Katrina Q&A: New Orleans before and after the historic storm

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bush Returns to New Orleans for 10th Anniversary of Katrina.

Bush’s trip to New Orleans and Gulfport, Mississippi, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (all times local): Former President George W. Bush never recovered politically from the perception that the federal government’s failure to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina extended the misery for tens of thousands of New Orleans area residents. Bush has arrived in Gulfport, Mississippi, where hundreds of people gathered in a beachside park to salute emergency responders who worked during and after Hurricane Katrina. Writing in his 2010 memoir, “Decision Points,” the 43rd president said “in a national catastrophe the easiest person to blame is the president,” and “Katrina presented a political opportunity that some critics exploited for years.” He said the poor Katrina response, combined with the “drumbeat of violence in Iraq,” made “the fall of 2005 a damaging period in my presidency.” The fallout from Katrina also dusted his Democratic successor, Barack Obama.

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 Katrina. “It’s the same resilience this city has shown the world over the last 10 years. A 2013 poll by Public Policy Polling found 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans blamed Obama for the government’s failed response — even though he didn’t take office until 3½ years after the hurricane struck.

Its best days lie ahead,” said Bush, who was president in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina broke through protective levies and flooded the city, killing 1,800 people and destroying 100,000 homes. Whenever there was a problem – whether the BP oil spill, the Ebola crisis or even his decision not to attend a memorial march for victims of the terrorist killings at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris – his critics suggested it could be “Obama’s Katrina.” Bush, whose brother, Jeb, is now running for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination and whose father, George H.W. His administration was roundly criticized in the days following the storm for a slow emergency response to the thousands of people needing shelter, supplies and security amid the flooding.

Obama visited New Orleans on Thursday, and former President Bill Clinton, whose wife, Hillary, is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, arrives Saturday. But he said charges that he didn’t care enough were flat out wrong and that he helped bring unprecedented resources to the Gulf Coast to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

The black population has dropped from nearly 67 percent in 2000 to 59 percent today; whites, once about one-quarter of residents, now account for nearly a third. “The people who have not returned have been disproportionately African-American, renters, low-income, single mothers and persons with disabilities,” says Lori Peek, an associate professor of sociology at Colorado State University and co-editor, with Weber, of the book, “Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora.” Following Katrina, officials demolished four of the city’s notorious projects, vowing to replace them with modern, mixed-income developments. But Bush admits he should have acted sooner. “I should have recognized the deficiencies sooner and intervened faster,” Bush wrote in his 481-page memoir on his two-term presidency. “The problem was not that I made the wrong decisions; it was that I took too long to decide.” Some asserted that Bush didn’t care about the tragedy.

Obama, on his 10th visit to the coastal city, called New Orleans’ recovery a model for the nation in urban innovation and disaster response and resilience. He later spoke to reporters about the community’s revitalization. “Part of our goal has always been to make sure not just that we recover from this storm, but also that we start dealing with some of the structural inequities that existed long before the storm happened.” Obama pointed out that just because the residents have nice housing does not mean the job is done.

A refrigerator and her grandson’s basinet swirled up toward her, “like trying to see who was going to get up the stairs first.” The Washingtons managed to find space in the hometown Saints’ end zone. And it cast a cloud over my second term.” It was four days after Katrina that Bush uttered the eight words that might go down among the most recognized of his presidency: “‘Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” His statement was seen endorsing the roundly panned work of FEMA Director Michael Brown. Chevelle talked of a friend who moved her family back — only to have three of her boys killed in a drive-by shooting, victims of apparent mistaken identity. It’s not that life in Houston was horrible, says Chevelle’s son Steven, who lives in a one-story apartment complex halfway between Treasure and Abundance streets in New Orleans.

But off the field, it seemed he was forever trying to dodge tensions — like the taunt “N-O!” that the Houston kids would shout whenever New Orleans refugees passed in the hallways. It was a natural disaster but also a manmade catastrophe — a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, and women, and children abandoned and alone. “In the years that followed, New Orleans could have remained a symbol of destruction and decay, of a storm that came and the inadequate response that followed. It was not hard to imagine a day when we’d tell our children that a once vibrant and wonderful city had been laid low by indifference and neglect. …

And the victories on the football field. “The Superdome that once housed thousands of Katrina victims became the proud home of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints,” Bush wrote.

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