WASHINGTON – President Bush will address the country Thursday from Louisiana about actions being taken to recover from Hurricane Katrina (search), an announcement that came a day after FEMA's top manager resigned in the wake of a poorly perceived response to the disastrous storm.
Bush on Tuesday accepted responsibility for failures in the government's response to Katrina and admitted "serious problems" with the handling of the response to the storm that struck the Gulf Coast more than two weeks ago.
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.
"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.
Elsewhere in Washington, Federal Emergency Management Agency acting Director R. David Paulison (search) began discussing his plans to deal with Katrina. Paulison was installed into the post by Bush on Monday after Michael Brown resigned as FEMA director.
"I know it's a focus of mine, it's a focus of the president, that we get these people out of these shelters and into some type of permanent or semi-permanent housing, so that's what we're going to focus on," Paulison said.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff (search) said Paulison was chosen to lead the agency based on his 30 years of experience beginning as a firefighter and rising to senior emergency management. For the time being, Paulison is keeping his title as FEMA's U.S. fire administrator, a position he's held since 2001.
Paulison is best known as the emergency preparedness expert who told Americans in 2003 to develop home-emergency kits that included supplies of duct tape and plastic sheeting to be used to seal windows and doors in case of a terrorist attack. Home hardware stores in several areas ran out of duct tape as a result and manufacturers spurred production to meet the surge in demand.
Chertoff, who appeared with Paulison for a briefing with reporters outside FEMA headquarters, said FEMA must be in a position to respond to other major disasters, including terrorist attacks.
"The world is not going to stop moving because we are very focused on Katrina. Part of the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security is to deal with all hazards, everything that's out there, and to continue to be able to keep our eye on everything that may happen in the future," Chertoff said.
Asked whether the United States is capable of responding to a terror attack after the hurricane, Bush said, "That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond."
Bush added that he wanted to know both what went wrong and what went right in response to the disaster.
"I'm not going to defend the process going in … I'm going to defend the people saving lives," he said.
Chertoff noted that he had warned Congress in July that his department was not where it needed to be in terms of emergency preparedness. That was proven true by Katrina.
"I think that that predication unhappily turned out to be correct and one of the things I said was we're racing the clock. Unfortunately, the hurricane beat us," Chertoff said.
Fox News Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.