A tropical depression appeared over the Bahamas called Hurricane Katrina, on August, 25, 2005. Meteorologists issued a warning regarding the hurricane that was going to hit the Gulf Coast. The evacuations across the region were ongoing by August 28.
The officials were concerned the surge may cause short-term flooding due to overtopping of the levees. No one anticipated that the levees might face a breakdown below the premeditated height. The city’s deprived and most defenseless people faced a greater threat of flooding. It rained heavily for hours before the surge hit New Orleans in the morning. The unstable levees and canals were overwhelmed by the hurricane. It swept all the levees as the water leaked through the soil beneath. To date, Hurricane Katrina is the most expensive hurricane which costs the U.S a total of $45.1 billion.
Strength by The Saffir-Simpson Scale
According to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, Katrina is categorized as Category 3 storm. The wind speed recorded was around 125 mph (Lavie et al.). The winds sustained at as high as 125mph, and thus, it was categorized as Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. As NOAA reported, the Hurricane Katrina surge was ranged between twenty to thirty feet.
Damages and Losses
The hurricane resulted in extreme flooding damage to cities from New Orleans to Mississippi, which is along the Gulf Coast. New Orleans flooded heavily due to a huge number of unpredicted failures of levees around the city. A sports Arena, Louisiana Superdome was utilized to shelter an estimate of twenty-five thousand evacuees. Roof damage due to wind and water led authorities to evacuate Superdome.
A total of 1,833 fatalities were caused, were 1,577 death casualties in Louisiana were the highest. In Louisiana, about half of the people who died were aged over 74. In New Orleans, the population declined by fifty percent when compared with population of 484,674 in April 2000 to population of 230,172 in July 2006. Over a million people were displaced in the Gulf Region. The relief shelters accommodated 273,000 people at maximum. Afterward, roughly 114,000 families settled in trailers provided by FEMA.
Katrina caused total damage of $161 billion. 134,000 units which constitute seventy percent of New Orleans' were damaged in the storm. FEMA funded an amount of $15 billion for public projects like repair and reconstruction of the school, buildings, and roads in the Gulf State. An additional $6.7 billion were granted to help with households. Out of $120.5 billion, $75 billion were funded towards emergency operations by federal aid. According to Insurance companies, they have compensated almost $41.1 billion after 1.7 million claims for damage to homes, transportation means, and commerce were made in the six states. According to the statistics, 63 percent of the total losses occurred in Louisiana while Mississippi faced thirty-four percent of them. In June 2006, a reported was released by the Government Accountability Office which showed that as low as one billion dollars fraudulent compensations were made by FEMA.
After ten years have passed and billions of dollars have been spent, the restructured and rebuilt New Orleans has the potential to withstand hurricanes it has experienced before. However, increased global warming is shifting the goals of storm protection continuously, which makes it difficult to assume that the city is safe (Walsh).
Usually, the development of a city or region is planned to focus on the growth and needs of the population and no restraints. The planning at the local level is even more inadequate. Only a small number of cities have incorporated the disaster management system and strategies for climatic adaption into their planning for city growth, most of the emergency management organization and centers base their strategies on only readiness and response instead of mitigation and flexible building. However, these are just the initial steps for preventing the losses that happened due to Katrina. A lot more planning and implementation of strategies are required.
The invention of science can play a great role in preventing the losses, the U.S. has faced due to Katrina. NOAA’s weather predictive models, information about earthquakes from USGS and other climate-related data from US Global Change Research Program are being considered for the state as well as local development planning. This will build secure structures like buildings and transport systems. San Francisco is the first to recruit a chief resilience officer and the local communities are taking significant steps to strive for better disaster management and loss prevention.
The U.S. ranks top among the countries of the world that are wealthiest, well-developed and prepared for difficult times. However, this hurricane showed that if the disaster is large scale, even countries like the U.S. have to face extreme conditions.
Lavie, Carl J., et al. “Hurricane Katrina: The Infarcts B/beyond the Storm.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, vol. 3, no. 3, Oct. 2009, pp. 131–35. Cambridge Core, DOI:10.1097/DMP.0b013e3181bab1d4.
Sherman, Arloc, and Isaac Shapiro. Essential facts about the victims of hurricane Katrina. p. 3.
Walsh, Bryan. “How to Prevent the Next Hurricane Katrina.” Time, 27 Aug. 2015, https://time.com/4012856/how-to-prevent-the-next-hurricane-katrina/.
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