bomb. About a pound and a half of CCM137, added by terrorists to 3,000 pounds of TNT.

COMMANDER CATHY LANIER, METRO POLICE, WASH., D.C.: The law enforcement, when they arrive, they are going to immediately don some sort of protective equipment.

ENSOR: While the fire department personnel, wearing breathing devices, would be working feverishly to help and evacuate the wounded, the police and authorities would face the biggest danger of all from a radiological bomb, panic.

PHIL ANDERSON, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC INT'L. STUDIES: We Americans are radio phobic. We desperately concerned about any source of radiation.

ENSOR: In Phi Anderson's scenario, the Secret Service moves quickly to get the president out of the area, for fear of additional bombs.

ANDERSON: Human nature is going to be to flee. And if the president has to be moved then that reported in the media, and people respond to that.

ENSOR: It is the natural human instinct to run. It is what people did on 9/11 in New York. And at the U.S. Capitol, it was the right instinct then. But with a dirty bomb, it could be a mistake.

SCHULTZ: If you are in a building and the envelop of that building hasn't been ruptured. In other words, you don't have broken windows and there is no structural damage to the building, you are much safer off staying where you are, keeping the windows closed, shutting off the HVAC system.

ENSOR: Why shouldn't I run?

LANIER: Once you come out into the open air, you are exposing yourself to contaminants that not only can be harmful to you, but that you can take home and actually bring into your own home and contaminate your whole family.

ENSOR: In "Dirty War", British filmmakers present a dirty bomb attack scenario in London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks (INAUDIBLE) was being overwhelmed by self presenters coming out of the hot zone. The crowd is contaminated, the hospital is requesting police assistance to hold them back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell them they'll have wait.

ENSOR: Everyone caught within the radio active plume created by the wind would have to be corralled by police and held whether they like it or not, until decontamination tents could be set up. A challenge noted by D.C. police who use the film in training.

LANIER: I think it was a very well done movie. What struck me the most was the responders and how what I do, and what Larry does, when the government comes in to deal with the situation, your activities very much influence the emotions of those people.

ENSOR: As in the British film, civilians and first responders inside hot zone, about 10 percent of Washington, would have to leave their clothes and be forced to take showers before they could leave.

DEP. MAYOR EDWARD REISKIN, WASHINGTON, D.C.: This is the District of Columbia's Emergency Operations Center. So this is the nerve center.

ENSOR: Deputy Washington Mayor Edward Reiskin showed us where a dirty bomb explosion in the nation's capital would initially be managed.

If this is what was on the screen, we'd be gathering information from the field. We'd obviously be doing a lot of coordination with the federal government. This is actually federal property. As a terrorist incident, the FBI would be the lead investigative agency.

ENSOR: Whether it is planning for a presidential inauguration, or responding to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the local and federal officials know each other well.

SCHULTZ: We've been able to train together. We've been able to plan together. And certainly one of the biggest strengths that we now have is the ability to communicate together.

ENSOR: Are you confident, are you both confident, that your personnel, faced with what would be a radiological device, blown up in the Mall, would all stay on duty?

SCHULTZ: There is no doubt in our minds that we're not going to have to face that issue. They will report to work and they'll do the incredible job that they do everyday.

ENSOR: In fact, Schultz and others say, a dirty bomb laced with CCM137 would not make many people radiation sick, though it could raise cancer rates in the population. And it would not be terribly difficult to clean up.

ANDERSON: The psychological aspect of this thing is something altogether different. You could have perfectly save city, free from radiation, and a fearful public that would continue to be unwilling to live and work in Washington.

ENSOR: First responders in Washington have rehearsed reacting to a dirty bomb, they believe they are ready if it should ever come to that. Much would depend on whether Washingtonians would panic or keep their wits about them and listen to what the authorities advise.

(ON SCREEN GRAPHIC)

CHALLENGE, DIRTY BOMB: Control panic; Isolate contamination area.

ANNOUNCER: The next scenario, attack on a chemical tanker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These types of chemicals can harm or kill just the same as the regular warfare agents.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Carol Lin at the CNN Center in Atlanta. And here's a look at the headlines this hour.

FEMA says it has hundreds of search and rescue personnel in Texas and Louisiana. Hundreds of people have been rescued so far.

And military leaders who are part of the Hurricane Rita Task Force have a message for President Bush, create a national plan to coordinate search and rescue operations. One tack force member said current plans are so scattered that five helicopters show up at once to rescue the same person.

And residents are steadily returning to their homes in Gulf Coast Texas. And most are not facing the long delays they encountered on the way out. In Houston, for example, officials have divided the city into quadrants, asking residents to return to each section in stages. Now, Rita caused far less damage to oil refineries in Louisiana and Texas than originally feared. The nation's biggest refinery, ExxonMobile, in Baytown, Texas, was left unscathed. An oil expert says many of the refineries that closed in advance of the storm will be up and running in the next couple of weeks.

Vice President Dick Cheney has left a Washington hospital a day after undergoing surgery to repair aneurysms on the back of both knees. A spokesman says the vice president is doing well and plans to work from home tomorrow.

A U.S. military helicopter has crashed in southeastern Afghanistan, killing all five crew members onboard. The military says there were no indications the plane had been shot down. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Hurricane Rita military officials who are coordinating rescue efforts make a suggestion to President Bush, details coming up at 10 p.m. Eastern on CNN SUNDAY NIGHT.

More of the headlines at the bottom of the hour, but back to "CNN Presents: Security Watch, Is America Prepared? THE NEXT DISASTER", right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: IS AMERICA PREPARED? The next disaster, planning for a chemical tanker attack, Houston.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is ground zero for the petrochemical industry, a prime target for terrorists. An attack here could wipe out thousands.

The Houston ship channel stretches 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Houston; 200 refineries and petrochemical plants crowd the channel's banks. Every year more than 150,000 vessels carrying lethal chemicals like phosgene (ph), chlorine and ammonia, navigate the channel. Each one a floating target for terrorists.

AMY SMITHSON, CENTER FOR STRETEGIC INT'L. STUDIES: This is one of the most, I think, realistic terrorists attack scenarios. These types of chemicals can harm or kill just the same as the regular warfare agents.

KAYE: If a ship were attack here in the channel, anyone within 25 miles could be dead. The blast could send fire ball spinning toward shore. The web of pipelines buried beneath the channel could be so severely damaged, much of the country's production of oil and petrochemicals could come to a halt.

More than half a century ago, in Texas City, Texas, it wasn't terrorism, but it was just as frightening.

DORIS SHERRON, TEXAS CITY BLAST SURVIVOR: An explosion like that, emblazons your mind and you never forget it.

KAYE: Doris Sherron was there, April 16, 1947. The SS Grand Camp (ph), exploded in the ship channel's Texas City Port.

SHERRON: All I saw were people with no clothes on and oil all over them. You could just see the whites of their eyes.

KAYE: Flying debris punctured pipelines and petroleum storage tanks. Twenty of Sharon's co-workers died.

SHERRON: I heard their footsteps and for several years following that, I remembered their footsteps as they left the building, and they never came back.

KAYE: Texas City is the worst industrial accident in United States history. Nearly 600 dead, thousands injured.

(On camera): Texas City was an accident, but what if it wasn't? What if a terrorist attacked a ship on the Houston ship channel. The chemicals inside the vessel would explode causing a massive fire that could spread down the channel. Maybe even into the refineries on land. Here in the city of Baytown, are they prepared?

BERNARD OLIVE, FIRE MARSHALL, BAYTOWN, TEXAS: We're as prepared as prepared can be.

All the boats are ready to go?

KAYE (voice over): Bernard Olive is the fire marshal and emergency management coordinator in Baytown. The ship channel runs right past his city.

OLIVE: I don't know if I'll lose any sleep over this channel, but sometimes you stay up running scenarios through your mind, on what could happen. And you know, have you done everything you can to prepare?

KAYE: Baytown is building a new emergency operations center, but this city of 66,000 has only one hospital, about 180 beds; just three ambulances, no helicopter, six fire trucks, no fire boat.

OLIVE: I don't know that you ever have enough equipment.

DR. ROBERT EMERY, CTR. FOR BIO-SECURITY, UNIV. TEXAS: For a huge cataclysmic event if could be that Baytown could be destroyed.

KAYE: Doctor Robert emery is with the Center for Bio-Security at the University of Texas, Houston.

EMERY: If we have a large disaster where not many of these chemicals are all mixed together. They're on fire, they're being dispersed. What you could wind up with is an airborne version of this toxic mix of water that we're seeing in New Orleans.

KAYE: Baytown would either evacuate or tell residents to stay indoors and seal their windows, until the airborne threat passes. EMERY: There would be individuals who would succumb to their exposure. As the material travels further downwind, other folks who are exposed, if they were not able to shelter in place, would start to suffer respiratory problems and the like.

KAYE: Victims lungs would fill with fluid, they'd choke to death.

Given Baytown's proximity to Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, hundreds, maybe even thousands could die. Chief Olive's plan? Isolate, contain and control.

OLIVE: You would set up a perimeter, what we call a hot zone. And then try to get everybody out of the hot zone.

KAYE: In the case of a chemical attack, a perimeter likely would be impossible, given the huge vapor cloud, says Sal Depasquale, a security expert who trains first responders.

SAL DESPASQUALE, SECURITY EXPERT: The question is, are we going to send first responders into the death zone? The police are going to be the blue canaries. First they're going to drive up to the even, thinking that their five miles away, or six miles away, and they're going to die.

KAYE: Depasquale says communities like Baytown are kidding themselves if they think they're prepared.

DEPASQUALE: When I review emergency plans, what I find, is that they are little more than lists if people to call. Not what to do.

They've prepared for plugging holes, they are not prepared for mass casualties.

KAYE: Lucky for Baytown, the entire ship channel has more than a dozen different agencies ready to respond to an emergency. The U.S. Coast Guard has three fire boats and holds regular drills with the refineries and chemical plants, which have their own emergency teams.

CMDR. DAVID HAWES, U.S. COAST GUARD: All we have to do is ask, we need your firefighters, we need your fire trucks. They can pump thousands and thousands of water, so they can bring hundreds of people.

KAYE (on camera): When you think about the possibility of that, a terrorist attacking the channel, what do you feel?

SHERRON: Let me tell you, that haunts me all the time.

KAYE (voice over): Doris Sherron survived the Texas City disaster on this ship channel, she trusts that if the bad guys come knocking they will be surprised by the response.

(On camera): And you feel that they are prepared, here in Baytown and elsewhere along the channel it there was a terrorist attack? SHERRON: Absolutely. Of course, it depends on how bad it is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(ON SCREEN GRAPHIC)

CHALLENGE, CHEMICAL TANKER ATTACK: Contain massive fire, protection from chemical exposure.

ANNOUNCER: The next scenario: Food supply terror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there's four micrograms of toxins here. That's approximately enough to kill 30 people.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: IS AMERICA PREPARED, the next disaster, planning for food supply terror in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. MARGARET SIMPSON, HENNEPIN MEDICAL CENTER: Oh, say, I'm Doctor Simpson. What kind of stuff have you been coughing up?

KELLY ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Doctor Margaret Simpson is an infectious disease specialist at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, a level one trauma center. She routinely deals with worst-case scenarios. During this exercise she finds herself facing a situation she never encountered before.

SIMPSON: Well, I have a young adult who is having trouble swallowing. In addition to that they're having what I'd call visual problems. And they also can't focus their eyes quite as well. They're having trouble.

ARENA: Simpson says she's most concerned about two possibilities, polio or botulism poisoning. Another hospital physician comes across a different patient with similar symptoms.

DR. DAVID PLUMMER, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: At first I was worried about just a stroke up front, but I'm wondering if there is something more like an exposure or an infection that is going on here.

SIMPSON: I agree with you. I think we have to look at a common source.

ARENA: Because they don't know what they're dealing with, they isolate the patients, interview and test them, and send samples over to the department of health.

While these two cross paths early in the process Simpson worries that might not always be the case.

SIMPSON: We had multiple emergency departments and I think it is a case here, a case there, a case there. And getting that information together rapidly, I think, would be the question mark. ARENA: If this were real, the rest of the city's residents would be blissfully unaware of the lurking danger. Doctor Simpson decides it is time to alert the hospital's director of emergency preparedness.

SIMPSON: He would be the one, also to assess, do we need more personnel here? And do we need to go into an emergency mode of operation for our facility?

ARENA (on camera): It sounds like the next guy I need to talk to is Mark Lappe.

SIMPSON: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

ARENA: OK, we're on our way.

SIMPSON: Go see him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck.

ARENA (voice over): Lappe coordinates emergency preparedness for the region's 29 hospitals. As part of the exercise he's been communicating with all of them about canceling elective surgeries and other pro-active steps, just in case.

MARK LAPPE, DIR. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, HENNEPIN MD. CTR.: We would look at trying to discharge up to may 12 to 15 percent of the patients that we have, it it's safe to do so.

ARENA: He's also in touch with Minnesota's Department of Public Health where an investigation is already in full swing. Tests are being performed on serums sent from the hospital. Preliminary results show botulism.

CRAIG BRAYMEN, BACTERIOLOGIST SPECIALIST: It's the most lethal toxin known to man. It doesn't take much to do a lot of damage. Fortunately, it's not very common.

ARENA: Close it up.

(LAUGHTER)

ARENA: Epidemiologists from the bio-terror division are bringing their section chief up to speed.

JAYNE GRIFFITH, MINN. DEPT. OF HEALTH: We I talked to the emergency room physician, he noticed that both children had difficulty swallowing.

RICHARD DANILA, MINN. DEPT. OF HEALTH: OK, so we do have anti- toxin coming for all three cases at this point?

GRIFFITH: That's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may have another case. DANILA: Slow down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: St. Mary's ER in Duluth just called.

DANILA: OK, so we definitely want to send out a health alert.

JOHN BESSER, MINN. DEPT OF HEALTH: Are we at a point yet, where we would contact the FBI, or should we still wait on that?

(CROSS TALK)

DANILA: Let's put a call into Bill, just as a heads up.

ARENA: Interviews with all patients point to one common denominator -- milk.

MAUREEN SULLIVAN, BIOTERRORISM LAB COODINATOR, MINN. DEPT. OF HEALTH: All right, Rich. We got the results on the first four patients.

DANILA: OK?

SULLIVAN: All of them are positive for botulism type A.

ARENA (on camera): The state emergency operations center is where all key agencies come together to address a crisis. We were asked not to disclose the location for security reasons, but we were allowed inside to witness a simulated response to our botulism scenario.

ARENA (voice over): It is about 6 o'clock p.m. Officials from Homeland Security, law enforcement and the Departments of Health and Agriculture, have all gathered to deal with the crisis.

KEVIN ELFERING, FOOD INSPECTION, DIRECTOR. MINN. DEPT OF AGRICULTURE: We isolated up to two different plants, both located here in the Twin Cities.

ARENA: Milk from both plants has been embargoed. Cartons already on the shelves are being recalled. Information on those cartons can help investigators enormously.

ELFERING: All dairy products that are produced, first of all have a plant number on them. Every plant is listed in this interstate milk shippers list.

ARENA: There are two goals, protect the public, and find the culprit.

MAJOR KENT O'GRADY, MINN. DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Those plants need to be sealed off here. They're potential crime scenes and we need to start gathering lists of employees or people who would have had access to that plant.

ARENA: There is also the potential for the public to panic. A warning was sent out just before the evening newscasts. (On camera): What should the top the three priorities be for the public at this time?

AGGIE LEITHEISER, MINN. DEPT. OF HEALTH: If you have milk in your refrigerator, don't drink it. But don't throw it away.

BUDDY FERGUSON, MINN. DEPT OF HEALTH: Of course, if you are having symptoms of this illness, you do need to see a physician.

ARENA: The Department of Health put together a web site, clearly defining those symptoms -- and set up a hotline.

The next morning, as the victim count grows, there are not enough people or facilities to conduct tests or work the investigation. Meetings are underway to discuss a shortage of ventilators and anti- toxin.

DANILA: We involved ethicists, and other intensive care specialists and make some decisions who should give them -- limited supplies of anti-toxin we have left, and who shouldn't be.

ARENA: Decisions that are extremely difficult to make in simulated exercises, let alone real life. Health experts say Minnesota is one of the best prepared states for a food supply attack. But every practice run reveals challenges that have yet to be met.

CHALLENGE, FOOD SUPPLY TERROR: Information flow among health and government agencies, enough anti-toxins, medical equipment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: At Category 5 hurricane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly, the way we look at it is those first 72 hours, we're on our own.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: IS AMERICA PREPARED? The next disaster, Category 5 hurricane, south Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Until now, Hurricane Andrew, 13 years ago, was the most destructive storm in U.S. history.

JOSE ROMERO, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: The hurricane was getting inside the house.

ZARRELLA: Lumber Yard Manager Jose Romero was 10 years old when huddled in the family bathroom south of Miami, as the wind howled and roared.

ROMERO: Sounds I had never heard. You know, I didn't know what it was at the time. It just sounded terrifying. Scariest part was the walls, they started to shake.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Brings back pretty tough memories, doesn't it?

ROMERO: (Sobbing) Yes.

ZARRELLA (voice over): He walked outside as the eye of the hurricane passed right over his house.

ROMERO: It's weird to see everything just so flattened out of let's say, I don't know, 15, 20 houses on the block, there was only like five or six even standing.

ZARRELLA: Until it took an unexpected turn, Andrew had been headed straight for Miami Beach.

MAYOR DAVID DERMER, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: We're about eight miles long and a mile wide.

ZARRELLA: Like New Orleans, Miami Beach is a city built where nature never meant it to be. It is a barrier island, combined with landfill, if Andrew or Katrina were to hit here --

ZARRELLA (on camera): You'd go under water, right?

DERMER: We would go under water, most likely if it is the type of storm that has the surge.

ZARRELLA (voice over): In the South Beach district, where the night is always young, streets would be swamped. Cafes afloat, waves washing at this balcony, reaching for the top of some buildings.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Now, we're at sea level, so that flooding could be for a period of time, seven, eight feet, nine feet?

The last hurricane stronger than a Category 1, to hit Miami Beach, was Cleo, way back in 1964. I grew up here on Miami Beach, so I remember it well.

I was on the school safety patrol, and days after the storm, I recall being right here on Collins Avenue. Mountains of sand, from the beach, covered the street.

(Voice over): Think of hotel row on Collins Avenue, today, after the worst of storms.

DERMER: You're talking about enormous amounts of sand that are going to be blocking the roads, where the removal is going to have to be with bulldozers to get the sand off.

ZARRELLA (voice over): The Miami area does have the bulldozers and chainsaws to clear debris. Even a stock pile of spare tires for emergency vehicles.

DERMER: Frankly, the way we look at it, is those first 72 hours, we're on our own.

CARLOS CASTILLO, DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE EMERGENCY MGMT. This is a hurricane evacuation zone map.

ZARRELLA: The red zone is mainly Miami Beach, the most exposed, usually first to be evacuated. Five causeways across the bay link the island to mainland Miami.

CASTILLO: The roads are basically made one way, so that people to be able to get out.

ZARRELLA: But Miami could be choke point. Few major roads lead away from the water. And this is what rush hour looks like on a normal day.

Emergency officials suggest people do not need to go far, only a few miles west to stay with friends or family.

CASTILLO: There is no need, and not safe, to be on the road heading north, because the hurricane may go that way.

ZARRELLA: Unlike New Orleans, for people without cars, Miami has a bussing plan to evacuate them, with clearly marked pick up points. We stopped people at random to ask where the nearest pickup place was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never thought about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really don't know, sir.

ZARRELLA: We're standing outside Miami Beach's City Hall, right next to the bus pick up sign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Myself, I mean, you know, I stay home, or I don't go.

ZARRELLA: Only one woman did know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is at City Hall, yes.

ZARRELLA: She left on a bus during a hurricane warning last year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bus was there. The bus was already there. And there were a few buses.

DERMER: When it's time to go you don't play around.

ZARRELLA: Miami Beach is now a forest of luxury high-rise condos, where the mayor worries may try to ride out a storm.

DERMER: They have to understand that aftermath of the storm and what happens. And the fact that there is no power, there is no water. There is no flushing toilets. There is no ability to get down there on an elevator. You're food is going to be spoiling and you may not have contact with somebody for considerable amount of time.

ZARRELLA: Some people won't leave without their pets. Now Miami has shelters which take pets. Others have grown jaded after too many near misses.

ROMERO: They just don't understand. They think that, you know, it is a couple of broken windows here, hide behind a mattress there. And it's not that way.

ZARRELLA: Jose Romero has moved away from South Miami to a waterfront apartment.

(On camera): Where to you live right now?

ROMERO: Uh, Miami Beach.

ZARRELLA: You're on the beach?

ROMERO: I am on the beach.

ZARRELLA: So, if the big one comes, next year, this year, next year? Where do you go? What are you going to do?

ROMERO: Even if a small one comes, I get out of here.

ZARRELLA (voice over): Living in paradise means more need to keep one eye on the sky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(ON SCREEN GRAPIC)

CAT. 5 HURRICANE: Conduct complete evacuation, survive at least 72 hours without outside help.

MESERVE: As we've seen the challenges are many, but when the next catastrophe strikes, be it a natural disaster, or terrorist attack, the preparations must translate into clear communications and decisive first steps by the people on the front lines. Strong lessons from Hurricane Katrina, that must not be forgotten.

That's it for this CNN Security Watch Special, from San Francisco, I'm Jeanne Meserve.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

CNN U.S.
CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines