Gulf Coast marks Hurricane Katrina’s fury, celebrates rebirth

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At events both somber and raucous, Gulf Coast marks 10th Katrina anniversary, looks to future.

NEW ORLEANS — As the church bells rang marking the decade since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the 80-year-old woman wept softly into a tissue as she leaned against her rusting Oldsmobile near a Catholic church in Mississippi. “I feel guilty,” said Eloise Allen, whose house in Bay St.NEW ORLEANS – Mississippi and Louisiana marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Saturday by ringing church bells, laying wreaths and celebrating the resiliency of a region still recovering from a disaster that killed more than 1,800 people and caused $151 billion in damage.

Louis was damaged but inhabitable after the storm. “I didn’t go through what all the other people did.” Saturday was a day to remember what “all the other people” went through. Addressing dignitaries at New Orleans’ memorial to the unclaimed and unidentified dead, Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke of the dark days after the monstrous storm and how the city’s residents leaned on each other for support.

Pointing to the memorial, he said those who died in the storm sit in judgment on the living of New Orleans, and judge them not on what they have accomplished in ten years, but by how far they have to go. “They are the conscience of the city,” said Mr. In Biloxi, Mississippi, clergy and community leaders gathered at a newly built Minor League Baseball park for a memorial to Katrina’s victims and later that evening the park was hosting a concert celebrating the recovery.

The ceremony was the somber beginning to the day’s commemorations—many of them festive—marking the anniversary of the storm that forever changed this city and region. In New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, residents and community activists gathered Saturday at the levee where Katrina’s storm waters broke through and submerged the neighborhood. In parts of the city, people wearing festive clothes could be seen riding horses down the street or riding in special buses to celebrate the resilience of a city that has survived war, disease and floods since being founded by French settlers in 1718. Katrina’s force caused a massive storm surge that scoured the Mississippi coast, pushed boats far inland and wiped houses off the map, leaving only concrete front steps to nowhere.

After the speeches were done, a parade snaked through the neighborhood while music played from boom boxes and people sold water from ice chests under the hot sun. WMT -1.73 % as a primary sponsor, organized more than 100 projects throughout New Orleans to clean up parks, fix churches and schools and repair homes.

In a series of events in the week leading up to the actual anniversary, the city has held lectures, given tours of the levee improvements and released a resiliency plan. In the city’s 8th Ward, about 100 students from Tulane University came to paint the fence of the future Encore Academy, a charter school moving into an elementary school abandoned since Katrina. He came back Saturday just to find old faces from the neighborhood but he couldn’t bring himself to see the vacant lot where his house used to be. “The family home is what kept us together and it’s gone,” he said. Terri Smith, the school’s leader, said it would have cost $47,000 to put in new fencing around the school and instead Tulane students are painting the old fence for free.

The event will also feature performances by the city’s “Rebirth Brass Band,” award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Wild Magnolias. Neighborhoods across New Orleans held local events to commemorate the storm, and thousands of volunteers spread out across the city in a day of community activism.

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