Obama coming to Gulf Coast

Published 1:18 pm Thursday, October 1, 2009

President Barack Obama said Tuesday he’ll visit the Hurricane Katrina-damaged Gulf Coast by mid-October.

Such a trip would fulfill Obama’s promise to visit the region by the end of his first year in office.

Details of the trip will be released at a later date, the White House said.

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Obama also signed an executive order that extends for six months the federal office in charge of coordinating recovery and rebuilding efforts in the region. That office, initially established in November 2005, was set to expire Sept. 30.

Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, killing more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. The area is still cleaning up, rebuilding and recovering from more than $40 billion in property damage caused by the hurricane.

Hurricane Rita hit near the Texas-Louisiana border a month later, causing billions more in damage.

The federal government has devoted more than $175 billion to the region since Katrina struck.

Obama marked the hurricane’s fourth anniversary last month by pledging to make sure turf wars and red tape don’t slow recovery.

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. But many communities remain dotted with boarded-up houses and overgrown vacant lots, and hundreds of projects are entangled in the bureaucracy or federal-local disputes over who should pick up the tab.