Five years after the ravaging hurricane, President Barack Obama aplauded New Orleans's rebirth from Hurricane Katrina on Sunday and pledged common purpose with residents in the continuing fight to protect and reconstruct the Gulf Coast. Obama declared to those who devoted themselves to their city's restoration: "Because of you, New Orleans is coming back."
And he continued: "My administration is going to stand with you and fight alongside you until the job is done. "
Implied in his comments was an indictment of sorts against the former presidents' administration for its handling of the catastrophe. Obama called Katrina and its aftermath not merely a natural devastation but "a manmade catastrophe — a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, women, and children abandoned and alone."
Obama spoke at Xavier University, an institution wracked with debris and floodwaters in August 2005, but soon back in operation. New Orleans, he said, has become a "symbol of resilience and community."
The storm killed more than 1,800 individuals along the Gulf coast, most in Louisiana, and flooded eighty percent of New Orleans.
Obama ticked off progress: A fortified levee system set to be finished next year, a dramatic decline in families still living in emergency housing, rising achievement in the city's public schools, a surge in small businesses making New Orleans one of the nation's fastest growing cities.
On the other hand, he said: "I don't have to tell you that there are still too many vacant and overgrown lots. There are still too many students attending classes in trailers. There are still too many people unable to find work. And there are still too many New Orleanians who have not been able to come home."