[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George H. W. Bush (1992-1993, Book II)]
[September 1, 1992]
[Pages 1459-1460]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Address to the Nation on Hurricane Andrew Disaster Relief
September 1, 1992

    Good evening, everyone. Eight days ago the people of south Florida 
and Louisiana were confronted by perhaps the most destructive natural 
disaster in our history. Tonight I want to report to the Nation on the 
aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and the effort required to help Andrew's 
survivors back on their feet.
    In the past week I've twice visited Louisiana and Florida. And in 
Florida, where the storm was strongest, up to a quarter million people 
have lost their homes, many huddled beneath the busted timbers of what 
was once a living room or a kitchen. There's no running water, no 
electricity. Little children are left without even a toy to play with.
    In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, a relief effort has risen, 
unprecedented in size and impact. And tonight as we speak, almost 20,000 
troops are on the ground assisting in everything from providing meals to 
erecting tent cities. Basic human needs, food, water, shelter, and 
medical assistance, are being provided.
    In Florida, a curfew is in place, and the National Guard and local 
police patrol the streets. It's a tribute to these officers and to the 
people of this region that looting has been kept to a minimum. Social 
Security checks are being delivered on time. Financial help is being 
made available to families who have lost their homes and their jobs.
    This relief effort has generated incredible cooperation. My thanks 
go to so many people who slept so little the past 8 days, to State and 
local government officials, Federal Agencies, private charities, and the 
heroic men and women of the United States military. Most especially, my 
appreciation goes out to the volunteers. When we arrived in Florida, 
some of the first people we met were from South Carolina, victims of 
Hurricane Hugo who had spent the night driving so they could help others 
through their ordeal. We met doctors and firefighters spending sleepless 
vacations lending a helping hand. Through the eloquence of their action, 
I've been reminded that America will always be a nation of neighbors.
    Although the relief effort is well underway, urgent needs still 
exist. And so tonight I make a special appeal to the generous spirit of 
the American people. People in Florida and Louisiana want to stay in 
their homes. They're in desperate need of rolls of

[[Page 1460]]

plastic to cover open roofs, lumber to board up walls, and cots to sleep 
on. They also need diapers, baby formula, and other infant supplies. And 
fresh volunteers are needed to staff medical facilities or help with the 
    Right now, America's churches and charities are mobilizing to meet 
these needs. And I encourage all Americans to pitch in, in any way you 
can. If you don't know where to turn and you want to help right now, 
please call the American Red Cross at 1-800-842-2200. 1-800-842-2200.
    Once our relief effort is complete, we will accelerate the process 
of recovery. Already today we announced plans to rebuild Homestead Air 
Force Base, the linchpin of the economy in devastated areas. And a 
distinguished Florida business leader, Alvah Chapman, has agreed to head 
a national private sector effort to help rebuild south Florida. It's 
called ``We Will Rebuild.'' This effort has my strong support and the 
support of Florida Governor Chiles. All of us are in this for the long 
haul. If you want to be a part of this effort, please write We Will 
Rebuild. And the address is Post Office Box 010790, Miami, Florida, and 
the ZIP Code is 33131.
    In the past 8 days we've seen on our TV screens real tears, real 
sorrow, real hurt. Livelihoods have been destroyed. Lives, even young 
lives, have been tragically lost. But already in Florida and Louisiana, 
we're talking not just of relief but of recovery. This is a tribute to 
what is inside us. And yes, Andrew blew a whirlwind of devastation. But 
he could never extinguish the American spirit, a spirit of compassion 
and sacrifice and endurance. We have seen that spirit in action the past 
8 days. And with this spirit and your enduring commitment, our neighbors 
in south Florida and Louisiana will recover.
    Thank you for your generosity. And our prayers are with all who 
stood in Andrew's path. Good night.

                    Note: The President spoke at 9 p.m. from the Oval 
                        Office at the White House. The address was 
                        broadcast live on nationwide television.