President Barack Obama extended the federal office of Gulf Coast rebuilding Friday, calling it a “first step of a sustained commitment by administration to rebuild now, stronger than ever,” the Associated Press reports. Obama also announced plans to send his Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to tour the region in early March.
“The residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, who are helping rebuild, are heroes who believe in their communities, and they are succeeding despite the fact that they have not always received the support they deserve from the federal government,” Obama said in a statement.
The federal office of Gulf Coast rebuilding, established by former
President George W. Bush after the 2005 hurricanes, was set to expire at month’s end. The executive order, signed by Obama and released by the White House Friday, extends the office through September.
The White House did not immediately say who would lead the office or whether its work would in any way be tweaked. Bush’s hurricane recovery chief, retired Maj. Gen. Doug O’Dell, left office last month. O’Dell was among those who had urged the work of the office continue in some fashion, perhaps into 2011, citing, among other things, ongoing federal interest in projects including the rebuilding of the New Orleans area flood protection system and former public housing sites in the city.