Obama visits New Orleans on Katrina anniversary

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US President Barack Obama has pledged to finish restoring the Gulf Coast area hit by Hurricane Katrina, five years after the storm ravaged the region and hurt the credibility of his Republican predecessor.

Obama visited New Orleans - the city hardest hit by the disaster - with his family at the end of a week-and-a-half vacation on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

During the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Obama sharply criticized then-President George W. Bush for his administration's slow response to the flooding and devastation that played out live on television.

Ahead of November's congressional elections, Obama used his speech to highlight mistakes from the Bush years and reaffirmed his administration's commitment to the people of the Gulf coast.

The 2005 storm killed more than 1,800 people and caused billions of dollars of damage to the Gulf coast.

Democrats are expected to lose a significant number of seats and possibly majorities in both houses of Congress in November. The White House has sought to boost Democrats' chances by highlighting what his administration is doing.