Transcript for 'Storm effect will be prolonged': Kevin McAleenan on Hurricane Dorian
Just a short time ago we stopped by the national response coordination center located inside FEMA headquarters here in Washington. I sat down with acting homeland security secretary Kevin mcaleenan. I asked him what the forecast track is showing. So the latest forecast, the storm is hitting the northern islands of the Bahamas right they're starting to experience hurricane-force winds. It will across the northern islands of the Bahamas. Then we expect it to stall out. Most models show it stalling out 60 miles offshore not making landfall. That doesn't mean it's not dangerous. We expect hurricane-force winds to hit the coast of Florida and then a prolonged rain event, combined with storm surge, very difficult as the storm starts to move northward mostly like up the coast of Florida and Georgia. At this point, you're pretty sure it won't hit north Carolina, South Carolina, Florida? The national hurricane center says most of the models show it staying offshore, the storm effect will be prolonged on the coastline. Because this was so hard to predict, this hurricane, are there concerns that people will just stay in their homes, they won't get out of their homes, they won't do -- they won't take precautions? Right, we want people to listen to the state and local emergency managers, listen to the evacuation orders, make sure you're prepared, make sure you have seven days of supplies. Medicine, food, even pet food. Think about those things you might need for a prolonged event. We want people to listen to state and locals and be aggressive in watching this You've got president trump coming here this morning. What do you tell him? What are you doing here in the center today? So, we've had lots of time to prepare for the length of the storm approaching the America coastline. We'll have the secretary of defense, secretary of transportation, secretary of commerce, secretary of health and human services, it's really a whole government effort. The president will make sure we're on the same page. We're tracking this and we're going to be ready. And do you expect any mandatory evacuations in those areas? So, that's a state and local decision on mandatory evacuations. But, yes, as the storm gets closer there will be counties that will likely face a mandatory order. FEMA came under fire as we all know in 2017 for the handling of hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico, can you guarantee that your agency is prepared for this storm? So, I can guarantee you that FEMA and all of our federal partners are doing everything they can to support our state and local partners that manage and execute the emergency response. We've had a lot of time to preposition resources and assets, in Florida and Georgia, we're still assessing the damage in Puerto Rico and virgin Islands. It's better than originally anticipated obviously. But yes, we're fully prepared and ready to support. Pete gainer walking us through this facility, told congress back in June that the agency was struggling to ensure that it had enough responders. In reserve and was down by about 1,000 employees. Has that been fixed? That's been fixed. We have 3,000 people deployed across the federal agencies for this storm. About half of those are direct FEMA employees. Urban search and rescue teams. Already in place. But we've got a very experienced emergency response leadership team. With Pete gainer, these guys have done it at the federal level. It's a battle-hardened team behind me. We're ready. And you talk about it not making landfall but there's sustained winds, there's rain, what are the concerns about the power grid in these areas? So, yeah, there will be power outages, no question. People need to be prepared for that. There will be storm surge. Unfortunately, this aligns -- the storm's arrival aligns with the king tide, when the tide is the highest in the southeastern United States. That means the storm surge and some of the coastal flooding could be more significant. That's something we're watching closely. But prolonged period where there's a rain event, wind event, storm surge combined could have complicated results for coastal communities from Florida up the coast. I want to ask you have about these funds that were transferred. In July, they'll transfer a $155 million from FEMA's disaster relief fund to I.C.E., your letter to congress said that, quote, absence significant catastrophic evens the fund would have funds to operate. Doesn't hurricane Dorian qualify as one of those events? I want to emphasize that no potential transfers, no money has been moved yet. We have to do a notification to congress in advance. Any potential transfers will not impact our ability to respond to this storm and other storms during hurricane season. There are two different elements of the disaster fund. $150 million from the base fund is not going to affect our ability to respond and recover from a major disaster. Senator chuck Schumer talked about the timing of this. To talk about this at the start of the hurricane season, transferring that money, why do this now even though you say it will delayed? The start of the hurricane season is June 1st, it's not in August. We notified congress in July. Just to clarify on the timing. But we asked for this funding from congress in the emergency supplemental. We needed that funding fori.c.e. To respond to the ongoing humanitarian border crisis, that congress didn't prove fit to provide that funding. We'll support the ongoing management of that crisis, too. And I want to turn to this mass shooting in west Texas. I know you certainly have a law enforcement background and a terrorism background, we know it started with a traffic stop. That's unusual. What's your take on what's happened there? I don't want to jump to any conclusions on this event. We're monitoring closely the reports. The followup from the states and locals. It's extraordinary concerning, to have that many people injured and five killed at this point. It's devastating. And you know it's 300 miles from El Paso, a region that's really felt the impact of mass attacks in recent weeks, and we're very concerned about it. We'll be following up aggressively. There have been more than 150 people killed in mass shootings alone. Should we consider these shootings a homeland security threat? They are. In our counterterrorism strategy, domestic terrorism has taken a front line focus for us. Since April when I became acting secretary we set a new office on a focus on doe mystic terrorism, including violence extremism. Should dhs be devoting more resources to fighting this kind of crime, these mass shootings? Right, we actually have a ton of resources devoted to this kind of crime across the dhs component. But should there be more given what's happening and there are more frequent in this administration so far? That's a conversation we're having as a team with the FBI, to see what the right resource level is going forward to make sure we can continue our very strong focus on the international terrorism threat. And the prevention levels that we achieved. Also, make sure we're balancing that out with domestic terrorism efforts. Okay, thanks so much. Thank you. Thanks again to secretary
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