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Laura Bush visits Katrina-struck south

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WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (AFP) - US First Lady Laura Bush headed Friday for the city of Lafayette, Louisiana, which took in 6,000 New Orleans refugees, and thanked US citizens for pitching in after Hurricane Katrina.

"Some things are working very, very well in Louisiana, and certainly this center is one of them," Bush said, 340 kilometers (210 miles) from the chaos of New Orleans.

Her husband, President George W. Bush, has taken criticism for the slow pace and lack of organization of rescue efforts. She said: "The response is more than adequate here to these people that were able to get out.

"And I think that will be the case as the people who were evacuated reach these different centers in other Louisiana cities, other Gulf Coast cities, as well as Texas."

"You know, I think what happened is what always happens in this kind of disaster," Bush said, ducking questions about the difficulties.

"When you have that many people displaced out of their homes, when you have that big of an area flooded where people can't go back into it -- you know, it's not like a hurricane where the water washes in and washes out, you know, it's still standing there.

"Then that's what you see. That's just what happens in this terrible of a disaster," she said.

"And the fact is many times, as we know from watching tornado coverage or any other natural disaster coverage, the poor people usually are in the neighborhoods that are the lowest or the most exposed or the most vulnerable. Their housing is the most vulnerable to a natural disaster. And that's just always what happens," Bush said.

Many opposition Democrats have criticized the slow pace of the relief efforts.

The former school librarian also asked parents to return their children to school classes as soon as possible, saying routine is important for them in times of stress.



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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