Atmosphere And Weather

Hurricane Katrina the Catastrophe and the Aftermath

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"Hurricane Katrina the Catastrophe and the Aftermath"
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"We lost everything, we lost everything"! These were the cries heard over and over as the victims of Hurricane Katrina wandered the ruins in New Orleans and parts of Southeastern Texas, Southern Mississippi and Northwest Florida. The eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over Eastern New Orleans on August 29, 2005.

The entire coastline in Lacombe, Mandeville, Madisonville as well as St. Tammany Parish felt the worst part of the storm and most of these areas were practically destroyed when Katrina made landfall. Storm surge in Rigolets Pass was estimated to be more than 15 feet high. Waves after wave of tons of water pummeled not only these areas, but damage was done to thousands of miles of coastline in several States.

Immediately after the calm, that is the eye of the storm, the eye-wall in there and it contain some of the strongest winds involved in a hurricane. The bulk of the storm landed on top of St. Bernard parish, Plaquemines parish and St. Tammany Parish. Several other areas in New Orleans felt the devastation that extended over six miles inland.

Flooding caused by Hurricane Betsy in 1965 prompted Congress to pass the 'Flood Control Act' to stop further possible flooding and destruction. The flood control construction, including design was estimated to take less than 15 years to complete. 40 years later, when Katrina made her appearance, the flood control project was not finished and experts predicted it would take at least ten more years to complete.

On August 25, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made contact with land in South Florida and caused severe damage.  After that, Katrina went on to cause even more anguish in New Orleans and surrounding areas; more anguish than most of the victims had ever experienced in the life. All of the basics necessities were immediately removed from the lives of every resident in those affected areas - especially those who were stranded by choice or those who were there because no one could get to them.

Hundreds of thousands of helpless men, women and children were left struggling to survive for days in the hot sun; without food, water or adequate shelter. There was standing water that was at least 15 feet high in some areas and at least 85 percent of New Orleans was under water. The elderly and infirm never stood a chance against the debilitating conditions, inadequate food, contaminated water and sweltering heat. 

The displaced residents who remained in the city were taken to the Superdome and Convention Center, where thousands of people lived in a way that most Americans could not imagine.  After several days of living in filth and deplorable conditions - where the living was surrounded by those who had died - some of the people were removed.

Many of the survivors in the Superdome were bussed to the Astrodome, in Houston, Texas and another 25,000 evacuees were scattered throughout the city. San Antonio, Texas took in 25,000 Hurricane Katrina victims and housed them in several buildings and private homes, all over the city. Several States all over America were suddenly filled with at least some of the millions of people who suddenly needed someone to live. 

To aid in evacuation, on September 2, Louis Armstrong International Airport was reopened to transport passengers to other areas to start a new life. On September 3, almost a week after the storm first hit, members of the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in the area - with only four small boats to use to go on rescue missions to help people who were stuck on roof tops, in trees, in top levels of buildings and those who could not make it across the rising waters that separated them from safety.

Additional help from the Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps soon arrived to lend their hand at getting the situation under control. Looting had become a major problem as people looked for food, clothes and other necessities to make it through the ordeal. On September 6, Mayor Ray Nagin had to order everyone from the city who was not involved in clean up work, because of safety and health concerns.

An attempt was made to quickly restore law and order because many of the remaining residents were angry and this resulted in a rash of unnecessary crimes.  Even with a door-to-door search by armed guards, a number of residents refused to leave their home and many were  removed by force. Residents who remained or were allowed back in the area  (after an assessment of damages) were housed in temporary trailers..

Lake Pontchartrain is a main attraction in Southern Louisiana but during Hurricane Katrina, entire neighborhoods were flooded and most residents lost their homes and their lives. The first live camera shots out of New Orleans were shown on national and international TV from KTRK, when their helicopter flew over New Orleans after the storm.

The footage revealed extensive flooding over most of the land with stranded residents living on the roof of their home, people leaning out their attic window pleading to be rescued, thousands of people crowded at the points of rescue, residents who were living in make-shift shelter and several messages that were seeming written to God Himself. 

Dead bodies were lying in the streets or floating in the waters that covered the the land, thousands of residents were suddenly without a home, without clean water, electricity, clean clothes, a place to properly use a toilet or even take a shower. There was no food or water available for days and hungry children and adults were shown sobbing as the television camera zoomed in for a close-up views.

In the City of New Orleans, storm protection constructed and designed by the United States Army Corp of Engineers had numerous breaches in almost all constructed flood control devices. The French Quarter was left virtually untouched by the flooding and the hurricane and at least one part of New Orleans that held memorabilia, one-of-a-kind photos, antiques, famous bars and restaurants, was intact. For some, this was cause for some sort of celebration

Major flooding in some of the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina had long been predicted, and some experts delivered the ominous message that "New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen". The disaster happened on August 28, 2005 - in the form of Hurricane Katrina. Oil refineries immediately stopped production and prices of petrol increased - all over the world. After more than five years of reconstruction, there is still a lot to be done, but most of New Orleans is getting back to the way it was - a city alive with love, joy and a fun-filled time.

Even with all of the repairs and home-comings, the New Orleans economy is still struggling to recover from the blow of a complete shut-down of almost 100 percent of businesses.

The catastrophic result of Hurricane Katrina will be felt and remembered by the world for many decades. Families were torn apart, millions of innocent pets had to be left behind, some never made it past the first few hours of flooding and they were never seen again. There are still children wandering around who lost all contact with their mother and there are mothers who spend every night wondering what happened to her child. Hopefully if faced with a hurricane again, the flood control will be in place and will help to protect the citizens in the city that is at least 45 percent below sea-level.





More about this author: Paula Jacobs

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