The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 21, 2005

Fact Sheet: A Commitment to Continued Recovery and Rebuilding in the Gulf Coast

      In Focus: Hurricane Recovery

Today's Presidential Action:

Today, President Bush Signed The Gulf Opportunity Zone Act Of 2005 And Discussed Efforts To Further Encourage Business Development And Job Creation In The Gulf Coast Region. To spur investment and economic development, the President signed legislation creating a Gulf Opportunity Zone, with tax relief to be provided to businesses and entrepreneurs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. This bipartisan legislation is an important step to help residents of the Gulf Coast rebuild their lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina - and another step forward to fulfill the Nation's commitment to recovery and rebuilding in the region.

The President Urged The Development Of A Skilled Trades Workforce To Rebuild The Gulf Coast. The President today convened a meeting with community college leaders, union representatives, business owners, State and local officials, and other civic leaders at the White House to encourage the training and employment of Gulf Coast residents who lost their jobs in the wake of the hurricanes. By coming together to help workers acquire the skills they need, we can improve the lives of citizens in the region, provide an incentive for evacuees to return home, and speed the economic recovery of the region.

The President Urged The Senate To Complete Action On Pending Legislation To Provide Gulf Coast Residents With Further Resources To Rebuild Their Lives And Safeguard Their Communities From Future Disasters. The Deficit Reduction bill will provide $2 billion to help states pay for critical medical care for low- and middle-income evacuees. The Defense Appropriations bill would provide important Federal funding to rebuild the levees in New Orleans; to educate the children of evacuees and those who have returned home to damaged schools; and to restore roads, bridges, and Federal facilities in the region. Both pieces of legislation are important for the long-term future of the Gulf Coast and the people who call it home, and Congress should complete action on them as quickly as possible.

A Commitment To Continued Recovery

Providing Assistance, Housing, And Help For Gulf Coast Residents And The Reconstruction And Recovery Of The Region Are Top Priorities For The Administration. The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), working in partnership with State and local officials, continues to facilitate the Federal government's role in all aspects of recovery in the region. President Bush is committed to helping the citizens of the Gulf Coast rebuild their lives and livelihoods - and progress is being made.

Providing The Resources Needed To Rebuild

The President Is Committed To Providing The Gulf Coast With The Resources Needed For A Full Recovery. Since Hurricane Katrina struck, more than $70 billion has been made available for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery efforts through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, low-interest loans to local governments, flood insurance, and funding relief from cost-share requirements. Additional funds would be made available by legislation currently pending in the Senate, including the Administration's proposal to reallocate already appropriated funds to continue recovery and rebuilding in the region.

Focus On The Gulf Coast

The President Selected Donald Powell To Be The Coordinator Of Federal Support For The Gulf Coast's Recovery And Rebuilding And Established The Gulf Coast Recovery And Rebuilding Council. Former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Donald Powell is the Administration's primary point of contact with State and local governments, the private sector, and community leaders on long-term recovery and rebuilding plans.

The Administration Has A Strong Presence In The Region. Since Hurricane Katrina struck, more than 60 Administration officials have made over 130 trips to communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama that have been devastated by the storm, as well as states across the country that have welcomed evacuees from the Gulf Coast. More than 16,000 Federal personnel are currently deployed to help State and local officials with the recovery efforts related to the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The President Has Called On All Americans To Help Those Affected By The Hurricanes. The President asked USA Freedom Corps to serve as a nationwide information clearinghouse, allowing individuals, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, and other groups to connect with volunteer service opportunities in the Gulf Coast. To date, American companies and individuals have together donated nearly $2.9 billion for relief, recovery, and reconstruction efforts. 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. Americans who want to contribute or volunteer in Gulf Coast can find more information at

Learning The Lessons Of Hurricane Katrina

The Government Will Learn The Lessons Of Hurricane Katrina. On September 15, when the President addressed the Nation from Jackson Square, he pledged that, "this government will learn the lessons of Katrina." He said we would review every action and make necessary changes so that the government is better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of terror, that could threaten the United States.

The President wants lessons learned, not finger-pointing. The President has made perfectly clear that he was not satisfied with the response to Hurricane Katrina, and he wants to be sure that we strengthen our response capability to make sure the government is both more efficient and more effective.

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