By Bruce Nolan
c. 2010 Religion News Service
NEW ORLEANS (RNS) With prayers and the tolling of bells, but also with second-line parades and Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleanians on Sunday (Aug. 29)took stock of their rebuilt lives in the five years since the worst event in the region’s history and promised to keep the recovery going.
Observances of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its levee failures entailed a complicated daylong inventory conducted as a light, steady rain drenched the landscape. The day was filled with gratitude, mourning, frustration and hope in the face of a mammoth rebuilding job not yet complete.
“We are not rebuilding the city that was; we are rebuilding the city that is to be,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the audience at the city’s official event at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, where the anniversary commemoration turned into a fiercely joyous celebration of New Orleans culture.
It opened with drumming and the arrival of a dozen Mardi Gras Indian chiefs in full regalia, with Big Chief Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolias leading the audience in the traditional “My Indian Red” and other chants.
The explicit message: New Orleans’ cultural heart still beats.
The anniversary drew to New Orleans President Barack Obama and his family as well as actress Sandra Bullock, who helped open a health clinic at Warren Easton Charter High School.
At Xavier University, Obama quoted from the Book of Job, and
promised: “My administration is going to stand with you, and fight alongside you, until the job is done, until New Orleans is all the way back.”
Later, in Metairie, Gov. Bobby Jindal told more than 1,000 people at Celebration Church that “sometimes it takes a tragedy like Katrina to remind you of what’s really important — to treasure the people in our lives, to make the most of our time on this earth.”
In St. Bernard Parish, residents at Shell Beach cast a wreath onto the waters of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, which five years ago shotgunned a wall of water into the parish and the Lower 9th Ward, destroying everything in its path.
But after five years of hard work, that ceremony saw more than loss.
Pastor Ben Alderman of Harvest Time Ministries noted the unity that Katrina forged in hardship.
“We have unity here in our parish. That’s what makes us so proud and so powerful, that we can love one another, we can go through these storms, we can go through that oil slick, we can go through things that come upon us.”
At St. Louis Cathedral, representatives of eight world religions and hundreds of participants prayed in gratitude, grief and hope.
Lutheran Bishop Michael Rinehart told hundreds at the interfaith service that “suffering is the crucible of greatness” and that New Orleans has emerged from its near-death experience with a clearer vision of what it wants to become.
“We will never be the same,” said Rinehart. “Thank God, we will never be the same.”
But recovery has been uneven from storm that killed 1,464 in Louisiana, wrecked 182,000 homes and drove 125,000 in continuing exile.
Post-Katrina data indicate widening disparities among rich and poor around New Orleans. In the Lower 9th Ward, where a handful of trophy homes stand sentinel over a still-ruined neighborhood, more than 1,000 residents gathered to protest their plight and renew their loyalty to their neighborhood, come what may.
Some, like Monique Atkinson, wore T-shirts memorializing loved ones killed in the storm — in her case, her aunt, Margie Lewis, 75, who was torn from her son’s grasp and swept away by the floodwaters coursing through Gentilly.
Her body has never been found, Atkinson said.
And others repeated a common theme: They are determined to stay in the Lower 9th, but that flaws in the Road Home program and other public assistance programs systematically discriminated against the historic blue-collar neighborhood that was one of the most severely damaged in
The ceremonies just a few blocks from the Industrial Canal floodwall that disastrously failed unfolded in a landscape where three-fourths of the neighborhood’s residents have been unable to return.
While the neighborhood is a showcase for some well-documented homes, erected by actor Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation, vast stretches remain vacant and weed-choked. And it was this condition that residents sought to emphasize at the memorial, which began with a second-line up North Claiborne Avenue to the top of the bridge over the Industrial Canal, where a wreath was laid.
Calandthia Randall, who has rebuilt her home in the 7th Ward, said she nonetheless feels the recovery is incomplete.
“I’ll be fully recovered when I see the city recovered,” she said.
(Bruce Nolan writes for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. Staff writers Chris Kirkham, Kari Dequine, John Pope contributed to this
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of
this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters»
- Hispanics turning evangelical, Jews secular
- Billy Graham: I know where I’m going
- Are All These Christians’ Complaints of Persecution Just So Much Empty Whining?
- How can Christians defend themselves against today’s random violence?
- Does Sunday Morning Church Really Need All This Glitter, Showmanship and Gimmickry?
- Want a Good Movie for Your Youth Group?
- Syria in Flames: Is This How to Defend Our Faith?
- Are Denominations Dividing the Church?
- Egypt’s Christians weep as rioters target their churches, homes, businesses … and children
- Can a bunch of kids thrill moviegoers with “Red Line”?
- Confessions of a Preacher’s Daughter
- Focus on the Family’s President Says It’s Time to “Refocus”
- 5-week Bible special a labor of love for famous TV producer and ‘Touched by an Angel’ wife
- Who should be allowed to pray for Obama?
- Do parents have a say in what schools teach?
- What has Americans so scared? Why are millions stockpiling guns?
- ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour: Not your ordinary Christmases
- Who’s winning the war on Christmas?
- Jamie Foxx declares Obama “Lord & Savior”
- Did third-party candidates deny Romney the presidency? And where were the Christians?
- Producer, author, actor Roma Downey’s life has been more than touched by an angel
- On our knees: the only way for Christians to approach this presidential election
- Have they proved Jesus had a wife?
- Dallas cops give hookers a choice: jail or Jesus
- Joe Gibbs talks football, fast cars and faith
- American Bible Challenge sets network record
- Religious News Service accepts funds to provide more atheist articles
- Is that the American Bible Society playing Facebook games? With Jeff Foxworthy?
- Wisecracking Foxworthy, competing charities team up at Bible Challenge premiere
- Should worshipers be allowed to arm themselves?
- Was Jesus a Democrat? Or a Republican?
- Phoenix, Arizona, home church pastor defies bureaucrats, is jailed for hosting Bible study
- How could a Third Party candidate affect Obama’s re-election chances?
- Unsure where candidate stands? Check here!
- Mixing Bibles, bars and beer, missionaries head for the pubs
- Have Americans lost their faith … or just their trust in the old “mainline” churches?
- Why is the Episcopal Church near collapse?
- The Blaze: Obama’s brother turns on him
- What if you could vote “None of the Above?”
- India’s Christians: What would Gandhi do?
- Iran’s mad imams should be given nukes?
- Why has President Obama awarded amnesty to young illegal aliens?
- Is religion to blame for the world’s violence?
- Should America be a Christian nation?
- Is Atatürk’s dream of a secular Turkey lost?
- Are Wisconsin’s startling election results a sneak peek at November?
- Will the Game Show Network win with Bible trivia?
- Will black voters stay home in November?
- So, the GOP finally has a candidate
- Did Jesus influence America’s Founding Fathers?
- After years of terror, corruption, cancer-stricken Chavez cries out to Jesus on state TV
- Understanding Christian Political Engagement
- Why would “anti-bullying” youth convention speaker mock the Bible, Christian teens?
- Are Americans finding God in cyberspace?
- Are “unacceptable religions” fatal for U.S. presidential candidates?
- U.S. Marine dies after rescuing ORU trustee’s daughter from deadly air crash
- Twitter, texting, Facebook bring Malaysia’s street protests to worldwide audience
- T.D. Jakes: It’s time to forgive
- Chuck Colson: Beyond Watergate
- Can The Lucky One’s Zac Efron portray a convincing U.S. Marine Corps sergeant?
- Is Iran about to drag us into Armageddon?
- Hollywood loses a quiet giant of the faith
- Challenges to faith, tradition swirl in Britain
- Texas town turns other cheek, helps atheist who threatened their nativity scene
- Billy Graham’s daughter Ruth has been through the fire, says it’s time for honesty
- Is there anything to all the buzz on Twitter about Obama’s weekend executive order?
- The Blaze: Atheists use “unholy water” to scrub away olive oil used to bless highway — because they‘re not going to tolerate ‘bigotry’
- Rescued elephant herds inexplicably gather to mourn South Africa’s “Elephant Whisperer”
- Amid violence, Egypt’s Christians rely on Muslim friends, worry about future
- European tourists packing the pews at Harlem’s historic black churches
- Ramadan, Iranian hijabs, Sikh daggers add unexpected drama to the London Olympics
- Internet spreading new accusations connecting Rick Warren with “Chrislam”
- Bestselling novelist Frank Peretti’s “Illusion” is a love letter to Barbara, his wife for 40 years
- “Act of Valor” showcases real Navy heroes, wives and kids; and the bullets are real, too
- Bestselling author tells Oprah she’s in a cancer battle for her life, but no longer mad at God
- British soccer sensation is a rural Texas boy who looks to Heaven after each goal he scores
- Trying to be a better parent, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney swears off of smoking marijuana
- Did Obama mean to pick a fight with America’s two largest denominations?
- Did Rastafarian spokesman Bob Marley become a Christian on his deathbed?
- Are U.S. colleges hostile to Christian students?
- Building a Temple to Atheism
- Romney Nabs Second Primary Victory in Florida
- Science Whiz Gets a New Home
- Paying It Forward
- Surprising Twist in Gingrich SC Victory Speech
- Ottawa Girls Hockey Team Earns Spirit of Sport Story of the Year
- Search for Survivors on Italian Cruise Ship Continues
- So, you’re getting married! What kind of wedding do you want?
- Does Bible ban tattoos? No, scoffs shopping center church that also offers cage fighting
- World Week of Prayer for Christian Unity faces an elusive challenge
- Why is New Hampshire’s primary so important?
- Behind the scenes, Charlie Sheen rescued dad’s, brother’s inspiring movie “The Way”
- Texas, Alabama, Arizona groups ignore threats from Wisconsin atheists
- Barna: 8 out of 10 young Christians can’t apply their faith to everyday life
- PETA wants equal time for dogs on TLC’s reality TV show “All-American Muslim”
- Australia worries gambling hurting kids
- Atheists embracing faith for their kids
- Amazing 7-year-old actress stuns NYC
- Santa saves two from burning car
- Pretending to be Jesus renews skeptic’s faith
- California carolers surprise shoppers
- Tebowing goes international
- Graphic novelist tackles Christmas
- Air Force base will keep its nativity scene
- Great Christmas gifts for your … dog?
- Thousands rally to save Texas nativity
- Over morning coffee, five friends inspire “Merry Christmas” billboards nationwide
- Last minute gift: a Jesus toaster!
- Bureaucrats decide Congressmen cannot write “Merry Christmas” in official mail
- Silent monks “sing” the Hallelujah Chorus
- All across America, “Secret Santas” anonymously paying off strangers’ layaways
- Joy to the World! Take the word to the mall!
- American Idol star to take a two-year break from music, serve as a Mormon missionary
- Survey: poor economy hurting churches
- Christmas caroling meets “flash mobbing”
- Did atheist N. Korea’s leaders really say they’ll “pray” for deceased tyrant Kim Jong-il?
- British Prime Minister admits personal doubts, calls for Christian revival, values
- 15,000 Czechs tell census they’re Jedi knights
- High schooler sues, says Constitution allows him to defend Christian morality in class
- Arizona to Wisconsin atheists: Quit whining!
- China “revokes probation” of Christian lawyer already jailed at secret location for 2 years
- Muslim women to shun bananas, cucumbers?
- Should 80-year-old “Bird Lady” go to jail for feeding her neighborhood’s ducks?
- Food Safety News: Just because the label says “Honey” doesn’t mean a bee would eat it
- Remembering Pearl Harbor and 70 years ago
- Saudis say female drivers lead to hedonism
- Church of the Nativity scheduled for a facelift
- Christmas stage collapses, but kids OK!
- “Openness” party calls for less openness
- Pope charged with not wearing seatbelt
- BBC unveils Prince Albert’s sexy oil painting of Queen Victoria
- Pentagon retreats from Bible ban in U.S. military hospitals, but how did it happen?
- Dog shoots man? Yes, says baffled deputy
- It’s ‘Christmas tree,’ say irked Rhode Islanders
- Iran official says illegal churches harm youth
- “Earthscraper” would bury an eco-friendly 65-story pyramid under Mexico City
- Miracle cross inspires tree-cutting crew
- American Legion: We wish Wisconsin atheists “would leave us alone”
- Christians the “target of every progressive thinker and half-witted comedian”
- “Tweet the Bible” starts 86-year project
- New film to highlight mystery of Elvis’ faith
- Billionaire had a plan to prevent the Iraq war: Fly Mandela in to get Saddam to resign
- Who was missing from President’s Obama’s Thanksgiving Day message?
- Today’s girls growing up in a “moral abyss”
- Pakistan bans “Jesus” cellphone texting
- Will Egypt become the next Pakistan?
- Do you remember Pearl Harbor Day 1941?
- Rick Warren: Bible has answers as Americans reel under a worsening economy
- Inventive doctor helps patient undergo radiation, deliver healthy baby boy, too
- Stephen Hawking says mankind’s survival depends on manned space exploration
- Principal calls cops over 12-year-olds’ kiss
- Brave 10-year-old brother yanks 6-year-old sister away, foils attempted kidnapping
- Pope warns against witchcraft
- Tebow faithful tweet, Facebook their prayers
- Conservative pioneer fund-raiser calls for boycott of annual Catholic offering
- French play depicts Jesus as “madman, dog, pyromaniac, messiah of AIDS, terrorist”
- Pastor, sergeant close church service with more than your average benediction
- Where does faith fit in with politics?
- NY Post: Scabies, lice at Occupy Wall Street prompt mayor to hose the place down
- A powerful prayer for Penn State
- NY Post: Timberlake says taking blonde corporal to the Marine Ball “changed my life”
- Baseball player rescued from kidnappers: “Thanks to God, He gave me the miracle”
- Amid a cesspool of rumors, charges and scandal, is God speaking to Penn State?
- Washington Post: Evangelical leaders adding sex to their sermons
- Will “Mecca Time” replace Greenwich Mean Time?
- Tennessee preacher holds church service at “Cotton-Eyed Joe” honky-tonk saloon
- Judge orders NY to OK “Choose Life” car tags
- NY Times: 10-foot teen angels stand silent vigil in murder-plagued Juarez
- Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane brought quiet faith to the daily comics for 50 years
- Miss World 2011: from convent to crown
- Couple’s restaurant quarrel goes international, thanks to Twitter
- African leaders cite Christian, Muslim beliefs, tell British to quit pushing immorality
- Ancient Christian ruins in danger
- Egyptian Muslims, Christians reach agreement to ease church repair rules
- Good Samaritan’s act saves his life
- Gallup: Fewer Democrats attending church
- 71 tattooed Texas Pentecostal preachers roar up to Israel’s Wailing Wall — on Harleys!
- British Conservatives losing Christian voters
- Philippine priest lights a candle in the darkness … and adds smoked fish
- Supreme Court Justice says it’s past time to resolve “separation of church and state”
- Muslim: Britain needs to be more Christian
- Popular squirrel checks for fan mail
- Will FDR’s D-Day prayer be added to Memorial?
- Study says only 18 percent of Christian kids abandon their faith when they leave home
- After 12 years of praying with kids at flagpole, pastor says offended atheists won’t stop him
- What if you wanted to save the world, but could not speak or even feed yourself?
- Lawmaker says prayer saved her life; fights for American students to have freedom to pray
- Obama says God wants jobs legislation
- Catholics fined for ‘illegal worship’
- Would they mock Quarterback Tebow’s faith if he were Jewish or Muslim … or Buddhist?
- Judges rescind fine for Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “wardrobe malfunction”
- “There is a God; He listens to prayer,” says sheriff as missing 8-year-old boy is found safe
- Congress confirms: “In God We Trust” is America’s official motto
- “Occupy DC” protesters decline job offers
- A 5-year-old’s prayer is answered
- Rupert Murdoch adds Thomas Nelson publishers to HarperCollins empire
- Libya’s Gadhafi used Jewish contacts to try to patch up relations with the United States
- Israel nabs terrorist leader Hassan Yousef, father of bestselling “Son of Hamas” author
- Feds crack down on church TV shows
- Turkish ‘zombies’ raise funds for earthquake
- Burma tries to regulate fasting and prayer
- Berlin restaurant caters to cavemen
- World’s 7 billionth baby born Monday
- Outrage follows reports teacher, students killed Christian boy over crucifix, tattoo
- Charles Colson: China Bible exhibit a farce
- Doomsday? End of the world? Well, that was embarrassing, admits Harold Camping
- Quit your job … with a musical flair!
- Sexual promiscuity may cause heart attacks
- Now British monarchs may wed Catholics
- Complaint says crosses at Catholic school offensive, prevent Muslim prayers
- 3,000 pray against town’s destruction
- Crystal Cathedral picks university as “preferred buyer” in bankruptcy sale
- South Africa bans commercial depicting fallen angels as “offensive to Christians”
- End of the world rescheduled AGAIN!
- And you thought your neighbor’s Halloween lawn display was too much …
- Did Earth’s magnetic field block Harold Camping’s end of the world?
- Polish resistance fighter who sneaked his Jewish girlfriend out of Auschwitz dead at 90
- “Occupy London” forces St. Paul’s Cathedral to close, first time since WWII blitz
- Complex disputes may close Mughrabi Bridge walkway giving Jews access to Temple Mount
- Who is this amazingly talented little boy?
- King of Jordan: Israel must be assured of its security
- Washington Post: Will Knights of Columbus have to remove ski slope’s Jesus statue?
- Will Libyan democracy, religious freedom flourish now that Gaddafi is gone?
- Couple married 72 years dies an hour apart, holding hands
- “Shakespearean Insult Kit” offers tips on how to be sharp-tongued with class
- Burmese Catholic priest tells of gunfire, raid at church, being forced to carry soldiers’ gear
- October 21 comes and goes, world doesn’t end, Harold Camping not issuing any statements
- Goddess worshipers cite Barry Lynn, blast Christian prayer campaign for America
- Is it time to impose a church dress code?
- With doomsday deadline looming, Harold Camping’s faithful ponder doubts
- Conflicting reports swirl as Iranian Christian pastor condemned to death awaits verdict
- Homosexual kiss at school assembly prompts student walk-out, parental fury
- Researchers discover that kids often start cussing if their role models do
- Orthodox sect livid over ice cream cone lickers
- British media, theaters celebrate 400th anniversary of the King James Bible
- 96-year-old gets baptized at Cowboy church
- Lions, tigers and bears! Town shuts down while hungry animals shot, recaptured
- Why are U.S. Hispanic Catholics joining Pentecostal, Evangelical churches?
- 100-year-old Sikh runs Toronto marathon
- Toddler in hit-and-run lies bleeding in street as 18 passers-by step around her, don’t help
- Hundreds of British babies aborted accidentally, according to medical study
- Mexico City considers two-year marriage licenses
- Silent vigil fills Cairo cathedral as Egyptian officials try to blame massacre on the victims
- Saudis underwrite organization to bring world’s religions under one roof
- Pakistani police tell family of kidnapped, raped 12-year-old girl to return her to captors
- Teachers told to stay 3 feet from students
- Were the Last Supper’s portions healthy?
- NY Times: Churches adding pet ministries
- Directions withdrawn that told schools to push gay issues despite parental objections
- Tear gas fired as mob protests TV station cartoon image of Allah
- All women political candidates must be veiled and silent, says Egyptian politician
- Evangelical, Catholic chaplains say they’ll perform no same-sex weddings
- Witchdoctors blamed for epidemic of child sacrifices around African nation’s capital
- Christian pastor condemned to death awaits Ayatollah’s decision
- Columbian soccer star arrested in Saudi Arabia for failing to cover tattoo of Jesus
- One of Warren Jeffs’ 78 wives escapes, describes captivity at FLDS cult
- President says he will veto bill that bans ObamaCare abortion funding
- Survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre tells of return to complacent China
- Iraq’s Kurds offer homes to refugee Christians
- Ayn Rand Institute: “Occupy Wall Street” seeks to end capitalism
- State Department reports no churches or Christian schools survive in Afghanistan
- Did N. Korea assassinate activist pastor?
- Pollsters: 75 percent of pastors say Mormons “not Christians”
- Decision on Iranian pastor’s execution now up to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
- Egypt: Hamas will free Israeli soldier held 5 years in trade for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners
- “Courageous” movie-makers like being in the top ten, but say success is “changed lives”
- Peaceful protest sparks deadly riots, opportunity to point accusing fingers
- Is the UN stamping out religious freedom?
- Power of prayer credited for hostage’s escape
- Fantasia has “Mahalia” singing the blues
- Tea Partying never was any fun; if you want to make love not war, go Occupy Wall Street
- What do you call a female Episcopal priest who converts to Roman Catholicism?
- From within the “Occupy Wall Street” ranks, a call for a new “confessing movement”
- Nobel Peace Prize goes to Leymah Gbowee, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman
- Small-town Tennessee mayor seeks legal help to fight atheist “terrorists”
- Arab nation needs Muslim law, says leader
- Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk wins court battle to be ethnic Jewish, but not religious
- NY Times: Pastor says Romney not a Christian
- Vatican asks bishops to create ministry roles for priests who left to marry
- What is “Chrislam” and who preaches it?
- Go ahead! Smile! It’s World Smile Day!
- Muslim expert: Let the pastor go free!
- Tony Blair Tells Norfolk and America: ‘Don’t Lose Heart’
- Exiled Christian Iranians receive death threats
- Steve Jobs dead at 56; he defied the mediocrity of the corporate model
- The world will end October 21, says Harold Camping … but no billboards this time
- Obama administration tells Supreme Court there should be no “ministerial exception”
- Will there soon be no Catholic priests left in Australia?
- Pat Buchanan in a dour mood, releases audio version of “Suicide of a Superpower”
- Daily Mail: Christmas gone from new “Thomas the Tank Engine” children’s cartoon
- Hollywood discovers the public loves inspirational Christian movies
- Students at more than 1,200 schools to participate in October 18 day of silence
- Is Indonesia in danger of becoming another Pakistan?
- Did Jesus also die for Martians and Klingons?
- Kids pray school officials will quit cowering in fear of the American Civil Liberties Union
- Arutz Sheva: Egypt, Qatar promise at Iran meeting to cut off Israel’s natural gas
- 300 Buddhist nuns learn self-defense from Kathmandu monastery’s kung-fu masters
- Amanda Knox’s prayer answered; Italian judge acquits her of murder
- Orange County Register: Crystal Cathedral $50 million fundraiser nets $4,737
- Wheaton, Regent researchers: Therapy successful for homosexuals wanting to change