Is the US government doing enough to rebuild the region affected by Hurricane Katrina?
President George W Bush has promised to do whatever it takes to rebuild the devastated Gulf Coast following the recent hurricane.
Speaking from New Orleans, Mr Bush admitted that poverty had played its part in the damage wrought by the storm and that the government had not dealt adequately with the crisis.
He also promised an initial $60bn of funds to be spent on reconstruction as well as a series of economic initiatives to rebuild the region.
What is your reaction to President Bush's speech? Has the US government promised enough money to rebuild the Gulf Coast? Can the country be reunited following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comment reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
Too little too late. These problems are nothing new the only difference is that Mr Bush is feeling the heat in the aftermath of Katrina. Yet another attempt by a politician to save face under pressure.
F Akhtar, Manchester
In the speech he made only general promises, without any indication where the vast amounts of money are supposed to come from, especially seeing that he is promising a tax cut too.
Janine , Richmond, USA
It was the first time I heard President Bush talking about social, ethnic and cultural differences which should be "analysed" and starting change the USA. History and culture is following the road of UN on terrorism. In that kind the speech was a change. To me from a weak leader to become a leader with content was surprising. I hope he will continue following that road.
Antonie van Eggelen, Utrecht, Netherlands
Talk about $60 billion is not the same as finding it. Is Bush going to address the structural circumstances that created so many poor, elderly, sick victims in the first place. Katrina blew away the cobweb that obscured the harsh reality of living in an advanced capitalist society where the system that works gets the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Derek Amory, Richmond, Surrey
I notice he managed to find yet another excuse to mention 9/11 in this speech. Whenever this particular president is in trouble, he either reminds people of those attacks or else gets his Dad and Bill Clinton to help him out. In response to Katrina, he's done both those things, neither of which are exactly the mark of a man with a full grasp of his job.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
Now Bush is going to pay for the for this disaster by cutting programs. So the poor and needy will end up getting the shaft in the end. Why not tax the rich? They will clearly end up making money on Bush's plan. Just how much money does one need?
Gladys Madsen, Redway, USA
Why are there so many people posting here saying that the blame lies with local authorities? President Bush has already put his hands up and accepted responsibility. How after accepting that he was responsible for so many deaths he can drone on about prayer is mystifying!
Ben Hobbs, Phuket, Thailand
Actions speak louder than words.
President Bush did not build that city 10 feet below sea level. There were warnings of a hurricane coming. People did not want to leave. He is taking his share of the responsibility.
Hercilia Hill, Sahuarita, AZ USA
The electrical power was turned on for an hour and a half for Bush's speech. Within an hour after he left the power was cut back off, once again plunging the neighbourhood into darkness. Thanks, George!
Bill, Veneta, USA
Will Mr Bush rescind his executive order that allows federal contractors rebuilding in the areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage in the affected areas?
Carolyn Daniel, San Francisco, CA, USA
Too little too late. This was the first time I have ever seen Bush even slightly looking like a real leader. But the reality is, he is firmly in bed with multi-national corporations, and their bottom line will continue to remain the real goal of this administration.
Ellen McDermott, Bellingham, WA, USA
Once again, President Bush chooses to ignore the point until his approval rating dips. His constant religious tone throughout his 'Address to the Nation' and a declared 'Day of Prayer' is another attempt to use religious preference in an attempt to unify the American people. It is a blunt attempt to hide his administration's failed actions during this tragedy. To that point, I am insulted and embarrassed. While prayer provides some comfort to the thousands of homeless and devastated people struck by this storm, it does not provide their immediate needs. What must the World think of us?
S Schrieber, Battle Creek, Michigan, USA
Given the opportunity to make a historical decision to rush in disaster relief, our president spun in circles and cost a lot of people their lives. We know his record on attending to crisis was not impressive, but how many days did we all have to watch what looked like pure hell unfold for our fellow citizens before Bush realized he had to do something. How long did it take for him to think of those people as his fellow citizens? It was fairly obvious they were in need of help. He did not care until his approval ratings tanked, and once they rise again (provided the country is successfully duped, as usual) he will not care anymore. When do we get the picture? Republican or Democrat, this guy is incompetent. Maybe we should take a lesson from the Europeans and elect people with actual training and experience instead of oil-hungry, unbelievably rich (but mystifyingly unsuccessful) businessmen. When does this stop being a partisan game? How many people have to die?
Neil Mitchell, Albany, United States
Why is anyone surprised about his reaction or inaction as the case may be? What can I say! This is a man whose first reaction to the hurricane was he was like he was at war with God/nature!
It was good speech because it fulfils his purpose: to reassure those affected and to boost his poll ratings. I just hope that this aid promised will be evenly distributed, regardless of race, religion and skin colour. It should go to those who need it most, unlike the aid that has already been provided. The Government were too slow in helping those poor black Americans and I think Bush realises this and is trying to 'make the best of a botched job'.
Catherine, Suffolk, UK
Mr Bush gave a good speech. And I for one am amazed that Mr Brown stepped down following multiple missteps by Fema. We are all nauseated by politicians saying they accept blame without consequences. Still, I've come to expect no responsibility from government bureaucrats. I think we are fairly unanimous, though, that the proof will be found in the pudding. It was a nice speech.
William Buller, Dexter, Michigan, USA
The hurricane revealed deep riffs in how the American public views itself. The fact that many African-Americans still see systemic racism as a cause for the slow, ineffective response is more than mere perception.
Carlus Harris, Ashland, OR, USA
Those with knowledge of the actual interaction between local and Federal government during this natural crisis know the Governor and Mayor failed miserably and blocked the initial Federal response, as the Governor has admitted publicly. Bush acted presidential in moving beyond the petty blame game some posters thrive on and instead focusing on what he has the authority to do in leading the rebuilding process. Those who think the Federal government should be able to take over a State at its own discretion should contact their Congressmen to change the current law. But, be careful what you wish for, a Democrat may be President again one day.
Jim H, Sudbury, USA
So Mr Bush how do you plan to pay for this? Of course it must be done but I wonder will you rescind the tax cuts you gave to the wealthy to pay for it? Or, will this be more debt from your presidency that will be left to our children. And how long before Halliburton gets the contract on rebuilding?
Jane, Dallas, USA
A lot of misdirected anger here, as usual. There are laws and protocols to be followed in these cases. It is a bottom up process starting with the local authorities. Neither the local authorities, nor the state authorities followed these protocols. Bush's only mistake was that he didn't take over quick enough when it was obvious that state and local authorities were incompetent. The federal response in this case was actually faster than previous natural disasters. Also, the government has been neglecting/under funding the levee for 30 years, even though Iraq war only started 2 years ago.
Chris, Rockledge, FL, USA
I applaud President Bush for presenting a well-thought, detailed recovery plan. I applaud him for taking responsibility for failures by the federal government. I applaud him for finally showing leadership 17 days into this disaster. But he still seems a bit clueless about how some folks perceive him: How much did we US taxpayers spend so he could fly to New Orleans and stride with his shirt sleeves rolled up, Clint Eastwood-like, across a Jackson Square secured and lit to Secret Service and television set standards to give that speech? I would have been even more impressed if he had spoken from the Oval Office and saved that money for the recovery. But perhaps now Bush will give a similar speech concerning the situation in Iraq.
Hal Coyle, Massachusetts, USA
Talk is cheap. It's easy to "accept responsibility" when it entails no consequences. Pardon me if I hold my applause until the day when those pretty words are matched by thoughtful, generous deeds.
Ken Weeks, Rockville, MD USA
Sorry Mr Bush, as per usual you're a day late and a dollar short (or billions as it were). You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk? You're mouth is writing cheques the American public will have to cash. Cheers to all as you watch your taxes rise.
Carol Alexander, Denver, Colorado
For all of you that think our country is ignoring the victims...I have a friend who is a victim of this tragedy and he has already received $2000 from the government. We do care. It makes me sick to think that everyone is criticising the US for not giving more faster, but did they ever stop to think about how hard it is to get so much funding to a region so fast?
Anon, Cincinnati, USA
I think I represent millions of other American citizens when I say that I never listen to any speech this man makes. If his face comes on my TV screen, I change the channel.
JB, Santa Fe, USA
The horror of New Orleans was compounded by Bush's inaction. He only reacted when he realised his public image was damaged. A politician to the core - but no humanitarian.
V. Flower, Blackstone Heights, Australia
It is generally accepted that the problems in New Orleans arose from the funds for the restoration of the levees being diverted to paying for the restoration of Iraq. Where will Bush find the "billions of dollars" he has promised New Orleans? Which cities or states will lose their federal funding for essential projects? Or will he raise taxes, say on petrol and tobacco? Perhaps he could impose a windfall tax on major civil engineering companies who suddenly get large contracts from the US Government. Yeah, as if.
Ted Millichap, Mark Cross, England
Great, but where was Bush after the disaster happened? This man and his party have lost my vote forever.
George Tadloy, Kentucky, USA
Let's just wait and see how many reconstruction contracts Haliburton will get.
Nice speech - those who wrote it for him are to be commended. Now watch the GOP spin up to full speed in their search to find scapegoats - preferably Democratic ones while GW smirks and restates that it was the Federal Government's fault and continues to joke about it with his mom and old frat buddy billionaires in the background.
James Stanforth, Ft Lauderdale, Florida, USA
The USA is the epitome of the divided capitalist state where the rich get richer and the poor poorer. It's very difficult to get on the gravy train once it's moving and the rich throw these crumbs to the poor every once in a while to keep them down. No doubt some suits will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of taking their slice of the $60bn.
Neil Shore, Leeds
As they say, "The proof of the pie is in the eating". I think the sight of American refugees and the reaction of US citizens against what appears to be an un-caring system may have triggered insight. Let's hope so. This speech coupled with what he said at the UN, if followed through could be the start of his post-presidential legacy.
Jim Kirk, Tottenham, UK
This speech shows why the USA is a world leader. The president was positive and supportive of his people and without doubt I believe the state will be restored to its former glory and the long job of healing the hearts of the people has already been started. Let's all wish a speedy recovery to the people affected by the tragedy.
Kevin Humphreys, Liverpool, UK
George W Bush has, for the first time I can remember, taken responsibility for obvious mistakes made by the government his administration leads. Considering the Bush administration's reckless attitude regarding the Iraq situation, this is a welcome phenomenon. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that admitting to a mistake and taking responsibility for one are two very different things. It remains to be seen whether or not this administration will actually take action above and beyond the passing of funds out of thin air or rhetoric of "economic initiatives."
Josh G., Columbus, Ohio, USA
I thought it was a great speech. Instead of his usual platitudes and ideological rants, he actually put forth concrete ideas to rebuild New Orleans and jump start the Gulf Coast economy again. The plan to provide federal land free to low income families to build homes on is a great idea. Of course there are the critics, but I was impressed by his leadership, his contrition, and his recognition of the long-term issues surrounding racial discrimination and poverty in the region. I am no Bush fan, but last night, he was my President.
David, Washington DC, USA
Lives are lost, nothing will bring that back, and now big companies will get bigger and the rich will get richer. Same old story.
Anon, New Zealand
It seems there are few leaders in America, and around the world, who will accept responsibility when disaster comes; and yet, this is exactly what George W Bush did during a live television broadcast. President Bush set forth a generous and thoughtful plan to rebuild New Orleans and other cities in Louisiana. President George W Bush is exactly the kind of president this country needs, and I wish we had more men like him.
Steve, Fort Worth, USA
While the president's programme is well intentioned, it is unlikely the country can afford this massive expenditure. Borrowing this amount may cause a serious recession and Congress may not pass most of the extra funds that the president requests.
Ed Conrad, Niagara Falls, Canada
I'd have been impressed if this had come a week ago. Given his continual reactive rather than proactive actions (like returning to Washington after two days of utter tragedy) I find it really hard to imagine that Bush is more concerned about Katrina's victims than his image and his goal of embedding republicanism in the US for generations to come.
Konrad Bishop, London, UK
My brother is a journalist, and is currently on the Gulf Coast. He says that initial estimates suggest the amount of debris from across the state will fill 1,000 football fields to a depth of 10ft. Furthermore, because the mayhem was caused by a tidal surge, insurance companies say they will only pay out on flood insurance, not the hurricane/wind policies. Thousands of people, who didn't live in previously accepted "flood areas" and are therefore ineligible for compensation, might be forced into bankruptcy and probable poverty unless the government intervenes. While they await news on the insurance, families are still having to pay mortgages on their non-existent properties to prevent the banks from re-possessing the land. It doesn't matter what you think of GWB, he and the whole of the US must be supported in putting right this tragic wrong.
First Bush was accused of not caring and now that he has taken responsibility and is mapping out a way forward, he is being accused of doing it only to repair his image. Whatever he does, he gets criticised. I think it is commendable that he has taken responsibility and is attempting to address the problem. The past is the past, all he can do now is move forward.
Fran, Leeds, UK
I am not a Bush supporter. However, I am extremely encouraged by his remarks recently. Taking public responsibility for something that went wrong takes enormous courage and wins my respect. When I watched his speech, I was no longer just watching George Bush, I was watching a President of the United States.
Brett, Arizona, USA
After initially ignoring the catastrophe, everything George W Bush has said and done since has appeared to be damage limitation - damage to his own image, that is.
Who will the money go to? Those who have lost so much, or in fat contracts to companies run by Bush's cronies? Who will New Orleans be rebuilt for? Everyone who lived there, or just the acceptable rich, given that there are many talking about just such a plan.
Jon G, Huddersfield, UK
What about all the other millions of poor Americans who live in abject poverty with no health care or buildings insurance? Do they have to wait until they suffer the same fate as the people of New Orleans before they receive an ounce of social justice?
King George is very good at using other people's money but his track record is poor with respect to fiscal management and controls. Witness the disaster in the Iraqi re-construction. Haliburton and friends will clean up on George's rebuilding efforts with little to show for.
Bob, Pittsburgh, USA
He sounds and looks unconvincing. Reading a better speech, after all this time, does not make him a better president.
Liam Coughlan, Banjaluka, Bosnia
"We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives," Mr Bush said. Sounds too much like what he said after failure in Iraq.
So they reckon it will cost 200bn to rebuild New Orleans... Surely that's good news for the American economy? It will mean that those who lost jobs lost in the disaster, might find new ones in re-building their city.