President Obama bypassing Mississippi on his gulf coast visit

By Doug Walker - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Eighty-eight-year-old Corky Hire was born and raised on Biloxi's Point Cadet. He lost his home in Hurricane Katrina and now lives in a MEMA cottage. He said a presidential visit to the Point would open some eyes at the White House.

"It might change his mind I think, because look what happened" Hire said. "There's nothing here, between here and almost Main Street."

Faye Jones is the office administrator at the Church of the Redeemer. She said the president is missing an opportunity to view the destruction brought on by Katrina.

"All of our buildings are gone down here and we are still struggling to rebuild," Jones said. "We're trying to get people back living on the point and it's hard because of insurance.  We just need to have some support."

The director of the STEPS Coalition, an advocacy group for the disadvantaged said she is disappointed.

"We had great hope that he was going to come here and when we learned that he wasn't coming to the gulf coast we felt very much left out," Roberta Avila said.  "We want to remind the president and the nation that the eye of the hurricane came through Mississippi."

So right now, folks are on the Mississippi coast are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping the president will change his mind and come for a visit in the near future.

A White House news release sent out Wednesday noted that Obama cabinet members have made five visits to south Mississippi this year. And according to the White House Office of Media Affairs, each of those visits focused on hurricane recovery efforts.

"President Obama's commitment to Mississippi's recovery is demonstrated by his tireless work to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and improve coordination among federal agencies and local partners who have too-often failed to collaborate in the past four years," the White House statement read.

"As a result, public assistance projects that had been stuck for years have moved forward since the start of the Administration. From transitioning people out of temporary disaster housing to rebuilding schools, roads, and bridges, the Obama Administration has invested critical resources in Mississippi's rebuilding and recovery efforts and has worked to change the game on the ground for residents.

Since President Obama took office, FEMA has obligated over $160 million for Mississippi recovery and more than $2.5 billion in Recovery Act funds have been announced for Mississippi.

The Obama Administration knows challenges remain and has taken steps to learn from the mistakes of the past, including the establishment of a new arbitration panel to shake federal money loose and an interagency working groups to study Gulf Coast coastal storm protection and to improve long term disaster recovery across the country."

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