Skip to comments.Bush Gets Reminder of Gulf Coast Damage
Posted on 03/08/2006 9:23:16 AM PST by jcb8199
NEW ORLEANS - President Bush, visiting a still-suffering Gulf Coast, said Wednesday that Congress must help this ravaged city recover from Hurricane Katrina by approving billions he has requested for levee repair and compensation for Louisianans who lost homes.
"I'm getting a view of the progress that is being made," Bush said after a tour by air and on the ground offered a chilling portrait of the pain that lingers six months after Katrina struck. "There's still a lot of work to be done, no doubt about it."
Bush was reminded of the devastating situation still facing many Gulf Coast residents struggling to get back on their feet. Boarded-up houses, "No Trespassing" signs, stray dogs and streets sullied by unattended debris greeted Bush on his 10th trip to the hurricane-damaged region.
"You've got a pile of stuff here," Bush remarked as he watched the vehicle shove a mattress, toys, a cooking pot, several pairs of blue jeans, a single brown shoe and a pair of women's underwear down a nearby street.
Many residents are frustrated and angry that more progress has not been made. Bush's trip was aimed at three problem areas: efforts to restore the ravaged city's levees, removing still-persistent debris from affected communities and lagging efforts to get people back in their homes.
One of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, Katrina killed more than 1,300 people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage.
After landing in New Orleans, Bush's got an eye-opening reminder of just how much work remains as he observed from aloft a city still in a mess.
From Marine One, he saw a landscape of bright blue tarps covering damaged roofs on homes, many apparently empty. Beneath him, trees remained snapped on the ground. And railroad cars and other trash were strewn across the swamp and marsh land.
He arrived at a landing zone near the Industrial Canal levee, which breached during the storm and devastated the lower Ninth Ward. His motorcade took Bush through the hard-hit, primarily black neighborhood that remains largely abandoned. Demolition of the worst-damaged homes in the lower Ninth Ward and Lakeview areas began only this week.
Bush also saw boarded-up fast food restaurants and other businesses, abandoned homes spray-painted with big Xs on the front and piles of garbage on the side of the road.
Stray dogs roamed the street, and some homes had mass-produced red-and-white signs blaring, "Save our Neighborhood. No Bulldozing." Other homes were flattened.
Though few people were around to see the president pass by, two young women in a small group of neighbors held up a handmade sign that said "Where's my government?" One of the women flashed a thumbs down at the president's motorcade.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin escorted Bush into the entrance of a pink duplex home, with "Keep Out! No Trespassing!" signs on the porch and mold covering the walls at least chest high.
Later in the day, the president was to visit part of New Orleans' levee system, and then fly east to the Biloxi-Gulfport area of Mississippi, another state hit hard by Katrina.
"I think every time he visits the region, he's reminded of the hardship and pain that many citizens of the region continue to face," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said on Air Force One on the way to the region.
More than three-fourths of New Orleans was flooded after Katrina sent water through failed levees. The Army Corps of Engineers is working to meet a June 1 deadline the start of the year's hurricane season to rebuild the city's flood protection system so it is as good or better than it was before Katrina.
Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, head of the Corps, said that 100 of 169 miles of the city's damaged levees have been restored. But he acknowledged that won't prevent flooding in low-lying areas if a storm as powerful as Katrina slams the coast this year. McClellan said the administration is working to make the levee system stronger than before, but that the undertaking is a 2- to 3-year process.
Independent experts have accused the Corps of taking shortcuts to rebuild the levees quickly and of using materials that could leave large sections of the system significantly weaker than before Katrina. Strock denied the allegations.
The trip was the president's first to the region since two reports one by a House committee, the other by the White House criticized the government's response to Katrina. It also follows the release of video of an administration briefing on the eve of the storm that raised new questions about Bush's involvement in the hurricane planning.
The White House said the trip was not an attempt to make up for the criticism.
"The president made a very strong commitment, and we're following through on that commitment," McClellan said.
But the criticism continued.
In Washington, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who holds Bush's old job in Texas, said the federal government had turned its back on his state, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Rita. Perry said the government was being more generous to states hit by Katrina than to his, and he demanded an additional $2 billion in post-hurricane funding.
The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama also are lobbying Congress for more money to pay for hurricane relief and rebuilding. Total hurricane-related spending on the region is approaching $100 billion.
Not that my vote makes any difference, but I vote NO. I'm sick of seeing my tax dollars flow to people who chose to live in a city built below sea level and in the path of hurricanes.
Until AP and Yahoo get drug through courts like Rush, Trinity Broadcasting Network and the forum have the dims plans to regain both houses and the Presidency is a near shoo-in.
Hello 'Newbie' [member since 03/01/06], here as a DUmmie troll, or just trying to make friends the hard way!?!
Like most morons from Daily Kos, the liberals who troll are too stupid to see how easily exposed they are.
His name is President George W. Bush. That means more people think like me than think like you.
Ohh, but the polls.
Read the tagline.
Plus, we don't sell peyote at free republic.
Nor Mississippi. People who are taking responsibility for themselves and solving their own problems are of no interest to the MSM.
Sorry, Mr. President, but this ticks me off. There are people who are victims of tragedies every day, and yet certain tragedies (i.e. 9/11, Katrina) make certain people 'worthy' of compensation, as though it was the U.S. taxpayers' fault that these things happened.
How about the headline? "Bush Gets Reminder of Gulf Coast Damage". They make it sound like someone shoved his nose in it. Was this trip not voluntary?