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Obama: We won't abandon New Orleans

Five years after Hurricane Katrina's wrath, President Barack Obama sought to reassure disaster-weary Gulf Coast residents Sunday that he would not abandon their cause.

"My administration is going to stand with you, and fight alongside you, until the job is done," Mr Obama said to cheers at Xavier University, a historically black, Catholic university that was badly flooded by the storm.

The president said there are still too many vacant lots, trailers serving as classrooms, displaced residents and people out of work. But he said New Orleanians have showed amazing resilience.

"Because of you," the president declared, "New Orleans is coming back."

Mr Obama spoke five years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina roared onshore in Louisiana, tearing through levees and flooding 80 percent of New Orleans. More than 1,800 people along the Gulf Coast died, mostly in Louisiana.

Even as the region struggled to put despair behind it, hardship struck again this year in the form of the BP oil spill. More than 200 million gallons (757 million liters) of oil surged into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was capped in mid-July. New Orleans' economy, heavily dependent on tourism and the oil and gas industry, was set back anew.

Standing in front of a large American flag with students arrayed behind him, Obama boasted of his administration's efforts to respond to the Gulf spill, saying one of his promises - to stop the leak - has been kept.

"The second promise I made was that we would stick with our efforts, and stay on BP, until the damage to the Gulf and to the lives of the people in this region was reversed," Mr Obama said. "And this, too, is a promise we will keep."

Mr Obama toured Columbia Parc, a development of attractive new townhouses that's replacing the St. Bernard Housing Development that flooded during Katrina. He met with a long-time resident who had to be rescued from her home in a boat after Katrina struck.

And Mr Obama dropped in at the Parkway Bakery and Tavern, a local institution known for shrimp and roast beef po'boys, which was underwater after Katrina. "I appreciate you coming here," one woman told him. He responded with a hug.

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