At least 1800 people died as a result of the hurricane and the flooding in its wake. As news reports began pouring in with word of the devastation on the Gulf Coast, we at Legacy knew we wanted and needed to memorialize those who were lost.
On August 30, 2005, the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast, we created a Guest Book for all victims of the storm. We knew lives had been lost, but individual obituaries were not yet being published. Still, we wanted people to have a place to share their sorrow and condolences.
Within the first week, more than 1700 entries were posted to the Remembering Victims of Hurricane Katrina Guest Book. A month after the Guest Book was posted, that number had more than doubled. By then, as obituaries were published by our newspaper affiliates, we were providing Guest Books for as many individual victims of the hurricane as possible. These also received thousands of entries as a shocked and saddened country grieved the loss of so many lives.
As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approached last year, we considered how we could pay tribute again, and how we could encourage our readers to remember these lives, years later. Our solution was to pull together the Remembering Victims of Hurricane Katrina Guest Book and all individual Guest Books from the disaster into a larger Hurricane Katrina memorial site.
Within a week of our creation of this tribute, more than 115,000 people had viewed it, and hundreds had shared it on Facebook and Twitter. Hundreds more signed the Guest Books in the year that followed, many for the first time and others adding to the condolences they offered six years ago.
The wounds inflicted by Hurricane Katrina haven’t yet healed, and with other disasters affecting the area in the years since, the people of the Gulf Coast are on the minds of our country and the world. We admire their strength and grieve for their losses.