Chertoff: Planning for disaster requires everyone
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff delivered the keynote speech at the health summit. U.S. News Editor Brian Duffy introduced the secretary.
DUFFY: Thank you all for coming today. Thank you for your participation this morning in a very vigorous round of questions and answers with all the panelists.
It's really a pleasure for me to introduce one of the great public servants of our time, a guy I've known for some time, Secretary Michael Chertoff a former federal prosecutor, one of the finest in the country; a former U.S. attorney in New Jersey; former head of the criminal division of the Justice Department, and now the secretary of homeland security. It's my pleasure to introduce Secretary Michael Chertoff.
CHERTOFF: I see I'm competing with a chicken for your attention. [Laughter.] And from what I've been told about well, I shouldn't say it. I was going to say from what I've been told about the chicken, it looks like I'm in a pretty good position in this competition. [Laughter.] I'm sure it's quite healthy, though. I think that's very important.
I really appreciate the opportunity to join this very distinguished group to talk a little bit about emergency preparedness. I know that my colleague, Secretary Michael Leavitt, was here this morning talking about avian flu, and I'm going to talk a little bit about that as well because we work together in dealing with some of the preparedness issues that we face as we anticipate the possibility of an avian flu either having an impact on our bird population here or, worse, on our human population.
But before I get to that, I want to obviously make note of the fact that we are approaching the start of hurricane season. Last week I went down to Orlando, Florida, to speak with emergency managers during the annual hurricane conference which is held down there and which of course brings together senior emergency officials from all of the states that can reasonably anticipate the possibility of a hurricane during the course of this year. And I might point out, by the way, that for those of you in the Northeast who think you're immune, there's a very scary scenario involving the city of New York and a hurricane, which, although I hear a laugh, but I'm telling you, they've actually studied it which, although a remote possibility, would be very challenging for New Yorkers in terms of things like preparedness and evacuation. So this is an issue which touches on more states than just those we commonly think of as being in the path of a hurricane.
What I'm also going to be doing over the next few weeks is going down to visit with governors and emergency managers in the Gulf to talk specifically about how we can work together to make sure we are as prepared as we possibly can be for this hurricane season.
I had the opportunity to visit with Governor Riley of Alabama and Governor Barbour of Mississippi on Friday, and then yesterday I was down visiting with Governor Blanco in Louisiana and Mayor Nagin in New Orleans. Obviously there are particular challenges that those regions that were afflicted by Katrina and Rita face as they get ready for this year.