FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2005
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The Associated Press
AP - Gov. Bush visits hurricane-battered Mississippi
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Jeb Bush said Florida would be better prepared to deal with a storm as powerful as Hurricane Katrina than the Mississippi communities he visited Wednesday, but he added that no state could respond without massive federal help.
Bush flew to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, making stops that included Gulfport and Waveland, where he visited National Guard troops, firefighters, law enforcement officers and other first responders from Florida and local officials.
He said he was proud that Florida was among the first to send aid and that the state would seek 100 percent federal reimbursement for those costs.
"A majority of the people responding in the communities we saw were from Florida," Bush said upon returning to Tallahassee. "It was part of Florida."
He said Florida has learned much from past hurricanes, including four that struck the state last year, and has plans in place to avoid some of the problems that emerged in Mississippi and Louisiana.
"We would have evacuated the vulnerable areas on our coastline and mobile homes and in low-lying areas significantly earlier," Bush said. "Our hospitals would have been evacuated. Our nursing homes would not have been left. ... We don't mass shelter in a place that doesn't have food and water."
Bush said he, just as governors in Mississippi and Louisiana, would retain control of such a recovery effort rather than hand it over the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other federal authorities.
"A governor of any state knows his state better than a FEMA director or a general," Bush said.