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On Katrina Anniversary, Obama Pledges to End "Turf Wars" that Slow Recovery

By Michael A. Fletcher

President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to mark the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, saying that his administration is cutting red tape and bulking up resources to accelerate the Gulf Coast's recovery from the storm.

Obama said that 11 of his Cabinet members have visited the region in the seven-plus months since his administration took office, and he said he, too, plans to visit the area later this year.

He said his administration has made a priority of fostering greater cooperation among federal, state and local governments.

"I have made it clear that we will not tolerate red tape that stands in the way of progress, or waste that can drive up the bill," Obama said. "Government must be a partner -- not an opponent -- in getting things done."

While the federal government appropriated more than $100 billion for Katrina rebuilding efforts during the Bush administration, complex federal rules and problems with state government programs, particularly in Louisiana, have slowed spending, and thus the pace of recovery.

Obama declared those days over. "No more turf wars," he said. "All of us need to move forward together, because there is much work to be done."

The 2005 storm bludgeoned much of the Gulf Coast and drowned New Orleans. In all, more than 1,000 people were killed and than 1 million people were displaced.

To prevent a recurrence of such a disaster, Obama said, the federal government must continue the work of rebuilding hundreds of miles of levees and floodwalls around New Orleans. The government also must work to bolster the barrier islands and wetlands in the region, which he called the Gulf Coast's "first line of defense" against devastating hurricanes.

Despite the remaining challenges, Obama said there are signs of hope. He said New Orleans has become the nation's fastest growing city, as residents who fled after Katrina have returned. Also, the city recently opened its first completely new school since the storm.

"So on this day, we commemorate a tragedy that befell our people," Obama said. "But we also remember that with every tragedy comes the chance of renewal."

By Eric Rich  |  August 29, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama  
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"I have made it clear that we will not tolerate red tape that stands in the way of progress, or waste that can drive up the bill," Obama said. Give me a break, he doesn't have a clue. NO was a crime-ridden city from the top down in the early '80s when I lived there and it's a million times worse now. Money, drugs and power -- like it's own cartel. There were hurricanes back then, too, and we would complain about the excessive flooding. Our required flood insurance would help us re-sheetrock but then again a lot of people took the money, left the house open to dry and ended up with termites, making it easier for the house to float away the next go-round. Oh yeah, the huge pumps bought with federal money to help drain our communities were found scattered deep in the woods, never installed. Abuse from the top down.

"So on this day, we commemorate a tragedy that befell our people," Obama said. "But we also remember that with every tragedy comes the chance of renewal." He's talking about Houston, Austin and Dallas, right?

Posted by: PollyWog | August 31, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I hope that the government is doing something to help the people of New Orleans lose weight. There were so many morbidly obese people in New Orleans at the time of the hurricane, that many could not be rescued as the helicopters couldn't take on so much weight. These were really really huge people with huge butts that could barely fit into the device used to hoist people off roof tops. When they are that fat a good rescue is diminished. Why are people so obese in New Orleans. Also, they may want to do the same kind of program where all of them came to D.C. to watch the inauguration of Obama - they sure got to D.C. quickly, in sub-zero temps and never complained. The people of New Orleans need to keep that momentum in the next hurricane. Lean and mean.

Posted by: mollymom1 | August 30, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse


When will your administration end the secretive, extajudicial, multi-agency "coordinated action program" that is destroying the lives and livelihoods of unjustly targeted Americans...

...via covert, warrantless GPS/cell phone stalking and harassment and the deployment of silent, health degrading microwave and laser directed energy weapons...

...the weaponization of the electromagnetic spectrum...

...the Xyklon-B of a Bush-Cheney- spawned American Gestapo that continues to operate on YOUR watch -- enabled by the blind naivete (or, complicity?) of your cabinet?

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 30, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Our President's speech seems to imply that we have abandoned our citizens who are residents of New Orleans with the implication is that we have discriminated against them.

Since we have paid more than $300,000 for every man, woman and child who is a resident of New Orleans, I think we ought instead to go get the money back from those who stole it, because the folks there don't act like they have been given $1,000,000 per family. And if you want to give them something, take every dollar earned from the high profile visits, fund raisers, television shows blaming everyone in public office in the city,state and the US and give it once again to rebuild a city -- 20 feet below sea level (you can't make this stuff up)

Posted by: tommariner | August 29, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

End turf wars? I'll believe it when I see it! They still have their "Chocolate Mayor". Blanco is gone, but let's not forget that the two of them REFUSED federal help initialy, then blamed Bush for slow Federal assistance. The feds HAD TO BE ASKED IN by LA. governor before they could act and she REFUSED! Of course during this time NAGIN GOT HIS FAMILY OUT OF NEW ORLEANS TO SAFETY, but let his people swing in the breeze!
Make sure that is remembered! Plus the people were warned over and over and did nothing to help themselves while they still could! When does Texas get a Thank You for what we did and STILL ARE DOING for them? I'll thank them to stop blaming Bush who had federal equipment and staff in place waiting for Blanco to allow them in!

Posted by: TexRancher | August 29, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

stop all this crap about katrina,just say new orleans is looking for another hand out. we have let them have more then they were already getting from the govt.all we hear about is new orleans,what about the cop who said, this aint america no mo,they wont print anything about that unamerican scumbag,i could care less if new orleand slipped into the gulf,they have never done anything but deplete the welfare system.

Posted by: nlb1954 | August 29, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Let's see...4 years and still the denizens of New Orleans don't have their proverbial "sh*t" together...this was a city built below sea level and got reclaimed...we should leave it that way...New Orleans was barely an American city to begin with, it's murder rate was so high it could be compared to a Haitian slum...when the Hurricane hit, every other city in the south got to watch their crime rates skyrocket, with the influx of citizens from Ray Nagans "Chocolate City".

Posted by: brett2 | August 29, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

If you read other articles on this topic, Republicans took the oportunity to continue their vile attacks on the Heatlh Care reform. Instead of talking about Katrina and how inefficient progress has been instead they talked about Terrorizing old ladies and children with Death panels followed by Euthanazia. Disgusting! Republicans are nothing but Political Terrorists and MOST are sick and tired of it.

Posted by: angelou | August 29, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Them in power(both parties) were confused as what to do, from day one the feds expected the state to take care of things, and the state expected the feds, it looks like that has not changed, as you recall checks were sent out VERY FAST, only to find out people in the north who was never in the south apply for and got checks.

You will note the first thing repaired was of course the football stadium. the poorest of the poor were rather forgotten, or left to the mercy of each other.

If you were one of them, you would not see it as Obama looking for votes, but rather the gov doing what should have been done years ago.

Posted by: dv1236 | August 29, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

This is a bad step for the president to take at a time he is trying for concensus on health care. The fact that the mess in New Orleans is stil a news item shows the total inability of the Feds to undertake a major item of work. We had Paris and Berlin cleaned up quicker after WWII and they were in a foreign country..sort of like New Orleans.

I can't believe that the government wants to publicise another failure this big.

The guardians of New Orleans who created the original defective plan to conquer the ocean and the weather are still in charge. Apparently they don't believe their own data and the history of Katrina.

What makes anyone believe we can outsmart the Mississippi ?? Maddness!!

Posted by: jstratt2 | August 29, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

President Obama has missed an opprotunity to heal the wounds this nation has caused to New Orleans and the Gulf South. He should have made a trip to the city today, the fourth anniversary of the tragedy. Instead, he does what this nation always does, speaks a few words, promises help that may or may not happen. New Orleans is rebuilding. Mississippi is rebuilding. Both need to know that someone, particularly the President, understands the wounds, the suffering and the heroism that has occurred in the last 4 years. Instead, it it more of the same. Useless.
As to many of the posters comments through those four years, before Katrina, you could not convince me Americans could be as awful as they have been in, not only abandoning other Americans, but also in enjoying kicking people who are in pain. Didn't your mothers teach you any iota of decency or at least manners? This is not the country I once thought it was. There has been two things that give me hope in the last years (besides the Saints). One, the absolute love people have demonstrated everyday in their sacrifies to rebuild their homes against all odds. Secondly, the wonderful volunteers from all over the world that continue to come and help us rebuild. It is a process that will take five more years easily. They come and by doing so say we care, we understand your pain, we want to help you, and we have not forgotten you. Too bad President Obama just doesn't get it.

Posted by: doctorj2u | August 29, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Even more wasted taxpayer money. Obama must realize that the government HAS no money; it belongs to the people. Why are we putting a cent into an area that shouldn't have been built in the first place. Totally insane. Totally racist. I venture that the only reason why he would throw around our money like confetti is because of the high proportion of African people that live in the area. There isn't any RATIONAL reason !

Posted by: gjdagis | August 29, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

so obama is going to support all the deadbeats so they can vote democrat...

Posted by: DwightCollins | August 29, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

If building below sea-level was a bad idea to begin with, why should we rebuild below sea-level.

Instead of encouraging residents of the most vulnerable residents to stay -- instead of giving them some toxic trailer to live in -- why not give them something like $2000 per family member per month for two years or so? That is, why not give people the resources to adapt to new circumstances rather than throwing money away trying to restore conditions that shouldn't be restored?

And, let's get real here. It's the building of levees and whatnot that make the city progressively more vulnerable to storm surges going forward. The silt can't settle in the delta but rather runs out to the Gulf creating a 'dead zone'.

The city will not die. Historically, it has been a port city. It will remain a port city. A lot of stuff will always be coming down the Mississippi out of the heartland of America, and a lot of stuff will always be going the other way. New Orleans is, and always will be, the gatekeeper of that traffic.

Posted by: chaunceygardiner | August 29, 2009 6:41 AM | Report abuse

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