Aug. 29, 2005 – An infamous day for La.

On Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005, Florida’s Miami coast braced for the then-Category 1 storm.

Hurricane Katrina jogged across the southern tip of the state, claiming six lives – three people died by falling trees and two boaters drowned after attempting to ride out the storm in their crafts.

She also dumped several inches of water, flooding portions of Coral Gables and the southwest Miami area, but all in all the region breathed a huge sigh of relief.

What none of us knew was that this storm – which would forever change the way Louisiana prepares for hurricanes – was just getting started.

Excited about the weekend, Louisiana was preoccupied Friday, Aug. 26, 2005, with high school football, a Saints home pre-season game and the usual fare.

Sure, the night’s weather report mentioned the now downgraded tropical storm meandering off Florida’s coast. But most of us went to bed Friday still taking a “wait and see” approach.

By Saturday, our whole world had changed.

One by one, parishes north and south of Orleans Parish began ordering evacuations and south Louisiana saw an unprecedented level of activity as residents realized that Katrina was gaining steam. This storm, we feared, had the makings of being “The Big One” we’d been warned about for years.

By Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005, Katrina was a Category 5 storm, packing winds upward of 175 miles per hour. Her path wavered little; she had the Gulf Coast in her sights.

As Hurricane Katrina raged ashore that Monday morning, she delivered a massive blow. In a few short hours, cities and towns across the Louisiana/Mississippi coastline were virtually wiped off the map. Over 1,500 lives were lost. The wave she pushed for miles over the Gulf of Mexico flooded homes, toppled levees and took back out to the Gulf miles of Louisiana’s already eroding coastline.

In the two years since Katrina rearranged our landscape and sent a number of people searching for higher ground, our state and our parish continue to retool emergency preparedness systems. We continue to push for much-needed monies to restore our wetlands and reinforce our coast.

There’s much more work to be done in rebuilding, but today we urge you to take a moment and remember those whose lives, homes and jobs were lost. As resident of the region, we know Katrina is a storm whose wrath is still being felt. As survivors of the storm, the challenge for us is to remember where we were and prepare for what’s ahead.