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Alan Drake, a 57-year-old engineer who joined the march in solidarity, lives in the Lower Garden District, a neighborhood on the “sliver by the river” that did not flood.

“We are finally past the part of major rebuilding in large parts of the city,” Mr. Drake said. “But we’re certainly not over the hump here.”

Even as the region struggled to put despair behind it, hardship struck again this year in the form of the BP oil spill. 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, Mr. 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.

But the speech didn’t offer any new plans for restoring the Gulf, bringing New Orleans’ fast-disappearing wetlands back to life or cleaning up BP’s spilled oil. Some residents had hoped Mr. Obama would take the opportunity to announce an early end to the deepwater drilling moratorium he enacted after the spill. But he made no mention of the moratorium, which people here say is costing jobs.