'This Week' Transcript: Chris Christie and Craig Fugate

But after the storm's moved through, a lot of people want to get out and start driving around and see what's going on. Unless it's really urgent, we ask people to stay home, stay off the roads. Let the power companies and the emergency workers do their job. You know, it'll help us get power back on a lot faster if they're not having to fight traffic with people sightseeing.

TAPPER: You've mobilized six urban search-and-rescue teams. Have you deployed any of them yet?

FUGATE: They're all in staging areas, but I'll give you some examples of what has happened. Down in North Carolina -- and these are not our federal teams -- these are state and local teams -- North Carolina is already reporting that, as of early this morning, they'd already completed 67 swift-water rescues where they've actually had to go out in boats and get people that had been trapped or cut off by the storm. So our teams were in position. We don't have any requests yet, but we are still assessing this morning what kind of impacts we're having.

TAPPER: You tweeted from your Craig at FEMA Twitter account that, quote, "The category of the storm does not tell the whole story. Some of our nation's worst flooding came from tropical storms." Explain what you mean by that and why you're delivering that message.

FUGATE: Well, you know, we talk so much about category of storm, which really refers to the wind speeds of the storm. And people tend to think, well, if it's not a Category 4 or 5, we're not going to have a lot of impacts. The category of the storm really doesn't have much to do with rain. Rain has to do more with how fast the storm's moving and how big it is. Very big storm like Irene, we're getting a lot of reports of heavy rain. We've already had flash-flooding. And, again, you know, you tend to look at that category of storm. It doesn't tell you about all the hazards, rain being one.

The other thing is, we've had reports of isolated tornadoes, still have tornado watches in the path of this storm, and so you still have that risk of the isolated tornadoes that are going to occur very quick. Fortunately, they're small. They don't last a long time. But where they do hit, they can do some damage. And so those are things that aren't tied to the wind speed. So the category doesn't tell us everything, and that's why we wanted people to understand that there were other hazards that we were dealing with.

TAPPER: Lastly, sir, you were director of Florida Division of Emergency Management from 2001 through 2009, when you got the current job. What lessons did you learn during that experience, especially during Hurricane Katrina, about the federal response, that you're looking to avoid those mistakes?

FUGATE: Well, I think the big one -- and this is one Congress recognized and passed the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act -- was that we shouldn't have to wait until a state is overwhelmed to begin getting ready, that we should be able to go in before the governor's made a request, have supplies ready, have our teams in the state, and work as one team, not waiting for damages to occur and that formal request to come.

And so we've been working with the teams. President Obama has declared emergencies in many of the states, as the governors have requested, as they prepared for the storm. So we've learned to really work as one team, not as separate levels of government, and to put everything together early before the storm hits.

TAPPER: All right. Administrator Craig Fugate, thanks so much for joining us.

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