President Bush: "Times are Changing for the Better"

Hurricane battered neighborhoods have been the first stop on many of President Bush's previous visits to South Mississippi. But on Thursday's walk through a Long Beach neighborhood, he found new progress among the ruins, along with some smiling faces.

Nellie Partridge waited for President Bush on her new front porch to do something she couldn't do for a long time - invite company inside with pride.

"I like your new house, Nellie," Governor Haley Barbour said.

"Look, please come in," Partridge said.

The president joked, "Are you sure?"

"She's very excited," Partridge's niece, Maureen Bass, said. "She made him some pralines. We're all excited. We're very happy for her to get back, and it's very great of him to come see her."

Flanked by Mississippi's Governor and First Lady, Mr. Bush visited several homes in various stages of construction. He said he liked what he saw, and so should the rest of the nation.

"I want the taxpayers of the United States to see first hand what their money has done to help revitalize a series of communities that were literally wiped out," Mr. Bush said.

Afterwards, President Bush took scenic Highway 90 to Biloxi to meet with political and community leaders from across South Mississippi. He listened to success stories about what's been accomplished and worries about the long years of work ahead.

"One of the things I've heard loud and clear is that there is a continued frustration with the slowness of the federal response, at times," the president told the crowd at Biloxi City Hall.

"It's important for me to hear that, and my friend Don Powell to hear that, so that we can come and do what the people expect us to do, which is to respond to the needs of the people of Mississippi."

President Bush said the resilient sprit of Mississippians keeps him and the nation coming back to help.

"The people here said, 'We refuse to be held down by the storm. We will overcome it.'"

While on the coast, President Bush took time to recognize one of the people playing a vital role in the hurricane recovery process.

Keesler Airman Alan Petz met briefly with Mr. Bush to receive the President's Volunteer Service Award. Petz has worked with Hands On Gulf Coast since September of 2005, leading teams in removing downed trees, clearing debris, and gutting houses.