Posted: Aug 27, 2010 12:40 PM
Updated: Aug 27, 2010 1:03 PM
Source: Associated Press
President Barack Obama will use the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to reaffirm his commitment to the Gulf Coast amid lingering questions over his administration's response to the BP oil spill.
Obama ends his Martha's Vineyard vacation Sunday and heads to New Orleans, five years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, busting through crumbling levees and flooding 80
percent of the city, killing more than 1,600 people.
Then-President George W. Bush's was harshly criticized in many quarters for not responding aggressively enough to the disaster.
The unfinished business of helping make New Orleans whole is Obama's responsibility now.
On Sunday, he will have the delicate task of commemorating the ravaging storm while reassuring residents who may still believe the government has failed them - both when it comes to Katrina and to the BP spill.
"He inherited a legacy problem with New Orleans rebuilding just like so many incredible challenges with the economy," said Beth Galante, director of the New Orleans office of Global Green USA, a
sustainable building initiative active in the city since the hurricane struck.
"It does really put the burden on him to acknowledge the failures and make sure there's a serious and ongoing federal commitment to righting those problems."
Obama will speak at Xavier University, a historically black, Catholic university that was badly flooded by the storm.
Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said Obama would commemorate the lives lost in the flooding, celebrate progress made in recovering, and "recommit the nation to the Gulf region and to all those still working to rebuild lives and communities."
Obama will also discuss the BP spill, which spewed more than 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf for three months, dealing a fresh blow to New Orleans' tourism- and oil industry-dependent
The blown-out well was finally capped in mid-July.