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Secretary Ray LaHood --Remarks as Prepared-- Visit to Birmingham, Alabama

Thank you, Mayor Bell and Director Cooper, for the warm welcome.  We just finished our tour of the devastation.   I must say, it’s simply heartbreaking.  Our prayers go out to the families affected.

Even still, sometimes nature at its worst can bring out a community at its best.  We’re seeing it along the flooded Mississippi River.  We’re seeing it in towns like Joplin, Missouri, and Springfield, Mass.   For the past month, we’ve been seeing it from the wonderful people of Birmingham and Alabama.

On behalf of President Obama, I extend great appreciation to Governor Bentley, Mayor Bell, Tuscaloosa Mayor Maddox, and Director Cooper.  And I join them in saluting the tireless first responders, the dedicated clean-up crews, and the selfless volunteers who have brought hope and compassion to people who need it so badly.

When President Obama visited Alabama one month ago, he pledged that this nation would never forget you -- and that we’d be with you every step of the way as you rebuild your communities and re-begin your lives.  Today, I’m pleased to announce that the Department of Transportation is making available $1.5 million in quick release emergency funds to do exactly this – to start the considerable job of restoring roads and bridges right here.

Now, this is just one component of the Obama Administration’s effort to help you pick up the pieces and begin anew.  President Obama and many of my colleagues in the cabinet have already announced significant funding commitments.  If you haven’t yet signed up for financial assistance from FEMA, we encourage you to do so.  It’s not too late.  And we will not let up until the area has completely recovered.

So, my message to the people of Alabama is this: You have full partners in the Obama Administration and the Department of Transportation.  Together, we will get this historic, beautiful, resilient community back on its feet. And I’m proud that we are able to play a part in this critical cause.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011