Barack Obama visits New Orleans Thursday for the first time since taking office, in a several-hour stopover during which he'll hear from residents struggling to rebuild their city after Hurricane Katrina ravaged it in 2005, killing about 1,600 people and doing $40 billion in damages. Although locals criticized the Bush administration for dragging its heels on reconstruction after the storm, so far, Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has hailed Obama's efforts in the region. Since Obama took office, 76 of the 120 reconstruction projects stalled in federal-state disputes have been resolved and the administration has made 18 trips to the city and 35 overall trips to the Gulf Coast since March. Finally, Obama's federal government has committed an additional $1.4 billion in federal aid to Louisiana and $150 million more to Mississippi.