President Bush has taken an aerial tour of flood-ravaged New Orleans and says progress is being made to help the residents affected by Hurricane Katrina.
But Mr. Bush said Friday that the situation requires more than one day's attention, stressing it will require the nation's attention for a long period of time. He said Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters the United States has faced and has national consequences.
While in Louisiana, the president met with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, hours after the mayor lashed out at federal and state officials saying, "they don't have a clue what's going on down here."
Before leaving Washington for the U.S. Gulf Coast, the president said the emergency response to the disaster was not acceptable. Later, Mr. Bush said he was referring specifically to New Orleans, and that the response was much better in Mississippi and Alabama.
In Alabama, the president thanked rescue workers for their efforts. Touring a devastated area in Mississippi, he spoke to residents, including a woman who tearfully described her ordeal.
Back in Washington, African-American leaders criticized what they called a slow and inadequate government response, saying poor black citizens have suffered the most.
Black leaders have appealed to other states to make efforts similar to those in Texas, which has opened the Houston Astrodome as a shelter for 12-thousand people bused in from New Orleans.
Security remains a concern in New Orleans, where several buildings burning unattended. Thousands of National Guard troops are in the city to bring relief supplies, evacuate stranded people and provide security.