6th September 2005

Through this whole disaster, I�ve only been able think in slow motion when my mind turns to all the suffering. Reports kept saying, �It�s worse than anyone knows, it�s worse than anyone knows.� But none of them were explaining how, what that meant.

Today, watching Oprah Winfrey, I saw a police officer break down. He said that inside the Superdome, people were raping babies. The police, out-armed and outnumbered by street gangs inside, were powerless to stop them. Children couldn�t go into the bathrooms because predators were waiting there, raping them, even killing them. There was gunfire inside the shelter. With no electricity and no windows, it was dark inside, save for a few small skylights hundreds of feet up. I finally understand.

To our survivors, I am so sorry. We should have been there sooner. Once the storm passed, we should have protected you from further harm. We owe deep gratitude to those nearby who did what they could without adequate resources.

Americans pride ourselves on taking care of our own. Until now, it has felt as though our capacity to do that in times of crisis was limitless. It has been difficult to accept our vulnerability, and to admit that we need help, just like any other country visited by grave disaster. Thank you to all of the countries who have offered that help, especially those of you who have put aside political differences to do so.

Thank you Canada, Cuba, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Dominica, Russia, France, Japan, China, El Salvador, Israel, Paraguay, the U.K., the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Columbia, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, South Korea, New Zealand, Guatemala, Belgium, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Italy, Guyana, Indonesia, Austria, Lithuania, Spain, Norway, and the Bahamas. We’re humbled by your compassion.