Return to the Gulf Coast

I arrived in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon as part of a 28 Member delegation organized by the Democratic Caucus Katrina Task Force.  This is my second trip to the Gulf Coast region since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck last year.  In March I joined several of my colleagues on a tour throughout the region, and I was overwhelmed by the extent of the devastation and moved by the resiliency of the people I met there.  I was determined to return to the Gulf Coast region to observe the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and to witness the progression of the recovery process first hand.

On Sunday my colleagues and I joined local officials at the Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries for a dinner and prayer service hosted by Governor Kathleen Blanco, Mayor Ray Nagin and the Louisiana Congressional Delegation.  This powerful ceremony was a vivid reminder of last year’s tragic events and set the tone for our Katrina anniversary visit.
On Monday morning we were briefed on the New Orleans rebuilding and recovery status by several officials.  We then embarked on an extensive tour of the City with the Louisiana National Guard and the Army Corp of Engineers.  Following our tour, we traveled to Mississippi to view the destruction and recovery process there.  Monday concluded with a town hall meeting in Bay St. Louis that focused on the difficulty residents experienced in collecting insurance money following the storm.

The past two days have been very intense and emotional, but I appreciate the opportunity to be here and see with my own eyes the monumental tasks that still abound.  Monday in particular was an unforgettable day, mostly because of the wonderful people who took the time to meet with me.