This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and provides an opportunity to remember what was lost, celebrate what has been regained, and restate our commitment to the Gulf region and to all those still working to rebuild lives and communities. The Obama Administration remains deeply committed to serving the needs of Gulf Coast residents. Since taking office, President Obama has made it clear that he will stand with the people in Gulf through this restoration process and on Sunday, the President and several members of the Cabinet will travel to New Orleans as a continued demonstration of that support (you can watch the event live on Sunday).
The storm and its tragic aftermath took more than a thousand lives, displaced more than a million residents, inflicted major damage to nearly 300,000 homes, and wiped out hundreds of square miles of coastal land. Since the hurricanes hit, the people of the Gulf Coast have never stopped working to rebuild their communities, but their resilience and determination were sometimes challenged by unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles. Since taking office, the Administration has eliminated bureaucratic red tape that has delayed assistance, including obligating nearly $2.42 billion in Public Assistance funds for recovery in Louisiana and Mississippi that had been stalled for years, and supported the Federal agencies and state and local partners who continue to provide assistance to the region. President Obama has also worked to improve disaster preparedness, response, and recovery nationwide, so that the Gulf Coast and all other regions of the country will be more resilient and better prepared in the face of future disasters.
By continuing to support local restoration efforts, provide assistance to businesses, schools and residents, and prepare for future events, the Administration's efforts have been improving the functioning of government so that it works for all people. Government agencies have worked together in a collaborative manner to strengthen Federal emergency programs; enhance emergency communications; improve disaster housing; and work with state and local governments, community stakeholders, and individuals, to improve preparedness and capacity for long-term recovery from disasters.
In the five years since the storm, families have returned to the area, houses have gone up, schools have reopened, and businesses have been rebuilt. But there is more work to do -- and this Administration is committed to working with the people of the Gulf region to get the job done. This week, we will be featuring a series of blog posts on WhiteHouse.gov from government agencies that have been working with local communities to restore the region.
For more information about ongoing activities, read the fact sheet on Gulf Coast hurricane recovery and nationwide disaster preparedness and response efforts.
This post originally appeared at The White House Blog.
Chris Lu is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary