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Bush revisits New Orleans -

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Bush revisits New Orleans

AM - Tuesday, 29 August , 2006 08:12:00

Reporter: Tracy Bowden

TONY EASTLEY: For US President George W. Bush it's going to be a difficult trip, spending a
National Day of Remembrance in New Orleans, the city hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina year ago
today.

About 1,500 people died when the storm struck Mississippi and Louisiana and Mr Bush, who's made
some frank admissions of government failures in coping with the response to Katrina, will go to
both states during his two-day visit.

North America Correspondent Tracy Bowden reports.

TRACY BOWDEN: A year ago Americans were stunned at images of the President looking out of the
window of Air Force One at the devastation below.

Today, George W. Bush made sure he was on the ground for the first anniversary of the country's
most costly natural disaster.

GEORGE BUSH: It's a sense of renewal here. It may be hard for those of you who have endured the
last year to really have that sense of change. But for a fella who was here, and now a year later
comes back, things are changing, and I congratulate you for your courage.

TRACY BOWDEN: Congress has allocated $110 billion towards the recovery.

But as the President repeatedly points out, it's up to the states to work out re-development plans.
And in Louisiana, that's been a slow process.

(Sound of swing jazz band)

TRACY BOWDEN: Tourists are returning to New Orleans famous French Quarter.

But drive just ten minutes out of town and it's a very different scene - deserted streets, ruined
houses, piles of debris untouched since the flooding.

FLOYD SAUCIER: You know the old saying, "there's no place like home", and I believe that's very
true.

TRACY BOWDEN: On a scorchingly hot summers' day, 79 year-old Floyd Saucier is sitting on the steps
of his trailer. It's parked out the front of his home, which was flooded first in Hurricane Betsy
in 1965, then again 40 years later.

FLOYD SAUCIER: This time we couldn't salvage anything, everything had to be to be (inaudible).

TRACY BOWDEN: Less than 40 per cent of the half a million people evacuated during Hurricane Katrina
have returned to New Orleans. Many would like to come back, but there's nowhere to live.

(Sound of hammering)

The only major building site in the city is being run by the non-profit organization Habitat for
Humanity.

KATHY LOEFFER: Oh, it is much worse than people realise, it's much worse than I realised.

TRACY BOWDEN: Teacher Kathy Loeffer is one of the scores of volunteers who have given up their
summer vacation to help out. She says she's touched by the response of the locals.

KATHY LOEFFER: They're so appreciative of our coming down here. And while they feel abandoned by
various levels of government they don't feel abandoned by the American people.

TRACY BOWDEN: A series of reports on the disaster have confirmed the warnings of scientists like
Ivor Van Heerden from the Hurricane Centre at the Louisiana State University.

IVOR VAN HEERDEN: What went wrong was that the Federal Government gave Louisiana sub-standard
levies. You know, this was a preventable disaster and the Federal Government screwed up.

TRACY BOWDEN: Billions of dollars have been spent improving the flood protection system, but Walter
Baumy from the US Army Corps of Engineers concedes that a major storm surge would still flood the
city.

WALTER BAUMY: Until the system is brought to a higher level of protection those areas will remain
vulnerable.

TONY EASTLEY: Walter Baumy from the US Army Corps ending that report from Tracey Bowden.