POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (AP) – President Bush on Thursday predicted a robust response to Hurricane Wilma victims angry that supplies have been slow in coming as he greeted relief volunteers while a political storm gripped the White House back home.

“Things don’t happen instantly, but things are happening,” Bush said.

He spoke at a relief supply distribution center, as people gathered around him as they waited for a hot meal of barbecue pork, potatoes, bread and crushed pineapple.

About 2 million homes and businesses remain without power in Florida in the wake of Wilma, which struck the state on Monday. Floridians have grown angry about the response as they struggle to find food, water and fuel.

Criticism has been directed toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is trying to recover from its failures in response to Hurricane Katrina. Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday that the responsibility is the state’s and promised a huge infusion of supplies.

The president said he came to Florida to make sure the federal and state responses “dovetail.”

“People are getting fed. Soon more and more houses will have their electricity back on and life will get back to normal,” Bush said. He said gasoline lines would be alleviated by the arrival of fuel-carrying ships.

He said generators being brought in from other states and the presence of 6,000 electrical workers from across the country would help restore power – a key step to also addressing the gas shortages, since many stations have gasoline, but no electricity to deliver it to customers.

The president, meanwhile, ignored reporters’ shouted questions about Harriet Miers’ surprise withdrawal as his nominee to the Supreme Court.

The announcement about Miers roiled Washington Thursday and the White House is bracing for possible indictments of one or more top aides in the CIA leak case. Indictments could be announced Friday.

After landing at Miami International Airport at lunchtime, Bush took a short helicopter flight to a Goodyear blimp hangar here. His motorcade route to the relief center took him down streets lined with downed branches.



On the Net:

http://www.whitehouse.gov

AP-ES-10-27-05 2024EDT


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