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Special Edition: Remembering Hurricane Katrina

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(CNN Student News) -- August 29, 2006

Quick Guide

One Year Later - Track the growing concern that forecasters had in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Bush Visits New Orleans - Follow President Bush to storm-damaged cities along Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

Rebuilding New Orleans - Visit New Orleans' lower Ninth Ward, where residents remember life before the storm.



DANIELLE ELIAS, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome to Student News, your source for the day's top stories. I'm Danielle Elias. Glad to have you along. One year after Katrina, we remember those dark hours. What was going on in New Orleans ahead of the killer storm. President Bush is marking the anniversary by touring areas hard-hit a year ago and pointing to progress since. And in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward, people with broken dreams and broken homes, still wait for help.

First Up: Today's Headlines

ELIAS: We're going to take time to look back at the hurricane named Katrina that came ashore one year ago today. But first, these headlines. In Florida, emergency officials are on "full scale activation" as Ernesto approaches. The tropical storm dumped heavy rains in Cuba, and could make landfall in the Sunshine State today. Florida governor Jeb Bush is urging residents to prepare and some folks waited in long lines at gas stations and stores. Ernesto has already scrubbed today's planned launch for the space shuttle Atlantis. NASA says unless Ernesto dies down, the shuttle will be rolled back to a protective shelter at the Kennedy Space Center. That would postpone Atlantis' launch at least into next week. And in Turkey, authorities say they've been looking for two suspects after a deadly explosion in a tourist resort. At least three people were killed and 18 others wounded yesterday, in Antalya along the Mediterranean coast. The incident followed earlier attacks in another resort town and an Istanbul neighborhood. A Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility for those attacks.

One Year Later

ELIAS: New Orleans and Katrina. The two will always be linked. Since the storm's landfall a year ago today, we've had a lifetime of lessons about what went wrong. But before Katrina made landfall, from city hall to the White house, all eyes were on the looming storm amid growing uncertainty. Dan Lothian takes us back to those hours, before the levees broke.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN REPORTER: As the Gulf Coast braced for Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans native Lorrie Metzler prepared to get out of town with her 9-year-old son Michael.

LORRIE METZLER-NOLA RESIDENT: The writing was on the wall, you had an enormous Category Five hurricane headed straight for the mouth of the river, you know? Hello! I mean it was like, get out!

LOTHIAN: A year ago today, Metzler was arriving in Pensacola, Florida. 7:00 am central time, Katrina was upgraded to a category five storm. Forecasters were making dire predictions about the city she had left behind.

JACKIE JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Certainly New Orleans is going to be getting a very strong intense blow from this storm.

MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: If the really strong winds clip Lake Pontchatrain, that's gonna pile some of that water from Lake Ponchatrain over on the south side of the lake.

LOTHIAN: 11am, the city issues it's first ever mandatory evacuation order.

RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: We are facing a storm that most of us have feared.

LOTHIAN: But long before that, thousands of people had already started evacuating. Governor Kathleen Blanco, just off a call with the White House, added to the urgency.

KATHLEEN BLANCO, LOUISIANAN GOVERNOR: This is a very dangerous time.

LOTHIAN: Those without transportation began lining up at the Superdome...the shelter of last resort. Michael Brown, FEMA'S director at the time, insisted the government was ready.

MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA DIRECTOR: FEMA is not going to hesitate at all in the storm. We're going to move fast, we're going to move quick.

We're gonna use the service elevators.

LOTHIAN: Some doctors and nurses at area hospitals started moving medicines and other supplies to higher ground. Metzler, a physician, was concerned, as she followed the news from hundreds of miles away.

METZLER: I was very worried about the medical facilities. I was very worried about how we were going to get the sick people out.

LOTHIAN: By now the military had a small presence in New Orleans, but would their numbers be enough? And there were growing concerns about the levees. Would they hold? Katrina was still hours away, it was getting harder to leave the city. President Bush urged everyone to evacuate and offered reassurances.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We will do everything in our power to help the people and the communities effected by the storm.

LOTHIAN: Dan Lothian, CNN, New Orleans.


What Happened Next

ELIAS: We now remember a day New Orleans will never forget. The day Katrina hit, August 29th, 2005. At 6 am, Katrina makes landfall and winds from the category-three storm top nearly 130 miles an hour. By midday, the storm surge overwhelms the city's levee system. Major flooding follows. By the next day, more than 80 percent of New Orleans is under water. In some sections, floodwaters are 20-feet deep. Downtown, widespread looting breaks out. The following day, August 31st, more than 20,000 city residents are stranded inside the Superdome without working toilets or air conditioning. Thousands more await aid at the city convention center. President Bush calls for a major relief effort. On September 1st, Louisiana mobilizes 40,000 National Guard troops to assist in relief efforts and to restore order. In the following days, President Bush is criticized for the government's slow disaster response. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin blame each other for a lack of storm readiness. By September 12th, FEMA Director Mike Brown resigns. Katrina goes down as the most destructive hurricane to ever hit the United States.

Bush Visits New Orleans

ELIAS: To mark the storm's anniversary, President Bush is making a two-day visit to the Gulf Coast region. As Suzanne Malveaux reports, Mr. Bush is calling for more rebuilding in storm-damaged areas and praising the progress people have made over the past year.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN REPORTER: Still feeling the political heat one year after the federal government botched its response to Hurricane Katrina----President Bush is trying to convince the American people he's still committed in bringing the Gulf Coast back.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Optimism is the only option!

MALVEAUX: That message delivered outside a renovated home in the punishing Mississippi heat.

BUSH: I feel the quiet sense of determination that's going to shape the future of Mississippi, and so I've come back on this anniversary to thank you for your courage, and to let you know that the federal government stands with you still.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush paid a brief visit to Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi; towns once destroyed by Katrina----now cleared of debris.

BUSH: I was struck by the beauty of the beaches.

MALVEAUX: The president met with local business leaders who are bringing back jobs and cash through the casino industry..toured a boat factory that has residents back to work, and reunited with sisters who cried with Mr. Bush last year after losing everything, now housed in FEMA trailers.

Mr. Bush says the 110 billion dollars in federal aid allocated for Gulf Cost recovery is robust. Now it's up to state and local governments to get it to the people.

BSH: Hopefully that will work, hopefully that will be enough...the hardest part is getting the state's...up and running.

MALVEAUX: But polls show he's made little progress. The president's image as a strong leader took a big hit after the hurricane and has never recovered. Just before Katrina, six in ten Americans considered Mr. Bush a strong and decisive leader; just after the hurricane, that figure dropped to 49%. It now stands at 51%.

Mr. Bush moves on to New Orleans, Louisiana where he admits the recovery effort is much slower. He said it will take years, not months to bring the city back. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Gulfport, Mississippi.


Rebuilding New Orleans

ELIAS: Katrina's destruction played no favorites. But if there is one place that symbolizes a city's agony, it's New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. The neighborhood is still in ruins. Brianna Keilar shares what it's like as one woman visit home brings a flood of memories of what was, and what got washed away.


LATANYA COLLINS, FORMER RESIDENT: I still feel some kind of attachment to this house ... it's something.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN REPORTER: Ronald and Latanya Collins fell in love with this home.

RONALD COLLINS, FORMER NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: This is where we had Monday morning prayer every week.

KEILAR: Friends questioned the safety of the neighborhood, but they bought it and moved in with their two small children...six months before Katrina hit.

LATANYA COLLINS, FORMER NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: All the places you could get a house, why you going to the Ninth Ward? And this is where we chose to move. And look at this house now.

KEILAR: Some New Orleans officials blame the federal government for not getting reconstruction money to residents. And while FEMA has faced criticism for its failed response to Katrina victims, FEMA officials say they're more prepared this season.

DAVID PAULISON, FEMA DIRECTOR: We know who's responsible for what. Significant difference in the whole philosophy of how we're going to respond to disasters from last year.

KEILAR: But the Collinses, now living in Alabama, face the dilemma of so many New Orleanians: Where to go from here.

LATANYA COLLINS: They wanna come back but they wanna come back to hope, you know, to reality that things are going to be better, not just different, but better.



ELIAS: This special program on Katrina, and every CNN Student News broadcast is now available as a downloadable Podcast. You can get it at our Web site: Or, while you're on iTunes, just search for CNN Student News, subscribe to our Podcast, and we'll be there every time you sign in!


ELIAS: That's all for this special edition of CNN Student News. We'll see you here tomorrow. I'm Danielle Elias.


• Rebuilding: Vital signs
• Gallery: Landmarks over time
• Storm & Flood: Making history
• I-Report: Share your photos


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