Bush sends more troops to Gulf Coast region
WASHINGTON – President Bush ordered more than 7,000 active duty forces to the Gulf Coast on Saturday as his administration intensified efforts to rescue survivors and send aid to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast in the face of criticism it did not act quickly enough.”In America, we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need,” Bush said.In addition to the active duty forces, 10,000 additional National Guard troops were being sent to the Gulf Coast. That raises the number of Guard personnel in the stricken states to about 40,000.Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a news conference that more than 100,000 people already had received humanitarian aid and the Coast Guard has rescued 9,500 people.The federal government, he said, will “break the mold” on emergency assistance. He said he was heading back to New Orleans to oversee the next phase of relief efforts.In addition, the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will fly to Louisiana and Mississippi on Sunday, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice planned a trip to Mobile, Ala.Bush planned to return to the region Monday.In his Saturday radio address, delivered from the White House Rose Garden, Bush said, “Many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans, and that is unacceptable.”The president recounted his Friday tour of the devastated region. “When you talk to the proud folks in the area, you see a spirit that cannot be broken,” he said.Chertoff, who accompanied Bush on his tour of the pummeled area, expressed awe at the destruction wrought by a “Mother Nature that has been anything but maternal.” He referred to the double-barreled disaster – the hurricane followed by a flood when the levees broke – as an “ultracatastrophe.”Bush met for nearly an hour Saturday with Chertoff, Rumsfeld and others involved in planning the recovery from Katrina.Afterward, Chertoff said the relief effort would be intensified and that the federal government would take a more prominent role in responding to other natural disasters.He said the government would continue pouring federal resources into the Gulf states but conceded, “This is a daunting challenge.”He added, “People all over the Gulf area are in dire straits.”To aid the sick and injured, the National Institutes of Health is setting up a telemedicine and triage facility that will be linked to NIH and medical centers across the country. “This consultation will focus on the sickest of the sick,” Surgeon General Richard Carmona said.He said 100 critical care beds were being cleared at NIH for those most in need, and that 1,000 prescriptions a day were being filled from the national strategic medicine stockpile.Carmona said HHS was sending more than $27 million in emergency energy assistance to transport people who became ill because of the storm and its aftermath and for utility reconnection costs. The funds come from the agency’s low-income home energy assistance program.Vail, Colorado
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