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Victims Await Aid, Troops and President On Way


As thousands of refugees in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama try to make their way to dry land, President Bush is getting a first-hand look at the devastation Friday.

Before leaving Washington, Mr. Bush said the results of federal relief efforts are "not acceptable," and promised more help.

"I want to assure the people of the affected areas and this country that we will deploy the assets necessary to get the situation under control," said Mr. Bush.

Those relief efforts were made more difficult Friday by early morning explosions and fires a few miles south of New Orleans' historic French Quarter. There was no initial word about the cause of the blasts.

Meanwhile, thousands more National Guard members are moving in to the region, to assist those already on the ground.

But frustration is growing among thousands of people who now find themselves without food and clean water, in sweltering temperatures.

Michael Brown, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said authorities were initially overwhelmed by the vast number of evacuees at sites such as the Louisiana Superdome. But he promised survivors that his agency was redoubling its efforts. "…and they do need to know that we're going to have every available resource to do everything that we can," he said.

Among the many problems, law enforcement officials and National Guard troops are still dealing with widespread looting. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco issued this warning: "These troops know how to shoot to kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will."

Thursday night, the U.S. Senate approved a request by President Bush for $10.5 billion in emergency spending. The House will do the same Friday.

Despite the dire circumstances faced by many survivors, there are those who say their current predicament is much better than the alternative.

Shernette Snow is one of several New Orleans evacuees, taken by bus to Atlanta. "I lost everything. A home I just bought a year ago is gone, but that doesn't matter. We have life."

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