Katrina Timeline: Failures of Reconstruction

The Government Must Do Better By New Orleans

After Katrina, the president pledged the government would help save New Orleans. A timeline catalogs two years of broken promises.

On Sept. 15, 2005—two weeks after New Orleans was devastated by storm and flood—President Bush stood in the city’s Jackson Square and made a promise:

Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.

Two years later, it’s clear that the president and his administration have failed to keep that pledge. On nearly every level, the government response to the recovery and rebuilding of New Orleans has been characterized by apathy, incompetence, and corruption.

Click and drag on the timeline below to view examples of the inadequacies of the government’s response over the last two years. Click on each timeline item for more information.


At the core of the United States’ national character is the belief that government should serve the common good and ensure the protection, prosperity, and opportunity of all its people. The government has thus far failed the people of New Orleans.

As the Center for American Progress argued in the report "Katrina and the Common Good," the renewal of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast must be made a national domestic priority. When any one of us is down, all of us are down, and the people of New Orleans are still down. We should do whatever is necessary to get them back on their feet.

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