- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

[2:26 p.m.]

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - With parts of this hurricane-devastated city still piled with debris and lacking basic services, President Bush promised Thursday to make the federal response to any new hurricanes “as effective as possible.”

“All of us in positions of responsibility appreciate those who are helping us to understand how to do our jobs better,” said Mr. Bush, whose administration has been faulted for its flawed response to Hurricane Katrina.

It was the president’s 11th visit to the region since Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast last August and it was intended to encourage volunteers to pitch in on the massive reconstruction effort.

Mr. Bush stopped at a modest bungalow restored by volunteers, situated on a Ninth Ward street still littered with debris and overgrown with weeds. White government trailers that are the main housing for the displaced sat in many front yards.

Ethel Williams, the owner of the single-story, green and white duplex, thanked the work of others that allowed her to return to her home from Texas, where she fled during the storm. “I’m proud that you’re here, Mr. President, and I won’t ever forget you,” she said, her arm around Mr. Bush’s waist.

Said the president: “If you’re interested in helping the victims of Katrina, interested in helping them get back on their feet, come on down here.”

From Williams’ home, Mr. Bush’s motorcade took him to a nearby large vacant lot where Habitat for Humanity is building 81 new homes for New Orleans musicians.

Mr. Bush, clad in casual blue pants and checked shirt, donned work gloves and a tool pouch as he wandered around the construction site chatting with workers.

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