From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

If you log on to the White House Web site and you go to the archive of presidential news and scroll back to April 27, you find an item headlined President Visits Damaged Home in New Orleans, Louisiana. The pictures there show President Bush with 74-year-old Ethel Williams. Ethel Williams lived in the city's Ninth Ward. Her home had to be totally gutted after the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina had gone. President Bush stood with Mrs. Williams that day and said she'd get help rebuilding her life.

This month NPR's David Greene went to check in with Ethel Williams. He has this report.

DAVID GREENE reporting:

When President Bush walked out of that house back in April, he came to the microphones with his left arm around Williams.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: We've got a strategy to help the good folks down here rebuild. Part of it has to do with funding, part of it has to do with housing and a lot of it has to do with encouraging volunteers from around the United States to come down and help people like Mrs. Williams. So we're proud to be here with you, Mrs. Williams, and God bless you.

Mrs. ETHEL WILLIAMS (Resident of New Orleans): I'm proud to be here, Mr. President, and I won't ever forget you.

President BUSH: Well, you need to remember those people a lot quicker than remembering me, because they're the ones that are going to help. She promised to cook me a meal once we get the house up.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: Oh yes, I'll cook you a meal and I thank all the volunteers and everyone that's helping to make everything work.

President BUSH: Thank you all very much.

GREENE: That was a big day for Mrs. Williams. Volunteers from Catholic Charities showed up in the morning and cleared out her house. Everything was taken, even the walls and the flooring. Then the President of the United States arrived with just a half-hour of warning.

But since that day, not so much has happened. Her house has stood gutted, just as it was when the president left. Mrs. Williams has been living with her daughter in a part of the city across the Mississippi River. We went to find her and brought along a tape recording of what the president had said that day.

(Soundbite of tape recording)

President BUSH: She promised to cook me a meal once we get the house up.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: Oh yes, I'll cook you a meal and I thank all the volunteers and everyone that's helping to make everything work.

President BUSH: Thank you all very much.

GREENE: What were you thinking would happen after that? You sounded pretty optimistic that day.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: I thought I'd be in my house by now, and I could cook the meals, do all the things I said.

GREENE: Mrs. Williams is 74 years old, a petite woman who has no trouble putting someone half her age in his place. She does it with a look that just says I'm in charge. As she spoke at her daughter's kitchen table, she kept fiddling with a photo the White House had sent her recently, Ethel Williams walking through her house with the president.

GREENE: I see his signature's on the bottom of it. You think it's the real thing?

Mrs. WILLIAMS: It's the real thing. And he put his little cards in there.

GREENE: What do they say?

Mrs. WILLIAMS: With the compliments of the president.

GREENE: In the photo, the president and Mrs. Williams are smiling and laughing. She says he wouldn't stop talking about her cooking.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: He wanted gumbo and dirty rice, shrimp, fish. He wanted everything, and so I was gonna fix it for him. And we're all disappointed because nothing has been done.

GREENE: Mrs. Williams did get some initial help from FEMA. And the White House says she's in line to get federal rebuilding money that will be allocated by the state. But that may take a while. Mrs. Williams says the president left a different impression. Her memory of the day is a blur, but she says Mr. Bush gave her idea her house could be totally rebuilt within a few months.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: A lot of people think I got money. And everything I ask somebody to do for me, they charge me a lot of money because they think I have money. They think the president wrote a big check, you know? And that's not fair to me.

GREENE: But Ethel Williams says she's not angry at anyone, especially not the president. She never voted for Mr. Bush, but she says she really felt a connection with him that day in April. She now calls the president a friend.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: Well, you have a lot of things on your mind, well I do. Some things you forget. I just feel that it's just an overlook. I feel that when he hears about this, he'll - oh yeah, Mrs. Williams - and that'll be it. I'll get something done.

GREENE: A lot of people say politicians just swing in -

Mrs. WILLIAMS: And swing out.

GREENE: - and do a visit like this, and then they don't even think about you after they're gone.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: But see he has a lot to think about other than me, and he'll do it. You can't get me to say he won't because he will. Watch. What's your name? I'm going to call to let you know.

GREENE: David. You're going to prove it, huh?

Mrs. WILLIAMS: I'm going to prove it to you. Before you leave, you let me know how to get in touch with you. I'm going to call you.

GREENE: What are you going to say to me?

Mrs. WILLIAMS: I'm in my house that the president got for me.

GREENE: After our conversation, we asked Mrs. Williams if she'd take us over the Ninth Ward to see her house.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: This is Pauline Street, all kinds of rubbish - tires, beds, rugs, all kinds of trash that they took out of their house - old cars that has to be moved. It was a beautiful neighborhood. It was a quiet, nice neighborhood. I hate to look at it this way.

GREENE: As she walked up to the door and stepped inside, she was less in the mood to talk. She just wandered around the house she bought with her husband in 1965. He passed away 14 years ago, and she had been living here alone. Now all that's left is wooden floors - no walls or ceilings. The only room you could identify was the bathroom, since the toilet and bathtub were still sitting there.

There were a few little piles of memories that were left behind.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: This was my granddaughter's.

GREENE: Report card?

Mrs. WILLIAMS: Uh-huh. She was pretty good.

GREENE: A lot of high grades, it looks like.

Mrs. WILLIAMS: Social studies. Yes, it breaks my heart. I'm ready to go.

GREENE: And Mrs. Williams went back to her daughter's house to keep waiting.

David Greene, NPR News.

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