When Hurricane Katrina reached land in southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi in August 2005, it killed over 1,880 people and wrought $125 billion in property damage, making it the costliest hurricane on record to strike the United Sates. Recovery has taken years and scars from the storm still impact the landscape.
It has been said to plant a southern live oak is an act of faith in the future, for those who plant one will never see it reach maturity. Over 2,000 live oaks, dedicated to each person missing or dead, will be planted throughout southeastern Louisiana and coastal Mississippi, distributed to each affected parish and county according to its proportion of loss. Each oak grove will grow over the centuries to create broad canopies in park like settings.
With New Orleans having by far the largest number of dead and missing, a central grove containing the Memorial and an Interpretive Center will be located in there. The center of the memorial contains a reflecting pool that rises and falls twice daily according to the tides. The names of the dead are engraved on a depressed portion of the granite slab located in the reflecting pool. The rising and falling of the water will submerge the names twice a day, and the names will slowly fade as individual memories fade. In turn, the dedicated oaks will grow, symbolizing and affirming the belief that this collective loss brought about a continuing rebirth and renewal of New Orleans and the surrounding area.