President Obama will visit Louisiana on Aug. 29 to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. The president will make remarks at Xavier University of Louisiana to commemorate the event.
National Urban League CEO Marc Morial said that the president’s visit was a welcome decision, along with his choice to visit a historically Black university that is a “great school with great leadership.”
“Xavier is an important symbol of the comeback . The school was flooded with nine feet of water and Dr. Francis brought that school back so that they could reopen the following semester and then fully reopen the following year,” Morial, the former mayor of New Orleans, said., referring to university president Dr. Norman Francis.
During the week leading up to the city’s memorial of Aug. 29, 2005, a series of events, including a reunion of evacuees from the Superdome, film screenings, jazz festivals, and symposiums, are being held throughout the city to pay tribute to survivors and volunteers of the storm. The events will culminate at Washington Artillery Park where New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu plans to light candles in memory of lives lost.
“We are no longer rebuilding. We are now creating,” Landrieu said in a video produced in May. “Let’s stop thinking about rebuilding the city we were and start dreaming about the city we want to become.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded and more than 800,000 residents were forced from their homes during the aftermath of the hurricane’s landfall.
“The city has not fully come back,” said Morial. “Over the past five years we can look back and see many mistakes and errors that were made. But we can also look at the sheer will and determination of so many people to rebuild this city.”