On This Day, August 29, 2005 –
Hurricane Katrina Slammed Into The Gulf Coast
On August 25, 2005 Katrina, then a category 1 hurricane, briefly made landfall in southern Florida. After that it began a 4-day journey up the Gulf of Mexico right toward New Orleans, Louisiana. Along the way it picked up power and speed.
On August 28, the storm became a Category 5 hurricane for a short time. The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, ordered an evacuation of the city. For whatever reasons, 150,000 residents were not evacuated.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, then a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall near New Orleans, Louisiana. It was not the most powerful storm of that season. But because of a confluence of factors, Katrina became one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
The infrastructure, much of it built by the Army Corps Of Engineers, was aging and proved drastically inadequate to withstand the destructive forces of the hurricane. Levees and flood walls surrounding New Orleans and vicinity failed dozens of times to keep rushing waters from breaking through. The storm left in its wake not only miles and miles of destruction, but also widespread flooding.
The toll on humanity (and animals) could be witnessed worldwide on television news stations. Scenes of families standing on the roofs of their houses, waiting to be rescued, were indelible reminders of how unprepared the national and state governments were for such a disaster. At the same time, other scenes of dramatic helicopter lifts, and volunteers rescuing people with their boats served as reminders of just how heroic many people are.
Very harsh lessons were learned from Katrina. Hopefully they were learned well enough that our communities will do better than survive in coming storms.