NEW ORLEANS -- Key names from Joint Task Force Katrina met with St. Bernard Parish officials Sept. 19 to give spiritual encouragement to those tasked to resettle the city after the massive destruction left by Hurricane Katrina.
The ceremony was held aboard the Scotia Prince, which has become home to members of the Parish who were displaced by the category four storm. The elaborate design of the ship provided a clean, quiet sanctuary for thoughtful introspection on recent progress and, more importantly, the tasks that lie ahead.
Col. John E. Shook, commanding officer of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force St. Bernard, summarized the operations conducted to return the parish to normal and offered his condolences to thousands of grieving Americans.
“Words or even pictures cannot convey the magnitude of destruction or depth of your loss,” he said. “We know that each death is a tragic story of a human life suddenly lost. We do not have to know the victims to understand your anguish. To those whose loved ones are missing, our hearts are with you at this trying, anxious time.”
Shook gradually shifted to uplifting words of encouragement.
“Take heart in what you have already started—rebuilding your community, putting lives back together, beginning the healing process,” he advised.
The SPMAGTF St. Bernard chaplain, Lt. Cmdr. Louis Rosa, also offered words of inspiration to the city.
“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do,” he offered, after leading the group in prayer and song.
Michael Honeycutt, a director of the St. Bernard Parish, extended his gratitude and appreciation to the armed forces for a robust response in their time of need. Additionally, he spoke optimistically about the future of the Big Easy.