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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 30, 2004

President Thanks Volunteers for Helping Hurricane Victims
Martin County Red Cross Headquarters
Stuart, Florida

10:36 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much for being here. And I'm really glad to be with my brother, Jeb, the governor, who has done such a -- (applause.) Jeb has shown tremendous leadership and compassion during these trying days for this great state. I am really proud of him.

I want to thank Mike Brown, of FEMA. He has worked really hard, as well, to help relieve the suffering from these storms.

I want to thank all the state and local officials for working hard. I had the chance to meet some county commissioners from this county, people from the sheriff's office, people from the police department, all of whom are spending an extraordinary amount of time helping the citizens here who hurt.

I appreciate the strong leadership of the -- of those who represent the armies of compassion. I'm proud to stand with the men and women of the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other faith-based and community groups that are providing important relief.

Volunteers like these behind me have worked long hours to help those affected by the storms -- long hours not only in Florida, but in other states, as well. The Red Cross, for example, has sheltered over 400,000 people. The Salvation Army, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Convoy of Hope from Springfield, Missouri, and other faith-based groups have set up kitchens, and helped feed the hungry.

Unions and truckers have transported supplies. Young people have given up free time to lend a hand. I just met with some of the high school students here from Martin High School who are volunteering to help the Red Cross. I thank them for their example, I thank them for their service.

See, these volunteers show the true heart of America, because we're a compassionate people, we care when a neighbor hurts, we long to help somebody when help is needed. They have the gratitude of all they've served, and they have the admiration for our whole country.

Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne have strained the resources of many relief organizations. People across the nation have donated money and supplies to help their efforts. I'm grateful for their generosity. I hope many more Americans will continue to contribute.

It's very important for our fellow citizens to understand the strain on the resources for the Red Cross, for example, or the Salvation Army or other faith-based groups. And if you want to help, if you want to participate in helping the good folks in this part of the country who hurt -- contribute. You can contact the Red Cross at 1-800-HELPNOW; or the Salvation Army at 1-800-SALARMY; Or the Florida Volunteer and Donations Hotline at 1-800-FLHELP1. Or you can contact one of the many other organizations that are providing help.

The federal government is working closely with state and local authorities to help people recover. FEMA is working with Florida's Emergency Response Team and the National Guard to ensure safety; medical personnel are treating the sick and the injured.

Earlier today I visited a FEMA disaster recovery center where hurricane victims can go to register for disaster assistance. I've asked Congress to provide $12.2 billion in federal funds to respond to these storms. I urge the congress to pass my supplemental request quickly, so the people of Florida can get the help they need.

People in Florida and many other states are coming through a trying time. I thank all those who've reached out to help the neighbors in need. I thank the leaders who have shown strength and composure during difficult times. And to our fellow citizens facing hardship, the prayers of our nation are with you, and America stands with you.

Thank you all for coming. God bless your compassion. (Applause.)

10:42 A.M. EDT END

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