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Next, we conclude our weeklong series on how New Orleans and parts of the Gulf Coast are faring 10 years after Hurricane Katrina hit.
This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of when the storm struck, and in the days after, when the levees broke, leaving the city flooded.
President George W. Bush, whose response to Katrina was roundly criticized, returned to New Orleans today. He praised the city’s recovery and resilience in a speech at a charter high school that he said captured the school system’s turnaround.
GEORGE W. BUSH, Former President of the United States:
The ground we’re on today was underwater. All of us who are old enough to remember will never forget the images of our fellow Americans amid a sea of misery and ruin.
We will always remember the lives lost across the Gulf Coast. Their memories are in our hearts, and I hope you pray for their families. In a cruel twist, Hurricane Katrina brought despair during what should have been a season of hope:
the start of a new school year.
The students who had recently gone back to school suddenly had no school to go back to. Many had nowhere to live. The floodwaters, as you all know better than most, claimed schools and homes alike.
But I hope you remember what I remember, and that was the thousands who came here on a volunteer basis to provide food for the hungry and to help find shelter for those who had no home to live in. One of the groups that stepped forward to serve were the educators of New Orleans.
At a time when it would have been easy to walk away from the wreckage, the educators here today thought of the children who would be left behind. You understood that bringing New Orleans back to life requires getting students back to school.
And even though some of the educators had lost almost everything you owned, you let nothing stand in your way. Today, we celebrate the resurgence of New Orleans’ schools. We honor the resilience of a great American city whose levees gave out, but whose people never gave up.