Remarks in the Flood Aid Telethon
The President. I have made three trips now to the Midwest during this flood. My Secretary of Agriculture and the Director of FEMA have been there many, many more times. We've seen so many people who have lost their homes, their farms, their businesses, but they are carrying on very, very bravely.
Here in Washington, we're working hard to get a multibillion dollar emergency aid package through the Congress to help rebuild the communities, the businesses, the homes, to help to provide basic assistance. But the Federal Government can't do it all. Our country always has had a system in which the National Government would come to the need of States and communities and citizens when they needed help, but we've never been able to cover all the costs, and we won't be able to now. That's why we need your help.
The Red Cross has done a magnificent job; so has the Salvation Army; so have the churches and the other community groups; so have thousands of people, young and old and all in-between, who have come to help. But we need your help. And I hope that you, too, will contribute whatever you can afford to help these wonderful Americans put their lives back together. They need your encouragement and your support. We'll do our part. We need you to help, too.
The President. The aid should be there very soon. Of course, some of the emergency aid is there now. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Agriculture have been giving cash and food stamps to people who are totally out of all resources and money. But the big aid will be there just as quickly as we can get it through the Congress. I think it will happen very soon. And we're all set up to move the checks out very quickly, I think within a couple of weeks after I can sign the bill. And that should be just in the next day or so.
In terms of the long rim, we've already got a group established to look at that. I met with the Governors of the affected States here in the White House just a couple of days ago, and we're going to work hard in the long run, too. I don't want this to happen again to you or to anybody else.
The President. There is an 800 number that gets several thousand calls a day just from Iowa, down in Texas. If you don't have it, I will arrange to have it called in while the telethon is going on. We've tried to set up a one-stop telephone so that all Americans who are affected by the flood could call. We're going to do our best, as I said, to take care of this and also to take care of the long-term problems. I can't control the weather, but we're going to work hard to help you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 8:15 p.m. via satellite from the Library at the White House. A portion of these remarks could not be verified because the tape was incomplete.
William J. Clinton, Remarks in the Flood Aid Telethon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220348