Call of Remembrance Hurricane Katrina Hits Never Forgotten New Orleans Thesis

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¶ … Remembrance: Hurricane Katrina Hits Never Forgotten New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans area early on August 29, 2005. The storm surge breached the city's levees at multiple points, leaving 80% of the city submerged, tens of thousands of victims clinging to rooftops, and hundreds of thousands scattered to shelters around the country (Heerden "The Storm," 2006). The physical and economic damage to the Gulf Coast of the United States by Katrina, and three weeks later, Hurricane Rita, has been called the greatest disaster in our nation's history, and one of the most controversial.

Starting out as a tropical depression over the southeastern Bahamas on August 23, 2005, Katrina was quickly upgraded to a tropical storm as it headed toward the southern tip of Florida. On Thursday, August 26th, Tropical Storm Katrina became a Category 1 hurricane, with winds exceeding 80 mph. The first landfall of Hurricane Katrina hit just north of Miami, FL. Twelve people were killed and dozens of tornados hit the Dade County area, causing widespread damage.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Thesis on Call of Remembrance Hurricane Katrina Hits Never Forgotten New Orleans Assignment

Hurricane Katrina's sheer size and strength were being closely watched by weather experts, and the areas in the Gulf of Mexico within its projected path were warned repeatedly of the storm's potential for extensive damage. After sweeping across the southern tip of Florida, the storm reemerged into the Gulf of Mexico and turned northwest, continuing to grow in strength and intensity until it reached a Category 5 status on August 28th. With maximum sustained winds of 175 mph and an estimated pressure of 902mb, Hurricane Katrina trekked across the Gulf as one of the most powerful storms to manifest in over a century. On Friday, August 26 at 5 p.m., warnings from the National Weather Service showed Hurricane Katrina taking a final turn, setting New Orleans within its projected path. Saturday morning, August 27, most residents of Louisiana learned of Katrina's path and evacuations began en masse, clogging all outbound arteries of the city. People were strongly advised to leave New Orleans and those who were able began pouring out of the city in great numbers. Only the poor, disadvantaged and the elderly remained behind in great numbers, having no means of transportation to evacuate. Estimates prior to the flood put the percentage of poor at 27.9% and 11.7% age 65 or older (Forsloff 2009). St. Tammany, St. Charles, and Plaquemines Parishes announce mandatory evacuations, with Orleans and Jefferson Parish both announcing voluntary evacuations. Louisiana Governor Blanco sent a "State of Emergency" letter to President Bush, while LSU scientists issued a projected storm surge map for New Orleans and surrounding areas showing an alarming surge area if the storm continued to charge the Louisiana/Mississippi coastline at its then Category 4 numbers. At 9:30 A.M. On Sunday, August 28, Orleans Parish issued its first-ever mandatory evacuation, reinforcing to residents that Katrina was indeed going to be a force to be reckoned with. By 10 a.m., Hurricane Katrina had reached an alarming Category 5 status, with winds of up to 175 m.p.h. By 11:30 A.M. Sunday, President Bush vowed publicly to help those affected by the storm, and state of Louisiana transportation officials instituted the contraflow plan into effect on interstate roadways in an effort to enhance evacuation procedures (Grunwold 2007). Around that same time, the Superdome was declared an evacuation center, and eventually more than 26,000 residents found their way there as the city's "refuge of last resort" (Brinkley 2006). Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, telephoned the Times-Picayune newspaper to warn of a "worst-case scenario" even as tropical storm-force winds closed down most emergency services buildings in the New Orleans metro area later Sunday afternoon. By 9 p.m., the Times-Picayune building had lost power, and emergency generators were employed.

From the moment Hurricane Katrina made landfall over New Orleans, the armor of levees, which were meant to protect the city and surrounding areas from storms just like Katrina, proved to be no more adequate than "plastic sheets against assault rifles" (Forsloff 2009). The eye of the storm came ashore 70 miles southeast of New Orleans, creating storm surges along the coastline and destroying nearly every structure in the lower Plaquemanines Parish. Even in its weakened state, Katrina's colossal size delivered far-reaching devastation in areas of Louisiana located many miles from the center. At 3 a.m., Katrina had made landfall at the Southwest Pass, near the mouth of the Mississippi River Metro-area. Emergency officials held a status meeting and at 6 a.m. It was determined that 317,000 households are without power (Hurricane Katrina 2009). By 7 a.m., water was reported to be coming over the levee in the 9th Ward, and by 8:45 A.M., six to eight-foot flood waters were being reported in the Lower 9th Ward. At 9 a.m., the eye of the storm passed to the east of the New Orleans central business district, causing windows in high-rise buildings to blow out and a hole ripped out of the roof of the Superdome. A few hours later, news reports are made of a breach in the main Industrial Canal levee, which started emptying Lake Pontchartrain's waters into the neighborhoods of Eastern New Orleans, the Lower Ninth Ward in Orleans Parish and all of St. Bernard Parish, areas already well below sea level. By Monday at 2 p.m., a breach in the 17th Street Canal was confirmed and over the next 48 hours, flooding occurred in the areas of Lakeview, Mid-City, Broodmoor, and Gentilly. Furthermore, flood waters in the Lower Ninth Ward reached 12 feet in some areas and continued to rise, making it apparent that this was the "worst-case scenario" as many had feared.

After the shock of Monday's events, Tuesday arrived in New Orleans with residents facing new problems. The Times-Picayune news employees evacuated the newspaper building in delivery trucks due to water rising at a foot an hour. Local media reported that Martial Law was then declared in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines Parish. Reports of looting were being televised nationally, showing the world that parts of New Orleans had been reduced to a lawless and violent haven for many people still trapped within the city, even while flood waters continued to rise. By Wednesday, August 31, flood waters finally reached equilibrium as the "bowl" of the city filled to an even level with Lake Ponchatrain. Some neighborhoods were reportedly under as much as 20 feet of water. Officials began planning timelines for relief efforts, citing estimates of up to 30 days or more before the city would be pumped out. Thousands of people remained stranded in their homes, on roofs, and approximately one million people remained without power in the New Orleans metro area. Thousands were reported on worldwide media as stranded in the New Orleans Convention Center without food or water, as a steady stream of people, many from the flooded Central City neighborhood, trickled first toward Lee Circle and then to the Convention Center, hoping to be saved from increasingly desperate conditions in the ravaged neighborhoods. During the following days, floods ravaged the city and social structure began to deteriorate. Abandoned people died, search and rescue attempts continued but found many of their victims too late, and makeshift shelters, from the Superdome to old hotels, filled to capacity with angry, scared, and desperate people while the whole country watched in horror and disbelief at what seemed to be one of the most disorganized national relief efforts ever witnessed.

On Thursday, September 1, the Army Corps of Engineers began plans to re-build the dam at the 17th Street Canal in order to stop the levee breach (www.levees.org). More than 10,000 people had been rescued by that date in St. Bernard Parish, and the Times-Picayune newspaper printed headlines asking, "Where is the cavalry?" As still no federal help had arrived in New Orleans. Governor Blanco demanded "no less than 40,000 troops" be deployed to the state, and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin made press appearances to blast federal officials for their lack of timely response to the Katrina crisis. In the next several days, approximately 5,000 of an estimated 23,000 evacuees would be transported to the Houston Astrodome by bus, and President Bush sought a $10.5 billion storm-relief package from Congress. The world watched in horror as New Orleans was turned into a third world country, corrupted by crime stemming from greed and looting, the effects of the flooding and fires raging out of control. Heat stricken, famished, and extremely ill, many elderly and poor families who had no evacuation options remained trapped within the city and perished. The death toll from Hurricane Katrina remains at 1,836, with 705 individuals still reported missing. Of those deceased, most were elderly who lived near the levees or in remote areas (Schleifstein 2009).

So, one might ask, "What happened?" Why was help so painstakingly slow to arrive in the Gulf coast? For an answer, one naturally looks to the top of the chain of command: Michael D. Brown, Head of FEMA and Homeland Security Undersecretary.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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