Former U.S. President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address Saturday at an evening event in the southern city of New Orleans commemorating the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Clinton said residents of New Orleans have much to be proud of in their achievements since the devastation of Katrina but should now rededicate themselves to eradicating the disparities of income, education and health.
Church bells tolled Saturday in New Orleans and across large swaths of the Gulf Coast, as residents marked the 10th anniversary of the moment the deadly hurricane made landfall.
Dignitaries in the hard-hit city laid wreaths and eulogized the the storm's 1,800 dead, while celebrating the recovery of the city and the resiliency of its inhabitants.
Residents of the city's rebuilt lower Ninth Ward, which was devastated by Katrina, marched in a parade and listened to speakers describe the catastrophe and its aftermath.
Storm costs eventually were tallied at $150 billion.
Thousands left the city and never returned. Many homes have yet to be rebuilt.
Yet the city's famous French Quarter, known for its food, drink and music, has bounced back.
Political leaders – including President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush – boast of the resilience of the people of New Orleans.
Bush visited the city on Friday, accompanied by his wife, Laura, whose library foundation helped rebuild what is the oldest public school in New Orleans.
The former president addressed a packed crowd at the school, quoting a local teacher who told him, "We teach our kids to be resilient."
The Bush administration was roundly criticized in the days following the storm for a slow emergency response to the thousands of people needing shelter, supplies and security amid the flooding.
The administration later sent considerable aid to the devastated city and the region.
Local officials, especially former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and former governor Blanco were also blamed for a bungled response.
On Thursday, President Obama hailed the southern city’s revival.
Speaking to city residents at a newly built community center in the Lower Ninth Ward, he said, “You are an example of what is possible when, in the face of tragedy and in the face of hardship, good people come together to lend a hand. And brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, you build a better future."
“The project of rebuilding here wasn't simply to restore the city as it had been, it was to build a city as it should be,” he told a crowd of 600. “A city where everyone, no matter who they are or what they look like or how much money they've got, has an opportunity to make it."