For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 15, 2005
Fact Sheet: President Bush Addresses the Nation on Recovery From Katrina
Today, President Bush Addressed The Nation And The Victims Of Hurricane
Katrina On Relief Efforts And The Path To Recovery For The Gulf Coast. The
American people share in the sorrow of the residents of the Gulf Coast as
we search for loved ones and grieve for the dead. We have seen our fellow
citizens left stunned and uprooted and witnessed the kind of desperation no
citizen of this great and generous Nation should ever have to know. We
have also seen courage and kindness to make Americans proud. The Coast
Guard, first responders, religious congregations, and families have all
lent a hand to their neighbors in need. The trials we have seen on the
Gulf Coast remind us that we are stronger than we know and that we are all
tied together in this Nation. At these times, it can be hard to imagine a
bright future for the Gulf Coast, but that future will come.
Victims Of Katrina Need To Know They Are Not Alone. Many victims are far
from home, friends, and familiar things. They need to know that our whole
Nation cares about them and that in the journey ahead, they are not alone.
We will do what it takes and stay as long as it takes to help citizens
rebuild their communities and their lives. There is no way to imagine
America without New Orleans, and that great city will rise again.
The President Outlined Three Major Commitments For Recovery Along The Gulf
We Must Meet The Immediate Needs Of Those Who Have Had To Leave All Behind.
The Department of Homeland Security is registering evacuee households in
shelters, churches, and private homes near and far from the Gulf Coast.
The President has signed an order providing immediate assistance to people
from the disaster area. As of today, more than 500,000 evacuee families
have received emergency help to pay for food, clothing, and other
essentials. Many families were separated during the evacuation and should
call 1-877-568-3317 for help to reunite and assistance with travel
The Government Is Working To Deliver Benefits And Services To Evacuees
Quickly And Efficiently. The Department of Health and Human Services has
sent in more than 1,500 health professionals along with over 50 tons of
medical supplies, including vaccines, antibiotics, and medicine for chronic
conditions such as diabetes. The Social Security Administration is
delivering checks. The Department of Labor is helping displaced persons
apply for temporary jobs and unemployment benefits. And the Postal Service
is registering new addresses so that people can get their mail.
Congress Has Passed, And The President Has Signed, More Than $60 Billion In
Assistance. These funds will carry out the first stages of the relief
effort and begin the rebuilding. This is an unprecedented response to an
unprecedented crisis, which demonstrates the compassion and resolve of our
The Work Of Recovery Is Moving Forward. In nearly all of Mississippi,
electricity has been restored. Trade is starting to return to the Port of
New Orleans, and agricultural shipments are moving down the Mississippi
River. Workers have already begun to repair damage to highways and
bridges, and airports in New Orleans and Gulfport have already re-opened.
All major gasoline pipelines are operating, and we have not seen the supply
disruptions that many feared. The breaks in the levees have been closed,
the pumps are running, and the water in New Orleans is now receding.
Environmental officials are on the ground taking water samples and working
to get drinking water and waste water treatment systems operating again.
Professionals are carrying out the sad duties of gathering the dead,
treating them with respect, and preparing them for their rest.
We Must Help The Citizens Of The Gulf Coast Rebuild Their Lives And Their
Communities. Miles along the Gulf Coast have been swept clean by wind and
water. Many thousands of homes in Mississippi are damaged or destroyed.
Over a quarter million houses in New Orleans and surrounding parishes are
no longer fit to live in. Hundreds of thousands of people from across this
region will need to find longer-term housing.
Meeting the Needs of Schools and Students. In recognition of the
communities across the nation that have welcomed displaced students in
need, the President is proposing to provide funding to school districts
enrolling significant numbers of displaced children. This funding would be
used to reimburse school districts for the unexpected costs associated with
educating additional children for the 2005-06 school year, such as teacher
salaries, transportation, materials and equipment, special services for
children with disabilities, supplemental educational services, and
counseling. To ensure that displaced families have maximum flexibility to
meet the education needs of their children, the President's proposal would
provide compensation to displaced families for enrollment in private,
including parochial, schools.
The President Will Work With Congress To Ensure Continuity Of Health Care.
A number of states have taken in large numbers of evacuees and provided
them with health care. The Federal government will issue waivers to
reimburse these states for their extra Medicaid and uncompensated care
expenses incurred through January 31, 2006.
Housing Will Be Provided In The Short Term For First Responders And
Workers. Mobile homes, trailers, and more ships will be brought into New
Orleans to provide housing for the first responders and the service workers
who are rebuilding this city.
The Federal Government Will Work With Local Leaders To Rebuild A Stronger
Gulf Coast. The Federal government will be fully engaged in the
rebuilding, but Governor Barbour, Governor Blanco, Mayor Nagin, and other
state and local leaders will have the primary role in planning for their
own future. As they plan, communities will need to move decisively to
change zoning laws and building codes, to avoid a repeat of what we have
seen. New Orleans has a particular challenge because much of the city lies
below sea level. City and parish officials will have a large part to play
in making the flood protection system stronger, and the Army Corps of
Engineers will be at their side to make it happen.
Taxpayer Dollars Must Be Spent Responsibly. Federal funds will cover the
great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the
disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. Our
goal is to get the work done quickly. And taxpayers expect this work to be
done honestly and wisely - so we will have a team of inspectors general
from affected agencies reviewing all expenditures. Inspectors general will
monitor grant and contracting actions as they occur and will deploy
side-by-side with contractors to ensure they are delivering what they
Communities Will Be Rebuilt Even Better And Stronger Than Before. The Gulf
Coast has some of the most beautiful and historic places in our country, as
well as some deep and persistent poverty, rooted in racial discrimination
and opportunity denied. Now is the time to rise above this legacy of
inequality. As the Gulf Coast rebuilds, evacuees should come home to the
place they love with a chance at a better life.
The President Proposed A Gulf Opportunity Zone To Spur Economic Growth.
The President proposed to create a Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) to help
local economies in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama devastated by
Hurricane Katrina. Businesses in the GO Zone would be eligible for the
benefits through 2007.
The GO Zone Will Provide Tax Relief And Loans For Businesses And
Entrepreneurs To Invest In The Region And Create Jobs. The GO Zone will
double small business expensing from $100,000 to $200,000 for investments
in new equipment, provide a 50 percent bonus depreciation for all
businesses, and extend tax relief to the building of new structures. The
GO Zone will also make available loans and loan guarantees for small
businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and
running again. It is this entrepreneurship that will create jobs and
opportunity and help break the cycle of poverty.
The President Proposed Worker Recovery Accounts To Help Those Who Need
Extra Help Finding A Job. These new Worker Recovery Accounts will provide
targeted assistance for those victims of Hurricane Katrina who need extra
help finding work. While victims who have lost their jobs are already
eligible to receive state unemployment benefits or Disaster Unemployment
Assistance for up to 26 weeks, some need more help in their job search.
Worker Recovery Accounts will reward work, eliminate red tape, and promote
individual choice to help people find work quickly. We also must ensure
that as many of the rebuilding jobs as possible go to the people of
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Workers Will Receive Flexible Assistance To Aid In Their Job Search Or To
Pay For Retraining. These Accounts, which states will have flexibility to
design, will provide up to $5,000 to certain job seekers to allow them to
purchase the training or supportive services, such as child care or
transportation, they need to get back to work. In addition to whatever
services they select, workers will still be able to receive basic
employment services from states and One Stop Career Centers. If workers
find a job within 13 weeks after starting Unemployment Insurance benefits
or Disaster Unemployment Assistance, they may keep the money remaining in
their account as an employment bonus.
The President Proposed An Urban Homesteading Initiative To Provide A New
Beginning For Lower-Income Evacuees. Homesteading will allow evacuees to
occupy a government-owned home at a favorable mortgage rate, in exchange
for their personal investment of sweat equity in the property. Under this
approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the Federal
government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of
charge, through a lottery. In return, they would pledge to build on the
lot, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like
Habitat for Humanity. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, in
cooperation with other Federal agencies, local governments, and public
housing authorities, will support the development of homes on Federal
property in New Orleans and cities across the region, and will encourage
nonprofit organizations to commit properties as well. Homeownership is one
of the great strengths of any community, and it must be a central part of
our vision for the revival of this region.
The President Has Called On All Americans To Help Those In Need As A Result
Of Katrina. At this stage in the recovery, the most effective way people
can help those displaced by the hurricane is by making a financial
contribution to humanitarian organizations and state relief funds. The
President has encouraged Americans to donate to the Salvation Army, the Red
Cross, other good charities, and religious congregations in the region.
Former Presidents Bush and Clinton have led a private fundraising effort
that has already received pledges of more than $100 million to aid the Gulf
Coast's recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Donations can be made online at
The President Has Asked USA Freedom Corps To Create An Information Clearing
House For Relief Efforts. Important work can be done by all, and we all
must do our part. This clearinghouse will allow a family anywhere to find
opportunities to help families in the Gulf Coast region, or a school to
connect with a school. The President encouraged existing organizations
like Scout troops and labor unions to contact their counterparts in the
Gulf to learn what they can do to help. Information is available at
The President Has Ordered The Department Of Homeland Security To Conduct An
Immediate Review Of Preparedness In Every Major American City. Our cities
must have clear and up-to-date plans for responding to natural disasters,
disease outbreaks, or terrorist attack. We must have plans to evacuate
large numbers of people in an emergency and to provide food, water, and
security as needed. In a time of terror threats and weapons of mass
destruction, the danger is greater than a fault line or flood plain.
Emergency planning is a national security priority.
The Government Will Learn The Lessons Of Hurricane Katrina. The response
of government at all levels was not equal to the magnitude of Katrina's
destruction. Many first responders performed skillfully under the worst
conditions, but the coordination at all levels was inadequate. Four years
after September 11th, Americans expect better. President Bush takes
responsibility for the Federal government's problems, and for its
solutions. It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater
Federal authority and a broader role for the U.S. Armed Forces - the
institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations
on a moment's notice. The President has ordered every Cabinet secretary to
conduct a review of the response, and the President will make every
necessary change to fully prepare for any challenge of nature or act of
evil that could threaten Americans.
The United States Congress Also Has An Important Oversight Function To
Perform. Congress is preparing an investigation, and the President will
work with members of both parties to make sure this effort is thorough.