ANNOUNCER: Thursday night, Sept. 15, 2005. It's time for "Primetime." Katrina's barely over. Is the worst disaster ever finally behind us? Not on your life. Tonight, "Primetime" puts you in the hot zone. But it's not just what can go wrong. It's what you can do right to save yourself in the next three big disasters experts say are just waiting to happen. A catastrophic earthquake.
FIRE AND RESCUE WORKER, MALE: Prepare yourselves. Shut off the gas and shut off electricity.
ANNOUNCER: An epidemic of avian flu, the whole world over.
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: I can't imagine anything that would be closer to a living hell.
ANNOUNCER: And a nuclear bomb in an American city.
CHRIS CUOMO, ABC NEWS: I get in my car, if I have one, and I take off.
ANNOUNCER: But what if we told you your first instincts to save yourself are wrong? Tonight, the warnings are here, and so are the answers. Ready or not? The next big one. Here now, Chris Cuomo.
CHRIS CUOMO: Good evening and welcome to "Primetime." Imagine a huge bridge like the one behind me being the only way out of your town and it's crammed with desperate drivers trying to evacuate. Now, we saw something like it during Hurricane Katrina, and the problem may well arise again during the now unthinkable next big disaster. It's a subject the president addressed in his speech tonight.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I consider detailed emergency planning to be a national security priority.
CHRIS CUOMO: So what does that mean to you? What would you do in a hurricane or a manmade catastrophe like a nuclear or biological attack? These are frightening thoughts, of course they are. But tonight is not just about what can go wrong. It's about what you can do right.
We start with a virus poised to create a global epidemic. Are we ready? Here's ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross.
BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS: It has the potential to turn parts of major cities into ghost towns.
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM: We would expect between 1.5 and 1.7 million Americans to die.
BRIAN ROSS: Officials in London are already quietly looking for extra morgue space.
DR. IRWIN REDLENER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: We could have a billion people dying worldwide.
BRIAN ROSS: It could hit as early as this winter, and there's no vaccine and not enough medicine to fight it.
DOCTOR, MALE: There is very much a sense of a race against time.
BRIAN ROSS: Against this, a microscopic view of a never before seen strain of the flu that scientists say could pose a much more real and greater threat than smallpox, AIDS or anthrax. Known to scientists as H5N1.
LAURIE GARRETT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Right now in human beings, it kills 55 percent of the people it infects. That makes it the most lethal flu we know of that has ever been on planet Earth affecting human beings.
BRIAN ROSS: Laurie Garrett is a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. The most recent issue of its prestigious Foreign Affairs journal contains a special report on what it calls the coming global epidemic, a pandemic.