Facts and Information About the Devastating Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina
One of the deadliest storms to hit the United States, Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, caused large-scale damage to life and property alike.
"We lost everything. Katrina didn't care if you were poor or rich; all the houses look the same now."
-- Mississippi resident Penny Dean (Quoted in People Magazine)
Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast in 2005, bringing with it not just strong gale winds, but also untold misery to thousands of people. It was one of the deadliest hurricanes to have ever slammed into the United States, leaving behind a trail of destruction and misery, quite unlike any other. Major damage was done to the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Due to the failure of its levee system, New Orleans in Louisiana was severely affected.
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The loss of life amounted to more than 1,800 people, and nearly 750 people went missing in the wake of the widespread destruction.
Meteorological History of Hurricane Katrina
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August 28, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina regional imagery
The result of a tropical wave and the remains of Tropical Depression 10, Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005. Its status was upgraded to a tropical storm on August 24, from where it moved towards Florida as a moderate category 1 hurricane. After having gradually weakened over land, it gained intensity as it moved towards the Gulf of Mexico.
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On August 28th, it grew from a category 3 hurricane to a category 5 hurricane, with winds of 160 mph, causing severe damage along the Gulf Coast. The pressure measurement made Katrina as the fourth-most intense hurricane, surpassed later by Hurricane Rita and Wilma. The early hours of August 29, 2005, saw the storm weakening, and it was classified as a category 4 storm. Moving slowly at 12 mph, with winds up to 155 mph, Katrina caused far greater damage than a fast-moving storm would have done.
The Catastrophic Breach of the Levees in New Orleans
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A primary reason for the great loss of life and property in New Orleans, was the failure of the levee system as a result of design flaws and lack of maintenance. Nearly every levee along Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans was breached, leading to flooding of 80% of the city and nearby parishes. The city, which was subjected to hours of battering, reported the maximum number of deaths and a great loss of infrastructure. Soon after, blasts in a chemical factory nearby shook the city.
People initially took shelter in the large Superdome. However, with depleting supplies and inhuman conditions, they soon started looking for other places to live. Looting and violence was widespread across many parts of the city, as everyone started to look for ways to fill their depleting supplies.
Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina left in its aftermath far-reaching economic, environmental, social, and political effects.
Death Toll
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The death toll, post Katrina, stood at 1,836, which included the total number of direct and indirect deaths. This number includes 1,577 from Louisiana and 238 from Mississippi. The total number of people missing was estimated to be around 705. An estimated 11 people were killed when Hurricane Katrina made its first landfall in Florida.
Economic Damage
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» With around 1.3 million acres of land lost, Hurricane Katrina wrecked havoc on the Mississippi forest industry. The total estimated damage amounted to a whopping five billion dollars.

» The shutdown of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico had widespread impact on the total oil and gas production.

» Thousands of people were left unemployed, which impacted tax collections as well.
Hurricane Katrina was the costliest one in U.S. history, with losses amounting to more than $89.6 billion. Oil and forest industries suffered a major blow, with interruption in oil supply and huge losses to the forest industry.
Environmental Damage
There was profound impact on the environment as well, with devastation of the coastal region and loss of breeding grounds for many animals. Many wildlife refuges and parks were also forced to shut down.
Political Damage
The hurricane, in its aftermath, exposed the government's inadequate preparations for dealing with natural calamities such as these. Inability of the authorities to respond to, and help stop, fatalities due to thirst, exhaustion, and violence resulted in widespread criticism from the public and media alike.
President Bush's delayed visit to the affected regions and his comments like he did not think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees, fueled a lot of criticism. With everyone, including the federal, state, and local officials, all pointing fingers at one another, the rescue operations became a politicized affair. It also led to the resignation of the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael D. Brown.
Relief Work
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Relief was provided by a number of government and charitable organizations across the country. Charitable agencies like the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Common Ground Collective and Habitat for Humanity provided relief in the form of housing, food, and water to the people suffering due to this deadly hurricane. Four ships were sent by the Navy to the Gulf Coast to provide food, water, and relief.
Hurricane Katrina Facts
» Hurricane Katrina was the third-strongest hurricane to make landfall in America. Hurricane Camille (1969) and Hurricane Allen (1980) were the strongest hurricanes to rock the US, with gusts topping around 190 mph, as compared to 160 mph by Hurricane Katrina. It was also the sixth-strongest hurricane ever recorded at the time.

» At around six meters high, the storm surge of Katrina shook the coastline.
» The effect of the deadly hurricane was far-reaching, with around 90,000 square miles affected.

» An estimated 300,000 homes were destroyed by this super storm.
» The debris left behind by the destruction, if stacked together on a football field, would reach the height of ten and a half miles.

» Around seventy countries pledged monetary support, with Kuwait making the single-largest pledge of $500 million, followed by Qatar which made a donation of $100 million.
» Privately, funds amounting to nearly $4.25 billion were raised after the hurricane.

» The repair and reconstruction costs, as estimated by the Bush Administration, was a whopping $105 billion.
» Several documentary films like Hellp by Darren Martinez, showed the devastating effects of Katrina.

» Nearly 1.7 million people were without power as a result of this natural calamity. In New Orleans, only sixty percent of the power was restored, even after a year had passed by.
As population increases along the coastlines, the destruction caused by hurricanes such as these increase manifold. Even with forecasting systems and emergency systems in place, these storms still have a devastating effect on life and property. The lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina has made it crucial for countries around the world to develop and maintain a proper disaster management system to deal with catastrophes like these.