Pentagon coordinating Katrina response
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
Last Updated 8:04 am PDT Wednesday, August 31, 2005
WASHINGTON (AP) - From Navy ships and Army helicopters to the USNS Comfort hospital ship, the Pentagon is mobilizing possibly an unprecedented rescue-and-relief mission for areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Largely coordinated by the U.S. Northern Command, all of the military services are participating in what many say is the largest domestic disaster relief effort in years. The military is mainly providing search and rescue, medical help and supplies in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Wednesday morning, four Navy ships loaded with supplies - ranging from food and water to soap and medical supplies - were preparing to leave Virginia, and expect to arrive in the Gulf by the weekend, according to the Navy.
In addition, the hospital ship USNS Comfort was leaving Baltimore en route to the Gulf region and eight swift water rescue teams from California were on the way to Lafayette, La., to help pull stranded residents from their flooded homes and neighborhoods.
The Army and Air Force were also providing search and rescue helicopters, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was organizing what will be one of its largest response efforts in recent memory.
Bush views Katrina devastation from plane
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer
Last Updated 11:48 am PDT Wednesday, August 31, 2005
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) - President Bush flew over areas of the Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricane Katrina after holding a video conference Wednesday with top aides to discuss federal relief efforts. "It's totally wiped out," he told aides at one point during the hastily-arranged inspection flight.
As he flew home to Washington, Bush prepared to meet with a White House task force on recovery efforts and make remarks later in the Rose Garden.
On his flight from Texas, Air Force One flew over New Orleans at about 2,500, and it descended even further, to about 1,700 feet, over Mississippi. The plane flew over New Orleans and saw the Superdome, downtown areas and outlying neighborhoods, then traveled along the coast to Mobile before turning north toward Washington.
Bush peered through a window from a couch where his security detail usually sits. Both of his fists were clenched and his face grim. White House spokesman Scott McClellan quoted Bush as saying, "It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground."
Among other things, the president saw an amusement park with the tops of wrecked rides protruding over bridges covered by water. McClellan said that after viewing one particularly hard hit coastal community, the president noted: "It's totally wiped out."
The spokesman, describing the rare scene aboard the president's plane, said that aides were with Bush, pointing out various sights and that the president was hearing commentary on what he was seeing.
"There wasn't a whole lot of conversation going on," McClellan said. "I think it's very sobering to see from the air. I think that at some point you're just kind of shaking your head in disbelief to see the destruction that has been done by this hurricane."