For Immediate Release
Office of the
September 2, 2005
President Arrives in Alabama, Briefed on Hurricane Katrina
Mobile Regional Airport
10:35 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first I want to say a few things. I am
incredibly proud of our Coast Guard. We have got courageous people
risking their lives to save life. And I want to thank the commanders
and I want to thank the troops over there for representing the best
I want to congratulate the governors for being leaders. You
didn't ask for this, when you swore in, but you're doing a heck of a
job. And the federal government's job is big, and it's massive, and
we're going to do it. Where it's not working right, we're going to
make it right. Where it is working right, we're going to duplicate
it elsewhere. We have a responsibility, at the federal level, to
help save life, and that's the primary focus right now. Every life
is precious, and so we're going to spend a lot of time saving lives,
whether it be in New Orleans or on the coast of Mississippi.
We have a responsibility to help
clean up this mess, and I want to thank the Congress for acting as
quickly as you did. Step one is to appropriate $10.5 billion. But
I've got to warn everybody, that's just the beginning. That's a
small down payment for the cost of this effort. But to help the good
folks here, we need to do it.
We are going to restore order in the city of New Orleans, and
we're going to help supplement the efforts of the Mississippi Guard
and others to restore order in parts of Mississippi. And I want to
thank you for your strong statement of zero tolerance. The people of
this country expect there to be law and order, and we're going to
work hard to get it. In order to make sure there's less violence,
we've got to get food to people. And that's a primary mission, is to
get food to people. And there's a lot of food moving. And now the --
it's one thing to get it moving to a station, it's the next thing to
get it in the hands of the people, and that's where we're going to
spend a lot of time focusing.
We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save
lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help
these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for
some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a
fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of
Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to
be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the
GOVERNOR RILEY: He'll be glad to have you.
THE PRESIDENT: Out of New Orleans is going to come that great
city again. That's what's going to happen. But now we're in the
darkest days, and so we got a lot of work to do. And I'm down here
to thank people. I'm down here to comfort people. I'm down here to
let people know that we're going to work with the states and the
local folks with a strategy to get this thing solved.
Now, I also want to say something about the compassion of the
people of Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana and surrounding
states. I want to thank you for your compassion. Now is the time to
love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourselves.
Governor Riley announced the fact that they're going to open up
homes in military bases for stranded folks. And that's going to be
very important and helpful.
My dad and Bill Clinton are going to raise money for governors'
funds. The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will have
monies available to them to help deal with the long-term
consequences of this storm.
The faith-based groups and the community-based groups throughout
this part of the world, and the country for that matter, are
responding. If you want to help, give cash money to the Red Cross
and the Salvation Army. That's where the first help will come.
There's going to be plenty of opportunities to help later on, but
right now the immediate concern is to save lives and get food and
medicine to people so we can stabilize the situation.
Again, I want to thank you all for -- and, Brownie, you're doing
a heck of a job. The FEMA Director is working 24 -- (applause) --
they're working 24 hours a day.
Again, my attitude is, if it's not going exactly right, we're
going to make it go exactly right. If there's problems, we're going
to address the problems. And that's what I've come down to assure
people of. And again, I want to thank everybody.
And I'm not looking forward to this trip. I got a feel for it
when I flew over before. It -- for those who have not -- trying to
conceive what we're talking about, it's as if the entire Gulf Coast
were obliterated by a -- the worst kind of weapon you can imagine.
And now we're going to go try to comfort people in that part of the
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 10:39 A.M. CDT