Obama in New Orleans
The president called Katrina "a natural disaster but also a man-made catastrophe - a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, women and children abandoned and alone." (WaP0)
Duncan quiet this time around
Obama’s administration has faced some criticism for its handling of the rebuilding effort. It ran into trouble earlier this year when Education Secretary Arne Duncan linked the hurricane and educational reforms in the city. In January, Duncan said Katrina was "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans" because it forced the city to revamp its low-performing public schools. He later apologized.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Duncan's phrasing was “wrong.” (The Hill)
Tale of two cities
New Orleans is, to steal from Charles Dickens, a tale of two cities. There is the French Quarter and St. Charles Avenue, which sparkle with the charm of a pre-Katrina, pre-flood New Orleans. And there is the 9th ward, and the 7th ward, and other residential areas that are still struggling to recover .(Tom Abrahams, ABC News)
7,000 school employees fired in wake of Katrina
But despite positive developments in the city's recovery, more than 100,000 New Orleanians received a one-way ticket out of town and still have received no help in coming back, and these voices are left out of most stories of the city. Many from this silenced population complain of post-Katrina decisions that placed obstacles in their path, such as the firing of 7,000 public school employees and canceling of their union contract shortly after the storm, or the tearing down of nearly 5,000 public housing units - two post-Katrina decisions that disproportionately affected Black residents. (Jordan Flaherty, Huffington)The real death toll
John Mutter, a Columbia University professor, has been gathering personal testimonials and public records of those killed in Katrina for an effort he calls Katrinalist. Mutter estimates the true death toll will top 3,500 if those killed by the storm and by its many after-effects are accurately tallied. Mutter wonders whether initial government efforts to supply an accurate victims' list stalled because of the difficulties of the job - or because of a lack of interest in acknowledging the extent of the casualties.
"This is a mass fatality event - one that is more common in the Third World..."Why on earth did so many people die in 2005? The injustice of it is just amazing." (Houston Chronicle)