"America is a strong and resilient nation," Mr. Bush said.
Meanwhile, the federal bill for Hurricane Katrina relief soared past $62 billion, and the White House and members of Congress said it was bound to keep climbing. Mr. Bush scheduled his third trip to the devastated region for the weekend.
Thursday night to fulfill an urgent plea for $51.8 billion, adding to $10.5 billion that was approved last week for hurricane victims. Mr. Bush signed the bill immediately, saying: "We will continue to help people rebuild their lives and rebuild the region."
Mr. Bush spoke about the hurricane Friday at the swearing-in for Karen Hughes, the State Department's new undersecretary for public diplomacy — a post designed to lift America's image abroad to help win the war on terror.
Mr. Bush offered America's thanks to the more than 100 nations that have offered disaster assistance to the U.S., comparing it to "a similar outpouring of support when another tragedy struck our nation" — the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
"Sri Lanka, one of the world' most impoverished nations that is struggling to overcome the effects of the tsunami, has sent a donation of $25,000," he said.
It's a turnaround by Mr. Bush, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller. Just last week the president said he wasn't expecting much help from foreign nations because the United States hadn't asked for it.
His speech marked the first of several steps in which the White House is seeking to intertwine the challenge of the anti-terror battle with the effort to recover from the hurricane.
Mr. Bush was to travel to Mississippi and Louisiana over the weekend, spending Sunday and Monday in the region visiting with storm victims and examining response efforts, press secretary Scott McClellan said. That trip was to follow Mr. Bush's attendance at a church service and White House moment of silence marking the fourth anniversary on Sunday of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
While Mr. Bush is linking Hurricane Katrina to 9/11, the public reaction to his handling of the two crises is strikingly different, reports CBS News Senior Political Editor Dotty Lynch
A CBS News poll conducted in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks found that 83 percent believed the president had "strong qualities of leadership;" that number was down to 48 percent in . Similarly, the number of Americans saying they have a lot of confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to handle a crisis has been cut in half – from 66 percent in Sept. 2001 to 32 percent this week.