On his eighth visit to the region since Hurricane Katrina hit, the president and first lady hammered boards on a Habitat for Humanity home in Louisiana and celebrated with children at a newly reopened elementary school in Pass Christian, Miss.
In Covington, La., the president said people are starting to realize there's hope.
And in Pass Christian, he said even though some equipment has been damaged and teachers' homes were struck, the school system is still vibrant and alive.
President Bush is rejecting calls for his administration to come up with a comprehensive rebuilding plan. He said Washington shouldn't dictate, but instead should support plans drawn up by local officials.