President Bush travels Monday to America's Gulf Coast as the region
marks the passage of one year since Hurricane Katrina hit landfall. The president plans
to visit with storm survivors and inspect reconstruction efforts.
President Bush will begin his tour of the region
in Mississippi - one of the states that felt the full fury of Hurricane
The head of the federal government's Gulf Coast reconstruction effort,
Donald Powell, says the president will have a message for the people of
the Gulf Coast
He spoke on the ABC television program This Week.
"The president's number one message is that there has been progress but
we are not done," said Donald Powell. "We are not going to leave until we
In Mississippi, the president will walk through neighborhoods hard hit
by last year's storm, visit a recovering business, and meet with local and
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour says most of his state has moved
from recovery to rebuilding. During an appearance on the CBS program Face
the Nation, he said there is a lot to do but stressed Mississippi is ready
to face the challenge of another hurricane season.
"Well, we are ready," said Haley Barbour. "Of course, we had a great
plan last time and we got hit by the worst natural disaster in American
Barbour said if Hurricane Ernesto, which is now over the Caribbean,
changes course and appears headed for the Gulf Coast, he will order an
evacuation on Tuesday. That is the day President Bush is scheduled to
spend in New Orleans, Louisiana, where an evacuation plan put in place
before Hurricane Katrina failed on a massive scale.
Local, state and federal officials have all been blamed for the initial
slow response to Katrina in New Orleans, where thousands of the city's
poorest residents found themselves trapped in rapidly deteriorating
conditions at shelters set up at a sports arena and a convention center.
President Bush came under criticism because he remained on vacation
when the extent of the disaster first became known, and because he
initially praised those responsible for the flawed early federal response.
The president made a series of visits to the city in the following days
when he promised aid and reforms in the federal government's emergency
"Tonight I also offer this pledge [to] the
American people," said President Bush. "Throughout the area hit by the
hurricane we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes to
help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives."
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, appearing
on NBC's Meet the Press, said the president is getting closer to keeping
his pledge. He said one problem is the federal government has imposed too
much bureaucracy on the aid process, and more assistance needs to go
directly to local communities.
"Now the dollars are flowing from the federal government to the state,
but they really haven't gotten down to local government and the people to
impact and accelerate this [rebuilding effort]," said Ray Nagin.
Nagin told NBC his city has an evacuation plan in place for this
hurricane season, and there will be no recurrence of the chaos that
followed Hurricane Katrina. But he indicated he is not convinced the
repaired levees around the city will be strong enough if another major
hurricane makes landfall in the New Orleans area. He said a storm surge
could still top the repaired levee walls.