Video: Few see Bush's positive spin

By Martin Savidge Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/13/2006 7:50:53 PM ET 2006-01-14T00:50:53

New Orleans awoke to a massive fire at a debris storage site Friday, just one day after President Bush declared the Big Easy dramatically changed.

The flames roared through a 100-foot high mountain of storm refuse in the Lower Ninth Ward. It took almost every weapon the beleaguered fire department had to bring it under control.

As he gutted his New Orleans East home, 27-year-old Joshua Robichaux was still angry Friday afternoon. He called President Bush’s rosy assessment and statement that “New Orleans is reminding me of the city I used to visit” ridiculous.

“If he cared, it seems there would be more going on in these areas,” Robichaux says.

The lights are on in only 34 percent of the city. Only one out of three grocery stores has reopened. Where there were once 2,000 hospital beds, there are now just 200. And the plan to make things better is also in trouble.

Even as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pitched the city's recovery plan to state and federal officials this week, saying, “We need help. We really need some help,” questions are growing about where the money will come from to cover the proposed $18 billion price tag.

President Bush was silent regarding legislation the city desperately needs to buy storm victims out — perhaps for good reason. Even before a dollar is spent rebuilding New Orleans, the White House projects the national deficit will grow by $60 billion next year.

Funding isn't the only problem for New Orleans. The proposed four-month ban on reconstruction is despised by residents and even disliked by the mayor.

“If I was making the decision today,” Nagin says, “I probably wouldn't go forward with that particular aspect.”

Then there was this statement from President Bush on Thursday:

"Folks around the county who are looking for a great place to have a convention, or a great place to visit, I'd suggest coming here to the great New Orleans."

His tourism plug fell the same day a judge said storm evacuees could stay in their New Orleans hotels beyond Mardi Gras — setting up another juggling act as a city recovers from a bad time and tries to prepare for a good one.

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