For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 2, 2005
President Arrives in Alabama, Briefed on Hurricane
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 of
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
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 porch. (Laughter.)
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
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
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
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
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 10:39 A.M. CDT