WASHINGTON – President Bush's Weekly Radio Address
Good morning. This weekend I will visit U.S. Northern Command in Colorado where we're monitoring Hurricane Rita. As the hurricane continues along its destructive path, the American people can know courageous and dedicated men and women are responding to our citizens in need. We are marshaling resources of the federal government to save lives and property, and bring comfort to those who have evacuated because of this storm.
Over the past week, federal, state and local governments have been closely coordinating their efforts for Hurricane Rita. The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA prepositioned food, water, ice, and emergency response teams, and helped with the evacuations in Texas and Louisiana. Military assets were also prepositioned so they could be deployed immediately after the storm passes.
At this moment, the following Navy ships are in the region: the Iwo Jima, the Shreveport, the Tortuga, the Grapple, the Patuxent, and the Comfort. The Texas National Guard has activated its Guardsmen, nearly 3,500 so far, with more on call if they are needed. Coast Guard cutters, aircraft and helicopters are in place, ready to rescue, evacuate, and relocate civilians trapped by the storm. And additional Coast Guard air crews and aircraft are now arriving from around the country.
We've also organized and identified civilian volunteers, including more than 200 doctors and more than 400 registered nurses. The American Red Cross is prepared to deliver hundreds of thousands of meals a day. Our government is taking every step possible to protect life and bring comfort to those affected.
As we respond to Hurricane Rita, we're continuing our efforts to help the citizens of the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Katrina, a storm that has caused unprecedented destruction across an entire region. The recovery of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi is a commitment of the American people, and in this effort, all Americans have a role to play. In the recovery effort, the federal government has a vital role, and we'll do our duty. We'll help rebuild roads, bridges, schools, water systems and other infrastructure in the disaster zone. We will cut through red tape in Washington so we can speed the work of rebuilding and get the Gulf Coast region back on its feet.
In the recovery effort, state and local leaders will play a vital role in laying out their plans and vision for the future of their communities. Earlier this week, I met with community leaders and local officials in the region to hear their ideas on rebuilding and recovery. I told them that the vision of a revitalized New Orleans should come from the people of New Orleans, and the vision of a new Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama should come from the people of those states. We will do everything we can to guide the recovery effort, and help them realize their vision so that communities along the Gulf Coast are better and stronger than before the storm.
In the recovery effort, the private sector will play a vital role. To rebuild lives and communities, we need to encourage small business growth in that region, with immediate tax relief and other incentives for job-creating investment. Private enterprise is the engine for creating new jobs in America and it will be the engine that drives the recovery of the Gulf Coast.
In the recovery effort, the American people will play a vital role. This week, Laura visited Texas to thank leaders of faith-based groups who've rallied to help their Louisiana neighbors in desperate need. Charities and houses of worship and idealistic men and women across America have opened up their homes, their wallets and their hearts to the victims of Katrina. And with the arrival of another violent storm, our neighbors in the Gulf Coast will need continued help. Our fellow citizens in the affected areas can know they can count on the good hearts of the American people.
The past three weeks have tested our nation and revealed the strength and resilience of our people. Americans have the determination and the will to overcome any challenge from man or nature. The courageous spirit of America will carry us through any storm, and the compassionate soul of our nation will help us rebuild. Thank you for listening.