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Ward Room
USS Kearsarge

2:54 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, thank you very much.  I wanted to begin by saying we’ll be leaving tomorrow morning very early from the White House.  We’ll be going to Las Vegas.  We will be paying our personal respects and condolences to everybody.

What happened is such a tragedy.  So unnecessary — who can believe what happened in Las Vegas.  Great love for the people, great love for the people of our country, and I look forward to going tomorrow.  The First Lady will be coming with me, and we’re going to be paying our respects and condolences.  We’ll be leaving early in the morning.

We are here on this great ship today, and I want to thank the admiral; I want to thank the captain very much.  Thank you very much.  This is some ship.  Most people would never know a ship like this exists.  This is for helicopters of all sizes and types, and it’s quite something.  And it’s done a tremendous service for Puerto Rico and for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

And we’re really — we were so nicely treated by the U.S. Virgin Islands, frankly, over the years.  They’re great people, and we’re helping out.

And we have with us Governor Kenneth Mapp, who has been very generous with what he said about Brock, about everybody at FEMA, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, the whole thing.  And Kenneth, we very much appreciate your remarks, and I appreciate it very much.

And we’re really here right now for you.  We have — because of the size, the massive size of the airplane, the runways can’t handle it.  But the runways have now handled it.  They’ve been open, and they’re handling a lot of aircraft and a lot of help.

And your people have been very resilient, and they have done a great job.  They’re already starting the rebuilding process.  And you got hit twice.  You were hit very hard.

GOVERNOR MAPP:  In 12 days.

THE PRESIDENT:  In 12 days, you got hit twice.  And Puerto Rico got hit twice.  They had a grazing one that actually the United States took a lot of brunt from, and then they got hit by Maria, and that was dead center.

So Kenneth, thank you very much.  I very appreciate it.  Would you like to say something?

GOVERNOR MAPP:  Yes, I would, Mr. President.  I want to, on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, first, thank you and your entire federal family and federal team of FEMA, of DOD, for all the help that you’ve been providing to the people of the Virgin Islands.  The people of the Virgin Islands asked me to extend the gratitude and appreciation to you.  It has hastened our rebuilding.

We want to let our folks and our friends and brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico know that we stand with them.  We extend our condolences to the folks in Las Vegas for the tragedy that occurred.  But because of your commitment, Mr. President, and the work and the calls that you have made with us and with me, from Irma to now, we’re now talking about opening schools and cruise ships returning.

We’ve got a lot of work yet to do.  We’ve still got roofless homes, and we’re working with Brock and FEMA to make sure that we take care of those issues.  But we have advanced beyond where we were in any of the hurricanes that we’ve experienced.  And I just want to really express my gratitude on behalf of the wonderful people of the Virgin Islands to you and your team.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  They are wonderful people too, and I really appreciate that.  I feel that we’re old friends, you know, because we’ve spoken so many times over the last month.  And you are — you have done a terrific job.

GOVERNOR MAPP:  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  And as you know, your friend, the governor of Puerto Rico happens to be here —


THE PRESIDENT:  — and a congresswoman representing 3.5 million people in Puerto Rico.  And thank you, Jenniffer.

GOVERNOR MAPP:  And anything — anything at all that we can do to be of help to our friends and our sisters and brothers.

And you know, we celebrate a holiday — a legal holiday — in the U.S. Virgin Islands called Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Friendship Day.  It’s in October.  So we look forward to having our celebration this year, and have you come over, and meet your friends, and all of the folks that love you in the Virgin Islands.

GOVERNOR ROSSELLÓ:  And we’re here for you as well, Governor.

GOVERNOR MAPP:  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s very appropriate now, though, maybe more so than ever, really.  Thank you very much.  And Governor, thank you very much.

GOVERNOR MAPP:  Thank you, Mr. President.


2:58 P.M. EDT