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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 27, 2004
Remarks by the President to the Travel Pool
Fire Station Number Two
4:36 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I have just been briefed by Mike Brown here at FEMA about the progress that the federal government, in working with the state government, is making toward helping these poor people who got hurt by Hurricane Charlie and Tropical Storm Bonnie.
When I came down here a while ago, I said that -- I promised that there would be a full-scale federal focus on helping the state of Florida. And I tasked Mike Brown to make sure that that happened, and he has done a great job. I appreciate you serving the people of this state. And Jeb has done a fine job, too. He is -- he understands that a governor must lead, and he had led. And he has helped focus resources on helping these people that need help.
There is further work to be done here in Florida. Chairman Bill Young is with us. We have been discussing the need for a supplemental fund, supplemental funding request of the Congress for $2 billion to help continue to rebuild Florida. The Chairman and I had a good discussion on this issue. He knows Florida well. He knows the West Coast of Florida really well. And as importantly, he knows how the Congress works well. And he said as soon as they get back, they'll take this matter up. This money will help for cleanup and housing and other services, small business loans that are provided through FEMA.
As well, we're concerned about the citrus growers here in Florida, the nurserymen and women in the state of Florida. We think there is ample money in the agricultural budgets to handle the damage done by Charlie to the citrus industry and the nursery industry and the vegetable industry. If not, we'll work with the Chairman to provide money at the federal level to help this state rebuild.
The main thing that's happened here in Florida is the people have responded. I want to thank the Red Cross for being at the table here. The Red Cross is always first on the scene to provide compassion and love. Senator Miller used to be a governor, and he spent time at disasters, and as governor of Texas I have too, and Jeb obviously has, and as President I've been there, too. And always, the Red Cross led the army of compassion at the sites. And the people of Florida have responded really well; provided compassion and decency and care.
I also want to thank the power companies from the Southeast that have responded. It's amazing how much electricity has been restored. We're down to, here in this state, less than 20,000 people -- I think it is, isn't it, Mike -- that are looking for electricity. Heck, the last time I was here, it was 1.7 million people that didn't have electricity. And a lot of the reason why the electricity has been restored is, not only have the Florida power companies responded, but the power companies from around the Southeast have responded.
What I'm saying is, is that these disasters cause a lot of harm and grief, but they also bring out the best in our citizenry. And there's a lot of compassion for the people whose lives have been turned upside down. And I want to thank those here in Florida and around this part of the world for providing that help.
Again, Jeb, good job, and same to you, Mike. Thank you all for coming.
END 4:40 P.M. EDT