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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 23, 2005

President Briefed on Hurricane Rita Preparations at FEMA
FEMA Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

President's Remarks

      Fact Sheet: The Federal Government's Hurricane Rita Preparations
      In Focus: Hurricane Relief

12:32 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: I stopped by the center to get a full briefing on Rita. We're now facing yet another big storm, and I appreciate the folks here who are working so hard to help the folks on the ground prepare for the storm.

I'm going down to San Antonio to see the pre-positioned assets, understand the relationship -- or that the federal government's role is to support state and local governments. I want to watch that happen. Then I'm going to go out to our NORTHCOM headquarters to watch the interface between our United States military, and again the state and local authorities. Our job is to assist -- prepare for and assist the state and local people to save lives and to help these people get back on their feet.

Again, I want to thank the people here in Washington who are working with the folks in the -- out in the field to do everything they possibly can to prepare for this second big storm that's coming into the Gulf of Mexico.

Thank you all.

Q Sir, what good can you do going down to the hurricane zone? Might you get in the way, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: One thing I won't do is get in the way.

Q But I mean, how -- what good can you actually do? I mean, isn't there a risk of you and your entourage getting in the way?

THE PRESIDENT: No, there will be no risk of me getting in the way, I promise you. We're going to make sure that we're not in the way of the operations. What I am going to do is observe the relationship between the state and local government, particularly out in Colorado Springs. That's what I want to see.

See, NORTHCOM is the main entity that interfaces, that uses federal assets, federal troops to interface with local and state government. I want to watch that relationship. It's an important relationship, and I need to understand how it works better.

Q But critics might say this is overcompensation for the response to Katrina.

THE PRESIDENT: We will make sure that my entourage does not get in the way of people doing their job, which will be search and rescue immediately. And rest assured, I understand that we must not and will not interfere with the important work that will be going forward.

Thank you.

END 12:34 P.M. EDT

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