Editor's note: Were government promises to rebuild New Orleans kept? CNN's Anderson Cooper returns to the Gulf Coast to see what has changed since Hurricane Katrina. Don't miss "In Katrina's Wake," an "AC360°" special at 10 p.m. ET Thursday on CNN.
New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) -- U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu will hold a late-morning hearing Thursday about the lessons learned and the progress made in the five years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and large sections of the Gulf coast.
The hearing in Chalmette, Louisiana, will highlight the continuing challenges facing the state.
On Wednesday, Landrieu announced that Washington will award $1.8 billion to schools in New Orleans.
A provision in an appropriations bill authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide a lump-sum payment for K-12 schools damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"The provision also reduced penalties for insufficient flood insurance and alternate projects, which yielded more than $500 million in savings for Louisiana schools," Landrieu's office said in a statement.
"This $1.8 billion lump sum settlement is one of the great victories in our fight for a smarter recovery," Landrieu said. "It was a battle worth waging and while we would have liked to have received the money sooner, it was worth the wait. This lump sum approach is a much wiser investment of taxpayer dollars and should serve as a model for the right way to rebuild communities following a major disaster."
New Orleans schools are still rebounding five years after Katrina struck.
The money gives "local leaders the ability to rebuild New Orleans' school system in a comprehensive and strategic manner, instead of using a uncoordinated and piecemeal approach," Landrieu's statement said.