August 29, 2010 in Nation/World

Casket for Katrina elicits applause from mourners

Mary Foster Associated Press
 

CHALMETTE, La. – Hundreds of mourners dropped notes, cards and letters – many of them stained with tears – into a steel-gray casket on Saturday in a symbolic burial of Hurricane Katrina.

One letter written by a child in red crayon said: “Go away from us.” Another note remembered one of the 1,800 victims of Katrina: “R.I.P. Gloria, I will always love you.” The casket, along with some of the anger, grief and frustration, was later interred under an appropriately dark sky as rain pounded umbrellas.

The church that celebrated the Mass, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, was flooded five years ago just like all but two buildings in St. Bernard Parish.

When the casket was finally closed, people applauded.

“I’ve been to many funerals,” said Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond. “But I’m sure this is the first time I’ve heard applause when they closed the casket.”

The funeral was one of dozens of events planned to mark the fifth anniversary of the massive storm that wrecked New Orleans, south Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Today, President Barack Obama will speak at Xavier University.

The city of New Orleans will mark the anniversary with a quiet ceremony tonight, including a tolling of the bells of St. Louis Cathedral, the famed building overlooking Jackson Square, and a candlelight vigil for the dead.

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