Revisiting the Voices of New Orleans

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Residents of New Orleans and government officials comment on Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast two years ago and largely devastated New Orleans. Shortly afterwards, President Bush saw his administration crippled by public fury about his response to the storm.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Two years ago, a woman who escaped New Orleans recalled the moment she picked up a newspaper and saw the name Katrina.

Unidentified Woman #1 (Resident, New Orleans): We didn't know the storm was coming until Saturday morning, when I picked up the Times Picayune and saw the track. The thing that frightened me the most was we could hear the local radio and they were saying on the local radio, get out now, get out while you can.

MONTAGNE: Here are more voices from that time: a Louisiana senator, NPR correspondents, Governor Kathleen Blanco and residents of the Gulf Coast.

Senator MARY LANDRIEU (Democrat, Louisiana): There are bridges out, there are highways with high water. There are whole neighborhoods that are underwater, with water up and over rooftops.

JOHN BURNETT: The first priority is rescuing people trapped in their homes. Authorities and radio stations are getting calls from people huddled in their second floors or in attics.

Governor KATHLEEN BLANCO (Democrat, Louisiana): But we're going to try to get those people relocated as soon as we've possibly can get a plan together.

Unidentified Woman #2(Resident, New Orleans): It's every day we hear we're getting out here today. And it's like - it's kind of redundant because every day you build your hopes up, and then I know, for me personally, when night fall, I know we're not getting out of here.

Unidentified Woman #3(Resident, New Orleans): There are people who are hungry and who need water. But if you get them out, we can take care of that. If you don't get them out, they will die from disease or they will die from other things that are going down down there. It is world war whatever you want to call it.

MONTAGNE: Voices from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And here are three more that helped to capture that moment. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Secretary MICHAEL CHERTOFF (U.S. Homeland Security): I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water.

MONTAGNE: NPR correspondent John Burnett was at the New Orleans Convention Center.

JOHN BURNETT: There is no food. There's absolutely no water. There's no medical treatment. There is no police and no security. And there are two dead bodies lying on the ground and in a wheelchair beside the Convention Center.

MONTAGNE: President George W. Bush saw his administration crippled by public fury over his response to the storm.

Two weeks after Katrina struck, the president stood in New Orleans' Jackson Square, the city's historic cathedral illuminated behind him, and made this statement.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know: There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.

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