The Briefing Room: FEMA prepares for Hurricane Florence to make landfall

Pres. Trump is briefed on Hurricane Florence by FEMA and DHS, and America remembers the 9/11 terror attacks.
18:28 | 09/11/18

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Transcript for The Briefing Room: FEMA prepares for Hurricane Florence to make landfall
And. Hey everybody happy can figure watching ABC news live on Jones can't Eugene Washington alongside Mary Alice parks. And our contributors and those in a wily EC's top boxer thanks much for coming in and you're here for specific reason because all eyes right now are on hurricane Florence it's about touched down. On the East Coast several state up and down declaring states of emergency and Tom. Let's bring you on this because before you join us you were the president's Homeland Security advisor that you were right by his side as we're watching so many of the storms. The touchdown over the last year the big one obviously hurricane Maria. Walk us through if you were still in the White House that you were at the president's side one right now is the federal government. Yet this is the hard part at the express to the president all the leaders in the federal government that you're not charge and that feels a little bit difficult for people that are used to being charged. The idea here is that we're trying to get a lot of people don't work from our other all worked in unified. Effort to give one thing done that doesn't always work out Martin plus. Different parts of ths that he working on this that struck me in weren't berg might get TH us actually controls are not controlled overseas so many you know aren't. But smaller agency. Well so what the president Newser reverend he doesn't every scene and tweet this and the governors are in charge and the mayors and local officials are in charge people should take their warnings as well because every individual town and there their war control mechanisms and so forth are all different. The federal government here helps them right so one town might need one thing another time mining and others for the federal government Savvis to help only when the state and local stories are overwhelmed worry assuming it will be because of a storm of this size now unfortunately we're gonna see the loss of life. But I'm reminding the president at this point don't over promise and don't over reassure be counts is a big deal. And you get into question all different federal agencies that we at the court yeah. And I do think the biggest thing and anything he be the first person say is that the tests for the administration last year was hurricane Maria what happened importer I know you were talking us. On how often you were down there and what you saw what would the lessons that this administration learned from them they're probably in applying hurricane. Say I'm a little bit dismayed at some of the misdiagnosis and the reason a misdiagnosis on what went wrong is so important and that is that if you missed diagnoses you know fix the real problem and it happened again and again so the response was. Regarding did in my view it's the best she can do a short period time here an assistant with. An island 11100 miles away the real lesson here is that we need to be better prepared dance. That island had no mitigation measures in place no planning or prepared some place fragile infrastructure. This is to destroy entire power grid on an island that size with the topography of mountains and as and then expect us to come fix it overnight it's just an impossibility. I hope that what what we've learned of the governor's lines it. Is that we need to be putting time and measures and money in place now if you invest now yeah you'll get dividends later Bernie wait until after the storm hits. You've you've artery through off. I don't winner for the White House tonight European honest at the White House. Some ways has has grass to come to terms with just hugged him one last summer yeah sometimes that doesn't feel reflected. In the conversation those reports that nearly 3000 people die and artery cow feels so different and the kind of home we hear from this White House. And was there. But they're kind of are racking continue to happen about just how devastating disaster silence. Miller of the things that happens and we've learned this now as these reports come as the people don't die that day in this particular case it wasn't the storm coming killing 3000 people apparently is for bear the whole world to see kind of an island style. Catastrophe. Six months after the storm some where and it's still living without power during their own clearing of their own yard has a heart attack that that the thing and it's attributed to. Kind of hurricane caused deaths and some times that kinda creeps up when you don't sympathize with. I'll tell you when I left my experience was we were going on power access without oh a lot of things that were that formalities that pre existed the hurt in this case in Puerto Rico before the hurricane were exacerbated there. From my perspective we're paying a lot of attention to it regular cabinet meetings are tons of money allocated to this effort lots of staff working on I just been in Puerto Rico weekends before I. But my posts. I think there's a lot focus on it and I think the president met with president. With the governors including of Puerto Rico recently and sons. I think there's of enough focus on I'm not sure people can really understand so it been Dan action by the president. ABS of the staff meeting and and revisit again the it was a good reminder. But the good news here of Florence is that these are prepared states those innings take it lightly but these are states in the mid Atlantic that are kinda hurricane states students have for the most part they understand what they're what their tendency here yeah. The little one thing you have to say those that and we story especially with Texas and Florida and we sort of ensure Puerto Rico once resources agreeable to get there. You know when one Steve is hurt Iran elsewhere steps and is that image that we source Michigan Texas and you know people rallying to head down there manual you had talked about that your experience that then. That was really inspiring to see it we know. It's gonna be a brutal storm but what happens after that in the responsibly that you know. He adding to his one story. Electricity workers heading down from upstate New York they're helping people in Florida light and about that's the best in the country that we do say. Yeah but I'm glad it happened in that sequence right right the people of Texas have their infrastructure there to help allow them what they're good instincts to do good things for others right now of their fellow neighbors have made the country feel better about themselves it made bouncers willing to help. That's on Porter ego comes along and it's a bigger challenge you want people feel like they can make a difference and I want this to be kind of my message for today. Every once in a warnings on TV. Personal accountability every individual has to take steps to make sure their own property in their own children their own families currency. Distance or proximity from the storm and slip fall. And after that we have to make your regular stint of water is water. We've already reached the saturation point the entire mid Atlantic and 48 inches of water already in the system in Baltimore there's nowhere else for that water to go there now going to be threatening so. When these flood warnings command and the first words or life threatening the out. Listen if life threatening flooding people don't understand what life threatening flooding looks like it means that your television let you don't take these. These cautions that. You're at he stresses. Expose other weaknesses at art existed in infrastructure Sunday statement you more prepared. But there's certainly going to be some round some bridges certain neighborhoods where there's not infrastructure at the same level. On the other parts this stage and win abstract like you imagine it just. Really reveals where where there's issue. That's right so what Wanda Ding and unfortunately this is familiar to us now as will cover as people experienced losing those things they come. The take for granted rights aren't you lose your sewer system and your water. In total work that's that's a troubling feeling for most people wouldn't compounded was no power and the sewage being industries for a few days. People start to lose their patients who lose their control. And people need you to put themselves at a that's this situation took the kids and if there was some are safe house where they need to be prepared with their own supplies. And with their own state of mine rating handle 72 hours anybody committed to help them. Federal government will be there to help yeah are big muscle movements they're nine individual assistance. And we know right now the president has been getting a briefing from his current team he's been meeting with that Urquhart FEMA and secretary of Homeland Security I believe we do have a clip. On the from some of that briefing that he just had with his team a team clip of what the president had. We don't have that just yet the control room is working hard on it but but Tom before exactly right now it's if I if it's coming to a shortly so we'll bring at the time before you leave us. You you know just. You were. Best. Take away from every in the use or with this storm. Am why you do hope everyone takes any obvious he says listen and heed advice but it will be that one thing I'm in the path of the storm. What do I need to. You need to plan to take care of yourself and not be reliant upon a government official weather state local or federal coming up you. You're on top of a tree with 34 rushing water on you. He made a lot of mistakes are made a lot decisions at that point that put you there don't expect a government official if they get their help you that's great they're heroes. At this point personal accountability take care of yourself from the government can come through and help on the mark. And before we leave this topic I'm told that we can now have a clip from the president's political listened that briefing just hat. If American people is by absolute highest. Priority. We are spared no expense. Are totally prepared we're reading. But as anybody who's ever been. And it looks tune me edit books to all of a lot of very talented people that this will living like this is going to be a storm that wouldn't be a very large way for a larger than we've seen in. Perhaps decades. Things can change but I doubt they will at this stage is pretty late stage we felt it going to be hearing very far off course. And he places that are. In the way it is the most jeopardy would be Virginia and North Carolina South Carolina. That area. Again they haven't seen anything like what's coming out us in. 2530 years. Maybe ever. It's tremendously big add tremendously wet. We're gonna have continuing coverage across ABC news as we track hurricane Florence we thank Tom. Postured for his expertise he's going to be very busy the next couple days as we are tracking hurricane Florence across EC can always gallant BBC news app. For all the latest any time on this story but we do you want to switch gears because there is another headline. Mary else that's been growing over the last couple days and that's Bob Woodward's new book fear just came out today but it's already been talked about across wash. In an and most fascinating. We're really is we've been hearing this. Is that it's the picture that it heats up the White House and it's not new we've seen it from several books that it happened so far. But going further getting different individuals. That have not really spoken out previously we haven't heard from previously. On the record about things that have happened in the White House. Rick painting again this picture chaotic White House. A president that can't be trusted isn't trusted by his own staff. Personal very specific accounts from staffers. Saying they're worried about the decisions that he is making and that they were trying to essentially. Protect the country from him. I think what is so interesting we are talking wreck before we started that this wasn't necessarily in mule through line a new regime maybe that's why with a powerful. The president has made sure we keep talking now he's in tweeting about it nonstop. Probably I would cast more than his advisors and is current staff would like. You know immediately be definitely want him off this topic and it can't let it snow and he never run up to rally the day we know these you know been talking that is. Non stop in and out of the white house with advisors like you want to bring in NBC's Catherine folders whose. Been tracking some of the reactions we've been getting Catherine. You know will this book first started leaking out we obtained a copy of it we were going for trying to reach out to people. And there were two individuals whose stories were fast and they were the former chairman of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn. And the president's staff secretary rob Porter they if you it spoken out. Until today cap her. They got this is pretty fascinating on a week after of course the book just came out but a week after we read those excerpts and after. They are pieces of the book were reported they came out and issued these statements. What. Call one bit of an on a denial denial of big part of Geary code in the former national economic director he. What word alleges in that book that he stole pieces of paper off his desk specifically the US Korea. Free trade agreement I'm from the wrestling deaths in the office now Gary has issued Gary cut has issued a statement and tax he has saying the book does not. Accurately portray my experience. In the White House but it doesn't specifically denies those allegations that the president has said if true. And he would be very upset about and rob Warner as you mentioned the former staff secretary controls the paper flow into the Oval Office what the president sees what. Is put on his desk and EU member he was up at one point for a white house counsel's job he soon. A URA you know week. After this comes out sick that he says he was responsible for the flow of documents to the Oval Office he says any suggestion. That the terriers were stolen from the president's desk to prevent his signature miss understands how the White House document review. Process works Johnson it's interesting to see these denials coming out now on his you Hyatt both. Reported from our sources. We were understanding that the president it was upset with the two of them and quite possibly could have come out this week. And attacked them. So and that opportune time. And especially in. Case of rob Porter as we know you know Gary Cohen as sort of gone back. To his private life he'd obviously was a long time leader of Goldman Sachs reporter Catherine we have not seen much of since he left the White House. You know enshrined in scandal. That happened or allegations. Spousal abuse with two this past marriages. EE is fascinating knowing all how close he was. Not just to several top aides the president but also the president's family. Yes he was very close to him in his you. I mentioned we haven't heard him speak out it also this statement on the record from him is is pretty rare John. Yeah and the bookie is doing well we were told to tell him why else would allow the payment to come down exact and I think academy at that point really allow an end and that night she sent sort of a roundabout yeah and on an out now I think was the fat brightly at. Freezing it I I couples looking talking buddies. People like you sent it knew him so well out there were there for so long. It really gets you. If that's how how few of them are. Yeah that shrinking network of tracks while Rick and Ann and Don junior I'm who spoke to rantisi yesterday said they eat it it's becoming. He small arts and smaller and smaller group of people that the president. Actually trust and we know for someone that you know ruled. His company with an iron fist and had leads that were with him for decades it's a little weird for the president to constantly have this changing faces of individuals around him. And posturing. Frustrating and and that but all question has walker can blocked by the Stanley. And it was just bizarre to think that there could be so few people in this White House as current and comfortable win. And and wondering what were those relationships aren't some of that and next sort of ripple effects and consequences of this kind of casket. We're gonna have continuing coverage of this Knight who has its place And I do want to move on. As today is September 11 I think at any body that you speak to obviously remember. Where they were on that day. That that was alive the president was out he I spoke earlier this morning in Pennsylvania. The site of flight 93. That was taken down and crashed on the vice president Mary. House over at panning on. Tough day for pursuing people and I think just as images you'll come back to us and people talk about that lose guy that was that morning I mean actually remember. Watching tower one in two. And smoke coming out of them from my math class. And happily we had a direct view of it and it was just you lose. He was very confusing. Is taller member and I remember. The principal or school coming on. And saying there had been an attack. Five but don't worry. We're here for you it'll be okay. And it was. Since it I mean that that DA asking for so many people on through the same way you can just hit play during batting cages and let you know. Iger on the other coast near Seattle acts in an interesting Jeff. Part of this. Steve very close to three major military base at all on super high alert to defend the ports and and the airspace. And I'd never seen in light that never experienced anything like that living there that level anxiety an awareness. And conserve readiness of the cancers feeling well also. Obviously grieving and mourning and I you know this many years later like he's and the fact that we often think of it so closely. And what has happened since that major wars are still fighting country is still finding. That this president having to grapple with those wars like its predecessors grapple with what to do in Afghanistan in grapple. Staying in Iraq and those well continue to meet certain important. Important conversations that that out we have yet. Young man fighting there that were apparently. And ink Adam folders just knew your thoughts on today you're watching the president this morning as he departed. Tom early on he talks often. About being a new Yorker on 9/11. An aunt and his memories of that. Yet he and today you saw him. I'm in his second 9/11 commemoration visiting that. Flight 93 memorial heat with a solemn and speech he gave Johnny also had some strong. I'm words against terrorism he spoke about. Those who lost their lives on that flight the president says they bravely charged the cockpit they attacked the enemy they fought until the very end. And they stopped the forces of terror that was the president today in after. His speech he and the First Lady also toward a you can see it right there toward that viewing area above where. Flight 93 crashed on. Credible and it and a lot of heroes loss that Catherine Paula that the White House thank you Mary Alice always good to be with you. We're gonna leave it there today can always catch the latest city BC or download BBC news apt thanks much for joining us I'm John centric in Washington. You're watching ABC news.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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