Photos: Four years after Katrina

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  1. Four years after Hurricane Katrina unleashed its fury on the New Orleans area, steps are all that remain of a destroyed home near the repaired levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward.

    Katrina was the costliest, and one of the deadliest, hurricanes in U.S. history. It was blamed for more than 1,800 deaths and more than $90 billion in damage.

    New Orleans bore the brunt of the casualties and property damage. The city was flooded after its levee system catastrophically failed. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. People gather to listen to music in front of a home at the Musicians Village on May 13 in New Orleans. Musicians Village contains 72 single-family homes and 10 rental units constructed by Habitat for Humanity for older "music masters" of New Orleans.

    New Orleans continues to be revitalized with billions of dollars in federal rebuilding money yet to be spent along with billions more in federal stimulus funds in the pipeline. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A street performer flips for the crowd on Bourbon Street in New Orleans' French Quarter on May 15. Tourism is the number one industry in the city. More than 400,000 people attended this year’s JazzFest, the largest crowd since Katrina. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Revelers dance in a bar on Bourbon Street on May 15. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A couple weds at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter on May 15. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Job-seekers attend a job fair for 400 positions available at the refurbished Roosevelt Hotel on May 13 in New Orleans. After a $145 million renovation, the historic downtown hotel reopened, four years after Katrina. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Members of the Original Big 7 Social and Pleasure Club hold a traditional "Second Line" parade in the Seventh Ward on May 10 in New Orleans. The tradition sprang from when blacks formed brass marching bands and fraternal groups to perform elaborate "jazz funerals" for their associates. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Parishioners gather at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in St. Bernard Parish to celebrate the start of reconstruction of the church, on May 12 in Violet, La. The church was heavily damaged by the hurricane. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 8/29/2009 10:29:08 AM ET 2009-08-29T14:29:08

President Barack Obama promised Saturday that his administration would not forget what he called a tragic response to Hurricane Katrina. He said he would visit the still-recovering New Orleans before the end of the year.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president noted that the Bush administration's response to the killer storm raised questions among people in the United States about whether the government "could fulfill its responsibility to respond in a crisis."

Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, killing more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi and leaving behind more than $40 billion in property damage. Hurricane Rita followed almost a month later, with billions of dollars in additional damage and at least 11 more deaths.

Obama said he wanted to ensure "that the legacy of a terrible storm is a country that is safer and more prepared for the challenges that may come."

Since taking office, Obama has sent 11 members of the Cabinet to the region to inspect progress and to hear local ideas on how to speed up repairs.

"Our approach is simple: Government must keep its responsibility to the people, so that Americans have the opportunity to take responsibility for their future," Obama said in his address, released during his vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts.

Obama acknowledged that recovery has not come at an acceptable pace.

"I have also made it clear that we will not tolerate red tape that stands in the way of progress or the waste that can drive up the bill," said Obama. "Government must be a partner — not an opponent — in getting things done."

'A sense of momentum'
As a candidate, he promised during a speech at Tulane University in February 2008 to help the city hire police officers, repair schools, improve public transit, finish rebuilding the levee system and offer financial incentives to attract teachers, businesses and medical professionals.

Video: Obama marks Katrina anniversary Obama's disaster relief chief, Craig Fugate, has been cited by Gulf Coast officials and Obama administration officials alike for breaking through the gridlock that has delayed recovery.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal recently said he had a lot of respect for Fugate and his team. "There is a sense of momentum and a desire to get things done," he said of the career emergency official.

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In half a year, Obama's team says it has cleared at least 75 projects that were in dispute, including libraries, schools and university buildings.

Even so, many towns remain broken, littered with boarded-up houses and overgrown vacant lots. Hundreds of projects — including critical needs such as sewer lines, fire stations and a hospital — are entangled in the bureaucracy or federal-local disputes over who should pick up the tab.

"No more turf wars," Obama said. "All of us need to move forward together, because there is much more work to be done," he said.

More on: Hurricane Katrina   |  Bobby Jindal

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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