The Evolution of Louisiana State Flag After Hurricane Katrina

Louisiana is a state rich in history and culture. One of the most recognizable symbols of the state is its flag, which has undergone several changes throughout the years. However, one event that led to a significant transformation of the flag was Hurricane Katrina. This natural disaster left a devastating impact on the state and its residents, including the flag itself. In this article, we will explore the history of the Louisiana state flag, the changes it underwent after Hurricane Katrina, the symbolism behind the new design, and the controversy that ensued. Join us on a journey through the rich heritage of Louisiana’s state flag.


Overview: Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest and most destructive hurricanes that hit the United States in 2005. Along with the massive displacement of residents, the state of Louisiana also suffered from severe damages to its infrastructure and cultural landmarks, including the Louisiana state flag. The flag, which is a symbol of the state’s rich history and culture, was damaged during the hurricane, and it was time for a redesign that could represent the state’s resilience and hope for the future. The new design was not without controversy; however, it was eventually adopted as the official Louisiana state flag. The new design features a combination of historical elements along with modern symbolism, which aims to project the unique story of Louisiana’s past and its vibrant present. If you want to learn more about state flags and their histories, you might find interesting stories and facts about Texas, California, New York, Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina.

History of Louisiana State Flag

History Of Louisiana State Flag

The State of Louisiana has had many flags in its history, but the current flag has been in use since 1912. The design features a pelican feeding her young with her own blood, surrounded by a white and gold stripe pattern. However, the original flag design was much simpler.

The first flag of Louisiana was adopted in 1861. It featured a solid blue background with a single white star in the center. The color blue represented the Union, while the white star symbolized Louisiana’s secession from the Union. However, this flag was only used for a short period of time before being replaced.

Over time, Louisiana’s state flag underwent several changes. In 1912, the current design was adopted and has remained the same since, with some slight modifications. In 2006, the flag was updated to change the color of the pelican and her young from brown to white.

Throughout these changes, the flag remained a symbol of Louisiana’s rich history and culture. But all of that changed in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

Original Design

The Louisiana state flag has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. The original design of the Louisiana state flag was created in 1912. It featured an image of a pelican over its three chicks that were nestled in a nest with the state motto, “Union, Justice, and Confidence” emblazoned above.

The official colors of the Louisiana state flag are blue, white, and gold. A white pelican was chosen as the centerpiece for the flag because it has historically been a symbol of Louisiana, representing the state’s abundant wildlife and its role as a major transportation hub for the Mississippi River.

Throughout the centuries, the design of the flag has gone through many changes. However, the original design of the flag remained largely unchanged for nearly a century, even through several updates. The Louisiana state flag was known for its unique design and was recognized as one of the most beautiful state flags in the United States.

Updates Before Hurricane Katrina

Updates Before Hurricane Katrina:

Before the devastating disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana State Flag had undergone several updates. Here are the key updates that Louisiana Flag had undergone before Hurricane Katrina:

  • The first update to the Louisiana State Flag came in 1912 when a white border was added around the pelican and the word “LOUISIANA” was added beneath it. This design was used for nearly 70 years.
  • In 1951, the design was modernized by removing the white border and using a lighter blue color for the field. This design remained unchanged for over 50 years.
  • In 1976, as part of the United States Bicentennial celebrations, Louisiana State Flag was updated again. The new design added a red, white, and blue crest above the pelican with a banner reading “Union, Justice, and Confidence.”
  • In 1990, yet another update was made to the flag. The pelican was again modified, and it was made to face forward instead of sideways. The shade of blue was changed to a darker blue shade.

Each change had been gradual and had aimed to modernize the flag while still honoring Louisiana heritage. Despite the changes, there was still a need for a modern and updated design that would represent the state more accurately. Hurricane Katrina became the catalyst for these much-needed changes.

Louisiana Flag After Hurricane Katrina

When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2005, it left colossal destruction in its wake, including damage to the Louisiana state flag. The swathes of wind and water damage caused the flag to become battered, torn, and in need of replacement. The aftermath of the hurricane saw a significant increase in state pride and a yearning for a new symbol of hope and renewal, which catalyzed the redesign of the Louisiana state flag.

After the hurricane, the state government hoisted a blue tarp with the Louisiana state seal in place of the damaged flag. This temporary flag was hung in the State Capitol Building, as well as other government buildings, until a new design was created.

In 2006, State Representative Rodney Alexander introduced a new design for the Louisiana state flag. His proposal called for a different design altogether, to replace the original, with the hopes of rebranding the state with a fresh symbol of recovery. Alexander’s design drew inspiration from the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. The new flag features a revised color scheme of blue, gold, and red, with a pelican surrounded by a nest of chicks in the center. The pelican symbolizes the state’s focus on family and cultural diversity.

The new Louisiana state flag was designed with various elements that hold significant meaning for the state. Along with the pelican and nest of chicks, the flag features a banner with the state motto, “Union, Justice, and Confidence,” written in bold red letters. To the left of the pelican, there is a ribbon holding the banner that features the state name, “Louisiana,” in dark blue letters. The pelican is set against a white field, while on the other side, the background is divided into two sections, symbolizing the state’s French and Spanish roots. The top half of the flag is blue, the color of the French royal family, while the bottom features gold, which represents the Spanish royal family.

The Damaged State Flag

After Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana in 2005, the state flag was one of the many things that suffered damage. The Louisiana state flag flew above the State Capitol building in Baton Rouge and was ripped from its pole during the strong winds of the hurricane. The flag fell onto the roof of the building, where it flapped in the wind, carrying debris and becoming further damaged.

The flag, which bore the vivid colors of the state seal against a blue background with a white star, was one of the most recognizable symbols of Louisiana before the tragedy. Its damaged state after Hurricane Katrina was just another indication of the suffering and turmoil brought to the area.

Despite the damage caused to the flag, lawmakers and citizens in Louisiana saw this as an opportunity to make a change, using the state’s traditional symbols in a new, more contemporary design as a symbol of hope. They envisioned a new flag that could better reflect the state’s essence and aspirations in a time of healing. The new flag not only would aim to dignify the state, but it would also honor its cultural heritage.

This was the beginning of a journey towards a new flag for Louisiana, and the first step in creating a visual symbol that represented the people’s spirit and resilience in the face of adversity.

The Blue Tarp Flag

After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana State Flag was in shambles. It was tattered, torn, and unsalvageable. As a temporary solution, the National Guard hoisted a makeshift flag made from a blue tarp on a flagpole in front of the state capitol. This flag became known as the “Blue Tarp Flag.”

The Blue Tarp Flag was seen as a symbol of Louisiana’s resilience in the face of adversity. It represented the state’s determination to rebuild and come back stronger than ever.

However, not everyone was pleased with the Blue Tarp Flag. Some felt that it was disrespectful to the original flag and lacked the dignity and symbolism of the state’s official banner. Despite this criticism, the Blue Tarp Flag continued to fly over the capitol until a new design was adopted.

It’s worth noting that the Blue Tarp Flag wasn’t the only temporary flag flown in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Many individual towns and cities created their own flags to show solidarity and resilience in the wake of the storm. These flags often featured symbols or imagery specific to their area, such as the iconic fleur-de-lis of New Orleans.

The Blue Tarp Flag served as a powerful symbol of hope and perseverance during a dark time in Louisiana’s history. While it was never meant to be a permanent solution, it played an important role in the state’s recovery and will always hold a special place in the hearts of Louisiana residents.

New Design Proposal

After Hurricane Katrina, there was a proposal to create a new design for the Louisiana State Flag to represent the rebuilding and resilience of the state. The current flag had been used since 1912 and many believed it was time for a change. The new design proposal was created and presented by the Louisiana Recovery Authority in 2006.

The proposal suggested incorporating elements of the current flag while adding new symbols and colors to represent the state’s future. The proposal included the use of a blue background to represent the state’s waterways and the sky, with a gold pelican in the center. The pelican was chosen for its symbolism of self-sacrifice and resilience, as it was believed that these traits were important to represent the state’s efforts to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

The pelican was also depicted as tearing at its own breast to feed its young, which was seen as a strong representation of Louisiana’s willingness to sacrifice for its people. The new design proposal also included a white ribbon with the state motto of “Union, Justice, and Confidence” written in blue letters. Additionally, two red drops of blood were added to the pelican’s chest to represent the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The proposal focused on creating a flag that symbolized the strength, resilience, and unity of the state during its recovery from Hurricane Katrina. It was also intended to represent the state’s commitment to moving forward and rebuilding. Despite some controversy, the new design was ultimately chosen by the Louisiana legislature and adopted as the official state flag in 2010.

New Design Proposal Features:

  • Blue background to represent waterways and sky
  • Gold pelican in the center to symbolize self-sacrifice and resilience
  • The pelican tearing at its breast to feed its young, to represent Louisiana’s willingness to sacrifice for its people
  • White ribbon with state motto “Union, Justice, and Confidence” written in blue letters
  • Two red drops of blood on the pelican’s chest to represent the victims of Hurricane Katrina

The New Louisiana Flag Explanation

The new Louisiana State Flag was designed by Michael McLaughlin, an attorney and avid flag enthusiast from New Orleans. The flag was adopted in 2010, five years after Hurricane Katrina, and it features a bold new design that seeks to represent the state’s rich history and diverse culture.

Firstly, it is important to note that the new design features three prominently displayed symbols: a gold star, a white pelican, and a ribbon that bears the state’s motto, “Union, Justice and Confidence” in all capital letters. The background color of the flag is a deep shade of blue that symbolizes Louisiana’s devotion to liberty, justice, and humanity.

The gold star represents Louisiana’s historical membership in the United States (the state was the 18th state to join the union). The white pelican, which is an indigenous bird to Louisiana, is depicted tearing flesh from its own breast to feed its young. This powerful image represents the spirit of self-sacrifice and resilience that was exemplified by Louisianans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The ribbon that bears the state motto is meant to convey the message of unity, justice, and confidence that has been the hallmark of Louisiana since its inception. The capital letters on the ribbon reflect the strength and resolve of the state’s people.

In addition to the three main symbols, the flag also features a stylized version of Louisiana’s coat of arms. The coat of arms is divided into three parts: the upper left quadrant is blue with a gold tower, the lower left quadrant is white with three gold fleurs-de-lis, and the right side depicts a white pelican in a natural setting.

The flag design follows the standard formula of flag design by including a distinctive geometric shape. The right-hand side of the flag contains two red stripes that form an elongated triangle whose apex points back towards the center of the flag. This triangular shape gives the flag a unique, modern look and sets it apart from other state flags.

The new Louisiana State Flag is a powerful symbol of the resilience, strength, and unity of the state of Louisiana. Its bold design and iconic symbolism have quickly made it one of the most recognized and celebrated flags in the United States.

Symbolism of the New Louisiana State Flag

Symbolism Of The New Louisiana State Flag
The new design for the Louisiana state flag is full of symbolism that pays tribute to the state’s rich cultural heritage. The flag features a pelican feeding its young with blood from its own breast. This image symbolizes the state’s motto, “Union, Justice, and Confidence,” as well as its spirit of sacrifice.

The pelican itself is a symbol of Louisiana’s history, as it was once a common bird in the region and was frequently depicted in early Louisiana crests and seals. The blood that the pelican feeds its young with is a reference to Christian imagery and symbolizes the sacrifice that many Louisianans made during Hurricane Katrina.

The shield on the Louisiana state flag is divided into two parts. The upper part features a mother pelican feeding its young, while the lower part features three fleur-de-lis. The fleur-de-lis is a traditional symbol of French royalty and is a nod to Louisiana’s French colonial heritage.

The motto on the flag, “Union, Justice, and Confidence,” is also full of symbolism. “Union” refers to the state’s desire to stay united in the face of adversity, while “Justice” represents the state’s commitment to fairness and equality. “Confidence” speaks to Louisiana’s resilience and faith in the future.

The banner under the shield bears the state’s name in bold, capitalized letters. This is a simple yet powerful reminder of Louisiana’s identity and pride.

The new Louisiana state flag is a beautiful and meaningful symbol of the state’s rich history, culture, and character. It serves as a reminder of the resilience and sacrifice that Louisianans made during Hurricane Katrina, as well as the state’s ongoing commitment to unity, justice, and confidence.

Shield and Pelican

The shield and pelican are the central features of the new Louisiana state flag. The pelican is a symbol of Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, and has been a prominent emblem of the state since the early 1800s. The pelican on the Louisiana state flag has its wings spread and is depicted with three drops of blood on its chest. Legend has it that in times of food scarcity, the mother pelican would peck her own breast to feed her young. This symbolism has transferred over to the state as a whole, representing Louisiana’s willingness to make sacrifices for its people.

The shield, situated behind the pelican, contains different elements that represent different aspects of Louisiana’s history. The top left corner houses a depiction of a pelican nurturing its young ones, symbolizing the Divine’s love and sacrifice. The upper right corner shows the fleur-de-lis, the symbol of French royalty, representing the state’s French colonial heritage. The lower left corner features a depiction of a ship and lighthouse, highlighting Louisiana’s role in trade, transport and being a gateway to the Mississippi river. The lower right corner illustrates a pelican tearing at its own chest to feed its young.

All of these elements come together to create a powerful and meaningful representation of Louisiana’s history and values. The shield itself is encircled by a ribbon, bearing the state motto “Union, Justice, and Confidence,” reaffirming Louisiana’s commitment to equality, fairness, and steadfastness.

The shield and pelican on the Louisiana state flag are not just eye-catching designs but also a symbolic representation of the state’s values and history. Each feature has a specific meaning and purpose that when brought together, illustrates Louisiana’s long and storied past.

Motto and Banner

The new design of the Louisiana State Flag features a gold pelican tearing at her breast to feed her young surrounded by a banner displaying the state’s motto. The banner reads “Union, Justice, and Confidence” in bold letters against a blue background. This motto was originally adopted in 1929, and has remained an important symbol of Louisiana’s values ever since.

“Union” represents the solidarity of all people within the state, despite their political, racial, or cultural differences. It reflects the belief that everyone in Louisiana is part of one community, and that by working together, they can achieve great things.

“Justice” represents the state’s commitment to fairness. The rule of law is a cornerstone of Louisiana’s political system, and this motto reinforces that idea. It represents the belief that the government should act in the best interests of all its citizens, regardless of their status or background.

“Confidence” represents the optimism that characterizes the people of Louisiana. It reflects the belief that there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome with determination and hard work. This motto is a reminder that the people of Louisiana have faced and overcome many challenges throughout their history, and they will continue to do so in the future.

By including the state motto on the flag, Louisiana’s new design emphasizes its values and identity. The blue background of the banner represents vigilance, loyalty, and perseverance, while the gold letters represent optimism and success. The new design of the Louisiana State Flag embodies the state’s rich history, culture, and values.

Controversy Around the New Design

The new design of the Louisiana State Flag that emerged after Hurricane Katrina was not without controversy. While many people appreciated the symbolism and significance behind the new flag, others were critical of the design.


One of the most significant critiques of the new flag design was that it was too complicated and difficult to read. Some people remarked that the intricate details of the pelican and other elements made it hard to discern the actual design of the flag from a distance. Additionally, some critics did not appreciate the use of an out-of-state graphic design firm in the creation of the new design, feeling that it should have been produced by someone from within Louisiana.

Another issue was that the flag design was changed without input from the citizens of Louisiana. Some people felt that the government was imposing a new identity on the state without considering the opinions and wishes of those who would have to live with the new flag.


On the other hand, many people were supportive of the new design. They appreciated the thought and symbolism that went into the creation of the new flag and felt that it was an appropriate response to the challenges faced by Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Supporters also pointed to the fact that the flag was the product of extensive research and consideration, and that it had been approved by the Louisiana State Legislature and the governor. They argued that while not everyone might like the design, it was the official flag of Louisiana and should be respected as such.

The controversy around the new design of the Louisiana State Flag highlights the importance of symbolism and identity in shaping public opinion. While some people valued tradition and simplicity, others embraced change and complexity. Ultimately, the new design of the flag represents a significant moment in the history of Louisiana, marking a turning point in the state’s response to one of the worst disasters in its history.


Critiques: Despite the efforts of the lawmakers and designers, the new design of the Louisiana State Flag has been met with mixed reviews. Some lawmakers and citizens have expressed criticism over the new design, stating that they would have preferred to keep the old design intact. The critics argue that the new flag does not represent Louisiana’s rich history and culture. Many citizens felt a strong connection to the original flag and do not believe that the changes made were necessary.

Some critics argue that the new design is too complicated, and it may not be as recognizable as the old flag. They also feel that the new flag fails to capture the essence of Louisiana’s diverse population and deep-rooted traditions. The new flag’s color combination has also been criticized, as some people believe that the gold and white colors overpower the red, blue, and white color scheme of the original flag.

Additionally, some citizens feel that the new flag was designed too quickly after Hurricane Katrina, without proper consideration of the state’s history and culture. They argue that the changes were made without input from the general public, and that the new flag was created solely by politicians and designers.

The controversy around the new design has led to serious debates about the importance of state symbols. Many people believe that state flags should represent the state’s history and traditions and should not be changed without proper consideration and input from the public. On the other hand, some believe that the state flag should be updated to reflect the changing times and the state’s evolving image.

The controversy over the new Louisiana State Flag design reflects the passionate nature of the state’s citizens and their attachment to their cultural heritage. While some were in favor of a new design, others were fiercely protective of the old flag, which they saw as a symbol of Louisiana’s unique identity. The critiques of the new design highlight the importance of ensuring that state symbols are reflective of the state’s history and culture, as well as the value of public input in the design process.


Supporters of the new Louisiana State Flag design appreciate the use of symbolism in the new design. Many feel that the pelican, the state bird of Louisiana, represents motherly love and self-sacrifice, as it was believed to feed its young with its own blood. This image is represented in the flag with a brown pelican tearing at its own breast to feed its young.

The supporters of the new Louisiana State Flag design also appreciate the following:

Symbolism Meaning
The three drops of blood Symbolizes the guiding principles of justice, wisdom, and compassion
The white background Symbolizes purity and innocence
The blue color Symbolizes truth and loyalty

Additionally, supporters of the new design appreciate the effort to modernize the flag while still representing the state’s history and culture. They believe the new design is simple, yet significant. Some also appreciate the fact that the new design replaces the Confederate symbolism with a more inclusive and representative image of the state.

Supporters of the new Louisiana State Flag design feel that it accurately represents the state’s values, culture, and history in a way that all Louisianans should be able to embrace.


In conclusion, the Louisiana State Flag underwent significant changes after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The damages that the hurricane inflicted on the state flag led to a call for a new design that would better represent the state and its people. The process of designing and adopting the new flag was not without controversy, but ultimately, it was accepted and has become a symbol of Louisiana.

The symbolism of the new flag is rich with references to Louisiana’s history and culture. The shield and pelican represent the state’s unity and selflessness, while the motto and banner reflect its commitment to liberty and justice. Together, these elements create a vibrant and memorable symbol that represents Louisiana as a whole.

While there were some who criticized the new design, many others supported the change and saw the new flag as a sign of progress and hope for the future. The controversy around the new design highlights the importance of symbolism and identity in state flags, as they represent the state in many different contexts.

Overall, the story of the Louisiana State Flag after Hurricane Katrina is one of resilience and reinvention. The state was able to overcome the damages from the hurricane and create a new symbol that better represents its people and history. The Louisiana State Flag is now a symbol of pride and unity for the people of Louisiana, and it will continue to represent the state for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history behind Louisiana’s state flag?

The Louisiana state flag has a rich history that dates back to the 1800s, when it was first designed.

Who designed the original Louisiana state flag?

The original Louisiana state flag was designed by a woman named Zephyr Wright in 1912.

What changes were made to the Louisiana state flag before Hurricane Katrina?

There were several changes made to the Louisiana state flag before Hurricane Katrina, including the removal of a ribbon banner and the addition of a white border.

What happened to the Louisiana state flag during Hurricane Katrina?

The Louisiana state flag was damaged during Hurricane Katrina and had to be taken down from flagpoles across the state.

What was the “Blue Tarp Flag”?

The “Blue Tarp Flag” was a makeshift Louisiana state flag that was created after Hurricane Katrina and consisted of a blue tarp with the state seal painted on it.

Why was a new design proposed for the Louisiana state flag?

A new design was proposed for the Louisiana state flag to replace the damaged and outdated design that had been in use for years.

What is the symbolism behind the new Louisiana state flag?

The new Louisiana state flag features a shield and pelican, which represent protection and self-sacrifice, as well as a white banner with the state motto, “Union, Justice, and Confidence.”

What is the controversy surrounding the new Louisiana state flag?

Some people have criticized the new Louisiana state flag for its design and lack of historical significance, while others have praised it for being a modern and meaningful representation of the state.

What is the significance of the Pelican on Louisiana’s state flag?

The Pelican on Louisiana’s state flag represents self-sacrifice and nurturing, as it was believed to feed its young with its own blood in times of famine.

When was the new Louisiana state flag adopted?

The new Louisiana state flag was adopted on November 22, 2010, after being approved by voters in a statewide referendum.


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