[StBernard] Revised tribute to storm victims to debut in St. Bernard
westley at da-parish.com
Mon Aug 25 20:41:25 EDT 2008
Revised tribute to storm victims to debut in St. Bernard
by Bob Warren, The Times-Picayune
Saturday August 23, 2008, 9:58 PM
Among the events marking the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on
Friday, St. Bernard Parish officials and residents will gather in Shell
Beach to unveil the parish's new and, they hope, improved monument to
residents who died in the storm.
The original granite monument, hurriedly put together in time to be
dedicated on the storm's first anniversary, contained a handful of errors in
the 137 listed names of the parish's dead. Some of the storm's victims
weren't included. Other names were misspelled. In a few cases, the monument
listed the names of people who are still very much alive.
The new monument will include additional names of parish residents who died
either during or because of the hurricane, parish officials say. And it
corrects the errors on the original monument.
Because of the numerous changes, a new stone slab will be placed over the
existing one, said Karen Turni Bazile, an aide to St. Bernard Parish
President Craig Taffaro. "There would have been too many names to
(sand)blast off" the existing slab, she said.
Parish officials published a list of names on the monument this year and
asked residents to send in corrections. Bazile also said she studied
coroners' death lists, researched obituaries and worked with residents who
brought in death certificates to make the monument accurate and complete.
"It was a very healing experience," she said of the residents she worked
with. "They just want their loved ones to be included."
The monument bearing the names of St. Bernard's dead sits a few feet from a
13-foot-tall steel cross with the likeness of the face of Jesus jutting from
the waters of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet in Shell Beach.
The new monument will have 163 names engraved on it. Unified Recovery Group,
a contractor handling demolition and debris removal in the parish, is
financing the monument, the parish said.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals has put Katrina's death toll in
Louisiana at 1,464. Many of the dead have not been identified.
When it was proposed in the summer of 2006, the cross in St. Bernard's
memorial drew objections from the American Civil Liberties Union. But parish
officials said the memorial was financed with donations of money, time and
labor. The land was donated by the Doullut family in memory of Lynn Gagnon,
an educator and environmentalist who died several years before Katrina and
had fought for the closure of the MR-GO.
St. Bernard has the lone memorial in the New Orleans area that names Katrina
victims. Although the memorial is a long drive from the parish's population
centers, it has become a popular place for mourners to gather to remember
Katrina and those who died because of the hurricane.
The parish's rededication begins Friday at 11 a.m. The memorial is at the
end of Louisiana 46, also known as Shell Beach Road.
Bob Warren can be reached at bwarren at timespicayune.com or 504.826.3363.
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