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Katrina Hurricane

Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest natural disaster,
as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among
recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall. At least 1,836 people died in the
actual hurricane and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the
1928 Okeechobee hurricane; total property damage was estimated at $81 billion (2005 USD),
nearly triple the damage wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005 and crossed southern
Florida as a moderate Category 1 hurricane, causing some deaths and flooding there before
strengthening rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm weakened before making its second
landfall as a Category 3 storm on the morning of Monday, August 29 in southeast Louisiana. It
caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas, much of it due to
the storm surge. The most significant amount of deaths occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana,
which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed, in many cases hours after the storm
had moved inland. Eventually 80% of the city and large tracts of neighboring parishes became
flooded, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks. However, the worst property damage occurred
in coastal areas, such as all Mississippi beachfront towns, which were flooded over 90% in
hours, as boats and casino barges rammed buildings, pushing cars and houses inland, with waters
reaching 6–12 miles (10–19 km) from the beach.
The hurricane protection failures in New Orleans prompted a lawsuit against the US
Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the designers and builders of the levee system as mandated
in the Flood Control Act of 1965. Responsibility for the failures and flooding was laid squarely
on the Army Corps in January 2008, but the federal agency could not be held financially liable
due to sovereign immunity in the Flood Control Act of 1928. There was also an investigation of
the responses from federal, state and local governments, resulting in the resignation of Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael D. Brown, and of New Orleans
Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent Eddie Compass. Conversely, the United States Coast
Guard (USCG), National Hurricane Center (NHC) and National Weather Service (NWS) were
widely commended for their actions, accurate forecasts and abundant lead time.[5]
Five years later, thousands of displaced residents in Mississippi and Louisiana are still
living in temporary accommodation. Reconstruction of each section of the southern portion of
Louisiana has been addressed in the Army Corps of Engineers LACPR Final Technical Report
which identifies areas not to be rebuilt and areas and buildings that need to be elevated.
Hurricane Katrina had many social effects. Initially, many lives were lost, while many
more were disrupted. Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of thousands without access to their homes
or jobs, has separated people from relatives, and inflicted both physical and mental distress on
those who suffered through the storm and its aftermath.
Evacuated citizens have spread to 50 states and many major cities, mostly Houston. Due
to this, many people were separated from their family members, including young children
separated from their parents and pets. A coordinated effort by the American Red Cross,
Microsoft, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center, combined many diverse databases and has
been very effective in reconnecting children with their parents.[3] An effort to catalog, identify, or
even to collect remains of the dead is still ongoing as of April, 2006, leaving those who do not
know the whereabouts of loved ones to suffer uncertainty and anxiety. Over time both the
reconnection and recovery operations have improved, but it will be much time before the
majority of bodies are retrieved and people reunited.
While many existing organizations have worked to help those displaced, and some new
groups and special efforts have been initiated, the survivors of Hurricane Katrina are still largely
unorganized. Survivors have only recently begun to form associations for their own interests in
the recovery effort. The largest of these associations is the ACORN Katrina Survivors
Association,[4] led by members of New Orleans Association of Community Organizations for
Reform Now (ACORN). The group has protested Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) policies in both Houston, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and claims over 2,000
President George W. Bush visiting a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina during his
September 5, 2005 visit to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Many evacuees from New Orleans, facing months without income, severely damaged or
destroyed homes, and little in the way of recoverable possessions have begun expressing desires
to permanently resettle elsewhere.[5] Possible locations include the areas to which they were
evacuated, or with friends or family in other states. This would lead to potentially large
demographic effects not only on New Orleans but on the entire country, rivaled only by the
Great Migration of African Americans in the first half of the 20th century, and the mass
migration of the 1930s as a result of the Dust Bowl. The diaspora of displaced survivors is likely
to endure for decades as former citizens of New Orleans resettle in other areas and yet retain
strong cultural ties.
Studies have shown that the concentration of poverty is self-perpetuating, thus some
postulate that the hurricane may have a small positive impact on future poverty levels.
Not only were evacuees displaced, but also some National Guard soldiers returning home
for their deployment to Iraq were displaced because they were unable to find homes upon their
Aside from the lack of water, food, shelter, and sanitation facilities, there were concerns
that the prolonged flooding might lead to an outbreak of health problems for those who remained
in the hurricane-affected areas. In addition to dehydration and food poisoning, there was a
potential for communicable disease outbreaks of diarrhea and respiratory illness, all related to the
growing contamination of food and drinking water supplies in the area.
President Bush declared an emergency for the entire Gulf Coast. Before the hurricane,
government health officials prepared to respond, and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) began sending medical emergency supplies to locations near the worst-hit area
within 48 hours after landfall.
Supplies shipped by CDC's Strategic National Stockpile provided pharmaceuticals,
technical assistance teams, and treatment capacity for citizens otherwise stranded by the
hurricane's catastrophic effect on hospital infrastructure in Louisiana and Mississippi. These
supplies served an estimated 30 acute care hospitals south of Interstate Highway 10, and
volunteers organized around its, "contingency stations," to become temporary stand-ins for
hospitals, warehouses, and distribution facilities damaged by the storm. Alongside strong
responses from state and local medical teams, CDC support remained crucial until normal
infrastructure support began to return a week and a half later.
Within days after landfall, medical authorities established contingency treatment facilities
for over 10,000 people, and plans to treat thousands more were developing. Partnerships with
commercial medical suppliers, shipping companies, and support services companies insured that
evolving medical needs could be met within days or even hours.
There was concern the chemical plants and refineries in the area could have released
pollutants into the floodwaters. People who suffer from allergies or lung disorders, such as
asthma, may have health complications due to toxic mold and airborne irritants, leading to what
some health officials have dubbed, "Katrina Cough". In Gulfport, Mississippi, several hundred
tons of chicken and uncooked shrimp were washed out of their containers at the nearby harbor
and could have contaminated the water table. On September 6, it was reported that Escherichia
coli (E. coli) had been detected at unsafe levels in the waters that flooded New Orleans. The
CDC reported on September 7 that five people had died of bacterial infection from drinking
water contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium from the Gulf of Mexico.
Wide outbreaks of severe infectious diseases such as cholera and dysentery were not
considered likely because such illnesses are not endemic in the United States.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, approximately 8,000 animals were rescued and brought to
temporary shelters set up at the Lamar-Dixon Exposition Center in Gonzales, Louisiana, or the
Parker Coliseum at Louisiana State University.
Most helicopter pilots and rescue boat captains refused to load pets in order to hold more people.
Many families in the affected area refused to evacuate without their pets. While some field
hospitals allowed pets to enter with their patients, those who were evacuated from the
Superdome were not allowed to take their pets with them.
One case that attracted national attention was that of Snowball, a small white dog made
famous by coverage of an Associated Press reporter, who said, "When a police officer
confiscated a little boy's dog, the child cried until he vomited. 'Snowball, Snowball', he cried."
The story of "Snowball" became a centerpiece in fundraising appeals by welfare organizations
and various ad-hoc websites were created by people soliciting funds to help locate Snowball and
reunite him with the boy.
Rescue teams were set up in the worst hit regions in response to desperate pleas from pet
owners. Horses posed a particular problem, as they are easily stranded and cannot stand in water
for long periods of time. Rescue agencies set up shelters and tried to find homes to adopt pets
lost by their owners. Rescue centers were becoming overwhelmed in the days immediately
following the hurricane. Several online resources were set up to give rescue groups, individuals,
and businesses from around the country a centralized venue to publish their offers and requests
for helping the animals displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the 10,000 fish at the New
Orleans Aquarium of the Americas died because the backup power ran out after four days.
Most of the marine mammals and a large sea turtle survived. The Audubon Zoo lost only
three animals out of a total of 1,400 due to good disaster planning and location on high ground.
Inspired by the story of Snowball, US Representative Tom Lantos (D-California) introduced the
Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act to the House of Representatives which would
require states seeking FEMA assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans
for evacuating residents facing disasters. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority on May
22, 2006.