Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans, Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on August 29, 2005. Although it was only the third most powerful storm of the 2005 hurricane season , Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States. As a result of the storm, there were more than 50 ruptures of levees and flood walls surrounding New Orleans and its suburbs. Ruptures of dikes and flood walls caused widespread flooding.
After briefly landing in South Florida on August 25 as a Category 1 hurricane, Katrina gathered strength before crashing into the Gulf Coast on August 29. Alabama, as well as other parts of Louisiana.
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New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city on August 28, when Katrina briefly achieved Category 5 status and the National Weather Service predicted “devastating” damage to the area. But around 150,000 people, who did not want or did not have the resources to leave, ignored the order and stayed behind. The storm produced sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, which cut power lines and destroyed homes, even turning cars into projectile missiles. Katrina caused record-breaking storm surges all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The surges submerged the dikes that protected New Orleans, located six feet below sea level, Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. Soon 80% of the city was flooded from the roofs of many houses and small buildings.
Tens of thousands of people have sought refuge at the New Orleans Convention Center and the Louisiana Superdome. The situation in both places quickly deteriorated as food and water ran out and conditions became unsanitary. Frustration mounted as it took up to two days for a large-scale relief effort to begin. Meanwhile, stranded residents suffered from heat, hunger and lack of medical care.
Reports of looting, rape and even murder began to surface. As news networks broadcast scenes of the devastated city to the world, it became apparent that a large majority of the victims were African American and poor, which raised difficult questions among the public about the condition. of racial equality in the United States. The federal government and President George W. Bush came under heavy criticism for what was seen as their slowness in responding to the disaster. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Michael Brown resigned amid the controversy that followed.
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Finally, on September 1, the tens of thousands of people staying in the damaged Superdome and Convention Center begin to be moved to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, and another mandatory evacuation order was issued for the city. The next day, military convoys arrived with supplies and the National Guard was brought in to end the lawlessness. Efforts have started to collect and identify the corpses. On September 6, eight days after the hurricane, the Army Corps of Engineers finally completed temporary repairs to the three major holes in New Orleans’ levee system and was able to begin pumping water out of the city. .
In total, it is estimated that the hurricane caused more than 1,300 deaths and up to $ 150 billion in damage to both private property and public infrastructure. It is estimated that only about $ 40 billion will be covered by insurance. One million people have been displaced by the disaster, a phenomenon unseen in the United States since the Great Depression. Four hundred thousand people lost their jobs as a result of the disaster. Offers of international aid are pouring in from all over the world, even from poor countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Private donations from US citizens alone have approached $ 600 million.
The storm also triggered 36 tornadoes in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Virginia, killing one.
President Bush declared September 16 to be the National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In a 2006 federal report, the US Army Corps of Engineers admitted that the flood control complex surrounding New Orleans was incomplete, inadequate, and poorly maintained. “The hurricane protection system in New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana was only a system in name,” the report said.
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