A year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, US president George Bush has defended the much-criticised reconstruction effort. Residents are angry that less than half of a Federal aid budget for the region has been handed out, but Bush said delays were inevitable if the money was to be spent wisely: “A year ago, I committed our federal government to help you. I said: We have a duty to help the local people recover and rebuild. And I meant what I said. We have appropriated $110 billion to help rebuild this area. It is a strong federal commitment that we will keep.”
However, for victims of the hurricane and the ensuing floods, it is now that the money is needed. Isaac Tucker has been trying to rebuild his home for a year: “Right now, everything’s coming out my savings, and the little bit of money I did get from my insurance company. But as you can see, I’ve got electrical to do. I’ve got to put in new flooring. I’ve got basically everything.”
On August 29th. last year Hurricane Katrina, gusting up to 180 kilometres per hour ,brought with it storm surge waves that broke down flood barriers around New Orleans. Some 1500 people died in the ensuing flooding, while hundreds of thousands were made homeless. Today the population of New Orleans is half what it was before the catastrophe and the loss of more than 200 000 jobs has also brought widespread economic hardship.