President Bush has just completed an aerial tour of flood-ravaged New Orleans, four days after it was battered by Hurricane Katrina.
The president also met with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Friday, 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 are burning unattended.
Thousands of National Guard troops are in New Orleans to bring desperately needed food and supplies to the flood-ravaged city and evacuate tens of thousands of people stranded in worsening sanitary conditions.
Convoys of trucks drove through the floodwaters Friday for the first such aid delivery since Hurricane Katrina on Monday. Many of the victims have been without food, water or medicine since then.
Mr. Bush rejected suggestions the United States cannot afford to continue its military operations in Iraq and deal with the national disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.
While on the tour Mr. Bush was asked by a journalist about the federal government's ability to meet Hurricane victims' needs. He responded by saying "we've got plenty of resources to do both."
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.