U.S. President George Bush is in the Midwest
state of Iowa surveying flood damage from heavy rains that have washed out
millions of hectares of grazing and farmlands. VOA White House Correspondent
Scott Stearns has the story.
President Bush went to Iowa's second-largest city
of Cedar Rapids for a briefing from local and federal officials at an emergency
command center where relief efforts are being coordinated.
the extent that we can help immediately, we want to help and then plan for
recovery," he said.
Much of Cedar Rapids was submerged by the Cedar
River, which crested nearly seven meters above flood levels. The Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says it has distributed more than three
million liters of drinking water and 200,000 ready-to-eat meals.
President Bush told reporters that Americans across the nation are
concerned about those facing the region's worst flooding in 15
"Our hearts and prayers from around the nation go out to people
here," he added. "It is a tough time for you. The good news is the people of
Iowa are tough-minded people. You will come back better."
said federal and local officials will not only focus on population centers like
Cedar Rapids, but will also reach out to smaller towns affected by the
Mr. Bush had an aerial tour of the floodwater and also visited the
college town of Iowa City. It is the president's first tour of the Midwest since
flooding forced at least 35,000 people from their homes in six
The president was in Europe when heavy rains began forcing rivers
over their banks and levees. He has received regular briefings on the recovery
effort and says $4 billion in a federal emergency relief fund should be enough
to help pay for the clean up.
In addition to property damage, the floods
have affected some of the nation's most fertile cropland, and are expected to
have an impact on already rising food prices, especially for crops like
Both of the major parties' likely presidential candidates have also
visited the flood zone. Presumptive Republican candidate Arizona Senator John
McCain toured Iowa separately from the president. The likely Democratic nominee,
Illinois Senator Barack Obama, helped fill sandbags several days ago in his home