Convoys of National Guard troops are bringing desperately needed supplies to New Orleans, as rescue and relief efforts intensify, four days after Hurricane Katrina slammed through the U.S. Gulf Coast, devastating the region. The supplies came as President Bush toured the area.
President Bush visited the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast states of Alabama and Mississippi, thanking rescue workers and speaking with residents who tearfully told him of their ordeal.
Mr. Bush then took a helicopter tour of flood-swamped New Orleans where tens of thousands of people have been stranded, many without food, water and medical supplies.
People and local officials who live in the area have been critical of what they see as a slow response to one of the nation's worst natural disasters.
Man: "You can go in Iraq and come up with big helicopters and set stuff up for people. But you can't do this for us? Come on Bush, you can do better than that."
Woman: "My mother is 83-years old. She is in dire need of her heart medication. There are no medical services here. She is on the floor. She is dying right now."
As President Bush toured the area, convoys of National Guard troops brought urgently needed supplies to people waiting to be evacuated from New Orleans.
Mr. Bush says the response in New Orleans to the disaster has been unacceptable so far, but vowed that more help is on the way.
"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, to get the help to the people who have been affected and that we are beginning long-term planning to help those who have been displaced as well as long term planning to help rebuild the communities that have been affected," said Mr. Bush.
In Washington, the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus called a news conference to criticize the relief effort.
Representative Jesse Jackson Junior says the response to the disaster has been dreadful.
"A few, short years ago we saw in the Persian Gulf something that was described by this administration as shock and awe," said Mr. Jackson. "But here on the shores of the United States of America in the last 140 or so hours we have witnessed something shockingly awful. That is the lack of response, the quick response, from our government to those Americans who are suffering, who are dying."
Black leaders appealed to other states to help the victims of Katrina. They praised Texas, which has offered shelter and basic necessities to thousands of people displaced by the storm.
Meanwhile, offers of support for the hurricane victims have come from countries around the world.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says U.S. diplomats are working to match such offers with the needs on the ground. "In my discussions with my counterparts I have been heartened at their offers of both short term and long term support," said Ms. Rice. "Many private citizens across the globe also want to donate their personal funds to help. As I have talked with my counterparts around the world I have encouraged them to urge their citizens to donate Katrina relief through the Red Cross."
On Friday the U.S. Congress gave approval to a $10.5 billion emergency relief package for victims of the hurricane.
President Bush called the money a small down payment for disaster relief.