As Hurricane Laura barrels into the Gulf Coast, New Orleans is preparing to mark the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Saturday. But unlike the storm’s 10th anniversary, when current and former presidents visited and the city drew international attention, the commemorations this year will be understated, mainly because of the coronavirus pandemic.
New Orleans has been slammed by the virus, which has killed nearly 600 New Orleans residents so far, and sickened thousands more. Mardi Gras, the city’s signature event, fell in the early days of the pandemic and has been blamed for an eruption of cases in Louisiana.
The mayor, LaToya Cantrell, is planning to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of one of the places where the city’s levees were breached by Katrina, swamping much of New Orleans, but there is nothing else formally planned by the city.
An annual ceremonial march that usually ends in a large rally is going forward, but will be livestreamed so “if you’re sick or have Covid you can stay home and just watch it online,” said Sess 4-5, a hip-hop artist who organized the march.
Robert Green Sr., who lives in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood