Faced with howls of protest, Mayor Ray Nagin apologized January 17 for claiming that a vengeful God smote New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina because of heavenly disapproval of America’s involvement in Iraq and of rampant violence within urban black communities.
Nagin also offered a less sweeping apology for his remarks about the city’s future demographics in the aftermath of the storm and subsequent catastrophic flood. His comments came in a speech, delivered on Martin Luther King Day with City Hall as a backdrop, in which the mayor said God intended New Orleans to rise again as a “chocolate city,” which he defined as a “black-majority city.”
Nagin said he was in error in his claim that Katrina’s devastation was a result of God’s will. “I sincerely apologize for that, and if there was anything I could take back, that would be it,” Nagin said. “I think it was inappropriate.”