ABC News’ Karen Travers and Jordyn Phelps report:
Vice President Biden surveyed flood damage in the Atlanta area this morning and promised an effective and timely government response, in contrast to the Bush Administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina.
“This is not going to happen overnight. It is not going to happen tomorrow, but it is going to happen,” Biden said.
Biden recounted a conversation he had with a woman who lost her home to the floods.
The vice president said the woman asked what he could do for her and she noted, “I know this isn't Katrina.”
Biden disagreed and said that for those who lost their homes in the floods, “it is Katrina.”
“For someone who is in a situation the people here in this shelter are in, it is Katrina,” he said. “It is not Katrina in its scope by any stretch of the imagination, but the impact on their lives, on your lives, we understand it is Katrina.”
While Biden acknowledged that the situation parallels Katrina in many ways, he pledged that the federal government will provide a strengthened response to this situation.
“Look, we don’t want anything like the past happening again,” Biden said. “This is hands on stuff, but it’s going to take time. We’re going to get other federal agencies in now. We’re are going to get HUD in and others who are going to be able to take care of hopefully your real needs.”
The floods have killed 9 people in Georgia. Eight counties have been declared federal disaster areas and will qualify for federal funding.
The vice president took an aerial tour of the flood damage in a helicopter with FEMA Director Craig Fugate. They were joined in a second helicopter by Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, Rep. David Scott and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Biden stopped by a shelter set up the Cobb County Civic Center to meet with people whose homes were damaged and destroyed in the flooding. The shelter is housing 277 flood victims who will be able to stay there as long as necessary.
Biden said he understood their grief and uncertainty, from his own experience of losing his wife and young daughter in a car accident. He later talked about how his house was hit by lightning.
“Folks, we understand. We have a sense of what you're going through,” he said. “We know we can't make everything right. But we know we're going to do everything we can to make it all right.”
-Karen Travers and Jordyn Phelps