Americus is happy to see the president - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Americus is happy to see the president

March 3, 2007

Americus --  Day three of the devastation in Sumter County. Homes, businesses, even the hospital destroyed by Thursday night's tornado. That same storm killed two people... what some people call unbelievable considering the amount of destruction there.

President George Bush flew over those areas of Sumter County Saturday, surveying the damage. With what he called a "heavy heart," he walked through neighborhoods in Americus to meet with residents and personally see what the tornado left. He says the government will be quick to respond to Sumter County's needs.

President Bush got a first hand look at the devastation from Thursday's storms in both Alabama and Georgia. It was after a stop in Enterprise, Alabama today that the President toured heavily devastated neighborhoods in Americus.

It was in the middle of trailers in the shadow of what used to be the Wellness Center that President Bush received a briefing from the Police Chief, the Red Cross, Georgia Power and the Sheriff on just how bad the damage was. He got his own personal view of the devastation when he toured the neighborhood where two people lost their lives.

After walking through storm ravaged neighborhoods it took President George Bush just two words to sum up what he saw-- "Tough Devastation."

 Bush walked Hudson Street where two people were killed, offering comfort with hugs and promising assistance. He heard a first hand accounts from one woman who watched from the porch of her badly damaged home. "Like when you're flying, we couldn't hear for a few hours."

The President reassured Calvin Mathis and his family who huddled in what's left of their yard. "He talked to my family, he talked to my little boy, he asked my little boy how he was, was he alright. My little boy told him that his room was gone and he said 'don t worry about your room, you'll have a new room,' and that was a good thing."

The President said he'd put out the call to national help organizations and some not too far away like Habitat for Humanity. "They can come around the corner and start building because I can promise you there's a need. These are citizens that we can't let fall through the cracks. And the Red Cross. I asked the Red Cross man, he said they got all they need down here the minute you find out you don t have what you need we'll put out the call to the country and the country will respond."

It's that response that everyone was talking about in Americus, people here say they're amazed at just how many people have turned out to help with the cleanup and we saw that today in some of the most devastated neighborhoods, crews have been out putting tarps on houses, clearing debris and doing what they can to restore power to this area.

More than 3,500 people were still without power.