Americans watched President Bush’s speech from New Orleans on Thursday with mixed expectations. Some hoped for more contrition for the government’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina; others sought inspiration for a devastated Gulf Coast.
So it was hardly surprising that the speech failed to resonate with some viewers.
In the Valley, some Katrina evacuees weren’t impressed with Bush’s speech.
Lauren Roberts, a 17-year-old from Gulfport, Miss., staying with cousins in Fountain Hills and attending Fountain Hills High School, reacted to several of Bush’s comments, but wasn’t impressed with his speech.
"He said a bunch of stuff that needs to be done, like reevaluating the emergency and evacuation plans, and that money will be spent to rebuild stuff," Roberts said. "That’s expected. That’s what the government is supposed to do."
The Roberts family’s three-story Mississippi home in front of a bayou on the Gulf of Mexico suffered firstfloor flood damage and has a hole in its roof.
"His speech wasn’t bad," Roberts said. "He told us his plan and I was glad to hear it."
A New Orleans evacuee in Phoenix praised Bush’s comments.
"He stopped the blame game and stated that it was his fault," said Ronnie Armant, 49, who is with his wife and 18 children. "That brought some comfort."
He plans to return home, but not to live there.
"I’m not believing in the president; I’m believing in the American people," he said.
Jeanne Brown, 48, who also relocated to Phoenix said: "It’s way too late now. Don’t point fingers, just get it done."
"I don’t know if I’m going back, but I do know I will help rebuild my city," she added.
Another woman, Shante Lagarde, 38, believes her city can be rebuilt. "No, I don’t blame President Bush," Lagarde said. "I blame the officials and politicians who work under him."
At Veterans Memorial Coliseum where some evacuees are staying, Bush’s words rang hollow. Troy Felder, 41, ate his dinner of chicken and ribs while two televisions aired the speech.
"He didn’t care in the beginning, when hundreds of thousands of people were in the water, why would he care now?" Felder said.
Steven Phillips, 31, began watching the speech a few minutes after it started.
"Our government blew it," said Phillips, who doesn’t believe Bush is at fault for the disaster management. "He’s trying to make people happy."
Felder, who has applied for a job with Cox Communications as a producer and director, said the blame lies with most government officials.
For his part, Karl Kettelhut counseled patience from his seat at a bar inside a Las Vegas American Legion Post.
‘‘Let’s see what happens in six months, how much of what he says happens,’’ said Kettelhut, 65, visiting Las Vegas from Kingman. ‘‘You can say whatever you want. It’s what happens down the road that counts.’’
Ken Sundberg, a night manager at the Hampton Inn motel near the Cincinnati airport, watched the speech with special interest because he expects to be deployed to New Orleans with the Kentucky National Guard.
‘‘It’s nice to know they are going to investigate the response,’’ said Sundberg, 38. He doesn’t blame Bush or the federal government. ‘‘The state and city response left a lot to be desired.’’