Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

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Monday, August 28

President Bush Makes 13th Visit to Coast Today

President Bush marks the anniversary of the hurricane that still haunts his presidency with worries a new tropical storm could bring the first test of his promise that the botched post-Katrina response will not be repeated.

As Ernesto cut a path through the Caribbean, Bush prepared for a visit Monday and Tuesday to the region that is little recovered from Hurricane Katrina's devastating strike last August. Forecasters believe Ernesto, which grew into the first hurricane of the season Sunday and then weakened back to a tropical storm, will emerge with some force into the Gulf of Mexico later this week.

Bush's trip is his 13th to the Gulf Coast since Katrina, and his first in over three months. The highlights this time are a pair of speeches, one each in Mississippi and Louisiana.
He wasn't bringing any new aid announcements or fresh policy proposals. Instead, the president was hoping the addresses would persuade local residents and doubters elsewhere that he remains committed to seeing the region rebuilt better than before.

On one matter that has become a subject of some finger-pointing between Washington and the region, aides said Bush would stress that the states and local governments need to do their part to get federal money to victims -- an unmistakable jab at leaders in Louisiana and New Orleans, where federal money for citizens to rebuild homes has not yet begun flowing.
So far, Congress has approved $110 billion in hurricane aid. The Bush administration has released $77 billion to the states, reserving the rest for future needs, but $33 billion of that has not yet been spent.

Bush's itinerary looks a lot like previous trips, many of which have been criticized as featuring too much staged contact with supportive locals and overly dominated by meetings with officials. He is spending a little more time freely roaming harder-hit Mississippi than New Orleans. On Monday, after lunching with community leaders in Biloxi, Mississippi, he was to walk through a damaged neighborhood and visit a Gulfport company that builds and repair boats. He was ending the day in New Orleans, for dinner with state and local officials.
Copyright 2006 The
Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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