Photo Gallery: New Orleans remembers those lost to Hurricane Katrina 15 years later

‘Our spirit didn’t die that day,’ 9th Ward resident says

A second-line parade begins near where the wall of the Industrial Canal gave way Aug. 29, 2005. The Hip Hop Caucus and New Orleans Commemoration Foundation held multiple events on Aug. 29 to commemorate the lives lost after Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by JC Canicosa / Louisiana Illuminator)

Robert Green lost his 3-year-old granddaughter and 73-year-old mother when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005. Fifteen years later, Green spoke to a socially distanced crowd at a healing ceremony in their honor.

“Our spirit didn’t die that day, Green said. “Our spirit has been lifted by all the people who came, and it has been lifted by this event that we have on this levee.”

The Hip Hop Caucus and the New Orleans Commemoration Foundation hosted a second-line parade and a rally to commemorate the lives lost after Hurricane Katrina near where the Industrial Canal floodwall broke.

Hurricane Katrina killed 1,833 people total, almost 1,600 of them in Louisiana and about a thousand of those in New Orleans.  In the Lower 9th Ward, where Green spoke and where Saturday’s memorial second-line began, the force of the water pouring out of the Industrial Canal obliterated some houses and pushed many others off their piers. 

After addressing the audience, Sino, one of the members of the New Orleans Commemoration Foundation, told a reporter that Saturday’s event is a reminder that anything can happen to communities in Louisiana. The week before the commemoration, Louisianians were advised to prepare for two storms approaching from the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Marco quickly fizzled when it reached Louisiana, but Hurricane Laura struck Southwest Louisiana as a Category 4. Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday that it made landfall as  the strongest recorded storm to hit Louisiana.

“It’s just being aware,” Sino said. “We just had a big storm pass through and our prayers and blessings out to the people in Lake Charles, Cameron and those in west Louisiana parishes.”

As for Hurricane Katrina, he renamed it “Hurricane America” because, he said, “Katrina didn’t do this to us. America did. To this day, (the government) still hasn’t taken responsibility for it,” he said.