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BUSH ORDERS U.S. AID, VOWS SWIFT ACTION

SHARE BUSH ORDERS U.S. AID, VOWS SWIFT ACTION

Asking all Americans to pitch in, President Bush ordered federal relief Wednesday for earthquake-ravaged California and promised to "take every step and make every effort to help the Bay area."

With a large team of specialists on the scene and the Pentagon on alert to help out, Bush signed an order clearing the way for millions of dollars in disaster aid to seven California counties and praised the efforts of relief workers."We're going to turn to the American people to help those in need," he told reporters in the Cabinet Room at the White House. "So far, I think from an organizational standpoint, people are moving in the right direction, and we're going to follow it very, very closely from here."

After taking political heat for a slow response to two other disasters this year - the Exxon Alaska oil spill and Hurricane Hugo - the federal government quickly cranked up to full speed, rushing civilian and military assistance to the San Francisco-Oakland area.