On August 29, 2005, New Orleans was astounded as the city was hit by a category four hurricane from the pacific. It carried winds of over130 miles per hour and following it was a major ocean storm surge that immediately put the over-10-feet-below-sea-level city under enormous flood from its neighboring bodies of water. This massive hurricane that orphaned many families of loved ones, leveled homes, and almost destroyed the entire city of New Orleans was named Katrina (“Mapping the Destruction: Hurricane Katrina In-Depth”).
Katrina was the strongest hurricane that hit Louisiana. It was even stronger than Hurricane Camille that hit the city in 1969 (“Weather Message Devastating Damage Expected”). Starting as only a tropical depression in the Bahamas, it gradually gained strength and turned into a tropical storm that eventually grew stronger and was already a full-blown hurricane by the time that it hit New Orleans (Hoffman 8).
The events that were seen by the arrival of the hurricane were heartbreaking. News broadcasts have presented city residents on rooftops calling for rescue and properties like cars and debris of what used to be beautiful homes were being carried by the strong winds and flood. There was no other way to save the city and the result was a devastating 300 million USD property damage in estimate. This included damages on structures, utilities, highways, and many others (Burton 1), but the more striking damage was the death of over 1,600 people (Hoffman 19).
Hurricane Katrina also destroyed over 57 million USD worth of commercial structures and equipment. It has put into ruins some 310,000 homes and apartments units and left 141,000 people in temporary shelters provided by Red Cross for three months. It left more than a million USD worth of sewer broken and over 57 million USD worth of highway structure almost useless and damaged a 230,000 USD worth of electric utility (Burton 6).
These were not the only damages procured as even those who survived the devastation had a hard time coping and recovering from the disaster. The city remained in ruins and there had been a huge decrease in job opportunities. Even those who had long-term jobs were left reluctant. The rebuilding of the city was too slow (Daniels et al 19-20) and those who promised to extend a hand seem to have backed out as they saw the great destruction.
The federal government promised an immediate aid in the financial aspect. Alongside this pledge were other commercial companies’ assurances of assistance to bring the city back to its old commercial stature. However, it seemed as instantaneous as the outflow of promises was the news of backing out (Daniels et al 16-17). This left the residents of New Orleans wondering whether the slow-paced rebuilding of the city is smeared with discrimination.
Many arguments pushed that due to the majority of black living in the city, it is left to the hands of the old residents and businessmen to restore their city. However, some had renounced this analysis, and rather believed that the slow restoration had nothing to do with the race and economic class of the people. The federal government was actually doing its part in restoring the city from its devastated stature (Daniels et al 16-17).
Even before the storm, the federal government also sent out warnings about the coming dilemma. The government had previously warned the people of huge storm that was going to hit the city and those living near the water forms surrounding the city should leave.
Unfortunately, about a million of the residents of the city lived in poverty and were unable to leave their homes, while some of them had high confidence on the capacity of their city to withstand what was coming. They believed Hurricane Katrina will not be able to wield such anger on them and deal a harsh blow on their lives. As a result, their lives were shattered and they were the ones who chose that path (Thomas).
Another point is that the devastation following Katrina left many of its residents and businessmen traumatized and reluctant to return to the city. Despite the efforts of the government to rebuild the city, Katrina has caused doubts in the hearts of the people as to whether the city can still provide security for them and their loved ones. Due to this, investors declined to re-enter the city and start new businesses (Daniels 19-20).
Some business companies who promised to provide for re-commercialization that may help boost job opportunities, seem to have had change of heart due to the findings that the city sank deeper than the expected depth (Daniels et 16-17). With a continuous dwindling in the rate of job opportunities, people would not have any means of sustenance. As such, they would opt to live in other cities were there may be greener pastures and better chance for survival and improvement. With no residents coming back to live in the city again, there may be no necessity to rebuild the city making the promised restoration slower than what was promised.
Hurricane Katrina indeed has brought a huge blow on the small city of New Orleans. It has left millions of dollars worth of physical damages and more than a life’s worth of damages on morale of the residents. It also created shock on the whole country and egged out concern on huge business companies.
The federal government did its part in securing its constituents before the great storm but the people opted to disregard the warnings and decided to stay in their homes. The efforts of the government went in vain. There had not been a slow response from the federal government but on the part of the residents of the city. It had nothing to do with race or economic class of the people. It may even be said that the factor that affected the results of the devastation was the decision of the people as private citizens.
Burton, Mark L. Hurricane Katrina: Preliminary Estimates of Commercial and Public Sector Damages. USA: Center for Business and Economic Research Marshal University, 2005.
Daniels, Ronald Joel, Donald, Kettle F., Kunreuther, Howard, Gutman, Amy, On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. USA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
Hoffman, Mary Ann. Hurricane Katrina. USA: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2006.
“Mapping the Destruction: Hurricane Katrina In-Depth.” 2008. BBC News. 26 November 2008 from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/americas/05/katrina/html/default.stm>.
Thomas, Evan. 2005. “How Bush Blew It.” Newsweek. 26 November 2008 <http://www.newsweek.com/id/104464>.
“Weather Message Devastating Damage Expected.” 2005. National Weather Service Southern Region (2005). 26 November 2008 from <http://www.srh.noaa.gov/data/warn_archive/LIX/NPW/0828_155101.txt >.