By Juliet Eilperin,
NEW ORLEANS — The despair uncorked by Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago quickly became a symbol of so much that was wrong with America — stark racial and economic inequality, government’s inaction in the face of enormous social problems, and a deep sense of vulnerability and lack of preparedness for the next disaster.
That dark moment helped propel Barack Obama into the White House because it seemed to reinforce his argument that the country deserved a better future, and that he embodied that future.
On Thursday, Obama returned to New Orleans to mark the 10th anniversary of Katrina at a newly built community center in the lower Ninth Ward and to tout the city as an example of American resilience, not just in the face Katrina, but crisis in general.
“Americans like you — the people of New Orleans . . . you’re what recovery has been all about. You’re why I’m confident that we can recover from crisis and start to move forward,” he said. “You’re the reason 13 million new jobs have been created. You’re the reason the unemployment rate fell from 10 percent to 5.3. You’re the reason that layoffs are near an all-time low.”
But Obama also recalled some of the ills exposed by Katrina: “What the storm revealed was another tragedy — one that had been brewing for decades,” he said. “New Orleans had long been plagued by structural inequality that left too many people, especially poor people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing.”
But citizens have made an effort “to build the city as it should be,” he said. “And I’m here to say that on that larger project of a better, stronger, more just New Orleans, the progress that you have made is remarkable.”
[On Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, what was lost and gained from Katrina’s fury]
For the president, the city’s recovery is a symbol of what engaged government can accomplish, and it’s a point of personal pride. “Across the board, I’ve made the recovery and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast a priority,” he said. “I made promises when I was a senator that I& …Read More
Obama returns to New Orleans to remember Katrina and celebrate city's recovery – Washington Post
By Juliet Eilperin,