Presidents lead tributes to the city that rose from the dead
CITY leaders laid wreaths at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial in New Orleans yesterday as the city paid homage to those who died in the storm 10 years ago and sought to salute its recovery.
With music and parades - sombre and celebratory - residents of New Orleans showed their pride in the rebirth of the Big Easy which found itself 80 per cent submerged after the storm breached a key levee and sent water cascading through the streets. Some of the worst damage was in the impoverished Lower Ninth Ward, where yesterday a giant ''Second Line'' parade was planned.
''The city wants the visitors to have a good time this Saturday. We are putting on a nice show for everyone, ''said Tamara Jackson, head of the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force, which helps to support second-line parades, traditionally put on for funerals in the city. New Orleans has tried to turn the anniversary into a showcase for what it offers.
In the evening, former President Bill Clinton was set to headline a free concert in the city's Smoothie King Center, a sports arena by the Superdome, which became the overcrowded and sordid shelter of last resort for thousands made homeless by Katrina, which caused the loss of about 1,800 lives.
Leading the wreath-laying ceremony at a memorial that contains the remains of 83 unclaimed or unidentified victims of Katrina were mayor Mitch Landrieu and the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. ''We must recommit ourselves to the notion that no American should ever be left behind,'' Mr Landrieu said. ''We can only move forward together.''
Mr Clinton was to be third US president to participate in the anniversary. In the Lower Ninth on Thursday, President Obama noted that while the storm had been a natural disaster, it ''became a man-made one - a failure of government to look out for its own citizens''. George W Bush, whose legacy was damaged by those failures after Katrina, visited on Friday, saying that New Orleans was a city ''whose levies gave out but whose people never gave up''.