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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 25, 2005

President, Louisiana Governor Briefed on Hurricane Rita in Baton Rouge
FEMA Joint Field Office
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

President's Remarks

      In Focus: Hurricane Relief

12:08 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. The Governor and I just got briefed by Admiral Allen on the progress here in Louisiana. There's still assessment on the damage of Hurricane Rita. One of the things that is important for the citizens of this state to do is to listen to the Governor about when it is okay to return back to your homes. I know a lot of people want to get back home. It's important that there be an orderly process. It's important there be an assessment done of infrastructure. And it's important for the people of the affected areas of Louisiana to listen carefully to the Governor and local authorities about the proper timing of return home.

We also got briefed on the levees in New Orleans. There is flooding, obviously, in the 9th Ward. The Corps of Engineers gave us a briefing about the building -- repairing levees, and then, once again, pumping the water out of that part of New Orleans. It's -- I would say it's an optimistic appraisal, in the sense that work has started now, and they can start to -- draining that part of the city again.

But I'm here to really thank the people in the Operations Center for their hard work and their dedication to helping the people of Louisiana recover from a second major storm in a very quick period of time.

Governor, thank you for your hospitality. I know you've been through a lot, and I know the people of this state have been through a lot. We ask for God's blessings on them and their families.

GOVERNOR BLANCO: Well, we want to welcome you back. I'm sorry that we brought you back under another stressful event. But we do appreciate your support. And I do want to tell you how much we appreciated watching all of the integrated forces at work as one. And as we talked, I know that it was possible to do it quickly, and to move in as one, with federal, state and local folks working all together.

We talked about what happens next here, and how quickly we could marshal the right kind of forces again. And I think that, together, we're going to work out some very important plans that citizens of the United States can feel will work very effectively and efficiently.


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.)

END 12:11 P.M. CDT

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