Tag Archives: Katrina

Five Years After Katrina: “New Orleans is Blossoming Again

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Jessie Lee

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet the crowd at Xavier University during a ceremony on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans on August 29, 2010. Obama arrived in still-struggling New Orleans to join residents marking five years since flood waters driven by Hurricane Katrina inundated the famous jazz capital. (Photo credit JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)


Today the President and First Lady were down in New Orleans, joined by members of the Cabinet who have been working on recovery from Hurricane Katrina since they came into office.  The President spoke at Xavier University on the fifth anniversary of the disaster.

It’s been five years since Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.  There’s no need to dwell on what you experienced and what the world witnessed.  We all remember it keenly:  water pouring through broken levees; mothers holding their children above the waterline; people stranded on rooftops begging for help; bodies lying in the streets of a great American city.  It was a natural disaster but also a manmade catastrophe — a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, and women, and children abandoned and alone.

And shortly after the storm, I came down to Houston to spend time with some of the folks who had taken shelter there.  And I’ll never forget what one woman told me.  She said, “We had nothing before the hurricane.  And now we’ve got less than nothing.”

In the years that followed, New Orleans could have remained a symbol of destruction and decay; of a storm that came and the inadequate response that followed.  It was not hard to imagine a day when we’d tell our children that a once vibrant and wonderful city had been laid low by indifference and neglect.  But that’s not what happened.  It’s not what happened at Ben Franklin.  It’s not what happened here at Xavier.  It’s not what happened across New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast.  (Applause.)  Instead this city has become a symbol of resilience and of community and of the fundamental responsibility that we have to one another.

And we see that here at Xavier.  Less than a month after the storm struck, amidst debris and flood-damaged buildings, President Francis promised that this university would reopen in a matter of months.  (Applause.)  Some said he was crazy.  Some said it couldn’t happen.  But they didn’t count on what happens when one force of nature meets another.  (Laughter.)  And by January — four months later — class was in session.  Less than a year after the storm, I had the privilege of delivering a commencement address to the largest graduating class in Xavier’s history.  That is a symbol of what New Orleans is all about.  (Applause.)

He told other stories of hope and inspiration, including that of his Surgeon General, “Xavier grad Dr. Regina Benjamin, who mortgaged her home, maxed out her credit cards so she could reopen her Bayou la Batre clinic to care for victims of the storm.”  But he also recognized that there’s more to do, and made clear that his Administration has been working on it:

Now, 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, folks who haven’t been able to come home.  So while an incredible amount of progress has been made, on this fifth anniversary, I wanted to come here and tell the people of this city directly:  My administration is going to stand with you — and fight alongside you — until the job is done.  (Applause.)  Until New Orleans is all the way back, all the way.  (Applause.)

When I took office, I directed my Cabinet to redouble our efforts, to put an end to the turf wars between agencies, to cut the red tape and cut the bureaucracy.  (Applause.)  I wanted to make sure that the federal government was a partner — not an obstacle — to recovery here in the Gulf Coast.  And members of my Cabinet — including EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, who grew up in Pontchartrain Park — (applause) — they have come down here dozens of times.  Shaun Donovan has come down here dozens of times.  This is not just to make appearances.  It’s not just to get photo ops.  They came down here to listen and to learn and make real the changes that were necessary so that government was actually working for you.

So for example, efforts to rebuild schools and hospitals, to repair damaged roads and bridges, to get people back to their homes — they were tied up for years in a tangle of disagreements and byzantine rules.  So when I took office, working with your outstanding delegation, particularly Senator Mary Landrieu, we put in place a new way of resolving disputes.  (Applause.)  We put in place a new way of resolving disputes so that funds set aside for rebuilding efforts actually went toward rebuilding efforts.  And as a result, more than 170 projects are getting underway — work on firehouses, and police stations, and roads, and sewer systems, and health clinics, and libraries, and universities.

We’re tackling the corruption and inefficiency that has long plagued the New Orleans Housing Authority.  We’re helping homeowners rebuild and making it easier for renters to find affordable options.  And we’re helping people to move out of temporary homes.  You know, when I took office, more than three years after the storm, tens of thousands of families were still stuck in disaster housing — many still living in small trailers that had been provided by FEMA.  We were spending huge sums of money on temporary shelters when we knew it would be better for families, and less costly for taxpayers, to help people get into affordable, stable, and more permanent housing.  So we’ve helped make it possible for people to find those homes, and we’ve dramatically reduced the number of families in emergency housing.

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He discussed how his prioritizing health care and education will benefit New Orleans, noting in particular that, “Just this Friday, my administration announced a final agreement on $1.8 billion dollars for Orleans Parish schools.”  And of course there is the matter of ensuring such a disaster never occurs again, which meant restoring accountability and competency at FEMA as well as restoring stability locally:

Now, even as we continue our recovery efforts, we’re also focusing on preparing for future threats so that there is never another disaster like Katrina.  The largest civil works project in American history is underway to build a fortified levee system.  And as I — just as I pledged as a candidate, we’re going to finish this system by next year so that this city is protected against a 100-year storm.  We should not be playing Russian roulette every hurricane season.  (Applause.)  And we’re also working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina — were not just damaged by Katrina but had been rapidly disappearing for decades.

In closing, having touched on the more recent tragedy of the BP oil spill that befell the Gulf Coast, the President spoke on perhaps the most well known story of perseverence of all:

And when I came here four years ago, one thing I found striking was all the greenery that had begun to come back.  And I was reminded of a passage from the book of Job.  “There is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its tender branch will not cease.”  The work ahead will not be easy, and there will be setbacks.  There will be challenges along the way.  But thanks to you, thanks to the great people of this great city, New Orleans is blossoming again.

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President Barack Obama speaks at Xavier University on August 29, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Today marks the five year anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast and the storm took over 1,800 lives and devastated the region. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our special section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Sandra Bullock and Son Louie: It Was Important To Adopt From The U.S

Posted by: Audiegrl

In public, Sandra Bullock has been through the best and worst of times this year – from winning her first Oscar to enduring the breakup of her marriage. In private, she was quietly keeping a joyful secret – his name is Louis, and he is her newborn son.

He’s just perfect, I can’t even describe him any other way,” Bullock reveals exclusively in the new issue of People, announcing that she is the proud mother of Louis Bardo Bullock, a 3½-month-old boy, born in New Orleans. “It’s like he’s always been a part of our lives.”

In her interview with People magazine, Bullock said she is savoring her new maternal status with Louis, and is now finalizing the adoption as a single parent. “You wake up, you feed, you burp, you play, you do laundry,” she said. “I’m still in that stage where I’m just amazed with him and at life.”

Bullock talks about the adoption process in the interview, saying that it was important to her to adopt domestically, even though it meant a longer wait for a baby. After spending time in New Orleans after Katrina, the couple began the process four years ago.

We began the conversations and then all the paperwork, the background checks, the home visitations about four years ago,” she said. “We didn’t want to go at it any other way than the way everyone else would have to do it. There are hoops, but the hoops are there to protect the child. And worth every jump.

When asked why she chose to adopt from New Orleans, Sandra said adopting domestically was the priority.

I don’t know if it was important to adopt from New Orleans, but it was important to adopt from the U.S.,” she said. “New Orleans for both of us was a place that we loved, a place that had a lot of history for the both of us and a place I couldn’t let go of.

The baby, called Louie, was born in New Orleans and is named after jazz great Louis Armstrong, who had particularly touched Bullock with his signature song, “What a Wonderful World,” she said.

Fans and People readers immediately took to Facebook and Twitter to congratulate Bullock and comment on the news, with their reactions ranging from delight to declaring her an “inspiration.”

Sandra is a true role model for young women to learn how to handle themselves in good and bad times, class act, with style and grace abounding,” wrote someone who identified herself simply as Jacquelynn, while OnlyOneSher Tweeted: “How can you not think happy thoughts for Sandra Bullock? She deserves it and deserves to be happy! Congratulations!

Sandra Bullock’s Ties to New Orleans

Louisiana State Senator Ed Murray presents newly inducted Hall of Fame member Sandra Bullock with a proclamation thanking her for her support of Warren Easton Charter High School, the state’s oldest public high school. (Photo by Stanwycks Photography)

It’s a city synonymous with rebuilding, so New Orleans seems like the perfect place for Sandra Bullock to raise son Louis.

New Orleans is his city, and he is going to know it inside and out,” Bullock says. “Without the spirit of the people who live there and take care of the city and honor its traditions, its love for music, its love for life, take those people out and you don’t have why I love New Orleans so much.”

Even before deciding to “find our child in New Orleans,” Bullock was establishing significant ties to and a love for the Big Easy.

After Hurricane Katrina, Bullock became a major supporter of Warren Easton Charter High School, the first public high school for boys in Louisiana. The historical school sustained $4 million in damages, and the actress, who tells People she “felt such a profound need to do something for them,” has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for renovations, new band uniforms and a new health clinic.

She has also established a $10,000 college scholarship. Not to mention, before Bullock scored a Best Actress Oscar for starring in The Blind Side, which was written by New Orleans native Michael Lewis, she used the film’s New Orleans premiere as a fundraiser to benefit the school. Her generosity even earned her an induction into the school’s hall of fame last year.

She acts as if all 800-plus of these children are her own,” Warren Easton’s principal Alexina Medley tells People. Adds school board member Arthur Hardy: “She has been our angel. We love her.”

Sandra Bullock’s Baby News Brings Joy to New Orleans

The city of New Orleans is buzzing with the news that Sandra Bullock‘s new son Louis is from New Orleans – and the Oscar winner is getting a lot of love sent her way.

In September Bullock put down more permanent roots, purchasing a home in the Garden District of New Orleans. The mansion is reportedly near property owned by Treme star John Goodman and a home previously owned by writer Anne Rice, according to the Times-Picayune.

Personally, I’m thrilled for Sandra on the adoption of her child,” says Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who celebrated his Super Bowl MVP win on the David Letterman show with Bullock on Feb. 8. “Clearly she has embraced the city of New Orleans and appreciates what a wonderful and culturally rich city this is, and the fact that she has adopted a beautiful child with roots to our city makes it that much more special.

He adds: “It goes without saying that she is a talented actress, a true humanitarian and philanthropist. We are all very happy for her and the new addition to her family.”

Bullock’s love of the city is part of what makes her a resident, says New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who also sends his best wishes.

Congratulations to Sandra Bullock and her new son,” says Nagin. “Since Hurricane Katrina, Americans have prayed for us, given their time as volunteers in our community, and demanded that no other city ever go through what New Orleans experienced. Sandra Bullock has become one of us. We wish this new mother every success.”

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Wyclef Jean Joins George Clooney To Lead MTV’s ‘Hope For Haiti Now’ Telethon

Two-hour global telethon will air Friday, January 22

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean will join George Clooney and CNN’s Anderson Cooper in hosting MTV Networks’ “Hope for Haiti Now,” the global two hour telethon to air commercial-free across ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1, and CMT plus CNN International, National Geographic and MTV on Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Hope for Haiti Now” will feature performances and celebrity appearances to be announced in the coming days, as well as live news reports from CNN. Clooney will host from Los Angeles, Wyclef Jean will be in New York and Anderson Cooper will be live from the devastation, with the Hollywood actor lining up a who’s who of guests to drop by and perform on the night.

All proceeds will be split evenly among five relief organizations who are on the ground helping the people of Haiti: Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF and Yele Haiti Foundation. Both Facebook and MySpace have signed on as official social-media partners to help steer viewers to the telethon and drive donations.

Celebrities across the fame spectrum have harnessed social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to rally support for the Haitian people, announcing their personal donations or directing their fans to contribute to deserving aid groups.

Yele Haiti FoundationHaitian-born musician Wyclef Jean has become the unofficial face of this celebrity humanitarian movement. More than $1 million has flooded in to Jean’s Yéle Haiti since Tuesday, according the charity’s fund-raising organizers. The Hollywood Foreign Press announced it would donate $100,000 to Yéle, while figures such as Lindsay Lohan, MC Hammer, and Haitian-born soccer star Jozy Altidor have tweeted their support for Jean’s cause.

Producing the telethon will be Joel Gallen, who produced the 9/11 telethon “America: A Tribute to Heroes” that aired 10 days after that tragedy.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that several other celebrities are using their social clout and talent to direct attention to Haiti.

  • Lance ArmstrongCyclist Lance Armstrong announced to his 2.3 million Twitter followers that his Livestrong foundation had pledged $250,000 to two humanitarian aid groups.
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  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Actors-turned-philanthropists Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have donated $1 million to the Doctors Without Borders organization; Oprah began her talk show Wednesday by asking viewers to contribute to the Red Cross; Coldplay front man Chris Martin is urging his fans to donate to Haiti via Oxfam; and even Paris Hilton promoted the efforts of the Red Cross via Twitter.
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  • David BlaineMeanwhile, magician David Blaine is taking a slightly more hands-on approach. At 9 a.m. Friday, Blaine started what will be a 72-hour, nonstop “Magic Marathon” in Times Square. Benefits of the event and all proceeds from his online store will be given to the Red Cross.
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  • RihannaBut George Clooney isn’t the only celeb tapping his golden connections. East Coast nightlife guru Unik Ernest, whose Edeyo Foundation supports community-building projects in Haiti, has begun organizing a telethon and benefit concert. While the date of the event is yet to be released, celebrities said to be featured include: Rihanna, Usher, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Mark Wahlberg, Jay-Z, Susan Sarandon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and others, according to Tonic.com.

Celebrity support of the Haitian people has contributed to the success of this week’s aid efforts. The American Red Cross reported Wednesday evening that in the 48 hours following the quake some $35 million in donations had poured in – more than it had received in the two days following Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamis.

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Obama in New Orleans to inspect post Katrina recovery

posted by GeoT

“I’m not tired… I’m just gettin’ started…” President Obama

Barack Obama made his first presidential visit to New Orleans on Thursday seeking to reassure residents of his commitment to the city’s recovery four years after the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina.

The Damage Done

The Damage Done

Flying in for a close-up look at the rebuilding process, Obama was expected to see signs of progress but also stark reminders of how much remains to be done to get New Orleans, once a thriving tourist destination, back in full swing.

Former President George W. Bush was widely criticized for the federal government’s slow emergency response to Katrina, which hastened a slide in his popularity and left a stain on his presidential legacy.

The slow road to recovery

The slow road to recovery


Soon after taking office in January, Obama vowed to prevent a repeat of the previous administration’s “failures” and to do more to help New Orleans and the rest of the battered U.S. Gulf Coast rebuild.

Full Story: Here


Related:
Louisiana Rep. Melancon To Meet Attend Obama New Orleans Event
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Click here for :President Obama’s Schedule Today (10/15/09)

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Brad Pitt Honored for Humanitarian Work in New Orleans

Posted by TheLCster

Actor Brad Pitt speaks during a panel discussion about rebuilding New Orleans, at the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 24, 2009. About 1,200 participants including heads of state, business leaders, humanitarians and celebrities will attend the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) which started on Tuesday.

Actor Brad Pitt speaks during a panel discussion about rebuilding New Orleans, at the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 24, 2009. About 1,200 participants including heads of state, business leaders, humanitarians and celebrities will attend the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) which started on Tuesday.


Reuters Television—Actor Brad Pitt was honored on Thursday for his humanitarian work in helping rebuild hurricane-ravaged New Orleans at former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s philanthropic summit, the Clinton Global Initiative.

Pitt was presented with a plaque from the U.S. Green Building Council which said the actor and his foundation “Make It Right” had created the “largest and greenest single-family community in the world.”

“‘Make It Right’ has exceeded my expectations,” said Pitt who set up the foundation in 2007.

“Our criteria from the beginning were at odds, to say the least. We demanded that these homes be sustainable, that they have aesthetic qualities … that they be storm resilient and take safety in mind of the families who live there and that they would be affordable.”

“Make It Right” has created 13 homes in the New Orleans area the 9th Ward, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Each house is unique and has eco-friendly features like green roofs, which can cut heating and cooling costs dramatically.

Pitt said the biggest challenge was keeping homes affordable.

Continued@Reuters_media_us

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President Obama’s Message on the Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina


Posted by Audiegrl
Today on the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama used his weekly address to touch upon the importance of disaster readiness for American families.

On this anniversary, we are focused on the threat from hurricanes. But we must also be prepared for a broad range of dangers – from wildfires and earthquakes, to terrorist attacks and pandemic disease. In particular, my Administration is working aggressively with state and local governments – and with partners around the world – to prepare for the risk posed by the H1N1 virus. To learn more about the simple steps that you can take to keep you and your family safe from all of these dangers, please visit www.ready.gov.

So on this day, we commemorate a tragedy that befell our people. But we also remember that with every tragedy comes the chance of renewal. It is a quintessentially American notion – that adversity can give birth to hope, and that the lessons of the past hold the key to a better future. From the streets of New Orleans to the Mississippi Coast, folks are beginning the next chapter in their American stories. And together, we can ensure that the legacy of a terrible storm is a country that is safer and more prepared for the challenges that may come.–President Barack Obama

National Preparedness Month (NPM), is a nationwide effort held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools.

Please take a moment and visit the site. It has a wealth of information that will help your family. I really enjoyed watching the PSA’s on the site. They interviewed different families and asked them separately about their own ’emergency plans’. Each family member had a different idea of where they are to meet, and none of them had any emergency supplies like water, non-perishable food, etc. to last them more than two weeks. My family is like the one who only had crackers and tomato paste. 😉

So this is an eye opener for me, and our pantry will definitely be stocked in the future.

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