Mr Obama visited New Orleans - the city hardest hit by the disaster - with his family at the end of a week-and-a-half holiday on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
During the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Mr Obama sharply criticised then-President George W. Bush for his administration's slow response to the flooding and devastation that played out live on television.
Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina left the region submerged, killing 1,800 people. Pictured is a general view of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, eights days after the disaster
Ahead of November's congressional elections, Mr Obama used his speech to highlight his administration's action since taking office, drawing an implicit contrast without naming Republicans or Bush by name.
'It was a natural disaster, but also a man-made catastrophe, a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men and women and children abandoned and alone,' Mr Obama said in a speech at Xavier University.
On the most recent calamity to hit the region, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr Obama promised to reverse the damage it caused and hold energy giant BP accountable.