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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 4, 2008

Mrs. Bush's Remarks During Visit to Auchan Red Cross Mass Shelter
Auchan Red Cross Mass Shelter
Houston, Texas

October 3, 2008

5:41 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Let me just say that I was in Houston today and I especially wanted to come to this shelter. I know you all know, and this is good news, that there were a number of shelters -- was it 23 shelters? -- but now they've been consolidated to just two: this one in the Houston area and then one in the Galveston area. And that's good news that now most people are able to go back home. The lights are back on, and that's really good news.

But there are still many people who, even if they can return home, need extensive repairs on their houses -- or they don't have a house to go home to. And that's what some of these families that are here -- and I think they just said they're feeding about 600 meals a day. Some of these families are from Galveston, or they lost their apartment, or they're from one of the areas that got hit so badly.

I know you also know that the Blue Roof, the tarps, that project is one thing -- there have been a lot of requests for those, and they are getting, I think, maybe about a thousand a day put up, which is really terrific. But I want people to know that there are people that still need help.

And there were some really sweet stories that I heard from these Red Cross volunteers who have come from all over the country. I met two that were from Canada. The woman that I was standing in the feeding line with just came up from New York, and she's about to go home; she's about finished her two weeks here and said she needs to go back to her job. But she said she almost wept, and she said it's going to hard to leave because she got to be friends with so many people that were here. And people have been so nice, as I know they are in Houston, even when they're suffering like a lot of these families are. So that was a sweet thing to hear, and especially since this is my home state, to get the chance to know how people -- even the people who are the ones being helped, are still so --

Q What has it been like for you personally to see the effects that Ike left behind?

MRS. BUSH: Pardon me?

Q What has it been like for you personally?

MRS. BUSH: Well, it's sad, and I saw it in a newspaper article today about South Padre and all the debris across South Padre -- (inaudible). And that's an ecological disaster for Texas, it's not so much a human disaster right there, because that was pretty much uninhabited, but on the other hand, it's very, very important. Right now they're starting to remove that debris. Scientists are working on it to remove the debris. But I think that will be another good place for people to volunteer; to volunteer to go spend a weekend helping to clear that debris across South Padre Island in the seashores.

Q What do you say to these families when you see them?

MRS. BUSH: Well, you know, we've -- sadly, we've had a lot of experience with hurricanes. It's really sad with disasters. And I've been to -- of course, I've been to New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast a number of times since Hurricane Katrina and Rita and Wilma and the other ones that hit -- also hit east Texas.

I just want them to know that things are going to be okay and that things -- that there are a lot of people here that want to help. And I think that's the real wonderful story about the United States, is that we have all these volunteers who have come from all over the country. And I know it's tough. I know how hard it is to have lost everything.

Part of the -- the worst of it is that it's so weary and that people -- you lose energy. I mean, it's very, very difficult to stay up and to do what you need to do; just to pick up your own yard, if that's all you had to do. And, you know, those people that -- that's all they had to do are lucky, but --

Q Mrs. Bush -- I'm sorry -- is your goal to offer encouragement to them today?

MRS. BUSH: I want to encourage people here. I also want to encourage people to volunteer. Volunteer for the Red Cross. Texas has a program called Texas 10,000 where they're trying to make sure 10,000 Texans are trained, but with the Red Cross training, so that they're available to help, like all of these volunteers that have come. These are people from all over the country who have been trained to be volunteers. They get the call to come to an emergency site like a hurricane site, or like the Minneapolis bridge disaster, or the floods that we had in the Midwest; a lot of other hurricanes.

I also want people to know that because of these disasters, the Red Cross needs special help. And don't forget that you can still volunteer to send money. You can give on on the Internet and contribute to the Red Cross so they can buy the food that they're using to serve people now. And you can volunteer to sign up. But you can also do what some of these volunteers have done who are not trained Red Cross -- but they just show up. They're spontaneous volunteers and will just show up to help serve the meals, or help sit and talk and visit with people who are worried and are trying to go out and figure out how to get a job, do job interviews, or the other things that a lot of families are doing that are here.

There's also a really great daycare here, which I think is terrific -- so, something fun for the kids to do while they're here and while -- to give their parents a little bit of a break while the parents are worried about what they can do and how they can take care of their kids.

Q Thank you.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much.

END 5:47 P.M. CDT

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