(USATODAY.com) - Thursday marks the eighth anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina bulldozed New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800, tearing holes in The Mercedes-Benz Superdome and forcing a huge group of mostly impoverished people to take shelter for days at the convention center.
Civil rights leaders at the time condemned what they called the neglect of those at the convention center who, already grieving for lost loved ones, lived with overflowing restrooms, lack of food and water and stifling heat for days.
This week, those civil rights leaders were focused on the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington. Instead, the Katrina milestone is passing in small ways, but ways that are significant to the affected communities.
In New Orleans, a group of elected officials, community activists and religious leaders gathered Wednesday to urge rebuilding of the state's coastline and called attention to the impacts of climate change, according to The Times-Picayune.
The group, part of an interfaith prayer breakfast, said climate change has touched off rising sea levels, disappearing coastline and more frequent storms, according to the news organization.
"In the past eight decades, Louisiana has lost 1,880 square miles of coastal marshes or an area about the size of Manhattan, Norma Jean Sabiston of the Climate Action Committee Louisiana told the Times-Picayune. "It is land that Louisiana and our nation cannot afford to lose," she said.
In Waveland, Miss., the public was planning to view the brand new Ground Zero Hurricane Museum, the only building on the community's Coleman Avenue that survived the storm, the Sun Herald reports.
The new museum includes the flag that flew over the Waveland fire station during Katrina and hurricane landfall maps supplied by the National Weather Service.
"After Katrina, we lost all of our history," Waveland Alderwoman LiLi Stahler told the news organization. "For many of our residents, the bricks and mortar of this building are all they have left of their childhood."
Residents of the hard-hit Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans are in the middle of a two day observance that includes documentary screenings and a photo exhibit, according to the blog Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum.