NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Residents in New Orleans and elsewhere remembered the tragic events that began six years ago Monday when Hurricane Katrina struck.
President Obama said the anniversary demanded "more than remembrance."
"[What's] required of us is our continued efforts to make sure that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast fully recover, and to make sure that our response to such disasters is the best it can possibly be," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.
At the St. Bernard Parish public school district's annual "Day of Reflection" breakfast, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu praised the district and parish's ability to "come out of the ashes, the rubble and the muck" of Hurricane Katrina, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.
"The most important thing that we can do after disasters -- and I hope they are listening on the East Coast [affected by Hurricane Irene] -- is build your schools first," Landrieu said.
Obama used his anniversary message to point up the federal government's efforts to "to enhance our preparedness efforts so that Americans are ready before disaster strikes, and to strengthen our recovery capabilities so that we're more resilient after disaster strikes."
President George W. Bush was roundly chastised for the slow federal response after Katrina struck.
"Today is a reminder of not just the immediate devastation that can be caused by these storms, but the long-term needs of communities impacted by disasters," Obama said. "This administration will stand by those communities until the work is done."
Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster, and one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. At least 1,836 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods. Total property damage was estimated at $81 billion.