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Keeping New Orleans Afloat: What can be done to ensure another hurricane the size of Katrina will not destroy the entire city?

Daelin Brown

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm, struck New Orleans. The location of New Orleans makes the city extremely vulnerable to massive storm surges during hurricane season, and the entire city was relying on flood management for their safety. They had a Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) in place, but the system was not efficient enough for the strength of Katrina’s 28-foot storm surge and 55-foot waves. After 50 major levee breaches, New Orleans looked like residents had built a beach in their backyards, with several feet of water breaking right through the levees. The Gulf Coast resembled the largest wave pool in the world, with the 55-foot waves damaging 34 pumping stations and 169 miles of protective structures in the regional HSDRRS. All of these failures caused 80 percent of New Orleans, along with several surrounding neighborhoods, to be underwater for weeks.

Not only were there 1,392 estimated fatalities, but 800,000 housing units were also destroyed or damaged by Katrina, leaving at least 800,000 people homeless. The total damage of Katrina amounted to over $160 billion, making it one of the largest natural disasters in the history of the U.S., and the third deadliest storm in U.S. history. The catastrophe posed two questions: what had gone so wrong for this American city to be destroyed and what needed to be done to make sure that this amount of devastation would not happen the next time a storm hit New Orleans?

Written by
Daelin Brown
Avatar Written by Daelin Brown