U.S. President Barack Obama is marking the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed much of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana and devastated the nation's Gulf Coast. The president says, in his weekly radio address that, he will visit New Orleans this year.
Four years after Katrina left more than 1,000 people dead and more than one million homeless, President Obama is recalling the horror Americans felt when watching the tragedy.
"None of us can forget how we felt when those winds battered the shore, the floodwaters began to rise, and Americans were stranded on rooftops and in stadiums," he said.
With parts of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities still in ruins, Mr. Obama says he has been focusing on efforts to rebuild communities and lives.
"To date, eleven members of my Cabinet have visited the Gulf Coast, and I am looking forward to going to New Orleans later this year," he said.
The president has not announced a specific date for his visit.
He says his administration is working to improve government programs that help Katrina's victims rebuild, and to guard against similar damage from future storms.
After Katrina blew ashore on August 29, 2005, then-President George W. Bush was widely criticized for his administration's response.
Mr. Obama says the American people must be prepared, not only for hurricanes, but for other types of dangers, including wildfires, earthquakes and terrorist attacks, and especially the H1N1 swine flu.
"My administration is working aggressively with state and local governments, and with partners around the world, to prepare for the risk posed by the H1N1 virus," he said.
In the opposition Republican Party message, Senator Mike Enzi of the Western state of Wyoming is blasting Mr. Obama's proposal for overhauling the U.S. health insurance system. Enzi says health care reform is needed, but the Democrats' plan will significantly increase the nation's deficit.
"The Democrats are trying to rush a bill through the process that will actually make our nation's finances sicker without saving you money," he said. "The American people are growing increasingly concerned about out-of-control spending in Washington that is leaving us with trillions of dollars of debt."
Enzi's message also pays tribute to Democrat Edward Kennedy, who died earlier in the week after almost 47 years in the Senate. Enzi calls him a tireless champion on a wide range of important issues.