This month marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s path of destruction along the Gulf Coast, as it moved into Louisiana, and put parts of the city of New Orleans under water due to an incomplete and faulty levee system.
A week of events to commemorate and discuss the impact and recovery from the natural disaster has been planned by those involved with Gulf South Rising (GSR), whose vision is to “Seed a unified regional movement toward equity through coordinated actions and collaborative events led by frontline communities of the Gulf South in 2015.”
The storm soaked the city and caused ruination throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast. More than 400,000 people were displaced, according to data compiled by the Census Bureau. It deeply affected communities and the families living within them. The devastation itself was caused by a number of continuing factors that Gulf South Rising aims to combat.
“The extreme extraction of limited energy resources, the subsequent pollution, and the lack of corporate and government accountability has damaged the land, people and systems of democracy of the Gulf South,” states Gulf South Rising’s 2015 Strategy Document. “GSR acknowledges that the global climate crisis is rooted in economic theories that promote mass consumption of limited resources, laws that maintain inequity and social hierarchies and governance processes that limit civic participation.”
Over 50 organizations based in the communities hit by the storm are actively working as GSR, which released a document earlier this year identifying four goals they are hoping to work towards during the year:
1) Build Regional Movement Infrastructure (Knowledge, Skills, Financial Resources)
2) Connect & Convene Gulf South Frontlines Around Collective Healing and Ecological Equity
3) Advance Regional Efforts of Indigenous Tribal and Land Sovereignty
4) Reclaim Regional Narrative: From Resilience to Resistance
As a reflection of those goals, the Katrina10 week of action includes events showing many facets of the devastation and the healing process afterwards, while also touching upon the conditions which caused the storm to hit as hard as it did.
“The Katrina 10 Week of Action represents a powerful coming together of many organizations dedicated to lifting up the leadership and resistance of the people on the frontlines,” Gulf South Rising’s website states.
The week of action will run from August 21 until the end of the month.
On August 27, Black Lives Matter and Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcareted Children will host a forum in New Orleans focusing on recovery. The keynote speaker for the event will be Alicia Garza, an activist who is credited with coining the #BlackLivesMatter protest slogan. You can read more about Garza in a piece she wrote for The Feminist Wire. The event page for the forum states that “The focus of the event will be on education and judicial reform for juveniles in an attempt to disrupt and ultimately end the school-to-prison pipeline.”
The next day, there will be a “Rising Climate Justice Convergence” at Dillard University. The event aims to “cultivate and connect young leaders who will carry forward the fight for justice, resilience and resistance in the Gulf South in the face of climate change,” according to their website.
From August 28 to 30, residents are encouraged to take part in a protest and vigil at Survivor’s Village, which was started after residents of St Bernard Public Housing Development were forced out of their homes before demolition, after the storm’s damage.
Those affiliated with Gulf South Rising aren’t the only ones planning on commemorating the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with action. An email sent out by the Corporation for National & Community Service states that, “with the support of Walmart,” the city “aims to engage 10,000 volunteers in New Orleans from August 22 to August 29. Nonprofit, AmeriCorps, neighborhood, faith-based and education organizations will host over 100 service projects across the city on August 29, the ten year anniversary.”
A page for Katrina10 is located on National Service’s website that shares stories of AmeriCorps volunteers and gives visitors a chance to help.