Hurricane Katrina: The Work Continues
Over the past week, we’ve been remembering the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, highlighting the progress made, and restating the Administration’s commitment to the region. This past weekend, several members of the Cabinet, the First Lady and President Obama traveled to the Gulf Coast, where the President spoke about the stories of communities and families working to restore what was lost.
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Throughout our Hurricane Katrina: 5 Years of Remembering & Rebuilding series, we heard stories of dedication and restoration from across the federal government. Here are just a few examples of the Administration’s continued support for the individuals, families and communities who were affected:
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided more permanent housing to over 30,000 families stuck in disaster housing, made grants to help prevent homelessness, and helped stabilize Gulf Coast communities suffering from foreclosures and abandonment. Read the full post: On the Road from Recovery to Revitalization by Secretary Shaun Donovan.
- Over the last several years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has taken a number of steps to eliminate red tape and bureaucracy, expand the agency’s support for local projects, and aggressively prepare for future hurricanes and other natural disasters. Read the full post: Cutting Red Tape and Helping Communities Rebuild by Administrator Craig Fugate.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) has been working hard to overhaul its disaster assistance program and has succeeded in reducing the average processing time for loans, creating new ways for disaster victims to apply for loans, and increasing the capacity of loan processing centers and total disaster response staff. Read the full post: SBA Disaster Assistance: Then and Now by Administrator Karen Mills.
- Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), discussed her experiences growing up in New Orleans and her efforts to safeguard the region’s natural resources. Under her leadership, one of EPA’s priorities is the protection of our nation’s vulnerable wetlands and coastal communities. Read the full post: Restoring the Gulf's Priceless Natural Resources by Administrator Lisa Jackson.
- Since Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been dedicated to rebuilding and strengthening the Gulf’s health care infrastructure, including support for the network of community health centers, providing funding for medical services and mental health programs, and encouraging primary care providers to work in underserved areas. Read the full post: Strengthening the Gulf's Health Care Infrastructure for Generations to Come by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
- The Department of Labor continues to invest in the region’s residents by funding training and education programs, and preparing workers for in-demand careers in high-growth industries. Because of these efforts, individuals and families are working to rebuild their communities and their livelihoods. Read the full post: Lost and Found: Preparing Workers for New Careers by Secretary Hilda Solis.
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided funding for new schools and universities, fire houses, police stations, and critical infrastructure, and continues to improve the country’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from major disasters of all kinds. Read the full post: Improving America's Disaster Response by Secretary Janet Napolitano.
- Since Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Education has provided nearly $2 billion for Gulf Coast schools, helping schools re-open after the hurricanes, and supporting schools that enrolled displaced students. Read the full post: Helping New Orleans Rebuild Its Schools by Secretary Arne Duncan.
- The Department of Transportation’s ongoing work has been crucial in rebuilding the region and includes repairing and expanding highways, creating new public transit options, and restoring the shipping capabilities of the Mississippi River and its port communities. Read the full post: Five Years Later, Our Commitment Continues by Secretary Ray LaHood.
- Through the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office, work continues with local families to help them regain their sense of dignity and hope, including supporting hundreds of Louisiana families through single-family housing programs. In the last two years alone, over 1,100 Louisiana families have been assisted through $165 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for financing their home. Read the full post: Five Years After Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, USDA Continues to Assist Gulf Residents by Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.
Despite these great efforts, there is still more work to be done. The Administration is committed to continuing our support for the Gulf Coast and the community of dedicated residents that are working together to restore the city. As the President said this weekend:
“And together, we are helping to make New Orleans a place that stands for what we can do in America -- not just for what we can’t do. Ultimately, that must be the legacy of Katrina: not one of neglect, but of action; not one of indifference, but of empathy; not of abandonment, but of a community working together to meet shared challenges.”
Chris Lu is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary