Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina made landfall ten years ago on August 29, 2005, and the city of New Orleans was inundated with water as levy and dikes around the city failed. The world experienced this event through the images of a modern city submerged, watching helplessly as the people waded through turbid waters or stood on rooftops seeking rescue. The human misery of the initial disaster was compounded in the midst of relief mismanagement, violence, and significant injustices.

While there are stories of heroism and sacrifice from Katrina, we were confronted with shared failures and systemic biases. The media coverage of the event itself has been criticized for its slanted reporting on race and exaggerations of lawlessness. This catastrophe highlighted for the nation its challenging legacy of poverty, environmental degradation, and racism.

Ten years later, the City of New Orleans is becoming again vibrant and animated by its unique cultural history. We remember and celebrate those committed volunteers who helped rebuild and the residents determined to restore their home. We name, however, that this revitalization has only come for some and that many of the poor of New Orleans bare the continued tragedy of Katrina.

As people of faith who both remember the devastation and seek the hope of tomorrow, we should renew our commitment to those who struggle in poverty and those who are pushed to the margins of our society. In addition, as Pope Francis reminded us in his recent encyclical that the poor are disproportionately impacted by climate change, we should seek to respond in ever greater care of our environment.

In Grace and Hope,

Rev. Bryant Oskvig (new window), Protestant Chaplaincy Director

Rev. Gregory Schenden, S.J. (new window), Roman Catholic Chaplain