New Orleans marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with multiple events across the city.
At a memorial service, Mayor Mitch Landrieu recalled how residents had turned to each other for support.
Former President Bill Clinton later spoke at a concert in New Orleans.
Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000 people and displaced one million in 2004. It was the most expensive natural disaster in US history and caused destruction along the Gulf coast.
In New Orleans, the failure of the levee system left about 80% of the city under water.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu led a sombre tribute to the 83 unidentified victims whose bodies lie in mausoleums at the city’s Hurricane Katrina Memorial.
Photo Getty Images
“Though they are unnamed, they are not unclaimed because we claim them,” he said.
“We saved each other,” the mayor added.
“New Orleans will be unbowed and unbroken.”
Residents and community activists also gathered at the levee in the Lower Ninth Ward, where storm waters broke through and flooded the district.
After speeches, a parade took place through the neighbourhood, with some participants in colourful Mardi Gras dress.
Throughout the day, thousands took part in traditional musical parades through the city’s streets.
Former President Bill Clinton later spoke at a free concert at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center.
He said the sheer magnitude of what had been accomplished in rebuilding the city should not be underestimated, but that more work needed to be done so that the lines that divided communities – such as race and wealth – could be erased.
A ceremony was also held at the Superdome arena that housed thousands of displaced people after the storm.
President Barack Obama visited the Lower Ninth Ward on August 27, praising “the extraordinary resilience of this city and its people”.
Although New Orleans has largely recovered from the disaster, some – particularly from the African-American community – feel left behind.
On August 28, former President George W. Bush visited the city. His administration was criticized at the time over its slow response and the issue remains a source of deep resentment in New Orleans.
Ray Nagin, the former New Orleans mayor who was in office during Hurricane Katrina, has been found guilty of corruption.
Ray Nagin, 56, helped contractors secure millions of dollars of work in exchange for bribes, free trips and other gifts.
He was charged in January 2013. The former mayor was found guilty of 20 of the 21 charges against him.
Mayor of the city from 2002 to 2010, Ray Nagin was criticised for failing to implement his evacuation plan when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.
Before the verdict was read, Ray Nagin said outside the New Orleans federal court that he had been “at peace with this for a long time”.
Ray Nagin was found guilty of 20 of the 21 charges against him
Prosecutors argued during his trial Ray Nagin took at least $500,000 in bribes, beginning before Hurricane Katrina but continuing during the city’s recovery.
The graft included money, free vacations and tonnes of free granite for the stone company Ray Nagin and his sons owned.
In exchange, the local businesses were awarded consulting and construction contracts with the city.
Ray Nagin, a Democrat who served two terms, was his defence lawyers’ chief witness.
During testimony Ray Nagin vehemently denied taking bribes, saying he was bound to approve contracts awarded to the lowest bidder or through a panel recommendation process.
At least four Ray Nagin associates have already pleaded guilty in the case. Defence lawyers also argued the prosecution’s case was built on the testimony of business owners who pleaded guilty in hopes of getting lighter sentences.
Among more than two dozen prosecution witnesses were five people who said they were involved in bribing the former mayor.
Each charge carries a sentence of three to 20 years, but how long he will serve is unclear.
Ray Nagin will remain free on bond but will be monitored, before his sentencing hearing, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.
A tape has emerged on the eve of the presidential debate of President Barack Obama making controversial “race” remarks about the government’s response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Speaking to an audience of predominantly black ministers at Hampton University in 2007, Barack Obama said that the response to Katrina was lacklustre because “the people down in New Orleans, they don’t care about them as much”.
Critics say the tape is an example of the President trying to whip up “fear and hatred” but supporters of Barack Obama said the speech has already been widely reported and dismissed the release as an attempt to deflect attention away from Mitt Romney ahead of tonight’s crucial debate in Denver, Colorado.
The speech had previously been aired but only an edited video was released and a transcript that did not include the ad-lib remarks about New Orleans.
Barack Obama said: “Down in New Orleans, where they still have not rebuilt 20 months later. There’s a law, federal law – when you get reconstruction money from the federal government – called the Stafford Act.
“And basically it says, when you get federal money, you have to give a 10 per cent match. The local government has to come up with ten per cent. Every $10 the federal government comes up with, local government has to give a dollar.”
He continued: “Now here’s the thing. When 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act – said: <<This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you have to put in. Well, here’s $10.>>
“And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said: <<Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with your own money here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not going to wait for you to scratch it together, because you’re part of the American family>>.
“What’s happening down in New Orleans? – <<Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?>>
“It tells me that somehow the people down in New Orleans, they don’t care about as much.”
The recording of Barack Obama also reveals him giving a “special shout out” to controversial pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright who was in the audience.
In the footage, Barack Obama introduces Reverend Jeremiah Wright as “my pastor, the guy who puts up with me, counsels me, listens to my wife complain about me”.
“He’s a friend and a great leader. Not just in Chicago, but all across the country.”
Barack Obama’s speech in June 2007 came a year before Jeremiah Wright’s infamous “God damn America” remarks surfaced in 2008.
Referring to treatment of African-Americans in the U.S, Rev. Jeremiah Wright said in a sermon in 2003: “No, no, no, not God Bless America.
“God damn America….God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human.”
The retired pastor also came under fire after he said the September 11 terrorist attacks were “America’s chickens coming home to roost”. He was kept at a distance by Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.
Right and left-wing media were divided over the impact of the tape. The Daily Caller, which broke the story, erupted over Barack Obama’s remarks, describing them as “racially-charged”.
The conservative blog added that the “at times angry speech undermines Obama’s carefully-crafted image as a leader eager to build bridges between ethnic groups”.
It also compared the President with radical civil rights activist Al Sharpton. The site’s editor Tucker Carlson told Fox that the clips were Barack Obama “whipping up race hatred and fear. Period”.
The liberal media played down the Obama tape as old news.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow heaped sarcasm on the clip, saying: “This is how he snuck into the White House, right? People didn’t actually know he was this black, and if they had known, they never would have elected him.”
Sam Feist, Washington Bureau Chief at CNN, tweeted: “Re: Secret tape of the Obama event: CNN covered it in 2007. It was open press.”
Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have stepped back from the campaign trail in recent days as they prepare ahead of their first head-to-head meeting on stage on Wednesday night.
The Republican National Committee has stayed quiet over the release of the tape while Mitt Romney’s camp has denied involvement.
The Obama campaign said the release of the clips were a “transparent attempt” by Mitt Romney’s allies to divert from a secretly-recorded tape where the Republican nominee told a fundraiser that “there are 47% who are with him [President Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims”.
Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said: “The only thing shocking about this is that they apparently think it’s wrong to suggest that we should help returning veterans, children leaving foster care and other members of Mitt Romney’s 47% get training that will allow them to find the best available jobs.
“If the Romney campaign believes that Americans will accept these desperate attacks tomorrow night in place of specific plans for the middle-class, it’s they who are in for a surprise.”
Thousands of people have been evacuated from New Orleans as Hurricane Isaac makes its slow approach.
Hurricane Isaac will hit the Louisiana city exactly seven years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but it is a much less powerful storm.
New Orleans has closed its new floodgates in a bid to protect it from the effects of high waters brought by sustained winds of up to 80 mph (130 km/h).
Isaac killed at least 24 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
It has also caused significant flooding and damage across the Caribbean and forced a day’s delay to the start of the Republican party’s congress in Tampa, Florida.
Hurricane Isaac will hit Louisiana exactly seven years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but it is a much less powerful storm
At 02:00 local time the Category One hurricane was almost stationery about 70 miles (110 km) south of New Orleans, according to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
Tens of thousands of people have been told to leave their homes in low-lying areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, though a mass evacuation has not been ordered. Storm warnings are also in place in parts of Florida, Texas and Alabama.
Officials say Isaac is likely to weaken before it reaches New Orleans.
“We don’t expect a Katrina-like event, but remember there are things about a Category One storm that can kill you,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Of particular concern are storm surges, with peaks of up to 3.7 m (12ft) forecast in parts of Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana. Rainfalls of up to 50 cm (20 inches) are forecast across wide areas, along with a high chance of isolated tornadoes along the coast.
The bowl-shaped city of New Orleans is particularly vulnerable to storms, with the centre of the city the furthest below sea-level.
But Mitch Landrieu said that the 8m-high levee gate which now protects the areas of the city that were badly flooded in 2005 had been closed since Tuesday morning.
Many residents of New Orleans have chosen to secure their homes but stay put, saying they were not too concerned by Isaac.
“I feel safe,” said Pamela Young from her home in the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood devastated by Katrina.
“Everybody’s talking <<going, going>>, but the thing is, when you go, there’s no telling what will happen. The storm isn’t going to just hit here.”
“If the wind isn’t too rough, I can stay right here. If the water comes up, I can go upstairs.”
Nazareth Joseph, who works at a hotel in French Quarter and was in the city during Katrina, said he had a busy week ahead so would stay where he was.
“We made it through Katrina; we can definitely make it through this. It’s going to take a lot more to run me. I know how to survive,” he told the Associated Press news agency.
By Tuesday night, more than 58,000 homes in New Orleans were reported to have lost power. Outages have also been reported across Louisiana and Mississippi, affecting more than 200,000 homes and business.
President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi, allowing federal funds to be released to local authorities.
Speaking from the White House, he warned residents along the Gulf Coast to heed warnings, including those to evacuate, saying: “Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously.”
Shortly before Isaac reached hurricane status on Tuesday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the emergency declaration fell short of the federal help he had asked for.
Tropical Storm Lee is hitting Louisiana as it hurls rain at the US Gulf coast, bringing back memories of the Katrina flood disaster.
US National Hurricane Center traced storm centre on Saturday afternoon to 45 miles (75km) south-west of Morgan City, with maximum winds of 60mph (95km/h).
Louisiana declared state of emergency and an emergency has also been declared in coastal parts of Mississippi.
Tropical Storm Lee is hitting Louisiana
Flood defences repaired after the 2005 disaster are expected to be put to the test in New Orleans.
According to National Hurricane Center forecasters, Tropical Storm Lee had been stationary for a few hours then began a slow and erratic path to the north and north-east, and is expected to make landfall later on Sunday.
Lee comes few days after Hurricane Irene killed 44 people from North Carolina to Maine and left millions of people without electricity.
For the moment is too soon to tell if another hurricane, Katia, which is out in the Atlantic, could threaten the US.
The Atlantic hurricane season usually brings about a dozen named storms, but Katia is already the 11th with half the season still ahead.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has warned of possible major flooding, with up to 10in (25cm) of rain forecast for the city.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the flood control structures in New Orleans, says it is not planning to close any of the structures yet.
Businesses in the New Orleans’ famous French Quarter fear the storm may dampen the Southern Decadence festival, an annual gay lifestyle fixture.
“People are probably scared to death to come here after Katrina,” Ann Sonnier, shift manager of Jester’s bar, told the Associated Press news agency, adding that receipts had been disappointing so far.
Nearly half of US Gulf oil production was shut on Friday as companies – including Exxon Mobil, Shell and Chevron – evacuated workers and shut offshore platforms.
BP, the largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico, told the BBC it had evacuated all personnel and shut down production.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal warned residents to “make sure they have a game plan for themselves and their families should this storm strengthen”.
However, the developing weather system could bring some much-needed rain to Texas, which is in the grip of a severe drought.
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