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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 22, 2003

President Discusses Emergency Response to Hurricane Isabel
Remarks by the President After Briefing on Hurricane Damage
Virginia State Police Academy
Richmond, Virginia

2:54 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: If I may have your attention for a second. First, I want to thank Governor Warner for his hospitality and leading this important state through Hurricane Isabel. I also want to congratulate those of you who work with me at the federal level. You're doing a fabulous job and I'm proud of you. I know a lot of you have come from other parts of our country and your families are at home, and I want to thank you for just taking a little extra effort to help a fellow citizen in need.

The response to this hurricane has been really great. The planning for it has been great, the response during the hurricane was great, and the response after the hurricane has been great. And I want to thank you all for working hard to make it happen. You make me proud to be a fellow employee of the people at the federal level.

We've got a lot of work to do. The governor and I were discussing the needs here of the citizens of Virginia. We're going to keep working hard to get the electricity up and running. There are crews working 24/7, so that people can get the electricity they need. I was talking to Congressman Bobby Scott and Congressman Eric Cantor about the needs of their district. And they're, like the governor, deeply concerned about the fact that too many of their citizens don't have electricity. A lot do now, but too many don't. But I want to thank the companies for bringing in extra workers. And I want to thank those workers, who are manning the chainsaws and getting the lines back up so people can have electricity.

In the meantime, we're working to make sure that we get water and ice to the people, so that they can move on with their lives. I want to thank the local folks, state folks and the county and city police, fire fighters and emergency responders and the mayors for their hard work, as well. The truth of the matter is the front line on any emergency is the local people. And you've done your state proud, and you've done your citizens proud. I want to thank the people who are loving their neighbor just like they'd like to be loved themselves. There's a lot of neighborliness taking place in the state of Virginia and North Carolina and Maryland, where if somebody hurts and somebody's lonely, somebody needs help is finding refuge and solace because a fellow citizen has taken it upon him or herself to help somebody in need.

The true character of this country comes out during times of stress and emergency. And this country has responded once again. So on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to thank people at all levels of our government for working extra hard to help our country when it needed help.

May God bless those who hurt. May God bless those who still mourn the loss of life. And may God continue to bless America. Thank you all, very much. (Applause.)

END 2:57 P.M. EDT

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