President George W. Bush will address the United States Thursday from Louisiana, where he will be monitoring Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, the White House announced Tuesday.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush will speak at 0100GMT Friday. The address will be the president's first prime-time speech on the disaster in the more than two weeks since it hit.
On Monday Bush, ducking low-hanging tree limbs and electrical wires, rode in an open truck for his first close-up look at New Orleans' ravaged, trash-strewn, flooded neighborhoods. He denied that poor, black victims of Hurricane Katrina were ignored because of their race, the AP reports.
After a federal response criticized as slow and inadequate, Michael Brown, the embattled director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, announced his resignation Monday in Washington. His departure had been expected after he was stripped of his onsite command of the hurricane relief effort three days earlier.
Bush replied testily to a reporter who asked whether he felt let down by federal officials in responding to the disaster.
"Look, there will be plenty of time to play the blame game," he said. "That's what you're trying to do. You're trying to say somebody is at fault. And, look, I want to know. I want to know exactly what went on and how it went on, and we'll continually assess inside my administration."
Bush seized on the news of falling water levels throughout New Orleans and pronounced the city on the mend. Business owners were issues passes to retrieve records and equipment, and more than half of southeastern Louisiana's water treatment plants were back in operation.
"My impression of New Orleans is this: that there is a recovery on the way," Bush said in the shadow of a freeway overpass, destroyed cars littering the landscape behind him and rescue choppers occasionally drowning out his words.
Polls show broad dissatisfaction with Bush's handling of the hurricane and his job approval rating is at the lowest point of his presidency. This was his third and longest trip here since Katrina pulverized Gulf Coast communities and submerged most of New Orleans two weeks earlier. He is expected to return to the region on Thursday.