The week leading up to August 29, 2015—the date that marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the epic flooding that followed—was a week commemorated by New Orleanians in countless ways. Neighborhoods held local events and thousands of volunteers spread out across the city in a display of community activism. Lectures, art, music and theatrical productions memorialized the lives lost and changed, and showcased the resilience and resurgence of the city. The week and attendant media coverage demonstrated to the world how far a city—that some had questioned rebuilding—has come.
Representatives of Upbring Disaster Response, the New LSSDR, who have been working in the recovery efforts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita the last 10 years, participated in several of the celebrations and commemorative community events:
- Interfaith Service: An Interfaith Prayer Service was held August 24 at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans; it was attended by Bishop Michael Rinehart and Lutheran Disaster Response Program Director Pastor Mike Stadie. Read more on Bishop Rinehart’s blog on the remembrance service.
- Faith at Work Dinner: Leaders and volunteers from all faith backgrounds joined together August 27 for a “Thanksgiving Dinner” in the Ninth Ward at St. Mary of the Angels Community Center for classic NOLA hospitality, music and reflection on the hard work accomplished by the faith-based communities in the Gulf Coast and New Orleans area.
- Faith at Work Press Panel: “A Decade of Putting Faith to Work” was the topic for the panel discussion held at the Sheraton Media Center on August 28. Upbring State Director Jessica Vermilyea was on the panel and discussed how New Orleans, and the entire Gulf Coast, became the mission field for churches nationwide.
- NOLA Honors: An invitation-only event hosted by Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis was held at the historic Saenger Theatre. Those who aided in New Orleans recovery events were recognized, including faith-based and nonprofit organizations. The highlight of the evening was the closing performance by Mayor Mitch Landrieu singing “I’ll Fly Away,” accompanied on stage by Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis, Kermit Ruffins and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
- Power of the Community: A community-wide event at the Smoothie King Arena on Saturday evening—including former President Bill Clinton along with numerous guest speakers and New Orleans music—closed a week-long list of events. In addition, a second line parade led by the Mardi Gras Indians moved out of the arena and into the streets.
We would like to give special thanks to the many disaster response volunteers we worked alongside— with gratitude for the years of volunteer energy and dedication that made all the difference following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.