August 29, 2007

On Second Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Whitehouse Calls for Commitment to Rebuilding

R.I. Senator Traveled to New Orleans in February to Assess Storm's Environmental Impact

Providence, R.I. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) issued the following statement today, on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:

“When I traveled to New Orleans earlier this year, and flew over the Lower 9th Ward, I witnessed block after block of demolished and vacant houses, as far as the eye could see. Two years after Hurricane Katrina struck, the Bush administration still has not kept its promise to rebuild this great American city – and that’s disgraceful.

“We must rebuild Louisiana’s homes and levees – but that alone is not enough. We also have to address the Gulf Coast’s disappearing marshes and wetlands, the natural buffer that helps absorb storm surges, but is disappearing rapidly, leaving New Orleans more and more exposed.

“Finally, we have to get the message about climate change, and how shrinking glaciers in Greenland connect to worsening storms on our shores.

“Rhode Islanders will not forget New Orleans – because we in the Ocean State know that the unthinkable can happen here, too. Imagine how angry we would be if two full years after a terrible hurricane Rhode Island still showed scenes of devastation. We must make a serious and sustained commitment to stronger infrastructure, and to government that takes competence seriously – to make certain that a tragedy like the shameful Katrina response never, ever happens again.”

Whitehouse traveled to New Orleans in February with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and a delegation of members of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee for a field hearing to study comprehensive approaches to coastal wetlands restoration, hurricane and storm damage protection, and debris waste management following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery, joined the committee for its review.

Whitehouse also took part in a Blackhawk helicopter flyover of neighborhoods damaged by the storm and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects to upgrade flood and storm protection systems. The aerial tour began at Jackson Barracks and traveled over St. Bernard Parish, the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MRGO), the Lower 9th Ward, and the outfall canals at Orleans Avenue, 17th Street, and London Avenue.


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