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Mrs. Bush remarks were 'observation'


Barbara Bush was making ''a personal observation" when she said poor people at a relocation center in Houston were faring better than before Hurricane Katrina struck, President Bush's spokesman said yesterday. White House press secretary Scott McClellan did not answer directly when asked whether the president agreed with his mother's remarks. Mrs. Bush, after touring the Astrodome complex in Houston on Monday, said: ''What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." She commented during a radio interview with the American Public Media program ''Marketplace." (AP)

Evacuees to receive $2,000 debit cards

The federal government plans to hand out debit cards worth $2,000 each to families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff, under fire for his agency's response to the disaster, held a conference call with governors of states with evacuees and described the plan. While many details remained to be worked out, the plan was to quickly begin distributing the cards, starting with people in major evacuation centers such as the Houston Astrodome. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is administering the program. (AP)


Navy pilots scolded for rescue detour

PENSACOLA -- Two Navy helicopter pilots were reminded by their commander of the importance of supply missions after delivering their cargo and then rescuing 110 hurricane victims in New Orleans instead of immediately returning to base, the military said yesterday. Lieutenant Matt Udkow and Lieutenant David Shand returned to the base from their mission on Aug. 30, a day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, said Patrick Nichols, a civilian public affairs officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Udkow and Shand met with Commander Michael Holdener, who praised their actions but reminded them their orders were to fly supplies to three destinations and then return to Pensacola. ''The Hollywood role of this thing is search and rescue," Nichols said. ''Logistics was just as important. They realize that." (AP)


Superdome repairs may cost $100m

BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Superdome was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but talk of tearing it down is premature, its manager said yesterday. Fixing the $500 million, state-owned stadium could cost $100 million, said Doug Thornton, regional vice president of SMG, the company that runs the building. ''I think it's very premature at this point to have any speculation about the future of the dome and whether it's going to be torn down," he said. Seventy percent of the Superdome's roof was damaged by the hurricane. (Reuters)


New Orleans Guardunit to go home

CAMP VICTORY -- Hundreds of soldiers from a New Orleans National Guard unit are to begin leaving today to return to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. Guard officials said 80 percent lost homes or jobs and some had not heard from relatives since the storm. A Pentagon team led by Brigadier General Sean Byrne flew into this US base in the Kuwaiti desert to help ease the unit's redeployment home. Speaking yesterday to 150 members of the Guard unit, Byrne told them that if their homes are gone and their families scattered and homeless, the Army would help. (AP)

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