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Katrina anniversary: How well has recovery money been spent?

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IN PICTURES: Hurricane Katrina five years later

Much of the $142 billion in federal recovery funding for the Gulf Coast was appropriated by Congress under President Bush, and his administration created the framework for the region’s recovery. But Liu credits the Obama administration with speeding up the recovery by cutting through bureaucratic gridlocks that were holding up funding, and appointing a Cabinet that has taken a stake in reforming of the city’s public-service sector.

“The arbitration panels that the administration created to unblock FEMA funding really accelerated the spending of infrastructure dollars, and the Cabinet has otherwise been very involved in New Orleans, coming here often to make sure that rebuilding and reforms of the schools, of the police department, of city government are moving forward,” says Liu.

According to the White House, Mr. Obama’s efforts have freed up more than $2.25 billion in FEMA public-assistance dollars for Louisiana recovery efforts since he took office. High-level members of his administration have visited the Gulf Coast 155 times. Ahead Obama's visit on Sunday, eight Cabinet members and agency heads are slated to spend all or most of four days in the city visiting schools, health clinics, and nonprofit recovery organizations.

Among the recovery projects in the region funded by the government: $247.5 million in federal block grants for improvements of local school districts; $130 million for rebuilding local criminal justice systems; $85 million in new HUD housing vouchers; and $47 million in grants for medical services in underserved areas.

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