U.S. Transportation Secretary Meets With Tennessee Evacuees

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta met with evacuees in Franklin, Tenn., last Friday as part of President Bush’s national day of prayer for Katrina survivors.

Mineta, a member of Wesley United Methodist Church in San Jose, Calif., shared lunch with and offered encouragement to the near 80 evacuees staying at the warehouse-turned-Red Cross shelter, located in Williamson County.

“Something from my basic faith says you have to respond to people,” Mineta told the United Methodist News Service (UMNS). “It is based on having been a United Methodist since I was a kid going to Sunday school right up to chairing the pastoral relations committee.”

For some evacuees, Mineta’s visit eased their feelings about the federal government’s response, which has been criticized as being slow.

“He does care, and he shows it, too, in his conversation,” Henry Byrd, a 51-year-old brick and cement worker from New Orleans, told the Associated Press.

Also while in Franklin, Mineta spoke about getting transportation back up in the Gulf Coast region, which he estimates will cost about $3 billion.

“The question now is, ‘How do you deal with a swath 80 to 100 miles wide of total destruction in Mississippi?’” he said. “Louisiana wasn’t blown away but there is a lot of water damage. A lot of cultural history has been destroyed.”

As Mineta walked through the shelter, he commented, “It is the beauty of the American people; they respond, and we will rebuild.”