Prayer of Remembrance: Katrina and Federal Flood 10th Anniversary

UU volunteers hold sign for rebuilding New Orleans.

We ask for the presence of the Spirit of Life & Love
as we come together in a spirit of prayer and remembrance
on this 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood.

We remember our old sense of invulnerability,
how we used to think, “Hurricanes always turn away,” or
“Hurricanes always lose strength as they come onto land,” or
“The levees will hold, they always do,”
and we wonder, will we or our children ever feel so safe again?
Will there ever come a time when we are over the nightmares,
or the overwhelming emotions evoked by the photographs?

We remember our family members, friends, school chums, acquaintances, neighbors, members of our religious communities,
some of whom died directly or indirectly from the Storm, and others who have had to choose to live away from the city
because of jobs, housing, grief, trauma, loss of community.
We miss them, each and every one of them, each and every day;
in everything we do in our lives, we remember them and hold them in our hearts.

We remember the simple yet important landmarks of our lives,
the fabric of neighborhoods, homes, schools, businesses,
places of worship, restaurants, groceries, places intimate to us,
and those we only knew from driving by,
washed away or demolished, irrevocably lost to the Storm.
That lost city of our memories and dreams will remain with us;
we will forever be saying “where this and that used to be.”
Let us work, pray, strive to keep our city from losing
any more dear and familiar landmarks.

We remember all the people—former New Orleanians, folks who have always loved the city, and those who were strangers
to us before Katrina—who have come again and again
to support us, encourage us, help us in our renaissance.
They have become honorary New Orleanians,
to them we lift up grateful hearts and send undying thanks and love.

As we remember and mourn our lost city,
we strive not to be bitter when well-meaning strangers ask,
“Isn’t the city better now since Katrina?”
No it isn’t—it’s not stronger or cleaner or more organized
or more of anything except richer and whiter and older.
But we give thanks for who we are and what we still have;
we make a sacred vow to protect what’s left.
When our hearts were broken and we were near despair
we remember what it took for us to come this far—
the kindness of many many strangers, courage, hard work,
an abiding sense of humor, the many beloved celebrations
of our culture and heritage—and most of all, faith.

Help us keep the faith, O God; remember us as we remember and remember.

Hurricane Katrina formed on August 23, 2005; it reached peak strength on August 28, making its second landfall on August 29 in southeast Louisiana.