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Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast Monday, August 29th 2005.

Havoc created from Hurricane Katrina

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Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast Monday, August 29th 2005.

Hurricane Katrina came and went in a few short days, but she left behind a trail of death and destruction and Political embarrassment that will be burned forever in the nation's memory.
 Effects of widespread damage and flooding may be felt for years to come.

Our prayers go out to

The Victims of
Hurricane Katrina


Hurricane Katrina wind swath
Storm development   Tornadoes  

Preparations and expectations before landfall
Predictions   Evacuation   Transportation and infrastructure

Local effects and aftermath
Death Toll (summary)   Health concerns   Price hiking

Effects outside the affected region
Economic effects   Space Shuttle program

Disaster relief response
Political effects   Evacuation issues   Race issues   Government response issues  

Environmental issues

Historical comparisons
By hurricane intensity   By cost   By death toll
Other USA hurricanes   Other USA city devastations/disasters  
Other disasters in New Orleans   Other levee disasters  
Comparison to other evacuations/refugee crisis

Aug. 23 - 31, 2005

Highest winds:
175 mph (280 km/h)

Total damages (in USD):

The storm is estimated to have been responsible for $81.2 billion in damage

(Costliest Atlantic hurricane of all time)

Katrina may cost as much as four years of war
Government certain to pay more than $200 billion following hurricane

It  was reported on September 4, 2005
$10 to 25 billion (insured damage reported so far), $20 to 100 billion (proj. - likely to be the most expensive Atlantic hurricane of all time: CNN reported on September 2, 2005 that damages to New Orleans alone will exceed 100 billion)

Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. It was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest landfalling U.S. hurricane on record

Most notable in media coverage were the catastrophic effects on the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, and in coastal Mississippi. Due to its sheer size, Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast as far as 100 miles (160 km) from the storm's center. Katrina was the third major hurricane, and second Category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic season, though not at landfall.

It formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, and crossed southern Florida as a moderate Category 1 hurricane, causing some deaths and flooding there, before strengthening rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico and becoming one of the strongest hurricanes on record while at sea. The storm weakened before making its second and third landfalls as a Category 3 storm on the morning of August 29 in southeast Louisiana and at the Louisiana/Mississippi state line, respectively.

The storm surge caused severe and catastrophic damage along the Gulf coast, devastating the cities of Mobile, Alabama; Waveland and Biloxi/Gulfport in Mississippi; and New Orleans and other towns in Louisiana. Levees separating Lake Pontchartrain and several canals from New Orleans were breached by the surge, subsequently flooding 80% of the city and many areas of neighboring parishes for weeks. Severe wind damage was reported well inland.

At least 1,836 people lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. The storm is estimated to have been responsible for $81.2 billion (2005 U.S. dollars) in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Criticism of the federal, state and local governments' reaction to the storm was widespread and resulted in an investigation by the United States Congress and the resignation of FEMA director Michael Brown.


1,836 total

Areas affected:

 extreme destruction in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana (especially Greater New Orleans); strong impact on Florida; also affected Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and many other eastern U.S. states, eastern Ontario and eastern Quebec, Canada, and the Bahamas

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most destructive tropical cyclones ever to hit the United States.

Hurricane Katrina was a hurricane that at its peak had a strength classification of Category 5 before later being downgraded to a Category 4 at its second most significant landfall. Extensive and severe damage was caused by the hurricane across the Gulf Coast region of the southeastern United States, including Louisiana's largest city, New Orleans, on August 29, 2005.

Federal disaster declarations blanketed 90,000 square miles (233,000 km²) of the United States, an area almost as large as the United Kingdom. The hurricane left an estimated five million people without power, and it may be up to two months before all power is restored. Disaster relief plans are in operation in the affected areas.

Early in the morning of August 30, 2005 and as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina, breakages in the levee system in New Orleans caused a second and even greater disaster. Heavy flooding covered the entire city over a sustained period, forcing the total evacuation of over a million people. The city was now uninhabitable, due to its being below sea level meaning that the water had nowhere to go.

On September 3, 2005 US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as "probably the worst catastrophe, or set of catastrophes" in the country's history, referring to the Hurricane itself plus the flooding of New Orleans.

Katrina may be the deadliest hurricane in the United States since the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed around 8,000 (possibly up to 12,000) people. As of 7 PM CDT September 1, 2005, more than 20,000 are still reported missing.

 New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin stated on August 31 that the death toll of Katrina may be "in the thousands",  which was confirmed by emergency responders through a statement by Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco on September 1.

C Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans

 1,836 fatalities total

Hurricane Katrina wind swath

Storm development

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a statement on August 23 saying that Tropical Depression Twelve had formed over the southeastern Bahamas. The numbering of the system was debated, as Tropical Depression Twelve formed partially from the remains of Tropical Depression Ten. The naming and numbering rules at the NHC require a system to keep the same identity if it dies, then regenerates, which would normally have caused this storm to remain numbered Ten.

However, the NHC gave this storm a new number because a second disturbance merged with the remains of Tropical Depression Ten on August 20, and there is no way to tell whether the remnants of T.D. Ten should be credited with this storm. (This is different from Hurricane Ivan in the 2004 season, when the NHC ruled that Ivan did indeed reform; the remnant of Ivan that regenerated in the Gulf of Mexico was a distinct system from the moment Ivan originally dissipated to the moment it regained tropical storm strength)

The system was upgraded to Tropical Storm Katrina on the morning of August 24. Katrina became the fourth hurricane of the 2005 season on August 25 and made landfall later that day around 6:30 p.m. between Hallandale Beach and Aventura, Florida.

Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005, near its peak intensity

Katrina spent only a few hours over South Florida. Katrina was predicted to go across South and Southwest Florida. However, Katrina moved farther to the south than expected and soon regained hurricane strength after emerging into the Gulf of Mexico on the morning of August 26. Katrina then quickly strengthened to Category 2 and its pressure dropped to 971 mbar, which prompted a special update from the NHC at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 UTC). At 5:00 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC) on August 27, Katrina's pressure dropped to 945 mbar and it was upgraded to Category 3.
The same day President Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, two days before the hurricane made landfall.

At 12:40 a.m. CDT (0540 UTC) on August 28, Katrina was upgraded to Category 4. Later that morning, Katrina went through a period of rapid intensification, with its maximum sustained winds reaching as high as 175 mph (280 km/h) (well above the Category 5 threshold of 156 mph (250 km/h)) and a pressure of 906 mbar by 1:00 p.m. CDT. Nonetheless, on August 29 the system made landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane at 6:15 a.m. CDT near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (235 km/h).

Katrina, which affected a very wide swath of land covering a good portion of eastern North America, was last seen in the eastern Great Lakes region. Before being absorbed by the frontal boundary, Katrina's last known position was over southeast Quebec and northern New Brunswick. Its lowest minimum pressure at landfall was 918 mbar, making it the third strongest hurricane on record to make landfall on the United States. A 15 to 30 foot (5 to 9 m) storm surge came ashore on virtually the entire coastline from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to Florida. The 30 foot (10 m) storm surge recorded at Biloxi, Mississippi is the highest ever observed in America.

At 11 p.m. EDT on August 31 (0300 UTC, September 1), U.S. government weather officials announced that the center of the remnant low of what was Katrina had been completely absorbed by a frontal boundary in southeastern Canada, with no discernible circulation.

The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center's last public advisory on Katrina was at 11 p.m. EDT Wed 31 August 2005 and the Canadian Hurricane Centre's last public advisory on Katrina was at 8 a.m. EDT Wed 31 August 2005


There were tornado reports near Adams and Cumberland counties, Pennsylvania also in Fauquier, Virginia and in Atlanta, Georgia; in White County, Georgia; at Helen, Georgia; and Mobile, Alabama.

No deaths were reported from the tornadoes, but several injuries were reported in Georgia. 500,000 chickens were killed or set free after dozens of poultry houses were damaged in Georgia. There was major damage in Helen, GA, destroying homes and a hotel.

Preparations and expectations before landfall


Hurricane preparedness for New Orleans

Florida had little advance warning when Katrina strengthened from a tropical storm to a hurricane in one day, and struck southern Florida later that same day, on August 25.

On August 27, after Katrina crossed southern Florida and strengthened to Category 3,

 the President declared a state of emergency in Louisiana,

 two days before the hurricane made landfall. This declaration activated efforts by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to position stockpiles of food, water and medical supplies throughout Louisiana and Mississippi more than a day before Katrina made landfall. On August 28 the National Weather Service issued a bulletin predicting "devastating" damage rivaling the intensity of Hurricane Camille. The risk of devastation from a direct hit, however, was well documented. The Times-Picayune newspaper did a series on it [Wall Street Journal Online, by Joe Hagan, 8-31-05, p. A5]. National Geographic Magazine ran a feature in October 2004 [5]. Walter Williams did a serious short feature on it called New Orleans: The Natural History, in which an expert said a direct hit by a hurricane could damage the city for six months.

The city of New Orleans was considered to be particularly at risk since most of it is below sea level and it was likely that the expected storm surge would flood the city after topping the surrounding levees.



On the morning of August 26, at 10 a.m. CDT (1500 UTC), Katrina had strengthened to a Category 3 storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Later that afternoon, the NHC realized that Katrina had yet to make the turn toward the Florida Panhandle and ended up revising the predicted track of the storm from the panhandle to the Mississippi coast. The NHC issued a hurricane watch for southeastern Louisiana, including the New Orleans area at 10 a.m. CDT August 27. That afternoon the NHC extended the watch to cover the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines as well as the Louisiana coast to Intracoastal City.

The United States Coast Guard began pre-positioning resources beyond the expected impact zone starting on August 26, and activated more than 400 reservists. Aircrews from the Aviation Training Center, in Mobile, staged rescue aircraft from Texas to Florida. All aircraft were returning back towards the Gulf of Mexico by the afternoon of August 29. Air crews, many who lost their homes during the hurricane, began a round-the-clock rescue effort in New Orleans, and along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines.

President George W. Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi two days before the hurricane made landfall. That same evening, the NHC upgraded the section of the hurricane watch from Morgan City, Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border to a hurricane warning, 12 hours after it was issued, and also issued a tropical storm warning for the westernmost Florida Panhandle.

On August 28, as the sheer size of Katrina became clear, the NHC extended the tropical storm warning zone to cover most of the Louisiana coastline and a larger proportion of the Florida Panhandle. The National Weather Service's New Orleans/Baton Rouge office issued a vividly-worded bulletin predicting that the area would be "uninhabitable for weeks" after "devastating damage" caused by Katrina, which at that time rivaled the intensity of Hurricane Camille.

Voluntary and mandatory evacuations were issued for large areas of southeast Louisiana as well as coastal Mississippi and Alabama. About 1.2 million residents of the Gulf Coast were covered under a voluntary or mandatory evacuation order.

Gulf Coast

On August 26, the state of Mississippi activated its National Guard in preparation of the storm's landfall. Additionally, the state government activated its Emergency Operations Center the next day, and local governments began issuing evacuation orders. By 7:00 p.m. EDT on August 28, 11 counties and eleven cities issued evacuation orders, a number which increased to 41 counties and 61 cities by the following morning. Moreover, 57 emergency shelters were established on coastal communities, with 31 additional shelters available to open if needed. Louisiana's hurricane evacuation plan calls for local governments in areas along and near the coast to evacuate in three phases, starting with the immediate coast 50 hours before the start of tropical storm force winds. Persons in areas designated Phase II begin evacuating 40 hours before the onset of tropical storm winds and those in Phase III areas (including New Orleans) evacuate 30 hours before the start of such winds.

Many private care-taking facilities that relied on bus companies and ambulance services for evacuation were unable to evacuate their charges. Fuel and rental cars were in short supply and many forms of public transportation had been shut down well before the storm arrived. Some estimates claimed that 80% of the 1.3 million residents of the greater New Orleans metropolitan area evacuated, leaving behind substantially fewer people than remained in the city during the Hurricane Ivan evacuation.

By Sunday, August 28, most infrastructure along the Gulf Coast had been shut down, including all Canadian National Railway and Amtrak rail traffic into the evacuation areas as well as the Waterford Nuclear Generating Station.[15] The NHC maintained the coastal warnings until late on August 29, by which time Hurricane Katrina was over central Mississippi.

Greater New Orleans area

By August 26, the possibility of unprecedented cataclysm was already being considered. Many of the computer models had shifted the potential path of Katrina 150 miles westward from the Florida Panhandle, putting the city of New Orleans right in the center of their track probabilities; the chances of a direct hit were forecast at 17%, with strike probability rising to 29% by August 28. This scenario was considered a potential catastrophe because 80% of the city of New Orleans and the Metro area on the southern shore is below sea level along Lake Pontchartrain. Since the storm surge produced by the hurricane's right-front quadrant (containing the strongest winds) was forecast to be 28 feet (8.5 m), emergency management officials in New Orleans feared that the storm surge could go over the tops of levees protecting the city, causing major flooding. This risk of devastation was well known; previous studies by FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers had warned that a direct hurricane strike on New Orleans could lead to massive flooding, which would lead to thousands of drowning deaths, as well as many more suffering from disease and dehydration as the flood waters slowly receded from the city.

At a news conference 10 a.m. on August 28, shortly after Katrina was upgraded to a Category 5 storm, New Orleans mayor C. Ray Nagin, calling Katrina "a storm that most of us have long feared", ordered the first ever mandatory evacuation of the city. With roughly one-quarter of the city's residents without access to cars and 23.7% of families living below the poverty line, they lacked transportation or the means to pay for it. Many others who had transportation chose to stay with some rationalizing that since they had been through prior hurricanes okay, that they expected a similar outcome (this same thought process occurred in Mississippi where citizens there had survived Hurricane Camille and assumed they could to the same for Katrina). Their decision to stay would further compound the situation. It is not yet known how many of those trapped in New Orleans were 1) poor or 2) able-bodied (i.e. had a car) yet chose to stay. Future analysis of Motor Vehicle Registration, Census and Social Security Information, and Death Certificates may help to clarify these numbers. Nagin established several "refuges of last resort" for citizens who could not leave the city, including the massive Louisiana Superdome, which housed over 9,000 people along with 550 National Guard troops when Katrina came ashore. A National Guard official said on Thursday, September 1 that as many as 60,000 people had gathered at the Superdome for evacuation, having remained there in increasingly difficult circumstances.

Bodies, gunfire and chaos in New Orleans' streets

Despair inside the Superdome

Mandatory evacuations were also ordered for Assumption, Jefferson (Kenner, Metairie, as well as Grand Isle and other low lying areas), Lafourche (outside the floodgates), Plaquemines, St. Charles and St. James parishes and parts of Tangipahoa and Terrebonne parishes in Louisiana.

In Alabama, evacuations were ordered for parts of Mobile and Baldwin counties (including Gulf Shores). In Mississippi, evacuations were ordered for parts of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties.

Transportation and infrastructure

Hurricane Katrina on August 28.

On Sunday, August 28, Canadian National Railway (CN) suspended all rail traffic on its lines south of McComb, Mississippi (lines owned by its subsidiary Illinois Central Railroad that extend into New Orleans, Louisiana), in anticipation of damage from the hurricane. To help ease the resumption of services after the storm passes, CN also issued an embargo with the Association of American Railroads against all deliveries to points south of Osyka, Mississippi. CSX Transportation also suspended service south of Montgomery, Alabama until further notice. The CSX (former Louisville and Nashville Railroad) main line from Mobile to New Orleans is believed to have suffered extensive damage, especially in coastal Mississippi, but repair crews were not able to reach most parts of the line as of August 30.

Amtrak, America's rail passenger carrier, announced that the southbound City of New Orleans passenger trains from Chicago, Illinois, on August 29 and through September 3 will terminate in Memphis, Tennessee, rather than their usual destination of New Orleans; the corresponding northbound trains will also originate in Memphis. The southbound Crescent from New York, New York, for the same period will terminate in Atlanta, Georgia, with the corresponding northbound trains originating in Atlanta as well. Amtrak's westbound Sunset Limited will originate in San Antonio, Texas, rather than its normal origin point of Orlando, Florida. Amtrak announced that no alternate transportation options will be made available into or out of the affected area during this time.

The Waterford nuclear power plant was shut down on Sunday, August 28, before Katrina's arrival.

The Waterford Nuclear Generating Station, also known as Waterford 3, is a nuclear power plant located on a 3,000-acre (12-km²) site near Taft, Louisiana, in St. Charles Parish.

This plant has one Combustion Engineering two-loop pressurized water reactor. The plant produces 1075 megawatts of electricity and has a dry ambient pressure containment building.

Waterford is operated by Entergy Nuclear and is owned by Entergy Louisiana, Inc.

On August 28, 2005, Waterford shut down due to Hurricane Katrina approaching and declared an unusual event.


On August 29, Katrina's storm surge caused several breaches in levees around New Orleans. Most of the city was subsequently flooded, as the breached drainage and navigation canals allowed water to flow from the lake into low areas of the city and Saint Bernard Parish. Storm surge also devastated the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, making Katrina the most destructive and costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, and the deadliest hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. The total damage from Katrina is estimated at $81.2 billion (2005 U.S. dollars), nearly double the cost of the previously most expensive storm, Hurricane Andrew, when adjusted for inflation.

As of May 19, 2006, the confirmed death toll (total of direct and indirect deaths) stood at 1,836, mainly from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238).However, 705 people remain categorized as missing in Louisiana, so this number is not final even a year after the storm. Many of the deaths are indirect, but it is almost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities.

Federal disaster declarations covered 90,000 square miles (233,000 km²) of the United States, an area almost as large as the United Kingdom. The hurricane left an estimated three million people without electricity. On September 3, 2005, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as "probably the worst catastrophe, or set of catastrophes," in the country's history, referring to the hurricane itself plus the flooding of New Orleans.

South Florida and Cuba

Hurricane Katrina first made landfall on August 25, 2005 in South Florida where it hit as a Category 1 hurricane, with 80 mph (130 km/h) winds. Rainfall was heavy in places and exceeded 14 inches (350 mm) in Homestead, Florida, and a storm surge of 3–5 feet was measured in parts of Monroe County. More than 1 million customers were left without electricity, and damage in Florida was estimated at between 1 and 2 billion dollars, with most of the damage coming from flooding and overturned trees. There were 11 fatalities reported in Florida as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Most of the Florida Keys experienced tropical-storm force winds from Katrina as the storm's center passed to the north, with hurricane force winds reported in the Dry Tortugas. Rainfall was also high in the islands, with 10 inches (250 mm) falling on Key West. On August 26, a strong F1 tornado formed from an outer rain band of Katrina and struck Marathon. The tornado damaged a hangar at the airport there and caused an estimated 5 million dollars in damage.

Although Hurricane Katrina stayed well to the north of Cuba, on August 29 it brought tropical-storm force winds and rainfall of over 8 inches (200 mm) to western regions of the island. Telephone and power lines were damaged and around 8,000 people were evacuated in the Pinar del Río Province. According to Cuban television reports the coastal city of Surgidero de Batabano was 90% underwater


On August 29 Hurricane Katrina made landfall near Buras, Louisiana with 125 mph (205 km/h) winds, as a strong Category 3 storm. However, as it had only just weakened from Category 4 strength and the radius of maximum winds was large, it is possible that sustained winds of Category 4 strength briefly impacted extreme southeastern Louisiana. Although the storm surge to the east of the path of the eye in Mississippi was higher, a very significant surge affected the Louisiana coast. The height of the surge is uncertain because of a lack of data, although a tide gauge in Plaquemines Parish indicated a storm tide in excess of 14 feet (4.3 m) and a 12 foot (3 m) storm surge was recorded in Grand Isle.

Hurricane Katrina also brought heavy rain to Louisiana, with 8-10 inches (200-250 mm) falling on a wide swath of the eastern part of the state. In the area around Slidell, the rainfall was even higher, and the highest rainfall recorded in the state was approximately 15 inches (380 mm). As a result of the rainfall and storm surge the level of Lake Pontchartrain rose and caused significant flooding along its northeastern shore, affecting communities from Slidell to Mandeville. Several bridges were destroyed, including the I-10 Twin Span Bridge connecting Slidell to New Orleans. Almost 900,000 people in Louisiana lost power as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

In hard-hit St. Bernard Parish, which was entirely flooded by Katrina, the search for the missing was slow. According to an interview in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the coroner was still trying to get a list of missing from the Red Cross in November 2005. While there were some victims on this list whose bodies were found in their homes, the vast majority were tracked down through word-of-mouth and credit card records. As of December 2005, the official missing list in the Parish stood at 47.


Local effects and aftermath

Hurricane Katrina effects by region

Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans

Areas affected include southern Florida, Louisiana (especially the Greater New Orleans area), Mississippi, Alabama, the western Florida Panhandle, western and north Georgia were affected by tornadoes, the Tennessee Valley and Ohio Valley regions, the eastern Great Lakes region and the length of the western Appalachians. Over 300 deaths have been reported in seven states, a number which is expected to rise as casualty reports come in from areas currently inaccessible. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin estimates hundreds, and as many as thousands, are feared dead. Two levees in New Orleans gave way, and eighty percent of the city is now under water, which in some places is 20 to 25 feet (7 or 8 meters) deep.

Those most affected, stranded or dead are predominantly poor people, the sick and the elderly as those groups didn't have the means or ability to evacuate before the storm hit.

Katrina Exposes Racism

Death Toll

1,836 total


Deaths: 2 


Deaths: 14 


Deaths: 2
as tornadoes leveled dozens of buildings in several counties. Multiple injuries.


Deaths: 1


Deaths: 1,464


Deaths: 238


Deaths: 2 

Health concerns

Aside from the lack of water, food, shelter, and sanitation facilities, there is growing concern that the prolonged flooding will lead to an outbreak of health problems for those who remain in hurricane-affected areas. In addition to dehydration and food poisoning, there is also a potential for West Nile virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, tuberculosis, hepatitis A, cholera and typhoid fever, all related to the growing contamination of food and drinking water supplies in the area. The longer these people are stranded in the searing heat the more will perish from the aforementioned causes. President Bush has declared a public health emergency for the entire Gulf Coast and Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt announced that the DHHS will be setting up a network of 40 medical shelters to speed the relief efforts. There is concern the chemical plants and refineries in the area could have released their contents into the flood waters. People who suffer from allergies or lung disorders, such as asthma, will have health complications due to toxic mold and airborne irritants. In Gulfport, Mississippi, several hundred tons of chicken and uncooked shrimp were washed out of their containers at the nearby harbor and could have contaminated the water table.

Price hiking

Hundreds of reports have poured into Louisiana (and other) authorities regarding "price gouging" on products like gasoline and bottled water, or of hotels dishonoring reservations in favor of accepting larger offers for rooms by desperate travelers. The three major U.S. TV networks' nightly news programs have shown images of a BP gas station selling gasoline for over $6.00 per US gallon ($1.59/L). Another BP station in Stockbridge, Georgia, south of Atlanta, was selling gas at $5.87 per US gallon ($1.55/L) within a day after Katrina hit. Gas prices in the U.S. just prior to Katrina were in the range of $2.50 per US gallon ($0.66/L). During this time the average price of gas per gallon has reached a new all time high.


Effects outside the affected region

The effects of Hurricane Katrina were catastrophic and widespread. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history. The storm was large and had an effect on several different areas of the North America.

Economic effects

The economic effects of Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana and Mississippi in late August 2005, were far-reaching. As of April, 2006, the Bush Administration has sought $10.5 Billion for repairs and reconstruction in the region, making it the costliest natural disaster in US history. And this does not account for damage to the economy caused by potential interruption of the oil supply and exports of commodities such as grain. Also, before the hurricane, the region supported approximately one million non-farm jobs, with 600,000 of them in New Orleans. As such, the total economic impact to Louisiana and Mississippi may exceed $150 Billion

Individual effects

Hundreds of thousands of residents of southern Louisiana and Mississippi, including nearly everyone who lived in New Orleans, were left unemployed. No paychecks were being cashed and no money was being spent, and therefore no taxes were being collected by local governments. The lack of revenue will limit the resources of the affected communities and states for years to come. Before the storm, the region was already one of the poorest in America with one of the highest unemployment rates. Furthermore, Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has refused to allow victims of the hurricane to take advantage of any exception to the recent Bankruptcy Reform, a recent bill passed with widespread support of the banking industry that aims to curb abuse of bankruptcy protection by repeat filers and those who are able to repay debts reasonably. "If someone in Katrina is down and out, and has no possibility of being able to repay 40% or more of their debts, then the new bankruptcy law doesn't apply," Sensenbrenner said.

There was also some concern when, on September 8, 2005, President Bush temporarily suspended the Davis-Bacon Act in the affected areas, which allowed for contractors working on Federal construction projects to be paid less than the prevailing local wage. The concerns over these actions were primarily that allowing the government to pay less than the prevailing wage would contribute to increased poverty in the region, which already ranked among the lowest in the nation in terms of household income. The act was later reinstated on October 26, 2005, amid political pressure from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

Industrial and commercial effects

Oil production

  In the United States gasoline prices reached an all-time high during the first week of September 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The average retail price was nearly $3.04 per gallon.The previous high was $2.38 per gallon in March 1981, which would be $3.20 per gallon after adjustment for inflation.

The storm interrupted oil production, importation, and refining in the Gulf area, thus having a major effect on fuel prices. Before the storm, one-tenth of all the crude oil consumed in the United States and almost half of the gasoline produced in the country came from refineries in the states along the Gulf's shores. An additional 24% of the natural gas supply is extracted or imported in the region. Furthermore, the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve is also stored in this region.

Power outages in the wake of Katrina have also caused distribution problems for oil and natural gas. Pipelines which move petroleum products from places like Houston to areas of the east coast have had their flows interrupted because power outages shut down the pumps that kept materials flowing. Dick Cheney personally called the manager of the Southern Pines Electric Power Association on the night of August 30 and again the next morning and ordered him to divert power crews to substations in nearby Collins that were essential to the operation of the Colonial Pipeline, which carries gasoline and diesel fuel from Texas to the Northeast.

At least twenty offshore oil platforms were missing, sunk, or had gone adrift, according to the United States Coast Guard. One oil rig, in dock for repairs before the storm, broke loose and hit the Cochrane/Africatown USA road bridge over the Mobile River in Mobile, Alabama. Two others went adrift in the Gulf of Mexico, but they were recovered. One platform, originally located 12 mi (20 km) off the Louisiana coast, has washed up onshore at Dauphin Island, Alabama. Shell Oil Company's MARS platform, producing around 147,000 barrels (23,000 m³) per day, was also severely damaged.

At 7:00 AM CDT on August 29, Ted Falgout, Port Director of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, a key oil and gas hub 60 mi (100 km) south of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico, reported that the port had taken a direct hit from the hurricane. The port services approximately 16% of the nation’s supply of crude oil and natural gas.
According to Falgout, Hurricane Katrina, "will impact oil and gas infrastructure, not just short term but long term as well. The impact of the storm — the Gulf is shut down; all of the area of the storm is shut down; a half billion dollars a day of oil and gas is unavailable."

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which imports 11% of all U.S. oil consumption, closed on August 27, and Shell reported a reduction in production of 420,000 barrels per day (770 L/s). The port was undamaged by the storm and resumed operation within hours of getting power back.

Due to fears that the production of oil in the United States will be cut by up to one-third of normal capacity, the price of oil fluctuated greatly. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures reached a record high of over $70 per barrel ($0.44/L). There were many reports to Louisiana authorities and elsewhere of price gouging, not only for gasoline, but also for other needed items such as bottled water. In some areas, gasoline was being sold for as much as $6 per gallon ($1.59 per liter). One BP station in Stockbridge, Georgia, south of Atlanta, was selling gas at $5.87 per gallon ($1.55 per liter) less than a day after Katrina hit. Just before the storm, average fuel prices were approximately $2.50 per US gallon ($0.66/L). International oil prices also rose. In the United Kingdom, pump prices for unleaded petrol (gas) hit £1 per litre ($7 per U.S. gallon) for the first time in a significant number of places (averaging about 95p), a rise of about 3% from pre-Katrina prices. Wholesale prices were up 5% by September 6.

Long lines developed at some gas stations throughout the U.S. as customers rushed to buy gasoline, anticipating price increases in the wake of the storm. Emphasizing the seriousness of the situation and in light of similar incidents in his own state, Governor Mike Easley of North Carolina has issued a statement asking all North Carolinians to conserve gas, limit fuel consumption and non-essential road trips, and for state employees to car pool. On the day of the Governor's announcement, many gas stations around the state ran out of gas and lines were formed at others.

By 12:00 PM CDT on August 31, eight Gulf of Mexico refineries remained shut down and one was operating at reduced capacity. Evaluation of five of the eight refineries was delayed due to limited access. Aside from the problems involved in restarting the refineries (which is a lengthy process) there were additional major issues with worker housing, since a large proportion of homes were destroyed by the hurricane.

The Environmental Protection Agency moved to reduce prices by temporarily lifting fuel standards in America until September 15. Some crude oil was also released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as well, to combat prices as major economic consequences were predicted if prices remained high for a long period of time — leading consumer spending to drop and causing many foreign economies, especially in Asia, to suffer. President Bush also temporarily waived the Jones Act, allowing foreign oil companies to ship oil between ports of the United States.

By September 7, Gulf oil production had returned to 42% of normal. Of 10 refineries that were shut down by Katrina, four were expected to be back at full capacity within a week, however another four could be out of commission for months.

Gambling and entertainment

Katrina forced many casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to close and evacuate. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was scheduled to open the first week of September, but has remained closed indefinitely due to structural damage. The Beau Rivage was severely damaged by water that reached the third floor, but seems to have suffered the least damage of the beachfront casinos. Grand Casino Biloxi had its mammoth gaming barge blown across U.S. 90. Treasure Bay's pirate ship was washed ashore. The President Casino Biloxi was washed across U.S. 90 and landed on top of a Holiday Inn, nearly a mile (2 km) from the casino's berth.

In Gulfport, the western Grand Casino Gulfport barge, containing Kid's Quest, washed across U.S. 90 and was left blocking the highway. The Copa Casino barge was pushed onto land next to the Grand Casino Gulfport's parking garage. Casino Magic and Isle of Capri in Biloxi both suffered heavy damage to their gaming barges, likely beyond repair. Before the storm, at least 14,000 people were employed at Gulf Coast casinos.

Harrah's New Orleans closed shortly before the storm and sustained storm damage. The building was also used by first responders as a base of operations in the days following the storm. The casino reopened on February 17, 2006, just in time for Mardi Gras,[11] and the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, reopened on August 29, 2006, on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall. The Grand Casino Biloxi is undergoing extensive renovation, and is expected to reopen during the summer of 2006. The Grand Casino Gulfport was destroyed as portions of the structure collapsed across Highway 90 and was demolished.

Mississippi will lose approximately $500,000 in tax revenue for each day that the Biloxi-area riverboat casinos are closed, and about $140,000 per day for the South River region casinos. As a comparison, in 2004, Mississippi earned $2.7 billion in casino revenues, third behind Nevada and New Jersey ($10.3 billion and $4.8 billion, respectively).

Agriculture and forestry

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the national impact of Hurricane Katrina on Gulf Coast crops was minimal, with most of the damage borne by minor producers of major crops (corn, soybeans, and cotton).[15]. The main impact of the storm on agriculture is likely to involve ocean shipping and exports. In 2004, 22% of U.S. wheat exports, 71% of corn exports, and 65% of soybean exports passed through Gulf ports. However, major grain shipping usually does not occur until later in the fall, when ports would again be operational.

In addition to the 48 Mississippi counties covered by the Presidential primary natural disaster designation, the USDA declared an additional 31 counties as primary agricultural disaster areas. This made farmers and other agricultural producers eligible for low interest emergency loans to cover losses. The remaining four Mississippi counties were classified as, "contiguous" and were also eligible for assistance.

Gulfport, Mississippi serves as a major ocean shipping port for the southern United States, which was found to be inoperable for as much as one year. Chiquita, Dole, Crowley, Gearbulk, P&O, and others had significant operations in Gulfport. On a short-term basis these companies have relocated necessary operations to unaffected ports.

Forestry constitutes a major industry in southern Mississippi, accounting for 10% of all jobs in the state. According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission, Hurricane Katrina caused significant damage to 1.3 million acres (5,300 km²) of forestland in the state. The greatest damage occurred from the coastal counties northward to Laurel, with heavy damage to pine forests in Hancock, Harrison, and Pearl River counties.

An estimated 14.6 million cords (52,900,000 m³) of paperwood and 3.2 billion board feet (7,600,000 m³) of sawtimber were destroyed. The estimated economic impact of this loss was $1.3 billion. Additionally, there was an estimated $1.1 billion in damage to urban trees in 181 Mississippi communities.


The local electric utility Entergy Corporation was impacted severely, and Entergy New Orleans filed for bankruptcy protection on September 23, 2005. The company cited lower revenue and storm restoration costs as the primary cause. Parent company Entergy Corporation promptly arranged $100 Million in financing.

Space Shuttle program

The hurricane has passed over the Michoud Assembly Facility and materially interrupted the production of external tanks for the Space Shuttle, leading to a further interruption of the shuttle flights. Evan McCollum, a Lockheed Martin Space Systems spokesman in Denver has reported that "there is water leakage and potential water damage in the buildings, but there's no way to tell how much at this point".

The Michoud Assembly Facility will remain closed until at least September 6, but it might take several weeks to restore power, communications and other utilities. It's also uncertain how soon workers will be able to return. Plans to ship three tanks -- including the one for NASA's next mission -- back to Michoud for retrofitting are on indefinite hold. The next Shuttle flight, STS-121, could be postponed to May or later during the second half of 2006.


Disaster relief response

The disaster recovery response to Katrina began before the storm, with Federal Emergency Management Agency preparations that ranged from logistical supply deployments to a mortuary team with refrigerated trucks. More than 11,000 Army and Air National Guardsmen and 7,200 active-duty troops are currently stationed in the Gulf Coast region to assist with hurricane relief operations. An additional 10,000 USNG troops are currently in the process of being called up and are expected to join the relief efforts shortly.

The military relief effort, known as Joint Task Force Katrina, is being commanded by Lieutenant General Russel Honoré of the US First Army.

At President Bush's urging, the U.S. Senate approved a bill authorizing $10.5 billion in aid for victims on September 1, 2005. The U.S. House of Representatives voted and approved on the measure Friday, September 2, 2005 without any debate; Bush signed it into law an hour later. This is said to be only the initial aid package.

Over 50 countries have pledged money or other assistance to recovery from the hurricane including inter alia Cuba and Venezuela despite differences with Washington; Sri Lanka which is still recovering from the Tsunami; Russia whose initial offer to send a relief plane and helicopter was declined by the U.S. State Department; and Dominica one of the smallest countries in the world by any measure.

In addition to asking for federal funds, President Bush has enlisted the help of former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush to raise additional voluntary contributions, much as they did after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Canada is sending three warships and one coast guard vessel to the US Gulf Coast to assist in the relief and reconstruction effort.

On September 3, Governor Blanco hired James Lee Witt, the well-regarded FEMA director during the Clinton Administration, to oversee recovery efforts in Louisiana.

Political effects

Evacuation issues

Many critics have noted that while the local government gave a mandatory evacuation order on August 28, before the storm hit, they did not make provisions to evacuate the large numbers of homeless, low-income people, the elderly, the infirm or car-less households. Evacuation was mainly left up to individual citizens to find their own way out of the city. Officials knew that many residents of New Orleans lack cars. A 2000 census revealed that 27% of New Orleans households, amounting to approximately 120,000 people, were without privately-owned transportation. Officials also did not take into account the fact that New Orleans has one of the highest poverty rates in the United States at about 38%. These factors prevented many people from being able to evacuate on their own. Consequentially most of those stranded in the city are the poor, the elderly, and the sick.


Race issues

The question of demographics has been raised in the media as news media video and photographs showed primarily black citizens stranded in New Orleans. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Black Leadership Forum, National Conference of State Legislators, National Urban League and the NAACP held a news conference expressing anger and charging that the response was slow because those most affected are poor and black.

Black lawmakers angry about federal response to Katrina

This has led to city officials being accused of racism, with critics saying they didn't bother to formulate an evacuation plan for those who cannot afford private transportation. These groups were also very displeased that the citizens in New Orleans were being referred to as "refugees".

On September 2, while presenting on the NBC Concert for Hurricane Relief, rapper Kanye West strayed from his script and addressed what he perceived as the racism of both the government and of the media, finally stating: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." and called for the media to stop labelling African-Americans as the only ones responsible for the chaos in New Orleans. (West's comments  were heard in the entirety in the eastern U.S., where the telecast was shown live; NBC later removed a portion of the comments on the tape-delayed telecast shown in the west. NBC also issued a denouncement of the comments.) In addition, the media has been saturated with apocalyptic-type messages in reference to the hurricane which, in itself, can contribute to the victim's sense of trauma, isolation, and abandonment.

Conservative commentator Lou Dobbs of CNN stated, "We should put in context, it seems to me also, that the city of New Orleans is 70% black, its mayor is black, its principal power structure is black, and if there is a failure to the black Americans, who live in poverty and in the city of New Orleans, those officials have to bear much of the responsibility."

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the 2004 New Orleans population to be 20.0% white and 67.9% black.

Government response issues

Criticism of local and national government response is widespread in the media, as reports continued to show hunger, deaths and lack of aid.

About 6,200 Army and Air National Guard troops were on duty in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida when Katrina struck,

and by Wednesday the 31st, that number climbed to 11,000 Army and Air National Guard members from around the nation and 7,200 active-duty troops, mostly Navy. 10,000 more National Guard troops are expected to join the effort within the following 48 hours.

However more than two and a half days after the hurricane struck, police, health care and other emergency workers voice concerns, in the media, about the absence of National Guard troops in the city for search and rescue missions and to control looting. It was not until Friday that the military arrived in New Orleans in sufficient numbers to ease the suffering of the storm survivors.

Media reports have also criticized the fact that National Guard units are short staffed in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama because they are currently on a tour of duty in Iraq, including 3,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard's 256th Brigade.

The failure to immediately evacuate or re-supply New Orleans area hospitals, and the lack of a visible FEMA presence in the city and surrounding area as raised concerns in the press.

The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back in the spring of 2005 with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project was reduced to $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million.

The money would have gone into funding studies about the feasibility of upgrading the current levees to withstand Category 4 and Category 5 Hurricanes instead of just Category 3.


Environmental issues

Some believe a factor in the increased damages has been the destruction of wetlands in the affected regions, which are considered to have a mitigating effect on hurricane damage, acting as a sponge to slow floodwaters.

Sewage, decomposing bodies, and toxic chemicals from the city's many factories have mixed into the floodwaters creating a potentially toxic cesspool throughout New Orleans. Experts fear it will pose a serious threat to residents now and into the future.


Crude oil prices dropped to a little below $70 a barrel after U.S. government decided to make petroleum available from strategic reserve.

Oil and gas companies found some Gulf of Mexico oil rigs as far as 17 miles from their original locations.


August 31, 2005


Deaths: 2 

Alabama suffered moderate to heavy damage caused by wind and flooding by the storm. Mobile Bay spilled into downtown Mobile, Alabama to the depth of 2-3 feet (0.6-1 meter). A flotel (floating habitat used by oil platform crews) broke loose of its moorings and slammed into the Cochrane Bridge. Damage was found not to be critical, but only one lane (out of two) in each direction was reopened immediately after the storm. There was cause for concern because the bridge, in conjunction with underwater tunnels, is a part of the I-10 Hazardous Materials route across the Mobile River. The causeway crossing the Mobile Delta (US Highway 90/98) was also closed before the storm and was completely submerged during the hurricane.

Damage was quite heavy in coastal Alabama (comparable to Hurricane Ivan in 2004), including significant structural damage to buildings. Bayou La Batre, a fishing town, sustained significant damage to its infrastructure and fishing fleet. It was the focal point of public attention given to Alabama in the aftermath of the storm. On Sunday, September 4, 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited a community center in Bayou La Batre and surveyed storm damage with Alabama Governor Bob Riley. Some damage was reported in inland Alabama, as well, particularly related to fallen trees. An oil platform became also became grounded near Dauphin Island.

More than 584,000 people were left without power in Alabama immediately after the storm. Tornadoes were also reported near Brewton.

Flooding reached 11 feet in Mobile, matching record set in 1917, according to National Weather Service. Water up to roofs of cars in downtown Mobile and bayou communities. Piers ransacked and grand homes flooded along Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay.


Arkansas avoided damage from Katrina, as the storm passed to the east.


Deaths: 14 

Katrina's first landfall was in South florida, where it hit as a Category 1 hurricane. The damage was fairly minimal, and 11 fatalities were reported. More than 1 million customers were left without electricity, and damage in Florida was estimated at between $1 and $2 Billion (with most of the damage coming from flooding and overturned trees).

38,000 customers without power in the Panhandle, hit by eastern edge of storm Monday. In South Florida, about 70,000 customers still without power Wednesday.

Many people living in the area were unaware of when Katrina strengthened from a tropical storm to a hurricane in one day and struck southern Florida near the Miami-Dade–Broward county line. The hurricane struck between the cities of Aventura, in Miami-Dade County, and Hallandale, in Broward County, on August 25, 2005. However, National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts had correctly predicted that Katrina would intensify to hurricane strength before landfall, and hurricane watches and warnings were issued 31.5 hours and 19.5 hours before landfall, respectively — only slightly less than the target thresholds of 36 and 24 hours.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency on August 24 in advance of Katrina's landfall in Florida. Shelters were opened and schools closed in several counties in the southern part of the state. A number of evacuation orders were also issued, mostly voluntary, although a mandatory evacuation was ordered for at-risk housing in Martin County.

Two traffic fatalities related to Katrina were also reported on the Florida Panhandle in Walton County, and moderate to locally heavy damage was reported in the western part of the Panhandle (on the outer edge of Katrina), which had already been hit hard by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in July, 2005


Deaths: 2
 as tornadoes leveled dozens of buildings in several counties. Multiple injuries.

Western Georgia has been hit with bands of Hurricane Katrina resulting in heavy rains, damaging winds and several reports of tornadoes in Polk, Heard, and Carroll counties. In Polk County, three homes were reported damaged by a tornado. A fatal tornado in Carroll County resulted in the death of one person in a vehicle collision and caused damage to as many as 30 homes, and one additional fatality was reported.

Severe weather has also been reported in northeastern Georgia, including tornadoes in White and Hall counties. In White County, a tornado struck the tourist town of Helen, ripping the top floor from an Econolodge hotel and damaging businesses at a nearby outlet mall. Thirty people were displaced by the storm, but no injuries were reported. In Hall County, several homes were reported damaged by a possible tornado in Lula.[13] A tornado in a feeder band moved through Decatur County to the west of Bainbridge in southwestern Georgia during the evening of August 29.

On August 31, the price of gasoline shot up dramatically in and around the Atlanta metropolitan area, reaching as high as $6 per gallon. This was mainly due to consumer panic about lack of gasoline caused by Hurricane Katrina, which disrupted oil pumps in the Gulf of Mexico.


The death toll was estimated at about 50.

Hancock County was the scene of the final landfall of the eye of Hurricane Katrina, and its communities and infrastructure suffered some of the most intense damage inflicted by that storm. Damage was in many communities, including Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pearlington, and Clermont Harbor.

Katrina practically obliterated Waveland, and state officials said that it took a harder hit from the wind and water than any other town along the coast. The storm dragged away almost every structure within one half mile of the beach, leaving driveways and walkways that went to nowhere.

In Bay St. Louis, Katrina destroyed many buildings, including the first floor and dormitories of Saint Stanislaus College and the Bay St. Louis Public Library



Harrison County was hit particularly hard by the hurricane as well as the storm surge. Its two coastal cities, Biloxi and Gulfport suffered severe damages and many casualties were reported. By September 1, 126 people were already confirmed dead.

Widespread damage was reported in the city of Biloxi as several of the city's attractions were destroyed. Many restaurants have been destroyed and several casino barges were pulled out of the water and onto land. Residents that recalled Hurricane Camille observed that Katrina was, "much worse," with a storm surge reportedly reaching further inland. Katrina's wind estimates were lighter than Camille's, and the central air pressure was slightly higher, but Camille was also a much smaller storm so the greater impact of the storm surge may be due to the size.

The Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge was totally destroyed, and US 90 had heavy debris and severe damage to the roadbed.

Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi was also damaged extensively.

In Pass Christian, the destruction was almost complete.



The breach on the 17th Street Canal levee caused mostly insevere street flooding within Jefferson Parish. But some lower lying areas did receive significant water damage.

By one week after the storm, residents were allowed to return to their homes to retrieve essentials, provided that they could present identification proving that they lived in the parish. They were only allowed in to retrieve essential items, and were then required to leave the parish for another month.

The Sheriff of Jefferson Parish reported that he expects his district to remain uninhabitable for at least one week and that residents should not return to the area. Incidents of looting have been reported throughout affected areas of Louisiana, most notably in New Orleans. Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco ordered all roadways into the state closed.



Deaths: 1

Western Kentucky was already suffering flooding from storms that had passed through during the weekend prior to Katrina's arrival. Part of Christian County High School, located just outside Hopkinsville, collapsed during the weekend. Significant flooding has been reported in the Hopkinsville area, and many homes were flooded. One person was also killed in flood waters during Katrina that had already been high from the previous storm.

Governor Ernie Fletcher, declared Christian, Todd and Trigg counties disaster areas due to flooding, and declared a statewide state of emergency


Deaths: 1,464

Hurricane Katrina made its second landfall on August 29, 2005, as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana. As such, the primary areas that were affected were southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, including the cities of New Orleans, Louisiana, and the parishes of Jefferson, Terrebonne, Plaquemines, Lafourche, and St. Bernard.

According to officials nearly one million people were temporarily without electricity in Louisiana for several weeks. On September 1, 2005, 800,000 homes were without electricity. Numerous roadways were flooded or damaged and many evacuations conducted by boat and helicopter.

Approximately 18,000 National Guardsmen were dispatched to New Orleans as part of the disaster relief effort. The United States Navy also announced that four amphibious ships would be sent from Norfolk, Virginia within a few days to assist the relief efforts.

By July 1, 2006, when new population estimates were calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the state of Louisiana declined by 219,563, or 4.87%.
Relief crews put aside the counting of bodies to concentrate on rescuing the living, many trapped on rooftops and in attics.

Estimated 80 percent of New Orleans under water, up to 20 feet deep in places. Water still rising as engineers struggle to plug two breached levees along Lake Pontchartrain with giant sandbags.

Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said 3,000 people rescued by boat and air.

Sections of Interstate 10, only major freeway leading into New Orleans from the east, destroyed.

Looting broke out in some New Orleans neighborhoods, ripping open store gates and taking guns from a Wal-Mart. One police officer shot in the head by looter but expected to recover.



Deaths: 238

The Gulf Coast of Mississippi suffered massive damage from the impact of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005, leaving 236 people dead, 67 missing, and an estimated $125 Billion in damages. Since Katrina made its third and final landfall on the Louisiana/Mississippi state line, the storm's powerful northeastern quadrant made hammered areas of Mississippi, as well as Alabama, causing extensive wind and flood damage. According to MSNBC, a 30 foot (9.1 meter) storm surge came ashore wiping out 90% of the buildings along the Biloxi-Gulfport coastline. The bridge between Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian was also damaged by the storm.
Major bridges damaged in three coastal counties, including those linking Biloxi with Ocean Springs and the connection to Bay St. Louis.

Hundreds of waterfront homes, businesses, community landmarks and condominiums obliterated.

The two counties most affected by the storm were Hancock County and Harrison County. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials also recorded deaths in Hinds, Warren, and Leake counties. About 800,000 people through the state experienced power outages, which is almost a third of the population.

Casinos built on barges along the coast damaged or destroyed, some floated across beach onto land. Dozen casinos employed about 14,000 people, generated $2.7 billion in annual revenue.

Looters picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses.

More than 1,600 Mississippi National Guardsmen activated.

United States Navy officials announced that two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers that were under construction at Litton-Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula had been damaged by the storm, as well as the Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island.

Quote: "It is indescribable - blocks and blocks and blocks of no houses. Ninety percent of the structures are gone. I saw Camille and the aftermath in 1969 and this is worst than Camille."
Gov. Haley Barbour on NBC's "Today." Camille killed 143 and destroyed 6,000 homes.


Although Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city by August 29, 2005, many were unable to evacuate for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of transportation. Approximately one million people had fled the city and its surrounding suburbs by the evening of August 28, while about 20,000 to 25,000 others remained in the city lined up to take shelter in the Louisiana Superdome, lining up for what authorities warned would be an unpleasant day and a half at minimum.

By August 31, eighty percent (80%) of the city of New Orleans was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, with some parts of the city under 20 feet (6.1 meters) of water. Four of the protective levees were breached. The 17th Street Canal levee was breached at Bellaire Drive and Spencer Ave. Another breach occurred in a levee along the 17th Street Canal at the Hammond Highway Bridge. The Industrial Canal levee was also breached at Tennessee Street, and the London Avenue canal floodwall was breached at 6100 Pratt Drive. Levee repair efforts were undertaken, involving reinforcing the levees with 3,000 pound (1,400 kg) sandbags deployed by U.S. Army Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters. The 17th Street Canal levee repair was completed by September 5.

Many refugees were trapped in flooded houses and rooftops waiting to be rescued. The Superdome sustained significant damage, including two sections of the roof that were compromised, and the dome's waterproof membrane had essentially been peeled off. On August 30, Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco ordered the complete evacuation of the remaining people that sought shelter in the Superdome. They were transported to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

The only route out of the city was west on the Crescent City Connection as the I-10 (twin span) bridge travelling east towards Slidell, Louisiana had collapsed. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was also carrying emergency traffic only.

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was closed before the storm and was flooded. By August 30, it was reopened to humanitarian and rescue operations. Commercial cargo flights resumed on September 10, and commercial passenger service resumed on September 13.


Western New York had many reports of flooding, as well as damage caused by fallen trees as a result of Katrina. At least 4,500 customers were left without power in the Buffalo and Rochester areas.

Damage (primarily to trees which knocked into some neighborhoods) and flooding was also reported in the northern part of the state, near the Ontario border. About 1,100 customers lost power in that area.


North Carolina avoided damage from the storm, but gas prices rose in response to interrupted supply lines. Local hospitals received some regional refugees.


Deaths: 2 

In Ohio, some flooding and power outages have been reported (including about 2,500 in the easternmost part of the state alone), and several areas have been evacuated throughout the state. One hospital had to be evacuated as it lost power and its generator failed in Dennison, but it was restored later in the day. Two deaths have been blamed on the storm in Ohio, both indirect deaths from an accident caused by Katrina's rains in the Monroeville area.

A force F-0 tornado hit Warren County on August 30, causing minor damage in Morrow and Salem Township. Three houses were damaged but no injuries were reported.


 On August 30 heavy rain and tropical storm force wind gusts were reported in Southern Ontario as Katrina passed over the area before dissipating into a remnant low in the east. Port Colborne and Brockville appeared to receive the most rain, both with over 4 inches (10.2 cm). Other regions in the province reported 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of rain, except near the New York border where up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) was reported. There were also some spotty reports of flooding and damage due to fallen trees.


In Pennsylvania, at least two tornadoes spawned from Katrina's outer bands and touched down in south-central part of the state south of Harrisburg. Numerous trees were brought down and several roofs damaged


There was extensive flooding in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, and the southern part of the parish was "reclaimed" by the Mississippi River. The Belle Chasse Tunnel was flooded as well.

On August 29, the President of Plaquemines Parish, Benny Rousselle, issued a statement to all residents not to return to the parish until further notice. There were no public services available and all roads were closed and impassable. He requested that only employees in Drainage, Heavy Equipment, Public Right-of-Way Maintenance and Solid Waste Departments return to the parish if possible


On August 31, the storm system previously known as Katrina was partially absorbed by a front and continued to produce heavy rainfall down the St. Lawrence River Valley. Several villages in the northeastern part of Quebec have been isolated due to multiple washouts. Sections of roads were destroyed, effectively cutting these villages off via land travel. Affected areas were supplied by boats normally supplying the Magdalen Islands. The system crossed over uninhabited areas of Labrador before completely dissipating.


St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, which lies to the East of New Orleans and thus was closer to the path of the storm and the more exposed to the storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico, was rapidly flooded. This was apparently the result of extensive levee failure along the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a 76 mile (122 km) long shipping channel, which had been dredged to provide access for about 650 deep draft ships per year. The levees were sized to hold back up to 17.5 feet (5.3 meters) of water. It is reported that up to 90% of these levees were damaged and that the failures may be measured in miles.

The Parish's two shelters at Chalmette High School and St. Bernard High School suffered considerable damage with flooding. Chalmette High lost much of its roof, and St. Bernard High had many broken windows. There were estimates of 300-plus evacuees both sites.

By August 29, about 150 people were sighted on rooftops in areas that were under approximately 8-10 feet or more of water. Among those on the roofs were WDSU reporter Heath Allen and a St. Bernard resident on a Government Complex rooftop.

Several tragic deaths were reported at St. Rita's Nursing Home in the parish, as 34 people died due to drowning. The owners of the nursing home were arrested and charged with negligent homicide


At the storm's peak, at least 80,000 customers were without power, primarily in the Memphis and Nashville areas.

Some damage has been reported, primarily due to fallen trees. However, there have been no deaths or injuries reported in Tennessee as a result of Katrina.

Tennessee was also being used as a staging area for Gulf Coast evacuees, particularly in and around Memphis.


In Terrebonne Parish, signs, trees, roofs and utility poles suffered the brunt of Hurricane Katrina's fury when the storm roared across Terrebonne and Lafourche.


Texas avoided any direct damage from Hurricane Katrina, but the state took in an estimated 220,000 people who have sought refuge from Louisiana and has overwhelmed many local resources.

On August 31, the Harris County, Texas Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the State of Louisiana came to an agreement to allow at least 25,000 evacuees from New Orleans, especially those who were sheltered in the Louisiana Superdome, to move to the Astrodome until they could return home. The evacuation began on September 1. President George W. Bush announced on September 4 that additional evacuees would be airlifted to other states.

The Reliant Astrodome in Houston took on some of the 25,000 who had initially sought shelter in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, but quickly reached capacity and by September 2, was unable to accept additional hurricane refugees from the disaster. The Astrodome was reopened a few hours later, after it was announced that all events through December, 2005 would be cancelled so as to open the building to an additional 11,000 evacuees. City officials then opened two additional buildings adjacent to the Dome, the Arena, and the Center, as well as the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston to house additional guests.

When the Houston shelters began to reach capacity on September 2, Governor Rick Perry activated an emergency plan that made space for an additional 25,000 each in San Antonio and the Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington Metroplex, as well as smaller shelters in communities across Texas. Beginning with a convoy of 50 buses (2,700 people) that arrived at the Dallas Reunion Arena at 3:00 AM CST on September 3, a wave of over 120,000 additional evacuees began pouring into Texas at a rate, such that, as of September 5, it was estimated there are roughly 139,000 evacuees in official shelters around the state. This added to the estimated 90,000 that were already in hotels and homes. Dallas quickly sought help from nearby cities to help accommodate more evacuees. A staging area at the unused Big Town Mall in Mesquite was opened, but was also overloaded quickly. Fort Worth and Arlington have accepted some evacuees and towns from as far away as Bonham and even Tulsa, Oklahoma have offered to help.

By the afternoon of September 5, with a total estimated number of over 230,000 evacuees in Texas, Governor Perry ordered that buses begin being diverted to other shelters outside the state resulting in 20,000 being sent to Oklahoma and 30,000 being sent to Arkansas. By September 6, Texas had an estimated 250,000 evacuees and Governor Perry was forced to declare a state of emergency in Texas and issued an impassioned plea to other states to begin taking the 40,000-50,000 evacuees that were still in need of shelter.

Many communities in Texas have opened up many of their services to evacuees from Louisiana, offering speedier enrollment for children in local school districts, access to the Texas food stamp program, as well as health services for those being treated for diseases like tuberculosis and HIV. Texas state parks are open free of charge to evacuees.

More than 300 students from Tulane University, including the school's football team, were displaced to Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The New Orleans Saints NFL football team, who are also displaced from their home facility at the Superdome, have moved to San Antonio. The Saints' 2005 home games were split between the Alamodome in San Antonio and Louisiana State University's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. On December 30, 2005, the team and the league announcing that the club will play a split schedule again in 2006 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans' Louisiana Superdome, with the first game at the Superdome on September 24, 2006. However, it is undetermined where the Saints will play in 2007 and beyond.


In Virginia, a tornado related to Katrina's outer bands touched down in Marshall, damaging at least 13 homes. In addition, electricity was cut for about 4,000 customers. No deaths or injuries were reported.


Significant flooding has been reported in several communities in West Virginia, including Sissonville, forcing some local evacuations






Shortly after the hurricane moved away on August 30, 2005, some residents of New Orleans who remained in the city began looting stores, as did some Mississippi residents in their local stores and casinos. Many looters were in search of food and water that were not available to them through any other means.

Reports of carjacking, murders, thefts, and rapes in New Orleans flooded the news. Several news media later determined that most reports were based on rumors. Thousands of National Guard and federal troops were mobilized and sent to Louisiana along with numbers of local law enforcement agents from across the country who were temporarily deputized by the state. "They have M16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will," Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said. Congressman Bill Jefferson (D-LA) told ABC News: "There was shooting going on. There was sniping going on. Over the first week of September, law and order was gradually restored to the city." Several shootings were between police and New Orleans residents, including the fatal incident on Sept 4, 2005 at Danziger Bridge, where Police shot and killed at least five people after gunmen opened fire on a group of contractors traveling across a bridge on their way to make repairs.
Fourteen contractors were traveling across the Danziger Bridge under police escort on their way to launch barges into Lake Pontchartrain to help plug the breech in the 17th Street Canal when they came under fire.
The bridge spans a canal connecting Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.

A number of arrests were made throughout the affected area, including near the New Orleans Convention Center. A temporary jail was constructed of chain link cages in the city train station.

In Texas, where more than 300,000 evacuees are located, local officials have run 20,000 criminal background checks on the evacuees, as well as on the relief workers helping them and people who have opened up their homes. Most of the checks have found little for police to be concerned about. The number of homicides in Houston from September 2005 through February 22, 2006 went up by 23% relative to the same period a year before; 29 of the 170 murders involved displaced Louisianans as a victim, a suspect, or both.

See more on Looting here

Historical comparisons

By hurricane intensity

Katrina was the third most intense hurricane to hit the United States in recorded history. In the Atlantic Basin it achieved the status of the fourth lowest central pressure ever recorded.

By cost

Many estimates predict that Katrina was the costliest storm in history to strike the United States, surpassing Hurricane Andrew which ravaged Miami-Dade County, Florida, in 1992.

By death toll

1,836 total

In terms of fatalities it was the second deadliest named storm to hit the US, and may be declared the deadliest.

 News reports initially claimed that Katrina would be the deadliest hurricane since Hurricane Camille (which killed 256) in 1969. Katrina has since far surpassed that number. The deadliest named storm in the United States prior to Katrina was Hurricane Audrey in 1957 which officially killed 390, although up to 160 more were never accounted for. Roughly 20,000 people are still believed to be missing as of September 1, so it is possible that this will be the most profound disaster of any kind in U.S. history.

For comparison. the deadliest named Atlantic storm was Hurricane Mitch, which killed over 18,000 people in Central America in 1998; the deadliest Atlantic storm on record was the Great Hurricane of 1780, which killed over 22,000; and the deadliest tropical cyclone on record anywhere is the 1970 Bhola cyclone, which killed at least 150,000 (some figures are closer to 500,000) people in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Other USA hurricanes

Katrina has been compared with Hurricane Camille in that the hurricane was also an intense Category 5 storm which made landfall in the same general area. Katrina has also drawn comparisons to Hurricane Betsy, because of its similar track and potential effects on New Orleans. In 1965, Betsy struck New Orleans after passing over the Florida Keys, causing over $1.5 billion USD in damage in 1965 (over $9 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars), and the deaths of 75 people, earning it the nickname "Billion Dollar Betsy". However, Betsy was only a fast-moving Category 3 hurricane, limiting its potential for devastation, while Katrina was a massive, slow-moving Category 4 storm. For Katrina, some potential damage estimates exceed the $36 billion damage (in current dollars) caused by Hurricane Andrew (previously the most destructive natural disaster to have hit the United States).

Other USA city devastations/disasters

Katrina also caused the first total devastation of a major American city since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires.

Other disasters in New Orleans

This is the greatest disaster in New Orleans since its founding in 1700's.

Other levee disasters

There has been no other levee breach in the USA causing such a level of death or evacuation. There has been greater devastation by levee breaches in other parts of the world, however: the 1931 Huang He flood and following levee breaches killed millions.

Comparison to other evacuations/refugee crisis

Other cites which have been evacuated are. In 1999 the Kosovo War led to 800,000 refugees leaving Kosovo and being accommodated for up to 3 months in other parts of Europe. In September 1939, at the outset of the Second World War, London and major British cities were evacuated with 1.5 million displacements in the first 3 days of the official evacuation taking place reaching a final total of 3.75 million.


September 3, 2005

  • Flames rage on waterfront

  • Blazes break out on New Orleans waterfront

  • Bush: 7,000 active duty troops to aid Katrina efforts

  • Many still trapped by filthy floodwaters

  • Evacuation of stricken city slowly making strides

  • Military to send home 300 troops from Iraq, Afghanistan

* U.S. troops have started moving emergency relief supplied into New Orleans and are trying to halt widespread looting and horrific violence as they feed evacuees and move them to shelters in Texas.

* President George W. Bush ordered thousands more troops to New Orleans to help pull desperate refugees out of the hurricane-ravaged city, force looting gangs off the streets and find the dead.

* Bush plans to return to the disaster-hit region on Monday.

* U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said police and prosecutors in New Orleans were ready to hunt down a group of criminals responsible for "horrendous" crimes in the city following the hurricane's destruction.

* Three luxury cruise liners will serve as temporary housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina for the next six months. Two will be based in Galveston, Texas, and the other will be docked in Mobile, Alabama.

* A visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House has been postponed because of the hurricane.

* The military will send home from Iraq and Afghanistan more than 300 Air Force airmen who are based at an installation in Mississippi so they can assist their families who were affected by the hurricane.

*Marathon Oil Corp. said it expected all seven of it oil refineries to be operating at capacity Monday. Eight refineries in southeast Louisiana and Mississippi, or more than 10 percent of the country's refining capacity, were shut as a result of the hurricane.


* "Many of our citizens are simply not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans, and that is unacceptable," President Bush said. "Where our response is not working we'll make it right. Where our response is working we will duplicate it."

* "There is rapes going on here. Women cannot go to the bathroom without men. They are raping them and slitting their throats. They keep telling us the buses are coming but they never leave," said 32-year-old Africa Brumfield in New Orleans.

* "The streets of New Orleans belong to its citizens, not the violent thugs who have stuck their heads up out of holes in an attempt to exploit a national tragedy," U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said. "Not one inch of that city is going to be ceded to that element."

*"There's still some danger because power's not up and the nights are dark," said Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. "We have a lot to go through before we get comfortable."

* During an NBC benefit concert for the victims of the storm, rapper Kanye West said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

* Air Force Brig. Gen. Allen Peck, explaining why 300 airmen deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan were being sent home to hurricane-ravaged region, said: "They can't effectively perform the mission of their heads and hearts are focused on the safety and welfare of their loved ones."

* "What am I going back to? My house is gone. I lost everything. I'm planning on staying here."
Jeffery Joseph, a 49-year-old truck driver and refugee from New Orleans, who does not plan to return to his family home after the devastating hurricane.

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