Below are the written comments sent to Bayoubuzz:
Six years ago today, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, upending families and ravaging communities – and no one will forget the tragic events of those days. But what’s required of us is more than remembrance – what’s required of us is our continued efforts to make sure that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast fully recover, and to make sure that our response to such disasters is the best it can possibly be.
Over the past several years, we’ve seen what Americans are capable of when tested. We’ve seen the grit and determination of people on the Gulf Coast coming together to rebuild their communities, brick by brick, block by block. At the same time, we’ve made sure the federal government is doing its part to help. We’ve cut through red tape to free up funding for recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. We’ve taken steps to help school systems get children the tools and resources they need for a proper education. We’ve broken through gridlock on behalf of tens of thousands of displaced families, making sure they have long-term housing solutions. And we’ll keep at it until these communities have come back stronger than before.
When it comes to disaster response, we’ve worked very seriously to enhance our preparedness efforts so that Americans are ready before disaster strikes, and to strengthen our recovery capabilities so that we’re more resilient after disaster strikes. Over the last week, we have experienced the power of another storm, Hurricane Irene. Before the storm made landfall, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA worked closely with our state and local partners to preposition supplies and teams of first responders, and support their response efforts. Those response efforts are ongoing and we will continue that partnership, responding as quickly and effectively as possible, for as long as necessary, until the affected communities are back on their feet.
Today is a reminder of not just the immediate devastation that can be caused by these storms, but the long term needs of communities impacted by disasters – whether in Mississippi or Alabama, Tennessee or Missouri, North Dakota, or the east coast states impacted by Hurricane Irene. This Administration will stand by those communities until the work is done.
U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
“I’ll never forget Hurricane Katrina—the mix of a natural and a man-made catastrophe that resulted in the death of over 1,500 of our neighbors. Millions of folks were marked by the tragedy. On this sixth anniversary, I'm sending my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those still struggling to rebuild—financially, emotionally, and structurally—from the storm.
“In the weeks and months after Katrina, many predicted that New Orleans would never recover. Naysayers predicted our city’s best days were over. We knew better. We knew the difference between being buried and being planted to grow again. Six years later, New Orleans is once again, welcoming millions of visitors per year. The number of annual visitors was 8.3 million in 2010. Our population is growing, our unemployment rate is below the national average, and our schools and student are receiving resources they so desperately need. We’re on the mend, but we still have more to do.
“I’m proud that we’ve improved our emergency communication, evacuation procedures, and levee construction but there is still work to be done in securing our city from the threat of storms. Our wetlands are the first line of protection against a future hurricane and more work remains in fortifying these defenses.
“In DC, I’ve passed amendments to allocate $6.3 million to keep our waterways open for business, $1 million as a down payment on our wetland restoration—our natural storm protection—and $5 million to ensure that drilling permits are reviewed thoroughly and efficiently. I’ve introduced eight bills to fight for support for our small businesses and ensure we get funding to rebuild public housing—among other things. Know that as you work to rebuild here at home, I’m fighting to get you the resources you need in DC.
“These past years, as we have been recovering and given our city a rebirth, we have been encouraged by our faith, knowledge, and steadfast belief that we will pull through. There will be challenges and setbacks, as there have already been, but we will continue, and we the citizens of New Orleans will prevail in bringing our city back.”
Plaquesmines Parish President Billy Nungesser
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina first made landfall in the Empire area of Plaquemines Parish. Everything on the West Bank from Port Sulphur south was devastated as well as everything on the East Bank of Plaquemines. Six years after Katrina, the Parish which was first hit comes back the strongest.
“We’re excited about the direction Plaquemines Parish is headed. We didn’t take the usual government approach to the recovery, we thought outside the box, and the results have been strong. Six years after Hurricane Katrina we have completed dozens of renovations and new construction projects, have a Master Plan study underway, established a paid firefighter system, re-instituted recycling, and have several traffic improvements coming, including the start of construction on the Bypass Road. Our partnership with YMCA to run four community centers in recovering areas of the Parish has been recognized as a unique public-private partnership that could provide the model for future expansion of the YMCA,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
“To get people back you have to have jobs. We went to all the major companies and asked them to use local vendors and companies from around Louisiana. If you want a job in Plaquemines Parish, there’s a job to be had and we’re very proud of that. Since Katrina more than 900 companies have added Plaquemines Parish to the list of places they do business. That’s huge and we want to make sure we continue that trend,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
“The Parish also had the vision of deepening Baptiste Collette to create a shorter route to the Eastern Gulf. That project will be the back bone to the Eastern Gulf expansion. It will help create and save many Louisiana jobs which otherwise may have gone to Mississippi or Alabama, and we’re very proud of that,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith
"The outpouring of help we received from faith-based organizations, the American Red Cross, other law enforcement agencies and fire departments must never be forgotten and must always be repaid," Smith said. "Our community recovered faster than anyone would have expected, both from our own hard work and the immeasurable contributions of perfect strangers. They didn't know us, but they came running to our aid in the time of our greatest disaster. We must always be ready to do the same."
State Rep. Kevin Pearson
Louisiana, State Sen. Jack Donahue
On the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in southeast Louisiana, state Sen. Jack Donahue said while the memories of the storm haunt us, our community and our state have been strengthened by the experience.
Louisiana Rep. Greg Cromer
Louisiana Rep. Nita Hutter
"Today, we remember the unspeakable tragedy that struck six years ago. For many, it is a time of renewed grief. Thousands of people lost their lives, many of them poor, aged, infirm or helpless. Literally hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed across our state. Commerce came to a stop, and our state seemed lost in despair.
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