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Bush's State of the Union Omits State of Louisiana

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Bush's State of the Union Omits State of Louisiana

Katrina & Beyond

Bush's State of the Union Omits State of Louisiana

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And we have one last item about last night's State of the Union - not something from the speech, rather something that was not in the speech. There was not one mention of New Orleans or the rest of the gulf coast. And as you might expect, people there are not happy about that.

Melanie Peeples reports.

MELANIE PEEPLES: 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.

Today, the white haired man stands in the shell of his house in mid-city New Orleans, sifting through a few relics that survived in his attic.

JOE AGUDA: Let me show you (unintelligible) yeah.

PEEPLES: His spirits are low.

AGUDA: I think we have been forgotten.

PEEPLES: And Aguda says he can't explain why.

AGUDA: You know, this is the largest national catastrophe to ever happen here in the United States, and apparently, you know, everything else took precedence.

PEEPLES: He's not the only one in Louisiana who's upset. People are talking about it all over town, from solitary homeowners like Aguda, all the way up to Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco.

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. 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. Very real. And it's something that we live every single day.

PEEPLES: One of those still fuming today is Walter Leger. He's a citizen member of the Louisiana Recovery Agency, an organization working to rebuild the state.

WALTER LEGER: 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 in getting our lives returned. And I heard not one word. Not one word about us from the president of the United States.

PEEPLES: And Leger found that totally unacceptable.

LEGER: We all should be outraged at the lack of prioritization that we've had. Because I reflect on what was most important to the president and important to all of us, the war. But we are at war here. And our war is on the streets of the city and the highways and in the former playgrounds of St. Bernard Parish and St. German and Jefferson Parish and Cameron Parish in Lake Charles. Our enemy is isn't a terrorist from the Middle East or a dictator from the Middle East. Our enemies are Katrina and Rita - that's their names.

PEEPLES: 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, for parents whose children are still on waiting lists for schools, for the people who drive by empty shells of homes and businesses every day, these people are looking for reassurance from their president that they hadn't been forgotten.

For NPR News, I'm Melanie Peeples in New Orleans.

NORRIS: You can find more coverage of President Bush's State of the Union address at There is the full text, analysis of key proposals and the Democratic response.

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