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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hurricane Katrina - 10 Years Later

President Obama praises New Orleans' comeback; says "more to do."

"We must honor their memory each day by rebuilding, and improving, the piece of America they called home."  -  President Obama


Honor Katrina's victims by continuing to rebuild a stronger community: President Barack Obama
By Barack Obama
on August 29, 2015 at 6:45 AM

President Obama chats with a young girl during his visit in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans.
Credit: White House photo/Pete Souza.
On Thursday (Aug. 27), I traveled to New Orleans to mark 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated communities across the Gulf Coast and shook America. A visit to the Lower Ninth Ward would have seemed unimaginable in the storm's immediate aftermath, but today the waters have receded — replaced by a region that is moving forward. Over the past 10 years, folks across the Gulf Coast have displayed the spirit of resilience that our country was founded on— building back stronger and dreaming bigger than before.

We know there is more to do — but the progress I witnessed firsthand in New Orleans, and the progress that has been replicated by committed, driven Americans throughout the Gulf Coast, is a testament to what's possible when, in the face of tragedy and hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and to build a better future.

My administration has been focused from day one on continuing and expediting the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the storm, and on investing in the people of the Gulf Coast. And we're applying the lessons we learned across the country.  If Katrina was an example of what happens when government fails, the recovery has been an example of what's possible when government works with local communities as a true partner.

New Orleans residents celebrate ten-year anniversary of Katrina with a parade.  Photo credit: Douglas Adams, Jr.
Together, we've delivered resources to help Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida rebuild schools, hospitals, roads, police and fire stations, and historic buildings and museums.  And we're building smarter, from elevating homes to retrofitting buildings to improving drainage, so that our communities are better prepared for the next storm. We're transforming education, encouraging entrepreneurship and helping to ensure that everyone has access to great healthcare.

In the wake of Katrina, America's challenge was not to restore things to the way they were. Our goal was to rebuild a city and a region as it should be — a place where everyone, no matter who they are, what they look like, or how much money they have, has an opportunity to make it.

We've come a long way in that respect, but there's more work to do when too many of our children live in poverty and when, in New Orleans, typical black households earn about half the income of white households. There's more to do when too many people have yet to find good, affordable housing or a job. There's more work to do when too many proud Gulf Coast residents have not yet been able to return to the place they love.

That's why we're working across the region to help ensure access to affordable housing for low-income families. It's why we're fighting poverty, revitalizing neighborhoods and investing in public safety. It's why we believe in programs like My Brother's Keeper, an initiative devoted to making sure that all young people, especially our boys and young men of color, have the opportunity to achieve their potential.

We know that after every storm, the sun comes out. And I know that in the face of every crisis, Americans come out, band together and build back.

That's how the Gulf Coast responded to Katrina. That's how our nation has come back from the economic brink of seven years ago. Because of the grit and determination of the American people, our businesses have created 13 million new jobs over 65 straight months, and our unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to 5.3 percent.  The uninsured rate is at an all-time low, while the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.  We've cut our deficits by two-thirds.  We've ended two wars, and gone from nearly 180,000 brave American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to fewer than 15,000.  We've launched a clean energy revolution that will help save this planet. And with the freedom to marry who you love, our nation has become a little more just.

That's not just progress. It's real change — and it doesn't come easy.

So we'll keep working. Because, it's not enough to remember the more than 1,800 men, women, and children — our fellow citizens — who lost their lives 10 years ago. We must honor their memory each day by rebuilding, and improving, the piece of America they called home.

It won't be easy, but the extraordinary resolve of the folks I met this week remind us why we are up to the task of forging a better future. These Americans live the basic value that defines this country — a value we have been reminded of in these past 10 years as we've come back from a crisis that changed your region, and an economic crisis that spread throughout the nation — the notion that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper.  That we look out for each other, because we are all in this together.

If we stay focused on that common purpose; if we remember our responsibilities to ourselves and our obligations to one another; then from Texas to Florida, we can rebuild a region, and a nation, that's worthy of our children, and worthy of the generations to come.

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