Blog #7, HI-5

KATRINA

1.Overview

In 2005, an extremely destructive and deadly hurricane, Katrina, hit the Gulf Coast of the United States. It became a terrible disaster from Florida to Texas. Subsequently, the hurricane destroyed the flood banks of the city New Orleans, and the whole city became overwhelmed with flood waters. The hurricane Katrina is known as Category 5 which means destructive and devastating. According to the information reported by NHC(National Hurricane Center), there were at least 1832 people who died during the period of time when the hurricane came. The economic loss could be 125 billion US dollars due to the effects of hurricane Katrina.

 

  1. Communications

Article 1: New York Times: Hurricane Katrina Slams Into Gulf Coast; Dozens Are Dead

August 30th, 2005

This article was published a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit land. From the title, we can tell that the article is describing the Hurricane in a disastrous way. The writers make it very apparent that many people had died from the impacts of the hurricane. They detail Hurricane Katrina with how disastrous the winds and storms are. Roads are described as impassable and flooded with water; other description includes the destruction of homes and buildings, power outages, and over $9 billion in damages. Overall, this article is detailing the damages of the hurricane on housing, roads, other infrastructure, and human death toll.

Article 2: New York Times: Don’t Repeat the Mistakes of the Katrina Recovery

September 14th, 2017

“Don’t Repeat the Mistakes of the Katrina Recovery” was published nearly twelve years after the hurricane-impacted southern states. This article focuses more on those extremely impacted by the hurricane. Andy Horowitz, the author, writes “wind and rain alone do not define the shape of our modern disasters.” What he means is that the impacts of natural disasters do not compare to those impacts on a more social level. Hurricane Katrina was one of the most disastrous hurricanes in history; the fact articles are still published to this day speaks a big deal on how the aftermath and recovery processes were handled. The article pulls focus from the disastrous impacts of natural disasters to the impacts from federal and state government policies. From Hurricane Katrina, policies were put in place that furthered inequality of disadvantaged communities. Survivors from these communities never mentioned the storm, but the difficulty of evacuating and surviving. As a whole, this article highlights Hurricane Katrina as a disaster of inequality and vulnerability of low-income/ disadvantaged neighborhoods, rather than natural impacts.

Article one and two were published around twelve years apart. Article one highlights Hurricane Katrina’s disastrous impacts on infrastructure and affected communities. Compared to the second article, article one is more frightening than the second in terms of how the hurricane was described. The second article is more of a reflection on how communities were treated after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. People are still impacted by the hurricane today, which is really the biggest disaster from Katrina. Policies formed by federal and state governments definitely impacted disadvantaged communities. What we can gather from the second article is that all communities should be treated equally in recovery efforts when dealing with any kind of disaster. Hurricane Katrina’s impact is still lasting today, maybe not necessarily from wind and rain, but on a community level. Decisions must be put in place that protects all communities, this is the biggest thing we can learn from natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

  1. Vulnerability

In the documentary, When the Levees Broke, there were a few vulnerabilities that were stated that created risks for the people residing in Louisiana. One vulnerability was the lack of people who actually owned their own method of transportation. While there were bus lines and streetcars available prior to Katrina, the actual method of leaving the city of New Orleans could have only been available to those who owned cars and were capable of evacuating the city themselves without the help of public transportation. Another vulnerability that was spoken of in the documentary was the city’s sea level and structural integrity of most buildings. The city of New Orleans is a staggering 6ft. below sea level. Knowing this, the entirety of the city was very prone to flooding, and with buildings that lacked structural integrity to fight back winds of about 70-140 mph, the risks speak for itself. The city of New Orleans was nowhere near ready to take on a storm such as Katrina with the vulnerabilities listed here.

  1. Future Improvements 

1) Improvements to transportation plan for evacuation:  Transportation was a huge reason so many people didn’t leave the city of NOLA. During the storm streetcars, Amtrak, the airport, and rails began shutting down the transit from the city. On top of all that, the traffic on the lower Mississippi River was at a stop. Basically, people were left stranded in the city of New Orleans with no way out.  The city needs to have better evacuation services before the storm. An emergency transit out of the city would be the best way to combat this issue and many people could take it, and the highways wouldn’t be so full.

2) Improvements to levee structures:  Another issue the city had, was the level of sea level it was at. NO sits at around 6-8 ft below sea level. The dams they had in place to hold back the floods were not built to withstand that kind of water pressure causing them to fail. The city and Army Corp of Engineers should have better prepared for this type of weather. And the nation should have invested more money in the safety of the city walls. Providing better upkeep and preservation to ease the loss of Katrina.

3) Community education campaign: The whole community of New Orleans was not prepared for the strength and devastation of Katrina. This storm was a learning experience for the nation. You need to be prepared for your home and everything you own to be gone and to be able to survive that. But with this storm, in particular, there was not much you could have done other than fleeing the area. The flood waters were too high and strong.  Yet many people felt comfortable staying because of prior experiences. Education about how and why to evacuate prior to Katrina would have helped and education in the future will ensure more people leave sooner.

 

  1. Implementation of strategies

To implement these three strategies requires both city and regional planning.  Regional planners should work to outline a transportation plan for evacuating coastal areas where the most vulnerable people live.  High volume vehicles (primarily buses) should be deployed from other cities once the weather service has determined that evacuation is imminent.  Those buses should be used to begin evacuating people from the most vulnerable areas first and those neighborhoods where residents are most likely to have less access to personal transport to safer areas inland.  A strategy for temporarily sheltering large numbers of people should be set up in advance of another catastrophic event in coordination with other cities in the region. Once this plan is in place, educational materials regarding risks of weather events and how to respond should be put into community facilities, groceries, other public service areas and anywhere that the most vulnerable families might receive the message.  

 

Sources:

https://www.planetizen.com/node/17255

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