Ten Years After Hurricane Katrina, Twitter Is Joining New Orleans In Honoring The Victims
Throughout New Orleans on Saturday, locals paid tribute to the nearly 1,600 citizens killed by one of the worst natural disasters in American history. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, residents throughout the South who were hit by the historic storm have slowly begun rebuilding their lives, marking the anniversary this weekend with a bevy of events meant to memorialize the victims and reflect on how far the city has come. From ceremonies for unclaimed victims to prayer services filled with pews of survivors, much of New Orleans has spent the past week mourning its losses and looking toward the future, hoping to move forward in any way it can.
"We want to celebrate because we are still here, but a lot of people are not," said 36-year-old Natasha Green in an interview with Reuters reporters. Green had been living in the city's devastated Lower Ninth Ward at the time of the storm and decided this weekend to join in on a nearby Mardi Gras-esque event to mark the anniversary. On Saturday, Green told reporters that the commemoration ceremonies were bittersweet. "It is important to remember what we went through here," she added.
Social media was awash with emotional posts this weekend as well, with 2016 GOP candidate and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal himself taking to Facebook to issue a message of hope to citizens and the nation.
"10 yrs ago, the world watched as Katrina devastated our state," Jindal wrote. "Many believed the storm had robbed America of one of its greatest cities, [but] today, Louisiana has come back from the storm stronger than ever."
Thousands of Twitter users followed suit, posting photos and memories from the terrifying deluge, along with uplifting thoughts for the future:
Not all Katrina survivors, however, were as happy about the inundation of "K10" celebrations as others. New Orleans native Anne Gisleson wrote this op-ed for the Los Angeles Times:
Even though the 10th year won't look much different than the ninth, there's a lot of pressure being put on this moment to reckon with both the past and the future, which is an overwhelming prospect to many people.
... Most of us fled 10 years ago. How fitting it would be if we held another mass evacuation in commemoration of the storm, and left the place to the media and dignitaries (three presidents!) who will soon descend on our home. Or maybe we should all stay, in solidarity with those who could not evacuate. Then the mayor could give a short speech about resilience and sustainability and throw an oversized ceremonial switch, cutting off all power and cellphone connection to the region, so we could observe a moment of digital silence. That would truly bring us back to the day 10 years ago when the city went dead.
Whatever city residents and the volunteers who descended on New Orleans in the wake of the tragedy want to make of the commemoration ceremonies, it's a positive sign that even though there is still plenty to overcome, the general attitude going forward had shifted for the better.
"We saved each other," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, at a ceremony on Saturday. "New Orleans will be unbowed and unbroken."