Bush's State of the Union Omits State of Louisiana

The President's Speech

Survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding along the Gulf Coast are unhappy that President Bush failed to mention the struggle to rebuild in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

In his speech, President Bush talked about the economy, education, healthcare, immigration, terrorism and Iraq, among other topics. But he did not talk about New Orleans and the challenges the city faces as it tries to recover. People in New Orleans noticed.

When Joe Aguda turned on his television last night in his FEMA trailer in the front yard of the house where he used live in, he heard President Bush talk about committing troops and resources to the rebuilding of Iraq.

But he didn't hear anything about rebuilding New Orleans.

Standing in the shell of his house in mid-city New Orleans Wednesday, sifting through a few relics that survived in his attic, Aguda said his reaction was simple. "We've been forgotten," he said.

And Aguda says he can't explain why. "This is the largest national catastrophe to ever happen here in the United States and everything else took precedence."

But Aguda is not the only one in Louisiana who's upset. People are talking about it all over town, from individual homeowners all the way up to Louisiana's Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

"I certainly was surprised and very disappointed that the president didn't have a single thing to say about the gulf coast, about Louisiana," Blanco said. "He didn't have anything to say about the massive recovery effort that we are all struggling to effect and it certainly is a disappointment.

"I guess the pains of the hurricane are yesterday's news in Washington, but for us it's still very real and something we fight every day."

One of those still fuming Wednesday was Walter Leger, a citizen member of the Louisiana Recovery Agency, an organization working to rebuild the state.

"Last night I sat anxiously, anxiously with my yellow pad in my hand, waiting to hear mention of what we continue to go through by the day here — what we focus on and getting our lives returned," Leger said. "And we heard not one word. Not one word about us from the president of the United States."

Leger says he found the omission to be unacceptable.

"We all should be outraged at the lack of prioritization that we've had," he said. "Because I reflect on what was most important to the president and all of us: the war. But we are at war here."

The federal government has already allocated more than $100 billion to the Gulf Coast region. But for the people in New Orleans still living in trailers 17 months after Katrina struck; for parents whose children on waiting lists for schools; for the people who drive by empty shells of homes and businesses every day; they say they were looking for reassurance from their president that they hadn't been forgotten.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: