“I will make it clear to members of my administration that their responsibilities don’t end in places like the 9th Ward - they begin there,” he said 13 months ago before winning the primary.
But some were left disappointed that Ms. Napolitano and Mr. Donovan’s tour Thursday focused more on recovery than depicting the devastation that remains the hardest hit parts of New Orleans. Their caravan didn’t tour the Lower 9th and instead stopped for a few minutes on the Claiborne Avenue Bridge over the Industrial Canal overlooking what was once the neighborhood.
Some residents who spotted the line of cars and buses were frustrated and said that was business as usual.
“They need to go in the neighborhoods and see that they are really not developed,” said Frazier Tompkins, a 59-year-old truck driver. “They always show the French Quarter is up, Mardi Gras is going. But people in the neighborhoods really need to get in their houses.”
Asked about the avoidance of the Lower 9th, Ms. Napolitano noted it “bore the brunt of the damage” and faces “a lot of recovery issues.”
“We want to move that recovery along,” she told The Times in an interview Friday. “We’ve got a fresh team and a fresh set of eyes from Washington, D.C., at my level and a real commitment from President Obama to see that this gets done.”
Mr. Nagin dismissed complaints about the tour’s route.
“She’s aware of it, we talked about it,” he said. “She was moved. My focus is not just the Lower 9th but that we need a more comprehensive approach to the whole city.”
Mr. Green, who watched as the caravan stopped, did not begrudge the secretaries for holding events in other parts of the city but called it an “honorable mention” since Mr. Pitt was on Capitol Hill that same day touting his project.
“Had they gone up the street they would have seen firsthand how many families are still not back, how many houses are gone and how many houses are untouched by repair,” he said.
Cecile Tebo, crisis unit administrator for New Orleans Police Department, said, “It’s easy for people to hear ‘blah, blah, blah’ sometimes” during national television reports on Katrina, but that Mr. Obama’s actions are a reminder.
“When he sent people here, it reactivated that attention and awareness,” she said.
Jordan Sikkema left Chicago to help rebuilding efforts along the Mississippi coast three years ago, and is now the construction coordinator for Lagniappe Presbyterian Church’s recovery program.