Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Little Scottie’s latest tormentor, Wendell Goler of Fox News.
Q — are you saying it was not possible to provide them with that help yesterday or the day before, that that was an impossibility?
MR. McCLELLAN: Wendell, I don’t — I think you have to look at the unprecedented nature of this catastrophe. Again, you had the initial hurricane hit. There were many efforts underway prior to the hurricane hitting, and people were monitoring the track of that hurricane after it passed Florida and trying to look at where it might go. That’s why federal officials, under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, worked to pre-position at that time in the region, to prepare to move wherever that hurricane may be hitting. As it was coming closer, we were getting a better idea of the area it was going to hit. So disaster medical teams were deployed, search and rescue teams were deployed, authorities were deployed to command centers throughout the region. We were working very closely with state and local authorities to respond ahead of time.
That’s why the President signed that disaster declaration — or issued that disaster declaration for all those states in the region that were affected by it, ahead of time, and afterwards, as well, additional disaster declarations. There was a lot of pre-positioning. This hurricane hit, and as it passed the flooding came into Louisiana, and the New Orleans area —
Q Scott, I’ll stipulate all of that. This is Friday. Yesterday — or the day before was Wednesday. — it was not possible to get federal aid until now?
MR. McCLELLAN: In a situation like this — and I think you’ve heard from federal officials, you’ve heard from Secretary Chertoff and Mike Brown — they’re the ones who have been — well, Mike Brown has been in the region, on the ground, working the problem, and he’s in the best position to describe the federal response efforts. What you have to do, from the federal level, is make sure we’re working in close cooperation and coordination with state and local officials and state emergency operation officials, that you are prioritizing what the needs are — the priorities have been laid out previously — hang on, hang on — and you’ve got to look at what the most urgent, immediate needs are on the ground.
The Superdome — people who couldn’t leave New Orleans, people were moved to the Superdome ahead of the storm, evacuated there. Those people are starting to be evacuated from the city. The Convention Center is a problem that has come up in the last couple days when people went there. That is something that is a high priority for the federal government to help state and local officials get on top of. And that’s what we’re working to do. We’re working to make sure the resources are going to the most urgent need and that food and water to people who don’t have it yet.
Q Scott, you keep talking about priorities being set and the urgent need, and the resources going to those who need it most — the whole point is they’re not. People are dying from lack of food and water — not only are they waiting to be rescued, but they’re waiting for food and water and they’re not getting it. So — why is the President not more angry about that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I’ve just described how the President — as the President said —
Q You said he’s not pleased — why is he not —
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, as I said, he’s not pleased at the results. He said the results are not acceptable. He’s deeply concerned about the people who continue to suffer. I don’t know how you can be more clear than that. But there is a massive effort to see that it continues. It has been underway and it continues. The President wants to make sure that the security concerns are being addressed and that the assistance is getting to those who continue to suffer.