Gulf Coast residents mark 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina from 2005 courtesy NOAA

NEW ORLEANS – As people in western Louisiana continue to dig out from Hurricane Laura, residents of eastern Louisiana and Mississippi marked the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Saturday.

In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other officials held a ceremony at 8:29 a.m. — the moment the devastating storm made landfall. Cantrell laid a wreath at the city's Katrina memorial where the remains of unclaimed or unidentified victims of the storm were laid to rest.

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“Let’s continue to remember and let’s never forget,” Cantrell said during the event.

“As we reflect on this anniversary, please know that together we have proven our strength and ability to overcome,” Cantrell said. “The scars run deep this time of year, but we have the ability to rise up in the face of devastation. Thanks to all of our people who worked so hard in the trenches to rebuild our neighborhoods in particular and our city as a whole. Today, we remember that we will never stop, that we will stand together, and we will stand strong. "

In the city's Lower 9th Ward, a healing ceremony was held near the area where the levee broke in 2005, sending a torrent of water into the African American neighborhood. Community members also were gathering for a prayer service and to read out the names of people who died in the hurricane and its aftermath.

That ceremony was followed by a march to another part of the city and a rally featuring speakers and community organizations. Cautions put in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus include asking participants to wear masks and keep six feet apart.

Robert Green, with the Original Rooftop Riders, has organized a memorial and second line in the 9th Ward ever year since two of his relatives died during Katrina. He said this time of year is a hard time for many, WDSU-TV reported.

“This is not a stopping point. The COVID showed us what happened in Katrina. We lost lives, COVID has taken lives. We have to move past this,” said Green.

According to a story in the Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate, some ceremonies have been put on hold this year as the city struggles to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

An estimated 1,800 people died in Katrina’s aftermath, and the storm caused more than $100 billion in damage. The failure of the levees surrounding the city allowed water to pour into New Orleans and eventually submerged 80% of the city.