Along with being one of the five deadliest hurricanes of all time, Hurricane Katrina was the costliest hurricane in American history. Katrina formed on August of 2005 in the Atlantic Ocean off of the Gulf Coast and made landfall in the Gulf Coast region on August 29, 2005. Though the mayor of New Orleans had issued a mandatory evacuation ruling and the President of the United States had strongly urged residents to evacuate, many stayed behind to wait out the storm. Though severe flooding had been expected, the city was completely unprepared for this level of devastation.
Though it reached Category 5 status over the Atlantic, by the time it hit the Gulf Coast, Katrina had been downgraded to a Category 3 storm. The storm surge caused nearly every levee in New Orleans to break, flooding as much as 80% of the city of New Orleans. Almost two thousand people lost their lives and over a million residents of the Gulf Coast found themselves displaced. Since the community had been poverty stricken before the storm, the residents found themselves particularly vulnerable to the ferocious storm.
For weeks after the storm, the rest of the world watched in absolute horror as the people of New Orleans lived in absolutely horrendous conditions. The government’s response to Hurricane Katrina and the victims on the Gulf Coast was widely criticized by the world at large, particularly the delayed response to the flooding in New Orleans. Those who had remained in New Orleans were living under conditions that rivaled those of third world countries and the public perception was that America had abandoned its own citizens.
One of the biggest criticisms was in regard to the emergency evacuation order from Mayor Ray Nagin. The order was issued less than one day before the hurricane made landfall. Many of the residents of New Orleans were unable to find a way out of the city either because of lack of funds or because they had no means of transportation. The evacuation order had no provisions for those who could not evacuate of their own power and hundreds of people lost their lives as a result.
In addition, the government was too slow to respond with relief packages. Criticism was widespread and deeper themes of racism and poverty were exposed. Residents of New Orleans felt abandoned by the government and by their country. A deep seeded anger and resentment took hold that the area has still not completely recovered from.
Hurricane Katrina - the most devastating disaster in American history.
Jeremy I Levitt., Matthew C. Whitaker. Hurricane Katrina: America’s unnatural disaster.