December 7, 2005

Ex-presidents Bush, Clinton disburse Katrina aid

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Former U.S. Presidents George H.W.
Bush and Bill Clinton unveiled on Wednesday a $90 million aid
program for universities and other organizations shuttered by
Hurricane Katrina three months ago.

The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund announced a first grant of
$30 million for 34 higher education institutions, including the
University of New Orleans, Tulane University and Loyola
University of New Orleans, as well as other universities and
colleges across Mississippi and Alabama.

An additional $20 million will support the rebuilding of
local churches and other religious organizations, while $40
million will be divided among state governments in Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama for recovery efforts.

"These institutions need to reestablish themselves to give
people hope that the foundations of their communities will be
there now and in the future," Clinton said.

The two presidents have united in an effort to raise funds
for hundreds of thousands of Katrina survivors displaced by the
storm. Clinton said more than 60,000 donations had been made to
the fund with total pledges at $110 million.

"Our doors are still open," he said during an appearance at
the University of New Orleans, which sits along a nearly
deserted neighborhood on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. "We
are nowhere near enough money to make you whole."

Bush and Clinton also named former Commerce Secretary Don
Evans and former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman as co-trustees
of the fund.

The storm forced local universities to shut their doors
during the fall semester, with many students temporarily
relocating to other institutions across the United States.

The University of New Orleans served as a shelter for
hurricane evacuees in the immediate aftermath, while more than
half its student body of 7,000 came from areas in the city that
were completely flooded, said Roslyn Sheley, director of

The university plans to reopen on January 30.