Hurricane Katrina

Largest & 3rd strongest hurricane ever recorded in the U.S.

By: Jared Daniels & Dylan Heritage

Event Description

Early in the morning on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. When the storm made landfall, it had a Category 3 rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale–it brought sustained winds of 100–140 miles per hour–and stretched some 400 miles across. The storm itself did a great deal of damage, but its aftermath was catastrophic. Levee breaches led to massive flooding, and many people charged that the federal government was slow to meet the needs of the people affected by the storm. Hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were displaced from their homes.

Ecological Impact

Perhaps the longest-lasting impact of Hurricane Katrina was its environmental damage that has mainly to do with public health. Significant amounts of industrial waste and raw sewage spilled directly into New Orleans neighborhoods. And oil spills from offshore rigs, coastal refineries, and even corner gas stations have also made their way into residential areas and business districts throughout the region. Analysts estimate that seven million gallons of oil spilled throughout the region. The U.S. Coast Guard says that much of the spilled oil has been cleaned up or “naturally dispersed,” but environmentalists fear that the initial contamination could devastate the region’s biodiversity and ecological health for many years to come, further devastating the region’s already ailing fisheries, once the economic lifeblood of the area.

Restoration Effects

The people that lived there before worked together to build their city back.To date, recovery efforts have focused on plugging leaks in levies, clearing debris and repairing water and sewer systems. Officials cannot say when they will be able to concentrate on longer-term issues such as treating contaminated soil and groundwater, though the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun a Herculean effort to physically remove tons of contaminated sediment left behind by receding floodwaters. Meanwhile, financially strapped state and local agencies are slowly cleaning up or removing contaminated buildings, many of which harbor mold and viruses that can still make people sick. Even today, nine years after it happened they are still under construction of their city. Experts estimated that Katrina caused more than $100 billion in damage.