BILOXI, Miss. – First lady Laura Bush (search) made her reality TV debut Tuesday, helping with a taping of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (search) in a sweltering community building as she toured hurricane relief sites on the Mississippi coast.
With hundreds of people crowded into the Biloxi Community Center, where a mountain of donated clothes covered a stage, Bush and Preston Sharp, a designer on the ABC-TV show, greeted storm victims and handed out donated items from big plastic bins.
"Extreme Makeover" usually remodels homes for needy people with compelling stories. It came to the coast to help distribute items donated for victims of Katrina, which displaced as many as 1 million people in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Later, with perspiration beading on her forehead under the blazing sun, Bush said she was encouraged by the way governments, private organizations, faith-based groups and individuals were helping ease the suffering after the Aug. 29 hurricane that killed at least 220 Mississippians and left major damage along the state's 90-mile coast.
"It's going to take all of these working together to help people rebuild their lives," she said.
Bush previously visited the Mississippi town of Poplarville with President Bush to view damage. On Tuesday, she was struck by the extent of the devastation in Biloxi, where virtually every building was damaged and mounds of rubble lined streets waiting to be picked up.
"It really is heartbreaking," she said.
As she spoke, the president toured areas along the Louisiana-Texas border where Hurricane Rita came ashore last weekend.
A spokeswoman for the first lady, Susan Whitson, said the "Extreme Makeover" segment featuring the first lady would likely air in early December.
Before Mrs. Bush entered the community center where the show was filming, a director shooed away both victims and volunteers from the doorway, instructing them how to react as her entourage entered.
"Act surprised!" he said above the din.