WDSU: From Air Force One to Lower Ninth Ward: President Barack Obama visits Crescent City
This marks Obama’s ninth trip to Louisiana. The White House said Air Force One landed after a flight that offered “spectacular views over Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and a blissfully green New Orleans.”
Obama greeted Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Bill Cassidy and Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who awaited Obama’s arrival, accompanied by baseball star Cedric Richmond and Hakeem Jeffries.
The White House said Obama made his way to a group of around 100 people on the airport runway. Shortly afterward, the president got into his limousine and made his way down Interstate 10 toward the Crescent City.
Obama’s first stop was in the Faubourg Lafitte/Treme neighborhood, where he greeted several neighborhood residents. Obama and Landrieu went door-to-door along the 2300 block of Magic Street.
“I just want to give you hugs,” said Obama to a group of women trying to take a picture of him. “I’m not worried about the cameras.”
Obama went around the new mixed-income homes that have been built since Katrina. He said he appreciated the homes were built in the style of New Orleans architecture.
Before he left the neighborhood, Obama greeted another group of residents, held a baby and gave a few remarks about the area’s recovery, eluding to the speech he had prepared in the Lower Ninth Ward.
“What you’re seeing here is an example of the incredible federal, state and local partnerships that helped revitalize this community,” Obama said. “Part of our goal has been to make sure that we not just recover from the storm, but also that we start dealing with some of the structural inequities that stood long before the start of the storm.”
The White House said Obama made his way to Willie Mae’s Scotch House for lunch. He was surrounded by Landrieu and a handful of people at a center table.
Obama arrived in the Lower Ninth Ward around 3 p.m. at the Andrew P. Sanchez Community Center. The multi-million dollar facility recently opened in May.
The president began his speech just after 4 p.m. and shared the stories of people who have rebuilt their lives over the past 10 years since Hurricane Katrina. He touched on the resiliency of the Gulf Coast and achievements in New Orleans since the storm.
During the speech, he addressed how Katrina “started out as a natural disaster,” but “became a man-made one — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” according to excerpts of his speech released by the White House.
Obama touted his administration’s steady success in eliminating bureaucratic barriers to rebuilding New Orleans and to point to projects, like an overhauled school system and newly rebuilt hospital, as examples of a city on the upswing.
The president ended his address just after 5 p.m., greeted people inside the community center and made his way back up to the stage to leave the Lower Ninth Ward.
Obama departed Louis Armstrong International Airport just before 5:30 p.m.