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Bush Prepares for Visit to Hurricane Victims

U.S. President George Bush says the federal government is doing all it can to help the victims of Hurricane Ike. VOA White House Correspondent Paula Wolfson reports Mr. Bush will get a first hand look at storm damage along the Gulf Coast on Tuesday.

The president says the impact of the storm is being felt far beyond the states of Texas and Louisiana, where the hurricane first made landfall.

He says across the country, Americans are paying more for gasoline - the result of storm-caused disruptions in the operations of refineries and pipelines along the Gulf Coast. He says both of the main pipelines are back in service, but until the refineries are back in business, there will be supply shortages and higher prices.

"And so there is going to be a pinch. I wish that was not the case. But it is," he said.

The president, who came under severe criticism three years ago for slow government response to Hurricane Katrina, is getting regular updates on storm rescue and recovery efforts.

After his latest briefing at the White House from emergency officials, he promised the federal government will do all it can to assist the victims of Hurricane Ike.

"We obviously watch this recovery very carefully because the federal government is playing a crucial role in helping the people of the devastated areas recover," continued Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush says he is looking forward to getting a first-hand look at the situation in the affected areas. He says he knows in some quarters, patience is running thin.

"I am confident there will be people that are very frustrated because their lives have been severely affected by this storm," he said.

Casualties from the storm were far lower than anticipated, but the financial cost of the hurricane is expected to be high. Power is still out to many homes and businesses, and flood waters are just beginning to recede leaving behind massive damage and debris.