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Hurricane Katrina

George W Bush

Hurricane Katrina: George W Bush was the 43rd American President who served in office from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009. One of the important events during his presidency was Hurricane Katrina.

Definition and Summary of the Hurricane Katrina
Summary and definition:
Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 major hurricane with winds exceeding 157 mph that caused  $300 billion of catastrophic damage, widespread flooding and the deaths of at least nearly 2000 people. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States on August 23, 2005 August 31, 2005 and swept across 7 states leaving one million Americans homeless.

The worst hit area was New Orleans, Louisiana because it is below sea level and protected by levees that were unable to cope with the strength of Hurricane Katrina. $50 billion was given in aid by the government but there was considerable criticism regarding the handling of the disaster. Although many people were evacuated, it was a slow process and the poorest and most vulnerable people were left behind. Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the United States.

When was Hurricane Katrina? Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States on August 23, 2005 August 31, 2005

How many people died in Hurricane Katrina? The death toll of  Hurricane Katrina numbered at least 1,836 people dead, with a further 135 missing. The worst hit state was Louisiana which accounted for over 1500 deaths and catastrophic damage.

What were the Hurricane Katrina affected areas? Hurricane Katrina affected areas in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. It was then downgraded to a tropical depression status as it moved across Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.

What were the Effects and Impact of Hurricane Katrina? There were significant Environmental, Social and Economic effects. The impact of Hurricane Katrina included loss of life, loss of homes, flooding, health risks, disruption to the oil industry, power outages, civil disturbances, travel disruption and cost.

How much damage was caused by Hurricane Katrina? It is estimated that it caused around $300 billion worth of damage.

What Category was Hurricane Katrina?
Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 Hurricane according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHS). Hurricane Katrina decreased to a Category 4 and then Category 3 status as it hit the United States and was eventually downgraded from a hurricane status to a tropical depression as the sustained winds dropped below 39 mph. A Category 5 is a major hurricane, defined with winds of 157 mph or higher in which catastrophic damage will occur destroying homes and infrastructure with serious power outages lasting for weeks and much of the area becoming uninhabitable.

Facts about Hurricane Katrina
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Hurricane Katrina.

The great storm began on August 23, 2005 as the temperature of the ocean off the coast of the Bahamas hovered around 85 degrees Fahrenheit in an area of low pressure consisting of warm weather, storms and rain - ideal conditions for a hurricane to form.

Hurricane Katrina was formed as winds hit 39 mph. On August 25, 2005 The weather phenomenon reached a Category 1 status when it briefly hit the Florida peninsula,  with 80 mph winds. A Category 1 is described as having very dangerous winds likely to produce some damage.

Katrina then spun out into the Gulf of Mexico where it gained in intensity reaching a Category 5 hurricane by August 27, 2005 with winds of 160 mph and a storm surge over 20 feet high.

As Katrina left the Gulf and made landfall. Without its water vapor "fuel" its intensity decreased and when it hit Louisiana it was classed as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of 127 miles per hour. A Category 4 hurricane results in 'Catastrophic damage' which is testified in its effects on New Orleans.

New Orleans is a large Louisiana port on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico with a population of nearly 350,000 people.

20 hours before the storm struck New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin issued the first ever mandatory evacuation order of the city. Although many New Orleanians were evacuated, it was a slow process and the poorest and most vulnerable people were left behind.

New Orleans was devastated. Many parts of New Orleans have an elevation that is lower than sea level. Levees and Floodwalls catastrophically failed and 80% of the was city flooded and power was lost. (The Levees are water barriers built to prevent flooding).

Many thousands of residents who had remained in the city were rescued. 20,000 desperate people made their way to a "shelter of last resort" at the Louisiana Superdome and others to the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

Flooding: The main tourist centers and business district were relatively undamaged by the flooding. It was the residential areas that suffered the most. Some areas were deluged with one foot of flooding while other areas were submerged by more than 10 feet of water. 

Loss of Homes: In New Orleans 70% of all homes, over 134,000 housing units,  suffered damage as helpless residents were made homless. FEMA trailers later housed at least 114,000 families.

Transport: Transport links were severely effected as the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was closed and most roads in New Orleans were flooded and impassable.

Power Outages: 42% of homes in New Orlesns were without power in the aftermath of the great storm

Drinking water: Drinking water was also unavailable in New Orleans due to a broken water main that served the city.

Civil disturbances and violence: Gangs roamed the streets, looting homes and businesses and committing other crimes. The National Guard was mobilized to restore and maintain law and order in what became a hostile and unsafe living environment.

Loss of Life: More than 1,500 people were recorded as having died in Louisiana, most in New Orleans.  The locations of corpses were recorded, but most were not retrieved until approximately September 9, 2005 when body collection throughout the city began.

Health Risks: Concerns grew regarding health risks following the flooding as people began to suffer from food poisoning and dehydration.  The growing contamination of food and drinking water supplies in New Orleans could potentially spread diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis and typhoid fever. There was also a risk from mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and yellow fever.

Environmental Impact: The cleanup effort involved pumping the flood waters that covered New Orleans into Lake Pontchartrain. The flood waters contained a mixture of oil, raw sewage, bacteria, pesticides and toxic chemicals effecting the fish in the lake.

Hurricane Katrina weakened to a Category 3 status as it hit near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana and Mississippi with sustained winds of 125 mph. The death toll in Mississippi was 238.

The great storm was downgraded from a hurricane status to a 'tropical depression' as it reached Clarksville, Tennessee. A tropical depression produces maximum sustained winds below 39 mph.

The effects of the 'tropical depression' continued across  Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. There were 2 deaths in Alabama, 2 deaths in Georgia, 1 death in Kentucky and 2 deaths in Ohio.

The storm surge from Mobile Bay led to the inundation of downtown Mobile, Alabama resulting in a dusk-to-dawn curfew for the City. A storm surge is an abnormal rise of water resulting in a change in sea level generated by a storm. A storm surge can lead to extensive flooding and are dangerous for people living in many coastal areas.

Large parts of Biloxi and Gulfport in, Mississippi were underwater as a result of a massive storm surge which flooded the cities.

Other states across America were affected until the great storm eventually ended on August 31, 2005. The final remnants of the storm remnants were last distinguishable in the eastern Great Lakes region.

There were significant Social, Environmental and Economic effects as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The impact of Hurricane Katrina. These included loss of life, flooding, health risks, property damage, homelessness, power outages, civil disturbances, travel disruption, disruption to the oil industry and the colossal cost of the storm.

Power Outages: It was estimated that over one million homes and businesses in the Gulf states were without power having to cope in the darkness and without normal communication systems.

Disruption to the oil industry: 30 oil platforms were damaged or destroyed  and caused the closure of nine refineries. Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was reduced by 1.4 million barrels per day resulting in record increases in the price of gasoline following the storm.

Environmental Impact: The storm caused oil spills from 44 facilities throughout southeastern Louisiana.

Environmental Impact: 1.3 million acres of forest lands were destroyed in Katrina costing about $5 billion.

Environmental Impact: The Katrina storm surge caused substantial beach erosion and the devastation of coastal areas

Environmental Impact: Environmental Impact: Lands were transformed to water and breeding grounds for marine mammals, brown pelicans, turtles, and fish were destroyed

Environmental Impact: The damage from Hurricane Katrina forced the closure of 16 National Wildlife Refuges.

Social Impact: Many people in the affected regions were completely traumatized by the catastrophe. Racial tensions were intensified, as many of the worst hit victims were black African Americans.

Social Impact: There was a decline in population in the affected regions as hundreds of thousands of people from the central Gulf coast relocated to other areas across the United States.

Cost: It is estimated that Hurricane Katrina caused about $300 billion worth of damage. The tourist industry in New Orleans has never fully recovered.

Recovery funding:  Federal recovery funding for Hurricane Katrina totaled $120.5 billion in federal spending, of which approximately $75 billion went to emergency relief - not rebuilding. Donations from charity totaled $6.5 billion. Private insurance claims covered less than $30 billion of the losses .

Hurricane Katrina was a terrible tragedy. The levees have been fixed, houses have been replaced but the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina will never be forgotten.

US American History
1990 - Present: The Modern Era
What Caused Hurricane Katrina?

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