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Bush Cites ‘Excellent’ Hurricane Gustav Response Efforts

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2008 – President Bush praised federal, state and local government efforts to assist the people of the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Gustav during his visit to the emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, La., today.

“All in all, the response has been excellent,” Bush told reporters during a news conference that included Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Bush was briefed about the post-Gustav situation by emergency response officials.

However, “there is more work to be done,” Bush said. “And, that’s why I came down here with members of the federal government to listen and to figure out how to help.”

Hurricane Gustav turned out to be a less-powerful storm than Katrina, which in late August 2005 flooded most of New Orleans and devastated large swaths of the Gulf Coast.

Nonetheless, Baton Rouge, the state capital, and parts of Louisiana farther west were pummeled by Gustav’s 100-mph-plus winds and slashing rain. Bush has visited several regional emergency response centers since Gustav made landfall near Cocodrie, La., Sept. 1.

State and local governments and the federal government, Bush said, were able to work effectively together in response to Hurricane Gustav.

“We’re much better-coordinated this time than we were with Katrina,” Bush said. However, hundreds of thousands of Louisianans have been left without power in Gustav’s wake.

“One of the key things that needs to happen is they’ve got to get electricity up here in Louisiana, get moving as fast as possible,” Bush said. “The governor understands it’s a problem, his team understands it’s a problem, and I understand it’s a problem.”

Jindal also discussed the need, Bush said, to release some oil from the nation’s strategic reserve to assist a local business.

“Last night we got a request from a company doing business here in Louisiana and we met that request, … so oil was released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And, we will continue to do that upon requests by companies,” Bush said.

Bush thanked everyone for their hard work in Louisiana since Gustav barreled ashore.

“I can’t thank you all enough for working as hard as you are,” Bush said. “Looking around, I can see that some people may not have much sleep recently.”

Thousands of National Guard members were mobilized in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and other states to deal with Gustav’s wrath. U.S. Northern Command aerial assets were employed to evacuate elderly and severely ill persons out of the path of the storm.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates authorized a call-up of up to 50,000 National Guard personnel to assist in the storm’s aftermath, if necessary.

Meanwhile, officials are preparing for Tropical Storm Hanna, which is now passing through the Bahamas. Hanna is currently projected to make landfall somewhere between South Florida and the Carolinas Sept. 5.

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