US Leaders Ask For Patience & Donations - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

US Leaders Ask For Patience & Donations

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

President Bush plans to get an up-close look at the damage left by Hurricane Katrina. This, as Congress rushes back to work early, to approve emergency funds for the relief effort. With only four members present, the Senate passed President Bush's $10.5 billion request for hurricane relief.

Majority Leader Senator Bill Frist says, "People are still stranded, and they're reaching their breaking point, and they need our help now." The House reconvenes Friday. Democrats and Republicans agreed to use emergency powers, to get this money out to victims immediately. Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid tells us, "They're suffering. We owe it to them to make their survival our top priority."

The bulk of the cash goes the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but it's only enough for the next few weeks. "It's going to take a lot of hard work and patience and resolve. It's also going to require a lot of money," states President Bush.

And not just from the government. Former Presidents Bush and Clinton, who headed tsunami fundraising, have been tapped to solicit private donations again. President Bill Clinton notes, "Unlike the tsunami countries, our country can pay for most of what needs to be done. That will cost huge amounts of money."

Wal-Mart's already pledged $15 million, hotel tycoon Leona Helmsley, $5 million. And Shell Oil, $3 million. But while Washington counts its cash, victims are literally screaming: "Where's the food and water?"

President Bush asks for patience, saying this massive effort takes time, but that's one more thing these residents don't have. President Bush plans to meet with victims, and tour by helicopter much of the 90,000 square miles now declared a federal disaster area.

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