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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Mike Brown
September 16, 2003

Mike Brown
Hello and good morning. It is great to be here and I hope everyone is watching the weather and paying attention to the news of the hurricane. I'm looking forward to your questions.

krista, from new york writes:
what, if any, evacuations have been ordered? who orders them? the state?

Mike Brown
Evacuations are ordered by the state and that is why it is important for everyone to have a battery-powered radio or television to listen to news reports. This way you get the most updated information on evacuations or if you need to stay at home or what we call sheltering-in place.

Molly, from Michigan writes:
Mr Brown, people often ignore hurricane and tornado warnings because they don't possibly think anything so horrible would ever take them or their homes or their families as victims. Who should prepare for this catastrophy and what should they do? thank you, Molly

Mike Brown
Regardless of the kind of storm we are facing, I want people to log-on to or and look at the different kinds of hazards that might exist in your hometown. These web sites will show you how to make a kit, how to make a plan and how to be informed of hazards that might be in your area.

You should never ignore these warnings because the experts give us the best advice possible and the old adage of being safe and not sorry is just good common sense.

Hurricanes can affect people a long way from beaches by causing inland flooding, wind damage, power outages and damage to homes. So don't think just because you aren't on the beach that the hurricane can't affect you.

charles, from fall river mass writes:
how well prepared are we in washington for this hurricane since a large number of our reserves are station over seas?

Mike Brown
People in Washington, DC and the surrounding area need to be aware that this hurricane could bring inland flooding and a storm surge of 20 feet or greater which could cause flooding throughout the northern Virginia, DC and Maryland areas. We have plenty of people on reserve in FEMA and in the states to respond to the disasters in the Washington area.

Sanam, from Hartford, CT writes:
Dear Mr. Brown, I have asked a question on just about all ask the white house, but I never get picked. I know you all get ALOT of questions, but I was really hoping you could answer mine this time. I would like to know how long should the people on the East Coast stock up on food, water, and batterys for? Thank you so much sir and God bless!

Mike Brown
We recommend at least three days supply of the following: non-perishable food items, bottled water (you can even fill your bathtub for your water supply), batteries, a manual can opener, medicines, don't forget your pets, contact numbers, battery-powered tv and/or radio.

Go to and look at the recommended list of items for your go-kit.

And Sanam you got picked this time.

Caitlin, from St.Joseph by the Sea High School writes:
What is the first place that hurricane Isabelle will hit?

Mike Brown
First, don't be concerned about where it is actually going to hit. The storm is large enough that regardless of where it hits there will be danger easily 100 miles either side of that location. Again, this is why it is important to listen to local authorities about the predictions and recommendations for your safety.

Right now the predicted landfall is a very large area extending from Cape Hatteras all the way to New Jersey.

The only predictable thing about hurricanes is that they are not predictable.

Lance, from Australia writes:
Mr Brown, What is it like to work for and with the President and Director Ridge? Also, has public service always been a goal of yours?

Thanks again, keep up the good work.

Mike Brown
There is no greater person to work for than President Bush. He is a man with a great heart and a great concern for all Americans and everyone worldwide. He always does what he thinks is right and therefore makes a great leader.

Secretary Ridge has brought together a great team and is leading us all to respond to any kind of disaster regardless of the cause. He too is a great leader and manager.

I've always wanted to serve the public in some way and serving this President is the highest honor of my life.

Justin, from MA writes:
Mr. Under Scretary, I fully support our Commander-In-Chief in his military ventures in Iraq, but I must ask: With so many Nation Guardsmen in the Gulf, does FEMA and the federal government have the resources it needs to respond to a natural desaster such as Isabel, should the need arise? Thank you for your time, Mr. Under Secretary

Mike Brown
FEMA and state governments have an agreement called EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact), which allows the governors to call on their fellow governors for assistance. So if we need additional guardsmen we can bring those from all over the country. We will have all the personnel that we need.

Stephanie, from Solomons, Maryland writes:
Where do you think the most factual information is being given? There are so many people who report the weathernews as a living how will the public know what is hype and what is real? I just want to protect my family an not waste time or money running aroung twn in a frenzie. Thank You Sincerely

Mike Brown
The best way to protect your family is to be prepared before the storm hits and not be wondering in the middle of the storm what you should be doing. So, log on to or and check those sites for information on how to be prepared. Listen to your local news and make your own sound judgment about what you need to do to take care of your family.

Always keep in mind that weather is fickle but the dangers of the storm can't be ignored. Again preparedness is the key to keeping your family safe.

The, from Guymon, Oklahoma writes:
Dear Mr. Brown: The crew here in Guymon,Ok. would like to know how we should prepare for a hurricane in our area. Please advise as soon as possible. Thank you. The little sister of the crew

Mike Brown
The only potential hurricanes in Guymon are little sisters of crews talking too much. :) But, you need to be ready for tornadoes and hurricanes can bring strong thunderstorms to the panhandle. Hope the crew is doing well.

Steve, from Chester writes:
what happened to all the FEMA funds?

Mike Brown
FEMA has plenty of money. President Bush and Congress have always taken good care of FEMA because of the importance of taking care of our fellow citizens.

Kevin, from Baltimore-Washington Area writes:
I live on the 3rd floor of a 4 story building in the Baltimore-Washington area. Is it possible that there will be separate evacuation warnings corresponding to the type of building and location of one's residence within a building? Or are there only generally issued evacuation warnings for all residences? Where can I find the offical evacuation warnings?

Mike Brown
Listen closely to the news for any state official who may make announcements about evacuations. Families living in high-rises need to be especially aware of potential wind damage and need to be prepared to leave when asked to do so.

I would encourage you to get with your neighborhood group or your neighbors and work out an evacuation plan. Get a safety committee together and work with your building manager to help protect everyone.

dave, from chicago writes:
Do you feel that that there more levels of personnel that have to be contacted since the establishment of the department of homeland security before a decision can be reached and reaction to an emergency can be accomplished. Basically do you think times being wasted when in an emergency time is critical?

Mike Brown
President Bush's bold initiative to create the Department of Homeland Security has actually made us more efficient. Now, many of the partners that I work with in responding to a disaster whether natural or man-made are at the table with me. We are able to discuss our response and how to best protect the country from either terrorist or Mother Nature. We never waste time because the President has charged us with responding as quickly as possible to protect lives and property.

Kim, from Kentucky writes:
Hi Mr. Brown, I would just like to say that I hope that everyone that is in the path of Hurricane Isabel will find a safe haven! Hurricanes should always be taken seriously, and I wonder if this particular Hurricane will equal Andrew? Does hurricane season last past October?

Thank you!

Mike Brown
This hurricane could be as strong as Andrew. Our briefing this morning indicated that the hurricane is picking up speed and the eye of the storm is beginning to re-form. This could be an indication that it will actually gain strength before it makes landfall.

Hurricane season generally lasts from June through the end of October. But we have seen this season that hurricanes can occur at almost any time.

Hugh, from Newburgh, NY writes:
I live in upstate New York and would like to know if I should take any extra precautions due to the enormous size of the upcoming hurricane?

Mike Brown
As always, we recommend preparing for this hurricane just as you would for any hurricane. We take them all seriously and try to get the preparedness message out to everyone. Obviously, you are paying close attention to the weather forecasts which is very smart. Because you live in upstate New York, where often times people don't think hurricanes will affect them, you can help by getting the message out that flood and wind damage can occur. Thanks for being so aware of the dangers of hurricanes.

Eugene, from C.A. writes:
It's honor talking to you Mr. Brown. I am 13 years old in California and I was wondering in which the how long it would take to respond now to a terror attack in a random city of USA. Also would it take the same time to remote cities?

Mike Brown
Our nation's first responders prove themselves everyday how capable they are by responding not only to terrorist attacks but to the everyday dangers we face in a complex society. These same first responders will respond immediately to a terrorist attack no matter how remote the town or community is. We should support these first responders as much as possible and would encourage you to form a citizen corps council in your community to help the first responders. Go to or and look at the many ways you can help make the nation stronger.

Mike Brown
Great questions and I'm really glad to see that people are thinking about preparedness because everything we talked about today is applicable to all kinds of disasters. Stay safe and be prepared.

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