Public Papers

Remarks at a Disaster Application Center in Los Angeles, California


The President. Let me just say, if you can hear this, why, I want to thank Ava. Where's Ava? Ava, get over here; we're talking about you guys, you and Maurice.

Ms. Hagen. Oh, are we in trouble?

The President. No, we're talking about good things about both of you and about Pat Saiki here, the head of SBA. I have been very pleased to learn and to be reinformed, actually, that the SBA has moved faster in trying to help people in this instance than at any time in its productive history. I congratulate not only the leadership of SBA but the volunteers and those that have come in, professionals from all across the country, to help.

FEMA has been responding very fast. And the thing that has impressed me as I've gone along here is, I do see a sense of coordination. Before I leave, I expect some will tell me we need to improve things in some way, but I've been very pleased that the Federal Government, which sometimes can be very insensitive, has moved fast in this regard.

It's nice to be sitting next to somebody that might share my view at least on that point because it is so important that you get back on your feet. The only other point I'd make, Pat and Ava and Maurice, is the spirit of some of the people I've talked to, like that last lady, who have had a rough go, I mean, a really rough go. She still retains that faith that she's going to make it somehow, and that's pretty good. I don't know if that's typical of the people who have been afflicted so adversely or not, but it's a wonderful thing to hear somebody say, ``With God's help, I'm going to make it.'' So what we've got to try to do is help, like in your case and those who are really trying to make it.

So that's the message I'll take away. We will keep trying very hard to assist. And I'm very grateful to Pat Saiki here, who is sensitive to these requirements.

Ms. Hagen. We just want to thank everybody for their help, sensitivity, and the rapidity in which they responded.

The President. Yes. How is the feeling in the communities in terms of future tranquility, peace? I mean, is there a determination there that this won't happen again and all that kind of -- --

Q. There is a determination now to rebuild and get started once again. And everyone is -- [inaudible]. We have sat here the last 2 days and have shared more with each other about our businesses -- [inaudible].

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. That is wonderful. Yes, you know, the approach was to try to coordinate it. We've got all these different Agencies, and I think there are now 10 of these -- I thought it was 7; it's up to 10 now -- of these centers. The Federal Government can be so complex because there are so many different Agencies, and we're trying to get it in what is called this one-stop shopping mode, yes, one-stop shopping mode. If it just continues like that, I think we can move faster.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, best of luck to you, to you all. And I'm impressed with the fact that some of these people that come in to help, to help fill out the forms, are from all across the country, Atlanta or Puerto Rico even, Niagara, yes, Texas. Putting in a plug for the Texans down here. [Laughter] No, but it's good. It's a good thing.

Q. One more group to meet down there.

The President. There's one more stop down there? All right. Good luck to you now in your business. Lots of luck, sir.

Mr. Robertson. Sent a T-shirt to you.

The President. Did you? Wait a minute, you gave me a T-shirt, I'll give you my -- here, take that, souvenir. If she makes you put on a tie, why, you can wear that. Okay.

Ms. Hagen. Thank you very much.

The President. Well, good luck. I'll get out of here.

Note: The President spoke at 10:35 a.m. at Harvard Recreation Center. In his remarks, he referred to Harvard Disaster Application Center managers Ava Hagen, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Maurice Robertson, California Department of Social Services.