Tricounty News

Update from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

March 27, 2009 From the Daily Press Briefing   Let me start with a couple of announcements and I'll give you a rundown of the President's thoughts on the meeting that he just finished.    As you all know, the Vice President arrived today for a four-day trip to South and Central America, to consult with Latin American leaders gathered in Chile and Costa Rica to discuss the upcoming Summit of the Americas.  He's on the trip with Dr. Jill Biden.    In Chile, the Vice President will attend the Progressive Governance Conference with several Latin American and European heads of state, and hold bilateral meetings with leaders.  In Costa Rica, the Vice President will hold a bilateral meeting with the President before participating in a multilateral meeting with Central American leaders.  He returns to Washington, D.C. late Monday evening.   Secondly, let me give you just a quick rundown on the situation in North Dakota and in Minnesota.  The White House is actively monitoring the impacts of the flooding in North Dakota and Minnesota.  As you know, the President approved a major disaster declaration for the state of North Dakota on March 24th, and last night the President approved an emergency declaration for the state of Minnesota.   On the ground, the federal government continues to actively coordinate with state and local governments in both states to address the ongoing flood fight.  This effort has been underway since late last week.  FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, and other federal agencies, as well as the American Red Cross, have been--continue the actively work with these officials to ensure their needs are being met.    Federal support is being provided up and down the Red River.  Nancy Ward, the Acting FEMA Administrator, is on the ground currently in Fargo, and directly talking with federal, state and local officials to ensure that federal assistance is provided to support the response to the flooding.  The President this morning talked with Governor Hoeven, Governor Pawlenty, and Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker today to discuss his concern for the residents of North Dakota and Minnesota, and to ensure that the states are getting the federal assistance they need to supplement any state and local efforts.  Secretary Napolitano has been in contact with state and local officials to express her support, and she also briefed the President this morning on the latest developments.   This is important--we cannot reinforce enough the importance for residents in both states remain vigilant in monitoring the reports of flood crests and to follow the instructions from their state and local leaders in the event that evacuations in their local areas become necessary.   And again, the President continues to be impressed with ongoing efforts of thousands of volunteers as they continue to work to protect their community.