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Hurricane Wilma Victims Need Help in South Florida

Location: Washington, DC

HURRICANE WILMA VICTIMS NEED HELP IN SOUTH FLORIDA -- (House of Representatives - November 04, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Wasserman Schultz) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, this afternoon all across south Florida, there are thousands of people whose homes have been condemned. They have been condemned following a category 3 hurricane called Hurricane Wilma.

Subsequently in the last few days, it has been pouring rain. I went door to door in my district over the weekend and met hundreds of men and women in their 80s and 90s stuck in their apartments with no power. At one point, I came upon a 93-year-old women in her kitchen with her 90-year-old next-door neighbor who were looking with despair at an MRE, trying to figure out how to get it open, put it together, and get it heating so that they could have the first hot food, something resembling hot food, that they had had in 5 days.

I literally had to help them with the print on the instructions that was this big, try to figure out how to put that meal together without burning themselves, because as soon as you put the water in the meal, it starts to immediately heat up.

This was not an isolated incident. In the 2 days after that, those women and the other senior citizens that I represent in the Sunrise Lakes Condominium were told that they needed to leave their apartments because after the rain, the leaking through their condominium roof was so bad that their apartments were uninhabitable.

They are now in an elementary school with no shower, with a makeshift shower that was put together with two porta-potties shoved next to each other and plastic sheeting taped up with a hose stuck over the top so that they could bathe. We are talking about men and women in their upper 80s and 90s.

Hurricane Wilma has caused tremendous suffering in south Florida, and there has not been enough national attention on the plight of my constituents and the constituents of my south Florida colleagues. We need to make sure that we are able to provide the help and assistance that they so desperately need.

There is need across this country, and next week we are going to add insult to injury and apply a manmade disaster in the form of the budget reconciliation, which is Washington-speak for budget cuts. There are going to be proposed housing cuts, Medicare cuts, food stamps, school lunches. Between Katrina and Wilma, and all of the suffering going on across this country, now is not the time to add more harm and do more damage to people who are badly in need.

Mr. Speaker, we need to do right by Americans, not pull the rug out from under them. I urge my colleagues to make sure that we provide the badly needed assistance, both to victims of Hurricane Katrina on the gulf coast and to victims of Katrina from south Florida.

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