Katrina 5th: Emotional memorial in Shell Beach


by Bill Capo / Eyewitness News


Posted on August 29, 2010 at 7:31 PM

Updated Sunday, Aug 29 at 11:02 PM

Five years after Katrina, storm clouds outlined the cross at Shell Beach, and a gentle rain fell, splashing like tears on the memorial that lists the names of the 163 victims of the storm from St. Bernard Parish, names read aloud Sunday.

"Evelyn Ancar, Douglas Arceneaux, Betty Arceneaux."   

"I've always wanted to come down to the wall, I knew it was here. Finally I get to come on the fifth anniversary."   

"When I left for Katrina, there's a lot of people I hugged bye, and I've never seen them since. I came down here to check to see if any of them is one the wall that I never did hear from since, and I know there's two names."   

"First two on the top are Arceneauxs, they're my cousins," said Daniel Arceneaux.  "So to be down here on the fifth anniversary, what is going through your mind? I had to go say a prayer over there before I said anything else.

"I'm a nurse that worked at the hospital here in St. Bernard Parish," said Susan Gebbia of Meraux . "I was stuck in the parish until late Friday night when the fishermen here actually helped us to get out of the parish."   

"I can still see the faces of the people that I took care of. It's very sad."   

"My entire family lost everything, and every memory in their homes, but we came back and we rebuilt, and it is just part of the recovery and rebuilding. To be here today, you mean? To be here today, absolutely."   

"For those who perished, for thom this cross was constructed, eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord," prayed Father Dennis Hayes of St. Rita Catholic Church.  

"We use the word celebrate, because we celebrate the spirit of those individuals who gave their lives, lost their lives during Katrina, and the celebration of their spirit moving forward," said Parish President Craig Taffaro.  

Five years after Katrina, the memories are still so vivid, but now they are coupled with thoughts of the future, as the parish that was hit so hard continues to recover.                                                                                                                       

"I'm thinking that we're going to be safer, because the Corps of Engineers are actually building a fortress for us around St. Bernard Parish. First time I've ever said anything good about the Corps in ten years," said Daniel Arceneaux. 

"It's just devastating. It should be over with, and behind us, but it just don't never leave," said Linda Wells.  It stays with you when you lived here all your life. So hopefully today we'll try to put it behind us for the fifth year anniversary." 

And when they placed a wreath honoring the victims of Katrina, for many, the emotions peaked with tears.. 

Halfway through the ceremony, the rain stopped, which parish leaders called a sign of hope during a tribute that was called a celebration. 

On the fifth anniversary she remembered the heroes, and the victims, and the sacrifices her family, and so many others made. 

And when the flood forced everyone to the second floor, Susan's camera captured the heroes who took boats and rescued those who were trapped, bringing them to the closest thing to sanctuary they found find in the submerged parish. 

Daniel Arceneau's daughter Susan shared the video she shot as Katrina's winds roared through St. Bernard, and signalled the start of a terrifying week. 

For Linda and the others attending the memorial, it was a moment to remember those lost five years ago. 

For Linda Wells of Chalmette, it was her first visit to the memorial, and she placed flowers at the base of the marker.