New Orleans is a city in the state of Louisiana, USA. On the 28thof August 2005 at 1pm,Hurricane Katrina hit the city with devastating effects. It was the largest and mostdestructive type of hurricane, reaching Category 5.Figure 1 above shows the city of New Orleans. As you can see, New Orleans is a coastal cityon the Gulf of Mexico, and is therefore at risk of flooding.Figure 2 above shows the satellite image as the hurricane approached the city, on the 27thofAugust. Notice that the temperature of the sea reaches above 27ºC across the entireCaribbean, making it ideal conditions for the formation of Hurricanes.Gulf of MexicoFigure 1Figure 21
Since New Orleans is in this location, at risk of flooding and in the path of Hurricanes, theentire coast has a sophisticated monitoring system to predict if any hurricanes will hit thecoast. This uses satellite images of the Atlantic Ocean, and allows people to be warned if ahurricane is on its way.In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the states of Mississippi and Louisiana declared states ofemergency on 26thAugust, and they set up control centres and stockpiled supplies. 70-80%of New Orleans residents were evacuated before the hurricane reached land, but somestayed.Figure 3 shows the path that hurricane Katrina took. As you can see, the hurricane reachedthe maximum of Category 5 shortly before crashing into New Orleans, but it did slow down alittle as it reached the coast.Figure 3Figure 4 - Background Information about New Orleans• The population in 2000 was 484 600• 28% of the city was poor and 27% did not own a car.• In 2004, New Orleans port handled 72m tons of cargo, including importing crude oil,coffee, rubber and steel, and exporting grain, soybeans, petroleum, and petro-chemicals.• Tourism was a major employer. The city’s multicultural history, music, food andriver cruise boats attracted 10m tourists each year.• Other major employers included hospitals, universities, film & music studios, ITfirms and companies drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.2
Figure 5 shows the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina. As you can see, because of thelocation of New Orleans, a large amount of the coast was flooded.Figure 6 shows the effects of the flooding in New Orleans. The photo was taken on 10thSeptember, two weeks after the hurricane.Figure 5Figure 63
Figure 7 - Impacts of Hurricane KatrinaEconomic Impacts • Total of $300 billion damage, including $75 billion in propertydamage• 60% of small businesses were lost• 230 000 jobs were lost due to closure of businesses• Half the workforce left the city• Airports, railways, docks and factories closed• A road bridge over Lake Pontchartain collapsed• The Superdome’s roof was badly damaged• 30 offshore oil platforms sunk or went missing, increasingthe price of fuel.• Shops in New Orleans were looted by residents in the daysafter the hurricaneSocial Impacts • More than 1800 people died – 70% were over 59 years old• Drinking water and electricity were cut off – 3 million homeswere left with no electricity• Local TV stations and telephones stopped working• 75% of residents in flood-damaged areas were black• 150,000 homes were destroyed and a further 160,000 homesneeded pulling down because they were unsafe• One of the main routes out of New Orleans was closedbecause parts of the I-10 bridge collapsedEnvironmentalImpacts• Oil, sewage, toxic chemicals and dead bodies mixed in thefloodwater• Subsidence occurred after the floodwater was pumped out• The ground was contaminated with chemical residues• Large areas of the coast were flooded, destroying coastalhabitats, including turtle breeding beaches.DemographicInformation(information about thepeople of NewOrleans)• In January 2006 (18 months after Hurricane Katrina) thepopulation was 144,000• 50% of the white people and 80% of the black people wholeft are not likely to return• The population predicted for September 2008 is 247,0004
Figure 8 shows the people of New Orleans in terrible difficulty. The government responsewas not fast enough, so many people were suffering unnecessarily.Figure 9 shows the Superbowl in New Orleans. People who have lost their house etc weresent here to get shelter. No food was provided for 3 days by the government. When thehelicopters finally air lifted food in, so many people were fighting for it that some peopletook out guns and started shooting each other. Many people were killed.Figure 10 – Responses to Hurricane KatrinaShort-Term Responses • During the storm, coast guard, police, fire service, army andvolunteers rescued over 50 000 people.• 25 000 people sheltered at the Louisiana Superdome(sports stadium) immediately after the storm (see Fig 8)Long-Term Responses • The US government has spent over $800 million onrebuilding flood defences.• Around $34 billion has been set aside for the rebuilding ofthings like houses and schools.Figure 8Figure 95
6Rebuild the whole city and build protection for a category 5 hurricaneThis would cost $20billion, which would be paid by the government, but after itwas rebuilt, taxes would have to be increased to repay the government.Walls (floodwalls/levees) would be built along the river to prevent flooding.Gates would be put in the coastal areas, to slow the storm surge if it hit.Residential areas will be built on high ground, away from high risk.Hospitals and schools will be surrounded by wide open, soiled areas. This meansthat if there are any longer periods of rain that it may soak into the ground.Investments will be made to attract more people to the new city, especially newbusinesses.A new Metro line will be set up to access the whole city.Rebuild the whole city and build protection for a category 3 hurricaneThis would cost $10billion, which would be paid by the government. There wouldbe no further cost passed on to the population of New Orleans.Some floodwalls would be built to protect the areas at the edge of rivers.Some of the mud would be dredged (dug up) from the river bed and placed onthe nearby farm land. This will make the soil very healthy, so farmers could growgood quality crops, making them more money. It would also make the riversdeeper so they could hold more water in a flood.Some other mud at the coast will be used as the foundations of new housingwhich will be built around the city.An emergency plan would be set up across the city. This would mean that a sirenwould sound when a hurricane is threatening the city and people would knowexactly where to go – much like a school fire alarm!New neighbourhoods would be created away from the high risk areas.
7Rebuild part of the city and build protection for a category 4 hurricaneThis would cost $15billion, which would be paid by the government and the NewOrleans state funds.Floodwalls would be built to protect the areas beside the rivers.A dam would be built further up the river to control the amount of water flowingthrough to New Orleans. It is hoped that during hurricanes, the water flow wouldbe stopped and therefore flooding risk reduced.The areas that usually flood would be used as grassy parks.The new houses would be built as high-rise apartments and houses. The bottomfloors will be used as garages for cars and utility rooms, so that if they weredamaged, it would not be as bad as residential property.All businesses would have to contain a hurricane survival kit. This would haveenough food, clean water and survival equipment to allow the people to stay alivefor a week.Rebuild part of the city and build protection for a category 3 hurricaneThis would cost $5 billion, which would be paid by the government. There would beextra money to help the local people.The businessmen and women that return to the city would get a ‘grant’ to helpthem rebuild their work. This would not have to be paid back.Levees would be built to protect against smaller floods.Tourist areas, businesses and government buildings would be built on higher land,so that they would be protected from further flooding.Over the next 10 years they would build a new port, further away from the pathof hurricanes. People in the fishing and shipping industry would eventually movethere.Some of the mud that could be dredged (dug up) from the bottom of the river willbe sold abroad to make money for the State government.