From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
There was a broad range of reactions from the presidential candidates. We have statements from Giuliani, Dodd, Edwards, McCain, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. We also have a five-and-a-half-minute video from Obama entitled, "Rebuilding New Orleans, Two Years Later."
GIULIANI: "On this anniversary, Americans come together to remember all those who lost their lives, suffered or were affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. We must now use the lessons learned to ensure we are better prepared in the future. By building on the courage and skills of all our citizens, America will become a stronger, more resilient nation."
DODD: "On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we are reminded of the tens of thousands of people still affected by this catastrophe. Americans have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and for far too many, their lives, due to an egregious lapse in leadership by the Bush Administration.
"We need bold leadership to right the wrongs of Katrina and improve the lives of those affected by this national tragedy. I have proposed legislation to put tens of thousands of people back in their homes and revitalize the Gulf Coast, but we must also ensure that this kind of tragedy doesn't happen again. We need leadership that will ensure that we are always prepared by investing in our infrastructure and our first responders."
EDWARDS: "If George Bush's government were as good and decent and focused as the people of New Orleans, whole parts of the city would not still look like the storm just hit. This is a national disgrace. While President Bush continues to fail New Orleans, the American people and the residents of the city have not. Almost all of the progress that's been made has been the work of the proud residents of the city and generous Americans, working without and often in spite of the federal government. Our government needs to support their efforts and help get New Orleans back on its feet. And we need to do everything possible to make sure this never happens again.
"Hurricane Katrina brought poverty right into our living room and showed us the Two Americas that exist in our country. We all saw the images of people stranded on rooftops or at the Superdome because they were unable to escape simply because they didn't have a car or the cash to evacuate, didn't have the physical mobility or because they didn't want to leave behind the few possessions they had.
"Although those images have faded from our television screens, widespread poverty still persists. In fact, data released yesterday by the Census Bureau shows no statistical change in the number of people living in poverty from 2005 to 2006 -- leaving nearly 37 million Americans struggling to survive. America is better than this. We need a national effort to end poverty in America, and we need every American to take action in our fight to build One America. And we need to make sure another Katrina never happens again, in New Orleans or anywhere in America."
MCCAIN: "On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we pause to remember the victims, family members, and all affected by the tragedy. Let us not forget the bravery and courageousness of everyday heroes who provided a sense of hope in a city of despair.
"The failure of government's response to Katrina is one example of why Americans have lost faith in our government. In the wake of a disaster, the federal government must move expeditiously to aid residents in need. We must use the lessons learned to ensure the federal government and Department of Homeland Security performs better in the tests of future disasters to come.
"I praise the citizens of Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Gulf Coast for their continued resilience and perseverance in rebuilding their communities. Though the storm has long passed, its devastating effects remain. It is important on this anniversary for us to remember our neighbors who are still in need of our support. Our government must do better in the face of natural disasters and as president, I pledge that it will."
DNC CHAIRMAN HOWARD DEAN: "Two years ago, while President Bush strummed a guitar at a California fundraiser and Heck-of-a-Job Brownie had his back turned, the people of Louisiana and Mississippi stood on their roofs and fought for their lives. Americans watched the Bush Administration's inaction after Katrina with horror, not believing that our government was capable of this kind of incompetence and indifference.
"Yet two years later, people are still suffering, and the Bush White House's incompetence remains. Just a few weeks ago we learned that the Bush Administration knowingly left Katrina survivors in toxic trailers. When does this stop? The people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast deserve better and are still waiting for help.
"Democrats are fighting for those who have suffered after Katrina and won't stop until all survivors are able to rebuild their lives. But the struggle is far from over, and electing a Democratic president in 2008 is the only way to ensure the federal government makes the people of Gulf Coast a priority and that our government never lets our citizens down like this again."