NEW ORLEANS, May 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In his annual State of the City address today, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu touted the progress the city has made over the last five years and announced the City's plans for the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The months-long commemoration, 'K10-Resilient New Orleans,' will showcase for the country and the world the growth, recovery, and long-term resilience planning the City has embarked upon in the years after the catastrophic storm. Landrieu said the planning and progress are all being done with eyes on the 300th anniversary in 2018 of the founding of New Orleans.
"We are making incredible progress, but our work is far from done. We are not just rebuilding the city that we once were, but are creating the city that we always should have been," said Landrieu. "Our new way means we are reorganizing the way government works, and doing the tough work today so the next generation can do better. With all the progress being made, it should be obvious that we aren't slowing down, but speeding up. And, we remain committed to the principle that we can only move forward together as one team, one fight, one voice and one city."
In his State of the City address, Landrieu marked the growing economy, citing the addition of 9,100 jobs in five years as part of a retail, restaurant and rebuilding boom. He also told the story of how his Administration turned the City back from the brink of bankruptcy in 2010 to a budget surplus and upgraded credit ratings in 2015; how the city has reached a 43-year historic low in the number of murders; how the homeless population has gone from 10,000 to 1,900 and how New Orleans became the first major city in America to end veteran homelessness; how the city's public schools are producing dramatic results, with newer, more modern schools and graduation rates up from 50 percent to 73 percent; how the city is in the midst of the most comprehensive police reform in American history; how criminal justice partners throughout the region are working to reduce the city's incarceration rate; how affordable public housing is more geographically diverse and higher quality than ever before; how the City has torn down or fixed up 13,000 blighted units, faster than anywhere else in America; how the health care delivery system has transformed into community clinics scattered throughout the city; and, how the City is investing $1.63 billion in new parks, playgrounds, streets and community centers to raise the quality of life for all residents.
"Five years ago, we may not have still been underwater, but our people were scattered across the state, region and country. Today, we are one of the fastest growing cities in America," said Landrieu. "The bottom line is that we have been through more than most, and, while we still have work left to do, ours is a story of strength and resilience, and it's a story we must share to the world as we approach the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina."
Landrieu said over the next several months, he will be an ambassador for the city telling the story of a resilient New Orleans and the city's comeback. Simultaneously, he will underscore the need for cities across the country to follow New Orleans' lead to invest in and commit to long-term resilience planning with a focus on the social, economic, and physical shocks and stresses that can impact and upend urban cores throughout the country.
"To tell this story as only we can, today we are launching 'Katrina10' to commemorate the lives lost; to honor those who helped us survive; to acknowledge the work that has been done; and, to ensure that we continue to build on our progress in the future," said Landrieu. "We've come a long way and have a long way to go, but as we march toward 2018 and our 300th anniversary, we've got to finish strong together. In doing so, we'll make New Orleans the global model for resilience in the 21st century."
To kick off Katrina10 and provide the public and the media with information on the commemoration, Landrieu said the City and partners have launched Katrina10.org to provide updates to provide information on the city's recovery, the challenges currently being tackled and the events that will occur over the months-long commemoration.
Focusing on key aspects of the city's recovery and resilience planning, Katrina10.org lays out key recovery data in areas like civic engagement, criminal justice reform, culture and tourism, disaster recovery and preparedness, economic development and entrepreneurship, flood protection and sustainability, health and wellness, housing recovery, K-12 education reform, neighborhood revitalization, and the role of nonprofits, philanthropic organization and universities education in recovery. The effort intends to make the story of New Orleans a key case study in the challenges facing urban centers across the country and the strategies deployed to address them for the long term.
To tell the full story of New Orleans 10 years after the storm, Katrina10.org features testimonials and videos from city leaders, community organizers, local businesses, faith leaders and dozens of every day New Orleanians. It also features key recovery data like public school student performance, crime rates, infrastructure improvements, and investments in affordable housing.
While the actual anniversary of Katrina's landfall in New Orleans is limited to several days, the impact of the hurricane has spanned the last decade as it exposed deep-rooted challenges existing in the city for generations. Katrina10 is an effort to reflect on the largest natural disaster to ever impact the United States, honor the thousands who helped New Orleans recover and celebrate the work and successes the city has seen in creating a more resilient future.
The Katrina10 effort will mark the official 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2015, with an annual wreath laying ceremony, a citywide Katrina10 Day of Service, and a public, celebration of neighborhoods event at the Smoothie King Center. Leading up to the anniversary, Katrina10 will bring together local and national leaders, policy experts, community members and the media for a series of events throughout the summer that examine the history of the city, the progress made since Hurricane Katrina and the challenges that remain, along with the strategies employed to address them.
Key events in the months-long commemoration include, but are not limited to:
Katrina10 sponsored events include:
- Beyond Katrina 10: Philanthropic and Policy Maker Convening, August 28;
- New Orleans Honors, an event celebrating individuals and organizations from across the globe for their work in the recovery, August 28;
- Katrina 10 Wreath Laying Ceremony, recognizing all those who perished, August 29; and,
- Celebration of Neighborhoods, a public community commemoration, August 29.
A sampling of partner-sponsored events include:
- TEDxNewOrleans Conference, June 9;
- Comeback Communities, an event sponsored by NeighborWorks America, June 18-19; and,
- "RISE: Katrina 10", a conference sponsored by the Urban League, August 26-28.
A full schedule of commemoration events, as well as links to Katrina10's social media platforms, is available on Katrina10.org.