Mike Pence photo

Remarks by the Vice President at Inglesia de Dios in Orlando, Florida

October 05, 2017

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Rubio, for those stirring words. Thank you for being such a strong voice, a strong voice for the Puerto Rico community here in Florida.

It is an honor for my wife and I to be with all of you today at a church that I am told is the heart of the Puerto Rican community in Florida for more than three decades, Inglesia de Dios, a model of Christian ministry in this community. (Applause.)

I want to thank again, Senator Rubio for his kind words. I want to thank Senator Nelson for his leadership and his presence here today. Commissioner Gonzalez, Delegate Plaskett for your words and for your leadership on behalf of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We are grateful. These are tenacious advocates for Americans in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. And you could give these two strong women a very strong round of applause. (Applause.)

It's a joy for us to be with you today, although we come today -- as I know families across this community do -- with a heavy heart. The challenges facing the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were first visited upon the people of Florida. And let me say that Florida's response to Hurricane Irma set a standard for the nation. And Florida's generosity to the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is setting another standard of what it means to be neighbors and friends and fellow Americans. So please join me in thanking the state of Florida, Governor Rick Scott and all of those that have made that possible. (Applause.)

And I know that Senator Rubio mentioned here, but it's a joy for me to be traveling this weekend with the Second Lady of the United States of America, Karen Pence. And I would give you a chance to welcome her. (Applause.)

And lastly, I bring greetings from a leader who has promised to help Puerto Rico come back better and stronger than ever before, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

It's so good to be here, to be at this church, a congregation that not only helped Orlando clean up from Hurricane Irma, but ever since that hurricane passed through, this ministry at Inglesia de Dios has partnered with other Florida churches so well represented here today to hold a donation drive to help our brothers and sisters in need.

It's remarkable to think you've already filled 15 trucks full of goods and bought nearly 150 generators that have been sent to Puerto Rico. Thank you for your generosity and your example. (Applause.)

So to Bishop Marcel, Pastor Torres, all the faith leaders that are gathered here today in this wonderful congregation, on behalf of a grateful nation and behalf of the grateful people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, I say from my heart, muchas gracias. Thank you for your giving. (Applause.) And thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ in a place so beset by challenges.

Just two days ago, our President and our First Lady traveled to Puerto Rico where they expressed the unwavering commitment of our administration and all of the American people to support those who have lost so much in this hour of need.

Karen and I want to particularly express our deepest condolences to those that lost loved ones in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The Bible tells us to mourn with those who mourn and to grieve with those who grieve. And so we remember them and we do well.

It's said that the Lord is close to the broken-hearted, so for those that have lost loved ones, for those for whom family members are still missing, let that be our earnest prayer for the people who've suffered loss.

But as the President said, we will get through this, and we will get through this together. (Applause.)

As Senator Rubio said, tomorrow Karen and I will have the privilege to travel to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to lend a hand, to listen to those in needs, to deliver the same message that our President and our First Lady delivered just two days ago, our message will be simple: We are with you. We stand with you, and we will be with you every step of the way until we see the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico say, levanta. (Applause.)

The images of destruction have moved the hearts of all of the American people, and I know they deeply touched the President and the First Lady on their journey to Puerto Rico this week.

The President often says when one part of America hurts, we all hurt; when one part of America struggles, we all struggle; when one part of America cries out for help, as this wonderful faith community has done, we come together. We don't wait to be asked. We come alongside our neighbors in need.

Even before Hurricane Maria made landfall, our entire administration have worked tirelessly to protect those in harm's way and provide them with the aid they need to get back on their feet. The President issued disaster declarations for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to provide the full range of federal resources.

Working hand-in-hand with local leaders, I'm pleased to report 11.5 million meals, 8 million liters of water have been delivered thus far and more are being delivered every day.

Every day more federal officials step ashore in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And at this moment, as we learned tonight, there are more than 15,000 dedicated federal officials on the ground reaching out. (Applause.)

They're working hard to save lives, to restore power, and begin the long road to recovery. We are proud of the leadership in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I look forward to being with Governor Rossello and Governor Mapp tomorrow.

But we are also proud of all of the dedicated members of FEMA and the Armed Forces of the United States of America that flowed into this tragedy. (Applause.) We speak of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard. They've been on the ground and in the water. No less than 14 Navy and Coast Guard ships providing crucial support.

And let me particularly say at a time when their own families were struggling in the aftermath of this devastating hurricane, the Puerto Rican National Guard have distinguished themselves in their service in uniform and to their fellow countrymen. (Applause.)

On behalf of our Commander-in-Chief, allow me to specifically thank these heroes for their selfless actions and their sacrifice, thank all of those in the Puerto Rican National Guard, and to thank all the Puerto Ricans who serve today in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. We are proud. (Applause.)

Truth is Hurricane Maria was a historic storm with extraordinary damage, and it will be a long way back. But I'm here to report, my fellow Americans, that we are making progress as we heard again tonight. Commercial flights back to normal. Three-quarters of Puerto Rico's gas stations up and running; more than two-thirds of supermarkets are open for business. Island ports are now 75 percent open, bringing daily necessities to the people of that island.

Working with local companies, we're supplying power to around 50 hospitals, dialysis centers. And as we speak, our administration is continuing to work tirelessly to clear every road, reach every community, and bring aid to every Puerto Rican in need. And we will not stop until the job is done. (Applause.)

Puerto Rico will come back, as the President says, better and stronger than ever before because we are all unidos por Puerto Rico. (Applause.)

The needs of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will be great, but the generosity of the American people evidenced by this great faith community will be greater still, as it always is.

This very gathering is a testament to the spirit of family and friendship and faith that binds us all. You're making an extraordinary difference. But to those that are looking on, let me urge you and urge our countrymen to do more.

You can go to website to find a listing of all the national charitable and volunteer organizations that are working at this very hour to come alongside families in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That website is NVOAD.org -- National Volunteer Organizations -- NVOAD.org. I encourage every American to continue to be as generous as you can to support the organizations -- the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Samaritan's Purse that are supporting efforts locally and nationally to recover and rebuild and restore.

Now we're here tonight because each one of us are dedicated to giving every ounce of our energy and our generosity in support of Puerto Rico. But we're also gathered here around one other purpose, we're gathered here in the Inglesia de Dios because we believe in faith.

As Bishop Marcel said earlier, we do well to remember as we labor, as we rebuild, as we come alongside our brothers and sisters, as the Bishop said, we do well to remember, unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

And so as we work, as we call upon officials at every level to do what Americans expect us to do in this moment, let us also labor in prayer. And on a foundation of faith, we will rebuild Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands bigger and better than ever before.

And so I close today with confidence and with gratitude. Thank you again. Thank you again for being such an extraordinary example to people across of your faith and of generosity to people in times of need.

I'm very confident with the leadership of President Trump, with the dedication of local leadership, neighbors and friends in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the dedication of federal officials who are the hands and feet of the American people in this hour of need, and with God's help, I know that Cochi (ph) will sing loudly once again. (Applause.) And the best days for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are yet to come.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President at Inglesia de Dios in Orlando, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/331593

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