Former President Clinton promises help to residents on Mississippi and Alabama coasts |

Former President Clinton promises help to residents on Mississippi and Alabama coasts

GULFPORT, Miss. – Former President Bill Clinton walked ruined streets in Mississippi and Alabama on Wednesday, promising that the money he and former President Bush are raising privately for Hurricane Katrina relief will go where it’s most needed.”A hundred million dollars is a lot of money, but spread out over all this damage it is not,” Clinton said of the fund total thus far.Clinton said the Gulf Coast tragedy was shared by all.”There’s no politics in this. There’s no Republicans or Democrats,” he said. “We’re all Americans.”Clinton met with Gov. Haley Haley Barbour and Gulfport leaders after shaking hands and signing autographs at a subdivision that suffered extensive flood damage.Carpets, furniture and gypsum wallboard were piled in driveways outside waterlogged homes. In many cases, trailers were parked nearby to provide temporary living quarters.As people discussed their housing needs with the officials, a woman in the crowd yelled: “Put me on a roof. Put me up some walls. Don’t bring me a trailer. Bring me some sheetrock.”Barbour replied that 70,000 homes in the state had been destroyed by the hurricane and it would take time to rebuild. Until then, he said, temporary housing offered the best solution.Katrina made landfall on the Mississippi coast on Aug. 29.Later Wednesday, Clinton visited the Alabama bayou and met with residents and officials in a shed normally used to unload shrimp on the Bayou La Batre waterfront.Across the street in the seaside village, Gail LaForce voiced a complaint that Clinton heard throughout his visit.”The main thing is that the seafood industry here was already in trouble. This made it worse. This has just stopped everything flat,” she said. “Not only did we lose our homes, but we also lost our businesses.”All 50 seafood processing plants in Bayou La Batre are shut down, and fishermen lack cash to buy fuel and get their vessels back in operation.Mayor Stan Wright asked Clinton for $5 million to put needy people in rebuilt homes in order to save his community’s tax base and revive it economically.Decisions on disbursing money from the fund were expected in a few weeks.Clinton visited the New Orleans area Tuesday and said former President Bush would also be touring hurricane-ravaged areas to assess needs.Vail, Colorado

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