The following is a transcript of the Democrats radio response to President Bush's weekly radio address:
This is Congressman Charlie Melancon of Louisiana. The Americans I represent in Louisiana, like so many others in the Gulf Coast, have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Entire communities have been wiped out. Families who have lost everything are found around every bend in the road. There is death and immense suffering in the aftermath of this catastrophic storm. There is no way to express to you the grief felt by families searching for loved ones or the faces of those huddled in makeshift shelters still waiting to be evacuated. There are many tears. We are seeking guidance and comfort through prayer.
But let me also tell you that I have witnessed the finest of the American spirit. I have seen extraordinary courage. I have seen faith that could move mountains. We are down, but we are strong; and our hope survives.
I have joined first responders in coordinating supplies across the Mississippi River from the west bank to the inaccessible east bank. I have been in boats with courageous Louisianans working to care for and evacuate the thousands still stranded. We are engaged in a massive effort under difficult circumstances to save lives and stabilize this crisis so that we may begin to restore our communities. This is job one.
We must also be about the job of asking tough questions, my fellow Americans; questions about the health of our infrastructure and emergency response capabilities. We must now realize that long-sought-after coastal restoration projects matter not just for commerce, but safety. Hurricane protection projects and levee support and restoration projects carry with them life-saving and preserving consequences. We have always known these things along the Gulf Coast. Resources for these crucial projects are not just something nice to do, they are essential.
Time is of the essence in responding to millions of Americans throughout our country who have been devastated by this disaster.
Americans, individually and through non-profit organizations, are doing all they can. But there are things only our elected representatives can accomplish through the directives, roles and resources of our American government. That is why Congress held a special session this week to pass a supplemental appropriations bill and responded with expedited policies to these tragic needs.
I am proud to be taking the lead in building a bipartisan coalition of Members from regions hardest hit. We will be calling on our colleagues to join us in answering this call to action. Our American family's generosity of both giving and spirit are great, and we should expect no less from our elected representatives.
We thank God for our larger American family. The outpouring of prayer, love and generosity proves that the American spirit is truly the light of the world. Please continue to stand with us and support us. Even in tragedy, hope lives. Even in loss, faith survives. I have seen and experienced a level of pain I never imagined but I know, as one American family, we will prevail.
I'm Congressman Charlie Melancon of Louisiana. Thank you and God bless you.