Background Information on Katrina

 

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005 file photo, nearly two weeks since Hurricane Katrina hit, floodwaters continue to cover parts of New Orleans. Humans have an affinity for water. But in these recent jumbled days, the collapsed houses, flooded subway tunnels and washed-out roads left in Sandy's wake remind us once again: Our deep-seated human desire to be near the water _ to be attracted and comforted by it, to build alongside it and crave its attractions _ has an undeniable dark side. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool, File)
FILE – In this Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005 file photo, nearly two weeks since Hurricane Katrina hit, floodwaters continue to cover parts of New Orleans.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool, File)

Hurricane Katrina damage. In Port Sulphur, La., residential damage was extensive. Schools buses were tossed around like toys.

The hurricane season of 2005 was one of the worst ever recorded, with 26 named storms. The Gulf Coast of the United States was hit the hardest. Coastal areas in Mississippi and especially the City of New Orleans suffered the most destruction as Hurricane Katrina—a Category 5 Hurricane—slammed into the coast.

New Orleans, a city below sea level, was prepared for hurricanes, but not one of the Katrina’s size and strength. Floodwalls and levees were only built to sustain a Category 3 Hurricane.  New Orleans’s pumps and canals were not capable of holding the massive amount of rain that a Category 5 Hurricane dumps. New Orleans was about to go underwater!

Katrina made landfall on the morning of August 29, 2005 with 125 M.P.H. winds. The storm surge breached the levee system and the waters from nearby Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River rushed in. Most of the city was flooded.

Hurricane Katrina damage. In Port Sulphur, La., residential damage was extensive. Schools buses were tossed around like toys.

Most of the residents had evacuated before Katrina’s landfall, but several thousands that remained had to be rescued, brought temporarily to the Superdome while they awaited help, and then bussed to neighboring cities and states. There they lived for several months or decided to stay and make a home there. The death count reached close to 1,400 and thousand remain unaccounted for. The damage was estimated to be about $75 billion.

As people begin to move back to New Orleans, new questions arise. Why was the city not prepared for a Category 5 Hurricane? Why were the floodwalls and levees incapable of withholding a hurricane of this strength?  Why were more people not evacuated? Why did it take several days before the National Guard, FEMA, and other aid agencies to arrive?  The most important question being, what can we do now to rebuild New Orleans and ensure nothing like this ever happens again?