President: "We'll Make it Right"

By: ABC News
By: ABC News

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President Bush visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast Friday, touring the areas ravaged by the storm. He was joined by governors Haley Barbour and Bob Riley as he began his tour.

The president said the response to the disaster to date had not been acceptable.

"The federal government's job is big and massive and we're going to do it. Where it's not working right we're going to make it right," said President Bush. "Where it is working right we're going to duplicate it elsewhere. We have a responsibility at the federal level to help save life and that's the primary focus right now."

Conditions in New Orleans have degenerated almost beyond belief and seem to be getting worse every hour.

A series of explosions shook the French Quarter early Friday, leaving part of downtown New Orleans on fire. Authorities believe gasoline barrels pushed into the area somehow ignited. HALMAT crews struggled with the dangerous blaze.

"It was a tremendous rumble. At first many thought it was thunder of some sort, but the duration of the noise and the scope of it told us that was something much more," said one eyewitness. Another called it "pure hell."

There are reports of rape and murder at the Superdome, and conditions continue to deteriorate. Bodies of the dead could be seen everywhere.

"Everyday it's more unbelievable, the smell of garbage. It's like genocide, a modern type of genocide to put 10,000 people in a place that's worse than dogs or animals," said one man.

The National Guard has been called in to help keep the peace and is increasing its number of troops to 30,000 in both Mississippi and Louisiana.

"These troops are trained to shoot to kill," said Gov. Kathleen Blanco, referring to looters and lawlessness. "I'm not talking about people who are trying to get survival items. I'm talking about people who are threatening other people."

The NAACP says the slow response time is because of race.

"If the majority of the folks left behind were white individuals, and most of the folks who were able to escape on their own were African-American, then I wouldn't be sitting here now. This is a racial story," claimed Damon Hewitt of the NAACP.

Texas originally agreed to take 25,000 people from New Orleans. The number has grown to at least 75,000.


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