George W. Bush visits disaster zone, 10 years after Katrina

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

10 years after Katrina, New Orleans ward struggling to rebuild and draw people back.

A child’s toy sits in the street alongside a discarded mattress and a mound of debris. “I’m just an average guy with above average dreams — and my dream was to make my neighborhood look like the rest of the city,” he told the CBS Evening News.The two met with students at the school’s gymnasium, where he was also greeted by New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, who was in office during Hurricane Katrina.NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Visiting residents on tidy porch stoops and sampling the fried chicken at a corner restaurant, President Barack Obama held out the people of New Orleans on Thursday as an extraordinary example of renewal and resilience 10 years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. “There’s something in you guys that is just irrepressible,” Obama told hundreds of residents assembled at a bustling new community center in an area of the Lower 9th Ward that was once under 17 feet of water. “The people of New Orleans didn’t just inspire me, you inspired all of America.” Still, Obama acknowledged that much remains to be done. After becoming the first to rebuild on his block, Colton took things one step further: he tore off the roof of an old apartment building located in the abandoned area, renovated it and put on display a two-word sign outside.

A series of faux pas, from flying over flooded New Orleans first on Air Force One, to his “Heckuva job, Brownie” quip in support of the soon-to-be-dismissed director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, marred his personal record. “We have fond memories of his last visit,” said Arthur Hardy, a celebrity in New Orleans for his expertise in all things Mardi Gras and carnival, the city’s signature festivity. And after walking door to door in the historic Treme section of a city reborn from tragedy, he cautioned that “just because the housing is nice doesn’t mean our job is done.” In his remarks at the community center, Obama blended the same themes of resilience and renewal that he drew from encounters with the sturdy residents he met along Magic Street and at other locations. Bush did not address what made the flooding a rich target for critics of his administration: the weakness of the initial response to the disaster when federal, state, and city agencies were widely seen as doing far too little to help the stranded and displaced, and doing it much too slowly. After New Orleans, the Bush family will visit Gulfport, Mississippi, to attend an event with state officials, including governor Phil Bryant and former governor Haley Barbour. The speech will be carefully watched because the Pope is likely to express different views on climate change and on the Iran nuclear accord than held by most congressional Republicans.

Many New Orleans residents make the distinction between those horrific first days and what was eventually a robust federal rebuilding effort, a difference Bush himself noted in his memoir, “Decision Points.” “I should have recognized the deficiencies sooner and intervened faster,” he wrote. “All of us who are old enough to remember will never forget the images of our fellow Americans amid a sea of misery and ruin,” Bush said Friday. The Gulf Coast and New Orleans are places to which Mr Bush is deeply tied, both as an eastern Texan familiar with the Gulf and as the president who inherited the Katrina disaster. He talked about recently released data from the spring, indicating the economy grew more than had first reported, saying the news is reassuring after two weeks of stock market turmoil.

She pronounced herself a fan of the man, saying he’d handled “a rough road.” Chase — who’s known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine” — said, “That’s all you have to do: handle what’s handed to you,” voicing what could be a credo for the city. But twice, he said, “I hope you remember what I remember,” citing the work of military personnel, law enforcement, and thousands of volunteers in rescuing, feeding, sheltering, and rebuilding. “In spite of the devastation, we have many fond memories,” he added, recalling sitting with Russel L.

And he challenged congressional Republicans to work with him to develop a balanced spending plan, and not add contentious budget cuts and legislative riders they know he can’t and won’t accept – potentially leading to the 2nd government shutdown since 2013. Some Republicans are already saying they’ll insist on language defunding Planned Parenthood, and some are also vowing another effort to repeal or at scale back the Affordable Care Act — both non-starters for the president. “And you know, eventually, we’re going to do it anyway, so let’s just do it without too much drama,” Obama said in his New Orleans speech. “Let’s do it without another round of threats to shut down the government. But in the city at large, where signs of recovery are just blocks away from neighborhoods where little progress can be seen, bitter memories of the days after the flood are still common.

The overhaul of schools itself has been polarizing, as more than 8,500 employees of the old school system — most of them from the city’s black middle class — were laid off in the first year. “I guess I’m not feeling quite as magnanimous as some others are,” said Bob Mann, who was the communications director for Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, the governor 10 years ago. “The first week was awful, the second week was better, and after that they increasingly did a very good job of helping the region get back on its feet,” Mann said. “But that doesn’t absolve anyone, including the state, of their failures in that first week. And it should be remembered.” Warren Easton, which Bush visited in 2006, on the first anniversary of the flood, was the first public high school in Louisiana when it opened in 1843. Video of residents seeking refuge on rooftops, inside the Superdome and at the convention center dominated news coverage as Katrina came to symbolize government failure at every level. Am I correct?” Obama also challenged Republican presidential candidates who, he said, have very little good to say about the current status of the United States. “But it’s important that we remember what’s right, and what’s good, and what’s hopeful about this country,” Obama said. “It’s worth remembering that for all the tragedy, for the all images of Katrina in those first few days, in those first few months, look at what’s happened here.” Gov.

In Mississippi, relief came so slowly that Biloxi’s Sun Herald newspaper published a front-page editorial, entitled “Help Us Now.” The storm set off a “confluence of blunders,” and Bush’s approval ratings never recovered, said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University who wrote “The Great Deluge,” a detailed account of the first days after Katrina. In his speech, Obama said Katrina helped expose inequalities that long plagued New Orleans and left too many people, especially minorities, without good jobs, affordable health care or decent housing and too many kids growing up in the midst of violent crime and attending inefficient schools. Phil Bryant said Bush isn’t to blame for the disaster that ultimately killed more than 1,830 people. “I think he certainly did a tremendous amount of good. The area is filled with vacant lots where houses used to stand, so overgrown that local residents sometimes refer to it as the wilderness and worry about snakes hiding in the grass.

Sims runs a boxing club in the neighbourhood to keep kids out of trouble. (Max Becherer/AP) With its elevation about four metres lower than that of the French Quarter, coupled with the geological evidence the city was sinking, rebuilding seemed both unsafe and ill-advised. Colette Pichon Battle, executive director of Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, cautioned against slapping too happy a face on New Orleans, saying “rebuilding since the storm favors privileged private enterprise and this illusion of recovery is not progress.” “I think we have a long way to go,” said Lisa Ross, 52, an appraiser. The initial recommendation to turn the area into park and grasslands fueled the fears of longtime, primarily black residents that Katrina would be used to clear out the poor black population to make way for a richer whiter one.

The displaced residents of the historical community, which included the likes of legendary musician Fats Domino, pushed back, refusing to accept the loss of their community. Harold Washington, 54, a military retiree studying at Tulane, said the city is “better than it was.” But he was sad that children are now bused all over town rather than attending neighborhood schools. But after the shooting Monday (August 22) of two Virginia TV journalists while they were doing a live report for the morning news show, Murphy said the nation needs to both address mental health shortcomings and fix “broken gun laws.” “The fact is that when our leadership in Congress stands up and says we can’t do anything they are absolutely wrong,” Murphy said. “And I believe that we have become complicit in these murders because people listen to highest levels of government and when we say nothing about it — when we don’t even attempt to change the laws to try to stop this mass slaughter — then people get some signal that it’s okay to settle their grievances or do with their mental illness through gun violence.” The approach pushed by the Obama administration since the slaughter of 20 first graders and six equators at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012 has been a bill that would require background checks for guns purchased from private seller — not just licensed dealers as is currently the case. That bill stalled in the Senate, with opponents saying they didn’t think it would have stopped anyone determined to commit a violent crime from getting a gun.

Louisiana eventually turned all 57 schools under its control into independently run charters, publicly funded and accountable to education officials for results, but with autonomy in daily operations. “Isn’t it amazing? Reliable 2015 stats are hard to come by, but essentially the black population decreased while the white population more than tripled with Hispanics close on their heels.

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