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Bush Promises Anew To Learn From Hurricane Katrina

US President George W. Bush. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Kennebunkport (AFP) Maine, Aug 26, 2006
President George W. Bush on Saturday again promised Americans that the government would learn from devastating Hurricane Katrina a year on, though US authorities have warned that if the same storm were to hit today, New Orleans's levees would fail.

"This Tuesday marks the first anniversary of Katrina, one of the deadliest and most costly natural disasters in American history," Bush said in his weekly radio address from this coastal town in Maine, where he was spending a few days with his family.

"Flooding left 80 percent of the city of New Orleans underwater. The human costs were even more terrible. More than a thousand people died, countless families lost their homes and livelihoods, and tens of thousands of men, women and children were forced to flee the region and leave behind everything they knew," Bush recalled.

Bush acknowledged that "unfortunately, Katrina also revealed that federal, state and local governments were unprepared to respond to such an extraordinary disaster.

"And the floodwaters exposed a deep-seated poverty that has cut people off from the opportunities of our country," the president added. "So last year, I made a simple pledge: The federal government would learn the lessons of Katrina, we would do what it takes, and we would stay as long as it takes, to help our brothers and sisters build a new Gulf Coast where every citizen feels part of the great promise of America."

"The Gulf Coast continues down the long road to recovery. In Mississippi and Louisiana, we can see many encouraging signs of recovery and renewal, and many reminders that hard work still lies ahead," Bush added, noting that "we have committed 110 billion dollars to the recovery effort, and we are playing a vital role in helping people clear debris, repair and rebuild their homes, reopen their businesses and schools, and put their lives back together."

Nonetheless, a US military official said Tuesday that while repairs on the levees in New Orleans should do some good, the levees are not equipped to handle another storm that size.

"There's still a huge amount of risk in that part of the country for a levee system," said Don Basham, chief engineer for construction in the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Basham acknowledged: "If we have another Katrina event today, ... you definitely are going to have water going on top of the levees."

Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore on August 29, 2005, devastating New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities and killing more than 1,300 people. The US Army Corps of Engineers spent months repairing the levees that flooded New Orleans when they overflowed or broke.

"Our commitment was to restore the integrity of the levee system back to pre-Katrina conditions. We have done that," Basham said, allowing that "in some cases, we had to do that not with a permanent fix but with a temporary fix."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Katrina Ignites Scientific Storm Over Hurricane Trends
Paris (AFP) Aug 27, 2006
A year after Katrina wrecked New Orleans, a storm of a different kind is buffeting the world's community of climate scientists: are hurricanes becoming more vicious or more frequent? The raw fuel for tropical storms is a warm sea, so experts have long speculated that global warming, by driving up ocean surface temperatures, is bound to boost hurricanes and their Asian cousins, typhoons.

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