Five years after Katrina, Obama to lead Gulf Coast commemoration
The US Gulf Coast on Sunday was marking five years since Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the southern US shoreline, with President Barack Obama headlining one of many commemoration ceremonies around the region, dpa reported.
Obama planned to speak in the afternoon before students at Xavier University in New Orleans, which has been on a slow road to recovery since the category 3 storm that killed nearly 2,000 people and displaced more than 1 million Gulf Coast residents.
More than 80 per cent of New Orleans was flooded and 70 per cent of its buildings damaged as Katrina overwhelmed the city's flood defenses. Five years on, the city's population is estimated at nearly 350,000, almost 80 per cent of pre-Katrina levels.
Yet Louisiana was faced with a second disaster as it commemorated the Katrina anniversary. Oil giant BP was still working to clean up the state's fragile coastline after the worst oil spill in US history hit the Gulf of Mexico in April.
Despite the wave of disasters the city has faced, New Orleans residents are relatively upbeat about their future prospects as they ponder what the next five years might have in store.
A May-June poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 70 per cent believe New Orleans is headed in the right direction, though 59 per cent said the city had yet to fully recover from the storm.