NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With prayers, church bells and brass bands, residents across Mississippi and Louisiana will pay homage Saturday to those who died in Hurricane Katrina, thank those who came to rebuild and celebrate how far the region has come from that devastating day.
Ten years ago — on Aug. 29, 2005 — Katrina made landfall in what turned into one of the deadliest storms in American history. The hurricane‘s force and flooding ultimately caused more than 1,800 deaths and roughly $151 billion in damages across the region.
In New Orleans, wide scale failures of the levee system protecting the city left 80 percent of New Orleans under water.
In Mississippi, churches will ring their bells to remember when the storm made landfall. In Biloxi, clergy and community leaders were to gather at MGM Park for a memorial to Katrina’s victims. In the evening, the park will host a concert celebrating the recovery.
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.
The city has framed the 10th anniversary as a showcase to demonstrate to the world how far New Orleans has come back. In the last week, the city has held lectures, given tours of the levee improvements and released a resiliency plan.
Many parts of this iconic city have rebounded phenomenally but many residents — particularly in the city’s black community — still struggle. Glitzy casinos and condominium towers have been rebuilt, but overgrown lots and empty slabs speak to the slow recovery in some areas.
In New Orleans officials will lay wreaths at the hurricane memorial and at the levee that ruptured in the Lower 9th Ward.
The neighborhood was one of the bastions of black homeownership in America when water burst through floodwalls, pushing houses off foundations and trapping residents on rooftops. The neighborhood still has some of the lowest rates of people who’ve returned after the storm, but it will be having a daylong celebration to mark the progress made.
Former President Bill Clinton will headline a free concert-prayer service-celebration Saturday evening at the city’s Smoothie King Center.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press via thegrio.com