Wednesday, August 31, 2005
America deserves better
As we flew here today, I also asked the pilot to fly over the Gulf Coast region so I could see firsthand the scope and magnitude of the devastation. The vast majority of New Orleans, Louisiana, is under water. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses are beyond repair. A lot of the Mississippi Gulf Coast has been completely destroyed. Mobile is flooded.
We are dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history, and
that's why I've called the Cabinet together. The people in the affected regions expect the federal government to work with the state government and local government with an effective response.
This recovery will take a long time. This recovery will take years.
Tell us something we don't know. We all have television.
Meanwhile, Chavez was not impressed.
"That man, the king of vacations ... the king of vacations in his ranch said nothing but, you have to flee, and didn't say how ... that cowboy, the cowboy mentality," said Chavez, offering to send cheap fuel and aid to the disaster area.
Some Context: (courtesy of AP)
Bush, who may visit the area later in the week, cut short his working vacation in Texas by two days — even though aides have long contended that his duties are uninterrupted when he spends time at his ranch in nearby Crawford, which has White House-level communications capability.
Vice President Dick Cheney participated in the video conference from Wyoming, and White House chief of staff Andy Card was on line from Maine. Other top officials participated from Washington.
On his way to Washington, Bush had Air Force One fly low over the hurricane-ravaged area. His plane flew over New Orleans at about 2,500, and it descended even further, to about 1,700 feet, over Mississippi. Bush surveyed the damage from a couch near the left front of the plane. The plane flew over New Orleans and saw the Superdome, downtown areas and outlying neighborhoods, then traveled along the coast to Mobile before turning north toward Washington.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan quoted Bush as saying, "It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." Among other things, the president saw an amusement park with the tops of wrecked rides protruding over bridges covered by water. McClellan said that after viewing one particularly hard hit coastal community, the president noted: "It's totally wiped out."
America deserves better than this.