President Obama welcomed the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints to the White House Monday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Emily Schultze/CNN)
Washington (CNN) – The New Orleans Saints had the customary White House visit for Super Bowl victors Monday but not without showing support for their gulf coast region-including an offensive lineman making a surprise visit to the White House briefing room with a platter of his tasty barbeque shrimp from Louisiana.
Looking to highlight the plight of Gulf Coast fishermen, Zack Strief hooked up with the White House chef and used a special family recipe to cook up a tasty dish to then be sampled by the White House press corps.
In the East Room earlier, President Obama saluted the team for their Super Bowl victory, and for the emotional boost it gave a city ravaged by hurricane Katrina.
"This team took the hopes and the dreams of a shattered city and placed them squarely on its shoulders," the President said during remarks in the White House East Room, adding that "not only did the team come back, it took its city's hands and helped its city back on its feet."
See video of the visit after the jump:
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) - The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would commit another $438 million toward redeveloping Gulf Coast communities still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The announcement came as two Cabinet officials, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano toured parts of the New Orleans area, including suburban St. Bernard Parish.
Katrina killed more than 1,800 people when it struck near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line in August 2005. Most of those deaths were in the New Orleans area, where more than 1,500 people were killed when the storm breached the city's protective levees and flooded more than three-quarters of town.
The city's population is about three-quarters of what it was before the storm, and nearly 85,000 residences in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes remain vacant, according to January figures from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/31/art.mac9ward1031.gi.jpg caption="Sen. McCain toured the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans with his wife, Cindy, in April of this year."]
(CNN) - The lingering aftermath of Hurricane Katrina looms large over New Orleans residents this election season. CNN’s Voter Hotline has received several calls from New Orleans residents wondering where to vote, whether former evacuees are still registered, and how to vote absentee after being displaced.
Joseph Harris of New Orleans was confused about whether his temporary displacement after the storm would affect his registration.
“I was calling to make sure I was on the list. I want to make sure my information had been changed back now from Houston where I was evacuated during Katrina, and I just want to make sure I’m able to vote on November 4,” Harris asked on the Hotline.
According to the Louisiana Secretary of State, Katrina’s lingering impact doesn’t extend to the voter rolls. “There has been no purging because people were displaced by Katrina. Basically, they can vote if we have a good address,” said Jacques Berry from the Louisiana Secretary of State office. “If you live in a homeless shelter and have an address, you can register to vote in Louisiana.”
Katrina victims who were displaced and are still planning to vote in Louisiana should call the state’s toll free number, (800) 883-2805. The rules for those displaced by the storm are no different than other residents, Berry said. “There’s nothing specific to them.”
The Hotline has also gotten calls from New Orleans parish voters who haven’t received their absentee ballots. “There’s a good chance that all the absentee ballots are out now. We want all voters to have the opportunity to vote. I am sure all absentee ballots will be out with sufficient time,” Berry said. “We want all voters to have the opportunity to vote.”
If you are a resident in the state of Louisiana who has questions regarding your registration status or where you should go to vote, you can visit geauxvote.com or call 1 (800) 883-2805.
Watch this clip from "Larry King Live"
(CNN) – Hollywood star Brad Pitt, who bought a home in New Orleans earlier this year to demonstrate his solidarity with the hurricane-ravaged city, has thrown himself into a major rebuilding project in one of its hardest-hit neighborhoods.
In an interview with CNN’s “Larry King Live,” the actor and architectural enthusiast discusses “Make It Right,” an adopt-a-house project that allows people to donate money to help build 150 environmentally friendly homes in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In this clip, Pitt calls on the 2008 presidential candidates to help the Lower Ninth Ward and other parts of New Orleans damaged by the historic storm.
“I hope this becomes, and is, one of the major issues in this campaign,” Pitt tells King. “I hope it’s used not so much as a whipping stick for the past administration but really used for a proving ground, an opportunity to address these issues of health care and education reform,”
New Orleans’s bid to host a 2008 presidential debate was recently rejected by the Commission on Presidential Debates – a move that was sharply criticized by White House contender John Edwards, who has made the sluggish pace of rebuilding in that city a centerpiece of his presidential bid.
Other Democratic candidates have also criticized the Bush administration for the city’s slow recovery pace.
Watch more of the interview Wednesday on "Larry King Live."
- CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
Watch Ed Henry's report from fire-ravaged Southern California.
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) - White House Correspondent Ed Henry traveled with President Bush to Southern California on Thursday. Henry reports on how the President's response to the wildfires continues to contrast with his response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Related: In response to wildfires, Bush trying to avoid another Katrina
Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com
President Bush was criticized for his detached response to Hurricane Katrina.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina became a defining moment in President Bush's administration. The wildfires blazing in Southern California may give Bush another opportunity to demonstrate that his administration can respond appropriately to a major disaster. Watch Ed Henry's report.
Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin spoke recently at a memorial service on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, the controversial leader of the Crescent City during Hurricane Katrina, will not seek the governorship of Louisiana.
Nagin, who won re-election to lead New Orleans through its rebuilding efforts after the devastating hurricane, did not file the necessary paperwork to seek the state’s highest office. The deadline to do so has passed.
Had Nagin decided to throw his hat in the ring, he would have faced Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose congressional district includes parts of New Orleans, as well as several other candidates. Nagin, current Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and President Bush all were criticized for poorly preparing the city for the storm and then not acting quickly enough to help residents after it hit.
Nagin was a cable company executive before becoming mayor of New Orleans in 2002. He won re-election in 2006, beating Mitch Landrieu, the brother of current Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu.
- CNN Political Ticker Producer Xuan Thai
Watch CNN's Soledad O'Brien report on the New Orleans recovery effort.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two years ago Wednesday, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. President Bush arrived in the Crescent City Tuesday night, and plans to talk about federal recovery efforts later Wednesday in the still-devastated region.
It was September 15, 2005, just over two weeks after the hurricane struck, when President Bush talked to the nation from Jackson Square in New Orleans.
Bush said then, "Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. 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."
But two years later, according to a new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation Poll, 55 percent of Americans we questioned don’t think New Orleans will every completely recover from the storm. 44 percent say it will.
While the federal governments committed more than $110 billion in grants and loans to the devastated region, the money’s been slow in getting to the people who need it the most. That’s something Bush acknowledged at a news conference last August, just before the first anniversary of Katrina, when he told reporters, "It’s going to take a while to recover. This was a huge storm." (Related video: Former FEMA head Michael Brown says he's still angry)
More than half of those we questioned feel the federal government’s not doing enough to help rebuild areas hit hard by Katrina. 52 percent believe the government has not done enough. Meanwhile 33 percent feel that Washington has done enough and only 10 percent say the federal government’s done too much. The poll, conducted nationally August 6-8, carries a margin of effort of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
President Bush greets New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Monday night.
(CNN) – President Bush arrived in New Orleans Tuesday night to mark the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, his 15th visit to the Gulf Coast since the deadly storm.
Air Force One touched down at Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, which served as a staging area for medical teams in the days following the storm. First Lady Laura Bush arrived on a smaller Air Force jet a few minutes before the President.
The President warmly greeted Governor Kathleen Blanco, and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin at the foot of the plane. The smiles and pats on the back were in contrast to often bitter political disagreements between their administrations in the wake of the storm.
Mr. Bush then greeted Lt. General Russell Honore, who won praise for his role commanding military relief efforts after several days of complaints over government inaction. The President saluted Honore and then shook his hand.
Blanco and Nagin joined the President on Marine One for a trip to downtown New Orleans, where they were expected to dine at a newly reopened restaurant, Dooky Chase. Local reporters noted it’s in an area with a housing complex that is still shut down. The White House said community and cultural leaders were to join them.