PELHAM, Ala. – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) visited a camp for Hurricane Katrina (search) refugees on Sunday and said she was reassured that the residents, all housed in recreational vehicles, are well treated.
"For the time being, they've got a lot of people who care about them," she said. "And they've got kids in schools, and that's really terrific." Most of the residents are from Louisiana.
Rice said she had met one woman who had wandered aimlessly for nine weeks before arriving at the camp on Saturday.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (search) accompanied Rice. He has been her constant companion on each stop since she began the rounds of her home state on Friday.
"I'm really struck by the spirit and determination by the volunteers from the state of Alabama," Straw said. He also praised the fortitude of the evacuees in the face of "astonishing adversity."
Earlier, in a television interview, Straw said critics of the U.S. government's response to Katrina should take into account the size of the affected area -- greater than that of his country.
Evacuees with whom Rice spoke said the camp, set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September, met their basic needs. The camp was established in Oak Mountain State Park, south of Birmingham.
Mickey Cochran, a preacher from a community south of New Orleans, said he was driven from his home by floods.
"We couldn't have come to a better place," he said.
Shortly after their visit, Rice and Straw flew back to Washington. Rice, who spent her first 13 years in Alabama, said she plans to invite other foreign ministers to undertake similar tours elsewhere in the country.
She noted that foreign ministers' U.S. travels normally are limited to official business in Washington and at the United Nations.