Five years ago, America watched Hurricane Katrina tear through homes, communities, and neighborhoods across the Gulf Coast. This natural disaster decimated New Orleans and other cities and towns, destroyed buildings, and displaced local families. When the levees fell, a human tragedy emerged – a story of poverty too often ignored; and an uncertain future awaited those left without standing houses or schools or businesses.
In the wake of that horrific storm, we made a solemn pledge: we would not forget the people of the Gulf Coast. Over the last five years, we have worked to keep our promise. Upon assuming the majority in 2007, the New Direction Congress passed the much-delayed Gulf Coast Recovery package. Overall, in the time since Hurricane Katrina, Congress has invested nearly $120 billion in areas where the funds are needed most – in infrastructure, housing assistance, and school repair; in small business loans; and in levee improvements and other measures to prevent future flooding and damage.
Since taking office, the Obama Administration has improved recovery efforts, helping Gulf residents cut through red tape and expediting gridlocked projects. Moreover, the Recovery Act has provided billions of dollars in investments along the Gulf Coast.
Today, the work to recover and rebuild continues. Remembering the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall – with shocking images of destruction still fresh in our minds – we will work together to meet the challenges that remain and make progress for those on the frontlines of the storm. Their lives were changed forever five years ago, and their resilience and resolve inspire us to this day. In their name, we commit to complete the work of recovery.