President Bush has described the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as "days of sorrow and outrage" in a speech to the nation from New Orleans.
Speaking in Jackson Square, in the heart of New Orleans' famous French Quarter, Mr. Bush said there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans. He pledged to rebuild the city and the U.S. Gulf Coast, in one of the largest reconstruction projects the world has ever seen. He did not say what that would cost.
In his first major speech since Hurricane Katrina hit, the president said U.S. cities must have clear and up-to-date plans for responding to natural disasters, disease outbreak or terrorist attack. He said he has ordered the Homeland Security Department to review emergency plans in every major city in America.
President Bush also said the American people has a right to expect a better response to the disaster and that he takes responsibility for that failure and for proposing a solution. Mr Bush said he has ordered every cabinet secretary to participate in a review of the government's response to the hurricane. Leading congressional Democrats have called for an independent commission to investigate what went wrong.
Officials at all levels of governments have been harshly criticized for failing to anticipate the disaster or respond appropriately. President Bush's own approval ratings have dropped to an all-time low.
In his nationally televised address, President Bush outlined three major proposals focusing on job development and home-ownership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The president proposed creation of the Gulf Opportunity Zone, which encompasses the disaster regions in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The plan would provide incentives for investment and job creation, such as tax relief and loans for small businesses. The president specifically referred to minority-owned enterprises.
President Bush also proposed the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help evacuees find jobs. Under the plan, the government would provide some evacuees with up to five-thousand dollars for job training, transportation, and child care expenses as they try to find work.
A third proposal aims to help low-income evacuees rebuild their lives. The Urban Homesteading Act would provide federally owned land, free of charge, to low-income citizens if they pledge to build homes. The land would be distributed through a lottery system.