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Bush: U.S. Military at Forefront of Protecting Americans From Rita

By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2005 – The U.S. military is working closely and proactively with federal and state government agencies to save lives and property threatened by Hurricane Rita, President Bush said today in his weekly radio address.

"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," Bush said. Military assets "were pre-positioned so they could be deployed immediately after the storm passes."

Bush said these assets include several Navy ships -- USS Iwo Jima, USS Shreveport, USS Tortuga, USS Grapple, USS Patuxent, and USNS Comfort -- Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, helicopters, and 3,500 Texas National Guardsmen.

More Texas National Guardsmen are on call if they are needed, and additional Coast Guard aircrews and aircraft are now arriving in the Gulf region, Bush said. They will "rescue, evacuate and relocate civilians trapped by the storm," Bush said.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have pre-positioned food, water, ice, and emergency response teams while helping with evacuations in Texas and Louisiana, as well, ha said.

Bush noted that civilian volunteers, including more than 200 doctors and 400-plus registered nurses, are an integral part of the government's proactive emergency-response team.

"The American Red Cross is prepared to deliver hundreds of thousands of meals a day," Bush said. "Our government is taking every step possible to protect life and bring comfort to those affected."

The president is visiting the U.S. Northern Command, in Colorado, this weekend to monitor Hurricane Rita. He praised the "courageous and dedicated men and women (who) are responding to our citizens in need."

Just as the military is playing a vital role in protecting American lives threatened by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, so, too, are ordinary Americans playing a vital role in assisting their displaced neighbors, Bush said.

"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," Bush said. "Our fellow citizens in the affected areas can know they can count on the good hearts of the American people.

"The courageous spirit of America," Bush added, "will carry us through any storm, and the compassionate soul of our nation will help us rebuild."

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