New Orleans bells ring to mark Katrina Anniversary
President George W. Bush was on hand for a memorial service and to meet with residents on the anniversary and the city planned to mark the day in its own unique way.
A crowd of about 50 gathered and rang hand bells at City Hall, while across the city in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the areas hardest hit by flooding, hundreds met to march toward downtown to press for the “right to return” home, shorthand for a plea to give more help to those most in need.
“We’re all together but we’re not all back,” marcher Robert Stark said, emphasizing the unity of spirit among friends and relatives scattered around the United States.
Some danced, others beat drums and still others lit candles next to new 15-foot-high flood walls protecting a now-empty field where blocks of houses were smashed by a flood torrent.
Other marches will muster brass bands to play dirges to honor the dead and up-tempo standards to celebrate life in jazz funeral-style processions that the city adores. Prayer and memorial services were planned throughout the day.
Katrina killed about 1,500 people across four states, hitting hardest in Louisiana and Mississippi, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, flooding 80 percent of New Orleans. Buras, Louisiana, the tiny town where Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005, was one of the first in the region to mark the storm’s anniversary as about a hundred people gathered for a minute of silence at a volunteer fire department station that is still missing walls wrecked by Katrina.