New Orleans mayor says recovery from Katrina, oil spill to take at least 5 years

As BP reduces the size of the "vessels of opportunity" program, fishermen who work in more remote areas are expressing concern about oil they have recently spotted in places where boats have not been deployed.
By Ileana Morales
Friday, August 20, 2010

Five years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, the city's mayor said Thursday that its recovery will take at least another five years.

Katrina and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico brought the Louisiana coast "to its knees," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) told those attending a luncheon at the National Press Club.

Landrieu urged the audience to visit Louisiana. He also emphasized the need to lift the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling. He said he would discuss the issue with President Obama when he visits the gulf Aug. 29 to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastating hit.

The Obama administration banned such drilling after the BP oil spill disaster.

Although BP has been negligent and irresponsible, he said, drilling oil is necessary to let the Gulf coast continue providing energy and food to the rest of the country.

"We are not limited to 'drill, baby, drill' or stop drilling forever. We can do better," Landrieu said. "We must drill and restore."

The city's transformation will be slow and dependent on resources, but Landrieu said there will be more immediate transformation in the city's safety, schools and job market.

New Orleans is also facing a $79 million hole in its $460 million budget. Landrieu said cuts have included 14 furlough days for city employees and reorganizing usage of overtime.

Still, he'd like to see New Orleans back on its feet in time for the city's 300th anniversary in 2018.

As New Orleans builds from the ground up, Landrieu said, the city is already seeing a revival in volunteerism and nightlife. Student test scores have also gone up in the past three years. New Orleans, he said, is a city ripe for innovation.

"Our future is not just about survival," Landrieu said. "It's about resurrection. It's about redemption."

Landrieu was elected in February to replace term-limited C. Ray Nagin (D), becoming the majority-black city's first white mayor since 1978, the year his father, former New Orleans mayor Maurice "Moon" Landrieu, left office.

-- Associated Press

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