Show: MTP DAILY Date: October 6, 2016 Guest: Craig Fugate, Jay Kramer, Jeri Muoio, Bill Nelson, Michael Chertoff, Bryan Norcross, Buddy Dyer
CHUCK TODD, HOST: Good evening. I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington. And we begin with the very latest on Hurricane Matthew.
It is a massive Category 4 storm. And, at this hour, it is heading directly towards Florida`s East Coast. Governors of Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina are telling over two million of their coastal residents to evacuate the most vulnerable areas there. The National Weather Service warns that devastating to catastrophic winds could cause severe damage, even to well-built structures.
Hurricane Matthew has already claimed 114 lives internationally, 108 in Haiti alone. In Florida, where partial landfall is expected later tonight, Governor Rick Scott has been issuing dire warnings all day long telling and begging Floridians that time is running out and just simply listen to safety instructions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT, FLORIDA: If you need to evacuate and you haven`t, evacuate. This storm will kill you. If you`re watching and living in an evacuation zone, you need to leave now. We should not be putting people`s lives at risk because you made the foolish decision not to evacuate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Last point there, don`t be selfish. Don`t be selfish. This matters, especially in the cleanup. The Governor has activated the National Guard to help with evacuation and sheltering operations. President Obama signed an emergency declaration for the state of Florida this afternoon.
Roads in Florida are packed as residents are trying to seek refuge outside of the storm`s path. It`s getting more difficult, particularly in Central Florida. So let`s turn to our own Meteorologist, Dylan Dreyer, with the latest track on this. And so, Dylan, is this eye going to come ashore?
DYLAN DREYER, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: It`s going to be very close. And the latest information we`ve just got at 5:00 p.m. from the National Hurricane Center still has it just a little bit offshore. But the hurricane force winds extend 60 miles out from the center of this storm. So it doesn`t have to make direct landfall to feel the effects of hurricane force winds.
Take a look at how big this storm is right now. We have rain from Nassau in the Bahamas stretching all the way over to Tampa and Naples. So even the West Coast of Florida dealing with torrential downpours. And the storm is so powerful that within some of these downpours with these feeder bands coming off of this storm, we could see tornadoes develop as we go through the night tonight.
So that`s going to be a major concern before the eye of the storm even approaches the coast. So the latest information maintains this storm as a Category 4 hurricane with winds up to 140 miles per hour. So it has not weakened any, but there is a possibility it could weaken before it gets to Jacksonville, Florida which I`ll show you in just a second.
We still have hurricane warnings that are extending from just North of Miami all the way into the Southern Coast of South Carolina, including Savannah, Georgia. We are looking at this storm perhaps to skirt right through and right past Cape Canaveral, Florida, still possibly as a Category 4 storm.
And then it could be just enough to weaken to a Category 3 by the time it`s just off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. But look at a Category 3 storm, 125-mile-per hour winds. So it`s just a number at this point. Either way it is still a major hurricane. It could weaken to a Category 1 as it goes along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.
And then, Chuck, we talked about this yesterday. Look at this loop that we`re going to see this storm continue to weaken and then perhaps meet up where it is right now. So a very bizarre situation, but I want to point out that if that were to happen, it would be a much weaker storm.
Now here`s where we are tonight. We ae looking at the heavier rain bands to continue to approach Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The eye of the storm getting very close to West Palm Beach as we go into the overnight hours, Vero Beach as we just pass midnight.
And then as we continue through the early morning hours, that`s Cape Canaveral where we could possibly see some sort of landfall. And then, as we get into the afternoon hours on Friday, we`re looking at it to approach Jacksonville.
Now to use Jacksonville as an example, I just want to point out that it`s been since 1898 since Jacksonville has seen a storm of this magnitude. Meaning it`s in nobody`s history what will happen when a storm like this makes its way onshore.
We could see the barrier islands, the lowest ones, inundated with water. And we really have nothing to compare it to. So that`s kind of the issue we`re running into. And that`s why people need to take this very seriously.
TODD: And, look, not to personalize this, but my mother just told me she`s in Longwood, Florida, which is just north of Orlando. And she said they have now in Orlando, which is in the center of the peninsula there, they have hurricane warnings up as well. So how far inland in the state will we see sustained hurricane force winds?
DREYER: Well, if the storm were to make its way and actually make landfall on the East Coast, again, with those hurricane force winds extending 60 miles out from the center, you only have to go 60 miles west of the East Coast to still deal with hurricane force winds.
If it went in a little farther, you could take those a little farther to the west. But even once you get past the hurricane force winds, you`re looking at tropical storm force winds, which is still up to 73 miles per hour with some isolated higher gusts. And then you throw tornadoes into the mix as well and we could see wind damage all across the state.
TODD: All right. Explain why -- last question, Dylan. Explain why it will be weaker if it does the loop? I mean, we`re going back into those warmer waters. Why are you confident that it`s going to be weaker? Is there a front coming?
DREYER: Well, there`s still that -- remember yesterday I mentioned there was still that block that would keep it from going away. And that`s why it`s kind of looping back around. But keep in mind the water temperature does start to cool off a bit as it approaches Georgia and the coast of South Carolina. So you`re not looking at 80-degree water temperature anymore.
So water is the main fuel for a hurricane. So if the water does start to cool down, it does look like that should weaken the storm. Keep in mind this hurricane itself is churning up the water. So when you have that upwelling of colder water down at the bottom of the ocean, as that gets lifted to the surface, it`s actually cooling itself down, so by the time we see it wrap around.
TODD: But there shouldn`t be a fear that if it comes right back down to the Bahamas, that it`s not going to re-strengthen?
DREYER: It should not. Because of that upwelling, the water is much cooler than the first time this storm passed through.
TODD: All right. I love being able to ask you all these questions And I love that you have all the answer.
DREYER: I love being able to answer them.
TODD: No, you do. Dylan, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Let me turn now to Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator and Former Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. And he was dealing firsthand when Florida got hit with the spaghetti strings of hurricanes back in 2004. Director Fugate, first, let`s start with this storm. How are evacuation procedures going? What do you know? What can you tell us?
CRAIG FUGATE, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Look, Governor Scott`s been briefing. He`s got about 1.5 million people in the evacuation zone. And you can hear both in his but also local officials that this is just no nonsense. You`ve got to evacuate. And as you move further north, as you point out the history, you actually go back a little bit further, 1893.
A Sea Islands Hurricane that hit Savannah, literally killed thousands of people in an area that does not have a history of significant hurricanes back in the modern times. So as we move further north, we`re seeing a lot of people that aren`t familiar with the impacts of hurricanes.
They`ve had tropical force winds. They`ve been grazed by them. But this is a fairly dangerous situation with storm surge. And that`s why it`s such an urgency to get people to move to higher ground.
TODD: All right. Let me ask about your resources. This is going to be a vast mass of land that`s got dealing with destruction. Normally, you have at least a smaller swath that you`re dealing with, a smaller swath, the people.
How stretched are your resources going to be in the next week as you -- I mean you`re talking about cleaning up from Vero Beach to Savannah. I mean that is -- I`m trying to remember the last time we had a storm that did something like that.
FUGATE: Well, yeah, we`ve been focused on primarily the infrastructure that is to the east of i-95. As your folks are pointing out, it`s really going to depend upon how far inland the hurricane force winds go. But the first thing will be search and rescue supporting the states.
The more people evacuate, the quicker we can shift to recovery operations. We expect power outages that could be for days or weeks throughout this corridor. We`ve looked at the infrastructure. We`ve been looking at resources that would be required in four states to support the response.
Obviously, as we get the impacts, we`ll be coming in right behind the storm. So we`ve been looking at this from the standpoint of how bad is it going to be not waiting for reports to come in that says we may need to do something.
TODD: And you talked about -- I assume you`ve got power folks coming from 44 other states now?
FUGATE: Well, the primary power companies in Florida in this part of the state will be the municipalities and the investor-owned utilities. They coordinate that. But the part of energy, what we`ve done since Hurricane Sandy, is we`ll actually work with the industry, what else can we do to support them, facilitate getting equipment into the area and coordinating our response to know where -- we need to point generators where they`re going to have the longest recovery time to get power back up. So we can focus on critical infrastructure, prioritizing generators based upon where they can get power up quickly where they`re not let`s say the generators where it`s going to take longer.
TODD: You brought up Sandy. I take that -- is that the only new lesson you learned from Sandy that you`re applying to this or what else did you learn from that recovery effort, which another one, extraordinarily expensive and over quite a broad stretch of the East Coast? What lessons from that do you feel like you`re going to be able to apply to expedite recovery procedures?
FUGATE: Well, part of it is we`re not going to see the population densities we saw in New York and in parts of New Jersey. There are some areas of -- Jacksonville area. As we move up and down the coast, you`ve got Brunswick. You`ve got savannah. As you go further south, you`ve got Daytona.
But we don`t have the population density. So this is going to be for us a lot of impacts over large areas, but not necessarily all of it heavily concentration of population. So part of this is working with the state as where are the heavy hit areas with populations. But also remember we`ve got a lot of rural areas that may be more difficult to get to but there`ll still be need out there.
So we`re balancing the response on the lessons we learned from Sandy which we learned from Katrina and everything else is we can`t wait till somebody says it`s bad. We`ve got to get ready now, so that we have resources. So if it is bad, we`re there. If it`s not, we can redirect or go home.
TODD: Look, I`m going to give you the last word here. Anymore you want to say to the public that may be listening down there?
FUGATE: Yeah. Everybody is focused on when -- got to be focused on storm surge. Tonight, tomorrow, that won`t be the greatest risk of loss of life. If you look at all the historical data, water is the biggest killer in hurricanes. Surprisingly, people are always worried about wind but it`s water.
And storm surge has been the biggest threat for loss of life. That`s why we do the evacuations. That`s why it`s so necessary for people to go now. As it gets dark, you`re going to run out of time. Don`t wait. Go now. You still have time, but it`s going to get too late. And you`re not going to have good options.
That`s what we`re focused on right now, is getting people to evacuate to higher ground. They only have to go tens of miles, not hundreds of miles. But that`s the greatest risk we face.
TODD: And every single -- trust me, as a Floridian. Every single school down there is built to be a pretty good shelter anyway. Craig Fugate, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
FUGATE: Thank you.
TODD: Joining me now from Fort Lauderdale is our own Blake McCoy. All right, Blake. Fort Lauderdale, they`re not in the eye, but they`ve been getting -- explain what you`ve been feeling. Is it been the tropical storm- like conditions? It looks like it`s relatively calm right now.
BLAKE MCCOY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Right now, it is. It`s been coming in waves, in bands, Chuck, as these outer bands of the hurricane have swept through. You can see right here all of the businesses here in Fort Lauderdale are closed. They`ve been closed all day in preparation for this storm.
The roads here in Fort Lauderdale are also closed. I`m told it`s a symbolic closure. They`re not going to go around giving people tickets, but they really want people to just stay off the roads and stay home. And as you just heard the FEMA Administrator saying, the big concern here is that storm surge.
You can see the waves out there right now. They`ve been picking up all day long. And the last time that a major storm came through here, Sandy, it came through here as a tropical storm. It actually washed away part of the main highway here, A1A, in Fort Lauderdale.
So that`s one of the big concerns right now. Chuck, I can tell you that after 3:00 o`clock today here in Broward County, the shelters told people stop coming. At this point, they`re past the point where they`re accepting new people at the shelters. They say it`s better at this point just to stay home and take cover and find a safe place.
TODD: Well, that`s oddly good news. It means people were listening and people have heeded these warnings. All right, Blake. Thanks very much. We`re going to continue to follow Hurricane Matthew as it makes its way towards East Coast of Florida. And up next, we`re going to hear what the Mayors of various beach communities along the East Coast of Florida are doing to keep residents safe. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: There`s a lot of people that have never been through this and are still waiting to evacuate. There is no reason. If you`re in an evacuation zone, if you`re in a barrier island, if you know you`re prone to flooding, if you`re in an evacuation zone, get out now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So, at this hour, Hurricane Matthew is making its way towards the East Coast of Florida but it has already left a pretty devastating path of destruction in the Caribbean. There is still rescue efforts going on right now in Haiti where there are already 108 people confirmed dead from this storm.
The U.S. State Department says it is not aware of any deaths or injuries of American citizens overseas. Sunday`s presidential election, though, in Haiti has been postponed. The United States Embassy in Haiti said USAID is coordinating with American military in Jamaica to provide disaster relief to Haiti.
We`ll have more on how Florida is preparing for this major hurricane in just a minute. Stay with us.
TODD: You are looking live at pictures of this storm as bands of Hurricane Matthew begin to hit the East Coast of Florida. Matthew is forecast to hit the mainland or just about at full force later tonight with potentially some catastrophic effects, particularly central and north part of the East Coast of Florida.
I`m joined now on the phone by Mayor Jay Kramer of Vero Beach, Florida. And Vero may get so close to the eye that it will be very uncomfortable. Mayor Kramer, what can you tell us about how your evacuation efforts are going? Are residents heeding your warnings? What can you say?
MAYOR JAY KRAMER, VERO BEACH, FLORIDA: In touring some of the evacuation facilities -- and we`ve got a good number of people that are there. However, we`ve still got an awful lot of room and a lot of reports that people are deciding to try to ride this storm out.
And we`re trying to broadcast that message out there that you need to start thinking about heading to the shelters. This is -- people only have about a window of a couple of hours left to make that decision. And we`d like to see you make that decision to go to the shelters.
TODD: Mr. Mayor, when was the last time Vero was in line to get something this powerful? Frankly, I`m trying to remember the last time a hurricane hit the Vero-Fort Pierce area.
KRAMER: Well, that was back in 2004. We actually had four major storms that came through the area, but the two big ones was Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne. Frances was a Category 3 and Jeanne was just barely a Category 4, strong Category 3.
TODD: What --
KRAMER: But we remember those very well.
TODD: Yeah. How did Vero hold up?
KRAMER: Well, we did sustain an awful lot of damage. Frances dumped an awful lot of rain and cleared a lot of vegetation. And Jeanne had much stronger winds and we had a lot of more structural damage. And it was burned in our memories pretty good, which is kind of why we`re stressing that people need to get off the island. This storm could be even stronger than that.
TODD: For situations like this, coordination with state, federal and local is obviously very important. Are you getting the support you need from state and federal at this point?
KRAMER: Absolutely. We had declared our emergency status back on Tuesday and the Governor had reached out to us and opened up some lines of communication, so did the FEMA. And so we`ve got those lines of communications open. And actually we`re already coordinating for materials such as food and water to be delivered. I believe, about 10 hours after the storm, we should have stations opened for people to pick up provisions already.
TODD: All right. Before I let you go, in case anybody in the area is listening, any final thing you want to say to residents?
KRAMER: Well, we`re already sustaining damage. The water levels are coming up. If you`re going to change your mind, the shelters are open and they`re ready to receive you. So I would urge everybody to go to a shelter and not try to play games with this storm.
TODD: All right. Jay Kramer, Mayor of Vero Beach, Florida, which may see this eye about as close as any part for the state of Florida. Mr. Mayor, thanks very much. Let`s move a little farther south down the Atlantic Coast of Florida, the West Palm Beach and Mayor Jeri Muoio.
Mayor, West Palm, good news. It looks like the eye is going to go farther north for you guys, but it doesn`t mean you`re not going to get a lot of wind and rain. What`s the situation? Do you still need people to evacuate?
MAYOR JERI MUOIO, WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA: Yeah. It looks like we probably will get a lot of wind and rain. At this point, we have some people who have evacuated, not everyone. And, at this point, we`re telling people to shelter in place. Our shelter in our city is just about filled. It`s only taking walk-ups. And we`re getting to the point that it`s too late to evacuate. So we`re telling people to shelter in place.
TODD: How about some of -- look, Palm Beach county has quite a few senior citizens. Some of those folks may not have ways there. Are there alternative ways that you`re helping with folks that maybe have transportation issues?
MUOIO: Yes. There are cars going to pick up people who need help. We have a special needs shelter in our county. But, on the other hand, in our city, we have a lot of young people living in our city who have not been through a hurricane. And I hope that they are not taking this for granted or looking at this lightly.
And our downtown is in the evacuation area. So we`re hoping that people in the evacuation area did get out. And if they didn`t, they need to shelter in place at this point.
TODD: Same question I had for your counterpart in Vero Beach. Federal and state, are you getting everything you need so far?
MUOIO: As far as we know, we have excellent relationship with the county. And they are in communication with the state. And we`ve been through this before. So we know what we need to do to get FEMA here and how to keep track of our time and other expenses.
So, unfortunately, when we did have Frances and Jeanne, we learned a lot. Well, I guess, fortunately, we learned a lot. We`ve been able to apply it to what we`re doing today.
TODD: Yeah. Unfortunately, you live in Florida long enough, you become experienced with some of this stuff.
TODD: Anyway, Mayor Muoio, thanks for joining me for a few minutes. I appreciate it.
MUOIO: Sure. My pleasure.
TODD: You`ve got it. Well, we are following the path of Hurricane Matthew as it moves closer towards our shores. Next up, we`ll talk to Florida Senator Bill Nelson who is also heeding evacuation orders. In fact, he`s evacuating. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We strongly encourage people who live in the areas that are likely to be affected to heed the warnings and instructions of local officials, including evacuation orders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So that`s the view of this deadly hurricane from the International Space Station and NOAA satellite. So just look at how massive this storm is as it makes landfall with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour which are expected and, of course, that means gusts up to 160, 170 miles an hour.
Trust me, during Andrew, gusts got up to 200, especially on that back side of that eye. And maybe that`s the one piece of good news here for the state of Florida is that the back side of that eye may not make it on to landfall in those gusts that would get close to the 200 range.
Ron Mott, he is live in Daytona Beach, Florida, where the outer bands of this hurricane are expected to hit in the next hour. And then, of course, they have to brace for how much of this storm they have to deal with. Ron, what are you seeing out there? What are you feeling? And are residents taking it seriously?
RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly are taking it seriously, although I`m sure officials would not like to see some of the curiosity seekers who are on the beach. Some of the crews have been going up and down with a bullhorn telling people that the beach is officially closed. Please evacuate. And some have done that and others keep streaming in.
But I want to show you, Chuck, just a little bit of the sky up here. You can see that the clouds are coming toward our camera. This is a start of this counterclockwise circulation. So this system is just about here. Probably in the next hour or so, we`re going to start to really see the rain pick up. And we`ll certainly feel the wind pick up.
One thing also to note is that after Andrew, as you know, in 1992, a lot of these buildings in Central and South Florida had to be retrofitted, those that were already standing. And certainly new buildings were built to much more stringent codes. So a lot of hotels have evacuated their guests.
They are allowing media, first responders and people of that sort to stay here and do our jobs. But a lot of the condos here should be able to withstand -- some of that glass should be able to withstand some of those stronger winds.
But the thing, Chuck, that we are hoping continues to happen here is that that eye stays out over the water because we don`t want to mess with the business end of that eye which is that northeast quadrant where the winds can get really, really nasty, 140, 145 miles an hour.
Now, we`re starting to go get a little bit of rain here in this area. We can tell you that based on the traffic, the light traffic we saw in the Daytona Beach area today, we suspect that a lot of people got out and heeded the warnings to get out yesterday, so that`s good news. We were at some shelters today. They are filling up.
We did speak to one resident. She`s fairly new to Florida. She`s been here just three years and she`s really scared because she`s never gone through a hurricane, but she did have the good -- the good sense to leave her mobile home park and head into a high school here that is holding several hundred families, I would suspect, by the end of the night. Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS SHOW HOST: Wow, that is like anybody who has never been through one, just assume, however bad you think it is, it`s worse than you think and it`s longer than you think. Ron Mott, thanks very much. I`m joined on the phone by Florida Senator Bill Nelson who is in Orlando after evacuating this afternoon from Brevard County to the east. Senator Nelson, you have evacuated to a city that is also under a hurricane warning.
BILL NELSON, U.S. SENATOR FROM FLORIDA: Indeed, 140-mile an hour winds on the coasts and inland here in Orlando. There gonna be gust up to 100 miles an hour.
TODD: So, you -- you heeded the warnings, you evacuated. What are you seeing? Are people doing that? Do you feel as if, look, I am -- I am seeing it seems as if everybody is taking this as seriously as they should, that we`re not seeing as many sort of, you know, idiots on the shores and things like that.
NELSON: Well, Chuck, I think that there will be people that will stay, and they do so at their peril as this monster moves up and tears up the coast. It`s going to bring a wall of water 9 to 11 feet. If that happens at high tide, you get the picture, combined with 140-mile an hour winds, and there are going to be some people that are going to be in trouble because emergency operations can`t get to them in the middle of the storm.
But as it gets on toward Jacksonville, we are seeing light traffic coming from the beach in Jacksonville. And I don`t know if that`s because they have already evacuated or if some people at Jacks Beach, Atlantic Beach, Ana Midra (ph) had decided to stay instead of evacuate.
TODD: Let`s talk about the resources that you`re going to have to fight for as a senator, whatever federal dollars are going to be necessary to rebuild Florida, and we`re talking about a part of Florida that has not -- not had a hurricane knock down some parts of it in over 100 years when you talk about Jacksonville. You know, this is going to -- obviously, we always find the money for this stuff, but this could be more expensive than anything the State of Florida has dealt with, including Andrew.
NELSON: And Chuck, you know how hard it was and how long it was to get the money for the Zika crisis. And so I certainly hope we don`t have that problem after this storm. For example, I just spoke to Bob Cabana, the director of the Kennedy Space Center. He is all buttoned down.
But he knows that since ground zero is the Kennedy Space Center on this storm that he`s going to have a lot of damage and he`s going to need some appropriations. They just planted dunes with grass. Now, if this thing churns up all those pads, especially 39A and 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, they are perilously close to the ocean, and the ocean has already been intruding.
TODD: Well, this is a reminder that this is going to be -- the work is only just beginning for you and many elected officials local, state, and federal. Any final words of warning you want to add to Floridians right now?
NELSON: The good news, Chuck, is that number one, the president has already signed the pre-event emergency order. I expect and I know that FEMA is a very professional organization. It`s run by a fellow, Craig Fugate, who used to be the emergency director in the State of Florida, so he knows his business.
And as I`ve been in six emergency operation centers over the last two days, these are very professional people at the federal, state and local level, and they`re ready to do business. So that`s the good news.
TODD: Great. Senator Nelson, who heeded warnings himself and participated in the evacuation from Orlando. On the phone, senator, thanks for your time.
NELSON: Okay, Chuck.
TODD: We just learned from the White House that President Obama spoke by phone today with the governors from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida. The president called them each separately to discuss preparations ahead of the hurricane. Up next, I`m going to talk to former homeland security security, of course, FEMA is under DHS. Michael Chertoff who was at DHS during Katrina. Stay tuned.
Todd: Welcome back to "MTP Daily." You`ve heard a few of my guests mentioned the slew of destructive hurricanes that hit the State of Florida in 2004 and 2005. Well, in the decade since according to the Associated Press, one and a half million people have moved to the state`s coastal communities since `04 and `05. An additional half a million new residences have been built. I could make this a very expensive storm in terms of damages, perhaps the most expensive ever.
The last time a category 4 hurricane hit Florida was Andrew in 1992 and it was at the time the third most costly storm in American history. That was before the rapid growth in the last ten years. Adjusted for inflation by the way hurricane Andrew did $46.4 billion worth of damage and damage destroyed over 125,000 homes.
In 2005, Florida took another direct hit from a hurricane when Wilma hit the southwestern part of the state. It was a category 3 and it costs $23.4 billion. The most costly storm in the country in dollars and lives lost of course with hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Hurricane responses run by FEMA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. In 2005, the Secretary of Homeland Security was Michael Chertoff. Well, he joins me now. In Full Disclosure, you were not here to do that. At the time, we invited you on to talk a little politics, national security.
In fact, it`s an unusual endorsement you`re making, but I`m keeping you here because you`ve done this before, you`ve been involved. Explain the lessons learned from Katrina. We know a lot of lessons learned and how FEMA -- how you wanted to change FEMA and how it has changed over the years via the idea that it`s another type of securing the homeland.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FORMER HEAD OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, the lesson that was learned, I think, was planning. It usually the most important part of emergency response. You have to.
TODD: A pre-plan.
CHERTOFF: A pre-planning. And Florida has actually always been quite good at doing that. They have evacuation routes mapped out, they have very skilled operation in terms of emergency response. Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA, used to be the head of emergency response in Florida. So the planning is important.
Getting the assets in place, not directly in the target area of the storm, but nearby, that`s important. Good coordination between federal state and local is important. You have the coast guard. You have the state officials. And of course the local officials are right at the front line there. So all those elements are critical.
But also critical is people have to be prepared and they have to listen. And when the governor is out there saying you got to evacuate, it`s not time to play around with it, you got to follow instructions. And one of the main reasons is this. There are going to be people who can`t evacuate.
They`re sick, they`re old, for whatever reason they`re incapacitated. If the rescue personnel have to go in and rescue able-bodied people, they`re not available to rescue those who really need help. So I think what the governor said was exactly right. If not for concern of yourself, for concern for your fellow citizens, get out when they tell you to get out.
TOD: It`s a selfish move.
TODD: One of the reasons -- everybody says how did Florida pull this off and Louisiana struggle? One difference between Katrina and all those other hurricanes was water and flooding.
TODD: Okay. Florida, for better or worse, the hurricanes usually don`t create the flooding problem -- not to say there isn`t flooding.
TODD: ... but you don`t get the flooding problems you had in Louisiana. What, though, did FEMA -- what has FEMA done since to be better prepared for flooding?
CHERTOFF: Well, so you`re quite right, first of all, it`s water and not wind, and that where Craig Fugate is at. The challenge in Louisiana, of course, was a lot of New Orleans is below sea level. It`s not that the water comes in and then recedes, the water actually stays there.
If you move a little east during Katrina and into Mississippi, you would have seen the impact of a storm surge that literally took automobiles and threw them a quarter of a mile to half a mile inland. So there is nothing you could do to stop that.
What FEMA did was, first of all, worked closely with the states and local governments to actually have senses of what kinds of people are in hospitals, who is incapacitated, do we have a plan for getting people out, is there a sheltering plan in place.
And then based on that planning, there is ability to call upon the national guard and even military assets to come in and assist in the process of evacuation, getting medical supplies and medical personnel in place quickly, and then beginning to give people some sustenance because they may be out of their houses for a period of days.
TODD: How do you deal with fraud and gouging in a situation like this? Because on one hand, given what happened in Katrina, after that I watched now all state, local and federal. It was like, check here, here and here. And I get it. But we know a lot of people take advantage of when the government is just there to throw out help. Any good safeguards these days that you`ve come up with, or do you have to basically budget for fraud?
CHERTOFF: You know, Chuck, you`re right, and it`s sad. And it`s true in every disaster, the national human impulse is to quickly get assistance to people who need it. It`s not just the government, by the way. Many of the big retail companies.
TODD: Charitable organizations.
CHERTOFF: Exactly. They get out there and they give to the needy. But there are gonna be some people who take advantage of it. Now, one that has happened in the last few years is we`re now much more engaged with our smart phones. There`s much more data that is available to prove your identity and to also locate where you are and even validate you to some extent.
So I`ve been out of the government for a while now, but I think there are now capabilities to vet people and to see whether they`re -- at least the basic elements of their identity and their experience can be validated before you actually turn over a large check.
Obviously, if people need food and water, you`re not going to do a background check. But it is important to safeguard the taxpayer`s assets and not waste it on people who are using it to commit fraud.
TODD: Before I let you go, I invited you here because we wanted to talk about -- you know, there`s been quite a few former Bush cabinet officials who have either not endorsed Donald Trump or have decided to endorse Hillary Clinton. But yours seemed unusual because there was a time you were investigating her.
There was a time you may have wanted to prosecute her. Why are you comfortable supporting her, and what did you learn investigating her that makes you comfortable wanting her as your commander in chief?
CHERTOFF: Chuck, again, I wasn`t a prosecutor. I worked with the senate committee that was investigating whitewater in the `90s. I`ll tell you in many ways the storm kind of underscores this. I was on duty in 9/11. I was the head of the criminal division. I worked very hard at that point to prevent another attack from happening.
As I look back on my experience in the `90s, I realized that we spent a lot of time pursuing pretty small, pretty minor things when we could have spent that time looking at what was going on in the middle east, looking at Bin Laden, looking through the eyes of terrorism, and beginning to build the structure that we built after 9/11 to protect ourselves.
The storm like this reminds you the most important thing the president does is protect the country and respond when there is an emergency. That requires a steady temperament, good judgment, knowledge, and experience. I have to say having dealt with Secretary Clinton both recently and giving some advice but also when she was a senator and I was Secretary of Homeland Security, she really understands the issues.
I found her to be steady to exercise good judgment, and frankly to care. And I saw her, the way she looked at people in New York after 9/11. She really cared about them. When you look at an incident about what we`re having in hurricane Matthew or, God forbid, a terrorist attack, you realize that is requirement number one for an American president.
TODD: Do you regret your work in the `90s?
CHERTOFF: You know, I don`t regret it. I was a lawyer, I was hired to investigate. I`m sure I was a tough investigator. I regret the fact that sometimes our politics have been more involved in gotcha than looking at what are the major threats we face in the world. Honestly right now, we`re in a very challenging situation not only with terrorism, we have an aggressive Russia, we have an aggressive China, and these have to be top of mind if we`re going to protect our American way of life.
TODD: Michael Chertoff, former Director of Homeland Security, thanks for your time and sharing your expertise when it comes to FEMA and all that. Appreciate it.
Next, we`ll have an update on hurricane Matthew`s path. As you know, we`re about to get the 6:00 p.m. update that comes before 6:00 p.m. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Joining me now is meteorologist and hurricane specialist Bryan Norcross, Full Disclosure, Brian Norcross was the voice of reason for me and my family in 1992 in South Florida during hurricane Andrew. Mr. Norcross, it`s a pleasure to have you on. Well, walk us through this one and what are your concerns about what you don`t know about this storm`s path?
BRYAN NORCROSS, METEOROLOGIST AND HURRICANE SPECIALIST: Well, Chuck, I didn`t -- didn`t know that. We got through it.
TODD: We go way back.
NORCROSS: Way back, 24 years ago. It`s unbelievable. I want to talk about what you were talking about with Secretary Chertoff in just a second, but let me bring you up to date here. 140-mile an hour hurricane at the top of the hour and moving to the northwest, so it is right on track, moving for the center to come ashore somewhere probably south of Cape Canaveral.
But the storm is kind of expanding this afternoon. The wind area of wind is expanding. You can see there was the old center, now it`s expanded out. So as that comes up here, that strong winds are going to affect even parts of South Florida, especially down Palm Beach County, maybe clipping Broward County where Fort Lauderdale is.
But the main effect is gonna be to the north, Chuck, and going back to what you were talking about in terms of the storm surge threat and the flooding threat and how hurricane Andrew, for example, that did not turn out to be the big problem. Well, this part of Florida, from central Florida north, has never had a real strong hurricane hit, if this comes in with a category 3 or a category 4 storm.
Never in the record books going back to the middle 1800s. And this part of Florida is the most threatening for storm surge. So we`re going to have a confluence for the very first time ever, of a storm coming in to the most threatened part of the state, in terms of high water, 7 to 11 feet above normally dry ground.
TODD: And you just said, come ashore. You think this eye is going to come ashore?
NORCROSS: It`s going to come close enough to cause the storm surge. Because even if it comes up in here, I think the odds are, it will clip the coast, and probably come just over the coast, best evidence with the models this afternoon. But even if it were to stay just offshore, that big circulation will come ashore. And that will still drive the water into these rivers.
So up in North Florida, you have the St. John`s River and these other rivers and inlets. And the water comes in and then floods on the backside of those islands. And well away from the ocean. It`s not -- ocean flooding is a threat, but inland is the bigger flooding threat, and we`re -- then we get up into Georgia and South Carolina.
This is some of the most flood-prone areas of the whole Atlantic coast. So the confluence of this kind of storm in this part of the country is very, very bad.
TODD: Well, an important warning there about flooding in that part of the State of Florida. Bryan Norcross, appreciate your time. I know you`re going to be up all night. We`ll be watching.
NORCROSS: That`s true.
TODD: We`ll have a lot more. We`ll be right back.
TODD: We`re continuing to follow hurricane Matthew as it nears the Florida coast. But of course, this isn`t just a danger to the coastal cities. Joining me now on the phone is the mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer. Mr. Mayor, I know that hurricane warnings are in effect for the City of Orlando. I assume most of Orange County. What are you -- what do you need to tell your residents, what should your residents know?
BUDDY DYER, MAYOR OF ORLANDO: Well, they need to be in place at this point. We have encouraged people not to be on the roads after 6:00 and to be prepared to weather this storm for a good 12 to 18 hours. We anticipate that the most dangerous part of the storm will be in our area in the 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. time frame. But that we`ll have tropical storm- type of conditions both before and after that. So it`s going to be a long storm event for all of us.
TODD: Orlando was uniquely in this crosshairs of hurricanes in 2004 and you got a lot of the residuals when it seemed as if the state was having a hurricane crisscross at the center. What -- what prepared -- what prepared the city now to -- do you feel as if -- what did you learn from then, a decade ago, to prepare for this week?
DYER: You know, that was the second year that I was in office as mayor and we hadn`t had a hurricane here in 40 years up to that point. So we had Charlie, Francis, and Jean, all three in a period of five weeks. And up each one, I was saying, well, you know, that`s a once in 40-year event, which happened to occur three times in a row.
But the thing that I think I learned the most was that communication is the most important aspect, and the media is our friend in that regard, and making sure that citizens know what`s going on. And especially not just leading up to the storm, but in the aftermath, because there`s no doubt that there`s going to be a lot of people that don`t have power tomorrow morning, maybe even some time tonight.
And I don`t know how long it will necessarily take to get restored. And that`s going to all depend on how many and how severe the damage to the tree canopy ends up being. The coast has different issues with potential for storm surge, but we have a giant tree canopy here in Central Florida, and there are going to be trees that come down and there are going to be power lines that come down tonight.
TODD: That`s for sure, all right. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, I know you`ve got a lot of work to do. So appreciate you spending a few minutes with me.
DYER: Thank you very much.
TODD: You got it. And we`ll be right back.
TODD: That`s all for this hour, but, of course, keep it right here on MSNBC. We`ll have continuing coverage of hurricane Matthew literally all night long and into the early hours of the morning. Ari Melber picks up our coverage there right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END