Exactly a year after New Orleans' levees caved to Katrina's fury, survivors gathered at City Hall to listen to the bells tolling around them.
One 33-year-old resident says she felt compelled to attend the commemoration that she says was like a funeral.
Mayor Ray Nagin told the crowd New Orleans residents would "get through" the difficult anniversary together. As Nagin spoke at City Hall, President Bush and the first lady sang a hymn and lit candles inside the city's historic, and relatively unscathed, cathedral.
A traditional jazz funeral, with its somber dirge and song of joy, is also planned for downtown, while other organizers in other neighborhoods said they would mark the tragic anniversary with quieter local gatherings.