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National Archives

Public Papers - 1989

Remarks on Receiving the Report of the Vice President and Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner on the Earthquake Damage in the San Francisco Bay Area


The President. Last night I talked to Governor Deukmejian, who'd just gotten back and seemed to express appreciation for the all-out Federal effort. Of course, I'd like to take this opportunity to say that our hearts certainly go out to the victims of this disaster. And I will be going out there tomorrow to take a look, to provide encouragement to people.

Thank God for the volunteers. You talk about a Thousand Points of Light, but I'm told by the Vice President -- I expect you agree, Sam -- that the Red Cross and other volunteer agencies are responding with not only alacrity but with this concern for their neighbors that just exemplifies the best in the volunteer concept.

And so, I'm delighted to get your report, and I very much appreciate both of you going out there. I think it did signal very much of a concern on the part of the Federal Government. But we will stay on top of it; we will be in touch with the State officials, who in turn are dealing with the local officials there.

And I am confident -- I'll tell you one of the good -- that we're doing what we should do. One of the things that came up, and maybe you all heard it, is that they had had a major FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] exercise and that several -- I think you told me, Dan -- several of the municipalities and communities that had exercises in anticipation, not of this disaster but of general earthquake problems. So, there was a preparation here that I think is very, very sound.

The Vice President. Voluntarism and preparation are the two important lessons.

Note: The President spoke at 9:03 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. An earthquake that registered 6.9 on the Richter scale hit the San Francisco Bay area on October 17.

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