Kathleen Blanco, governor of Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, died at the age of 76
Former Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, who led her state during the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, died Sunday after a long battle against cancer. She was 76 years old.
Governor John Bel Edwards's office confirmed Blanco's death. She was fighting a rare form of cancer that had spread in her liver.
The Democrat, who had spent more than two decades in government offices, announced in December 2017 that she would be treated for incurable melanoma. "I have had an extraordinarily fulfilling life," she said in her announcement of her final condition. Blanco, a devout Catholic, thanked the residents of Louisiana for their "eternal love" during their service years, calling it an "honor and blessing" to lead the state in responding to Katrina and Hurricane Rita weeks later.
Blanco was the first woman to hold the post of Governor of Louisiana; In 2004 she took office. Her career was largely determined by Katrina 20 months later, in August 2005. The storm devastated New Orleans and led to the displacement of over 1
,400 dead and thousands.
Both local leaders and Blanco were criticized for what was seen as an unprepared and inadequate response. It took on much of the blame as images of flooded streets and people stranded on rooftops made news worldwide.
She said the situation had been worsened by a Republican-run White House that was trying to shift the blame for failures in response to disasters.  The former governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, died on Sunday at the age of 76. (AP Photo / Bill Haber, File) “/>
Former Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, died Sunday at the age of 76. (AP Photo / Bill Haber, file)
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"I was not aware of any deliberate deadlock in Washington at the time," Blanco said in an interview with USA Today Network in 2015. " I felt I had to ask more questions than I needed to.
"Katrina certainly left traces and Rita left a mark on Louisiana. However, it has made us tougher. This has strengthened us, "said the former governor last July.
Her political career never recovered and she decided against a second term.
" She was a woman of consistent faith and unconditional love for her family. Louisiana and the ones she served, "Edwards said Sunday, speaking to First Lady Donna Edwards as News Star reported." Louisiana has lost a champion. Donna and I lost a friend. "
Blanco, a former high school teacher, served in the elected office for 24 years and made her way through state politics without making waves, having been in the State House for the first time in 1984 and eventually serving As from 1996 to 2004 she was Vice-Governor before she was elected Governor.
She was also the first woman on the Civil Service Commission of Louisiana.
Former Louisiana governess Kathleen Blanco held a press conference in June 2009 when Governor Bobby Jindal was watching (AP Photo / Bill Haber, File)
It broke the governors' race in 1991, but successfully prevailed in 2003 against then-rising Republican star Bobby Jindal, who after Blanco acted as Republican governor of the state.
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During her tenure, she earned praise for raising salaries for public school teachers when advocates said she had led a corruption-free government ,
During her last months, Blanco described the feeling of being blessed by God and said it was a "wonderful time for me, even though it's a kind of countdown."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.