Hurricane Katrina made landfall south of New Orleans at 6:10 a.m. Aug. 29, 2005, as a strong Category 3 hurricane that flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.
President Bush commemorated Hurricane Katrina's devastating blow Wednesday with a somber moment of silence. Across town, in a symbol of a federal-city divide that persists two years after the killer storm, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin marked the levee-breach moment with bell-ringing.
Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, are spending Wednesday's anniversary of the storm in New Orleans and Bay St. Louis, Miss., determined to celebrate those he says have "dedicated their lives to the renewal of New Orleans." But with the region far from its former self after two years, some here think it's the president's dedication that should be in the spotlight.
"This town is coming back. This town is better today than it was yesterday and it will be better tomorrow than it is today," Mr. Bush said Wednesday during a visit to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology.
However, Mr. Bush cautioned, "We fully understand New Orleans can't be rebuilt until there is confidence in the levees."
The front page of The Times-Picayune advertised a scathing editorial above the masthead: "Treat us fairly, Mr. President." It chided the Bush administration for giving Republican-dominated Mississippi a share of federal money that it said was disproportionate to the lesser impact the storm had there than in largely Democratic Louisiana. "We ought to get no less help from our government than any other victims of this disaster," it said.
"There's always a more blessed day in the future and that's what we're here to celebrate," said Mr. Bush.
It is the president's 15th visit to the Gulf Coast since the massive hurricane.
The performance by the president and the federal government in the immediate aftermath of the storm - and some residents' lingering sense of abandonment since - severely dented Bush's image as a take-charge leader.