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Politics

Jeb Bush Leads Disaster Recovery Program

July 27, 2010 - 6:00pm

Now that Jeb Bush has taken himself out of the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, the former Florida governor is delving more deeply into humanitarian endeavors.

Bush, who guided Florida through the disastrous 2004 hurricanes and several subsequent storms, is honorary chair of the Volunteer USA Foundation, which is developing a National Disaster Recovery Fund.

The fund, according to Volunteer USA President Liza McFadden, "will provide long-term support to fill gaps where insurance and FEMA funding don't exist."

The states of Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi have joined as partners in the fund, which "will allow faith and community-based non-profits that have track records of sustainable efforts helping communities rebuild to compete for funds," McFadden said.

Said Bush, As governor during the brutal 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons in Florida, I learned that recovery is a long process. Our effort will be to ensure that community and faith-based organizations who are committed to helping with recovery have the resources to help their local communities to rebuild.

Managed by the Volunteer USA Foundation, the fund's agenda ranges from relief efforts in Haiti to "providing a coordinated strategy to make sure disaster funds raised for long-term recovery efforts go where they are needed most," the foundation's website states.

The organization said it "doesn't just offer a quick-fix bandage, but aims for a full recovery."

Bush is working alongside Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon, who serves as chairman of the fund.

"The Natonal Disaster Recovery Fund will be designed to efficiently use limited resources," Simon explained. "We'll partner with volunteers in the wake of hurricanes or tornadoes or other disasters to rebuild homes. As a business leader, I believe it is important that we have a coordinated approach to long-term recovery."

McFadden said the humanitarian initiative is "trying to take the skills and knowledge (Bush) has from the hurricanes and help bridge into the future what our organization can do." By way of example, she mentioned dispatching volunteers and helping to rebuild low-income housing in the wake of a disaster.

As for funding, McFadden said Volunteer USA is not actively soliciting donations, but would do so as events warrant and as specific needs are identified. She noted, for instance, that Florida's commercial fishermen discovered, belatedly, that they needed assistance to obtain new nets when they learned that replacements were not available via hurricane insurance.

Bush, who resides in Miami, is president of the consulting firm Jeb Bush and Associates and is founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Foundation of Floridas Future.

He also serves on the National Civic Leaders Advisory Board of Americas Promise Alliance, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and the George W. Bush Institute Board.

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Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341

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