Chertoff: "It Is A Source Of Tremendous Pride To Me To Work With People Who Have Pulled Off This Really Exceptional Response"...

Secretary Chertoff: Actually, I think there was an extraordinary effort to put resources on the ground and pre-position them. As I said, the President declared states of emergency before the hurricane made landfall. So that enabled us not only to put large quantities of water and food and tarpaulins and generators in place, but it also allowed us to actually start flowing that out in advance. But then there comes a point where you're in the storm. And this has been a unique disaster in that we really had two disasters one after the other. We had the storm, but then before we could come in and begin the rescue effort and the evacuation effort and the effort to address people's needs, we had a second catastrophe. That was the levee breaking and the flood coming in.

That has been the principal problem getting the issue of evacuation addressed. We've had to contend with the fact that it's very difficult to move around. The flooding has also had an impact on the availability of buses. It's had an impact on the availability of gas and drivers. We've had to go out and augment what we already had to deal with this additional situation.

You know, in some ways every crisis, whether it be a natural catastrophe or a man-made catastrophe, illustrates the point that preparation is of the utmost importance, and yet even after perfect preparation, the beginning of the catastrophe immediately starts to change the facts on the ground and you have to adapt.

I think the genius of the people who are working here, the genius of the people of FEMA, the people in the National Guard, the people in the Coast Guard is, they have been marvelously adaptable. They have brought, for example, airlift capabilities and air rescue capabilities to bear in a way that I don't think we've ever seen in this country before. And so I think it is a source of tremendous pride to me to work with people who have pulled off this really exceptional response.

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