Iconic "Katrina boat" sinks away from public view

Iconic 'Katrina boat' sinks away from public view

NEW ORLEANS -- The iconic "Katrina boat" that once greeted visitors in front of the Louisiana State Museum near Jackson square has been moved. It happened just before the 12th anniversary of the hurricane and some are asking where did it go?

Kenny Bellau just happened to take a selfie with his daughter on August 9th in front of the museum.

"And that was the last time I saw it," said Bellau.

He says the next day, a friend told him the boat had been removed.

"That was the boat that started bringing people out of Baptist Hospital," said Bellau.

Bellau was one of the volunteers back then who helped steer the boat. It ended up carrying about 400 passengers to safety in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Well since the boat was removed a lot of people were really upset about it. It was a marker."

Bellau is sad to see the boat gone. In fact the boat was the backdrop for his wedding. He has yet to hear why the boat got moved. 

"Listen, I rode out Katrina, and rescued people that lived with me for months I didn't know. No way, shape or form do I want to diminish what that boat did or what it stands for," said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser.

Nungesser's office oversees culture in the state. He says the decision to move it was in part to prepare for the city's tricentennial and to find a new exhibit.

"It could show up in the museum at another time. We had it on display for 7 or 8 years," Steven Maklansky, Louisiana Museum Interim Director, said. 

"This is what everybody sees and this was an educational opportunity for the city," said Bellau.

Now Bellau says there's talk of a new museum dedicated to Katrina.

"And they would like to incorporate this boat as a piece of it, or as a centerpiece of it."

That's still up in the air, but what's clear for Bellau is the boat serves as a symbol of resilience.

"You know, we're capable of helping ourselves and we're capable helping other people."

He says all he can do now, is hope the boat will not be stored away for too long. Bellau also recently returned from Texas helping to rescue victims from flooding there in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. 


 

 

 

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