Louisiana Governor Meets Katrina Crisis

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco tells Renee Montagne how her administration is reacting to Hurricane Katrina. Blanco says she will work with the National Guard and FEMA to assess damage as soon as possible.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Hurricane Katrina has made landfall and is now battering the city of New Orleans. The storm has veered slightly to the east of the city which could mean a minor reprieve but a storm surge could still put the area at risk. We're joined by the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. Thank you for joining us, Governor.

Governor KATHLEEN BABINEAUX BLANCO (Louisiana): Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Tell us what things are like there in Louisiana and, if course, you're in Baton Rouge, not New Orleans which we've been hearing so much about. But what are things like there generally in Louisiana?

Gov. BLANCO: Well, things are a little tense. Everybody is worried about what's going on. A lot of our low-lying areas are being impacted right now. We hope all of our people are safe and that they're able to weather this storm.

MONTAGNE: And there are, of course, refugees if you will that--New Orleans has been evacuated nearly 80 percent. How are they doing?

Gov. BLANCO: Well, I'm hearing that they're doing OK. I know it's not the most wonderful thing to have to be evacuated into a place like the Superdome, but I believe everybody is being very patient, and working with the rescue workers are the emergency workers, I should say.

MONTAGNE: Well, so does that mean that the emergency plans are working? Maybe I should just have you go over what the plan was.

Gov. BLANCO: Well, our first plan was to get as many people out of the region as possible. I think we did evacuate over a million people.

MONTAGNE: And what are you doing today--exactly--I mean, who are you meeting with and what are you planning to do for the rest of the morning, the rest of the day? This is going to go on for awhile.

Gov. BLANCO: Well, I'm with the National Guard, FEMA, the state police--all of our emergency personnel are in this office of the Emergency Preparedness. The National Guard will do an air mission just as the storm moves inland. We'll do an assessment as much as possible of the damage. We will do search and rescue as necessary. Hopefully, we won't have to do a lot of that. I'm hoping that most of the people moved out but there are always a few people who decided to weather the storms and take their chances.

FEMA is here; the Army Corp of Engineers is watching the levies. If--you know, we just have to hold tight right now and let it happen and then we'll pick up the pieces after it's all over.

MONTAGNE: Well, thank you very much for joining us. Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco speaking to us from Baton Rouge. Thanks again.

Gov. BLANCO: Thank you.

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