NEW ORLEANS – A second Navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, was preparing to respond to the Gulf Coast (search) Friday, as the Pentagon continued to send resources to the battered region.
The Mercy, which is based in San Diego, will be ready to depart Wednesday. It will take about two weeks to complete the trip.
The Pentagon announcement that it was dispatching the hospital vessel came amid growing criticism that the Bush administration has responded too slowly to the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (search). President Bush himself conceded Friday that the federal effort soar has been unacceptable.
Meanwhile, service members from across the military were flowing into Louisiana and Mississippi to help meet the growing humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousand of residents left homeless and hungry by Katrina.
Three trucks carrying waters and 150,000 Meals-Ready-to-Eat were being distributed to refugees in the New Orleans (search) Superdome, and military transport planes were scheduled to begin flying people from New Orleans to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas Friday. Altogether the military is sending 9.3 million MREs for refugees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
— 600 25,000-pound sand bags were delivered Thursday and another 200 bags were expected Friday, to help shore up the broken levees around the city.
— Eight Marine transport helicopters with 70 Marines left North Carolina for the Gulf Coast, and 150 more will leave this weekend.
— Three trucks carrying drinking water were expected to arrive at the Superdome Friday