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Hurricane Katrina - Hazards Presentation

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Luca Bonifacio-Proietto

on 23 October 2014

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Transcript of Hurricane Katrina - Hazards Presentation


Hurricane Katrina:
Focus on New Orleans

Population Density:
1,036 people / km2.

In 2005, prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' population of
484,674 made it the 24th largest city in the United States.

According to the Census Bureau, only 343,829 people were living
in the city as of April 1, 2010 - 30% smaller than in 2000.

Understanding of the Area:
Very good understanding of the area; this region is susceptible to hurricane damage with its geographical features.

This area has also been hit by many hurricanes since the 18th century.
Public Education:
Not adequate by any means based on their understanding of the area:

- levees to prevent flooding were poorly constructed
- worst civil engineering failure in America

Awareness of Hazards:
Very aware, as there are 18 hurricanes that had previously affected the area that Hurricane Katrina affected.

On the other hand, the population that was affected was very unaware of the impact that Katrina was going to pose.

Existence of an
Early-Warning System:
Yes, there was. The National Hurricane Center (in Miami, USA), accurately predicted the hurricane's projected path, time of arrival, and wind speed.

Most people in the region were made well aware of Hurricane Katrina, and had prior knowledge on hurricane risk (hurricanes frequently affect the region).

At least a day before the hurricane actually hit, most people had been warned. One million people were evacuated from the region.
Effectiveness of Lines
of Communication:
A 400-foot antenna built to withstand 150 mile-per-hour winds fell during the storm, crippling communications for many homes in New Orleans. A majority of the public-safety systems (such as police and firemen) stopped working, and made it near impossible for effective rescue efforts to take place. The New Orleans Police Department was largely inoperative for 3 days following the hurricane.

Two million phone lines were out of service along the Gulf Coast. New Orleans residents trapped in their homes (floodwater) couldn’t call for help and family members couldn’t call to find out if they had escaped.

Availability of Emergency Personnel:
The failures previously mentioned left many emergency personnel and units with no way of communicating with one another during a time when coordination of rescue efforts was most important. Hundreds of police officers were left trying to communicate on only two radio channels using a back-up system, which resulted in delays before their messages could get through.

The disaster recovery response to Hurricane Katrina included federal government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state agencies, non-governmental organizations, charities, and private individuals. Tens of thousands of volunteers and troops responded or were sent to the disaster (mostly New Orleans).


National Guard
Coast Guard
Air Force

Insurance Cover:
People thought they were covered for the destruction of their homes, but insurance companies found loopholes in contracts to give the affected people much less than what was contracted.

Construction Styles:
The 2009 American Housing Survey for the New Orleans Metropolitan Area reported that almost three-quarters of all current homeowners in New Orleans said their homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. More than four in 10 of those homeowners reported major damage to their homes costing $15,000 or more to repair.

The levees that were installed to protect New Orleans from flooding were torn apart by Hurricane Katrina (they were in dire condition).

Nature of Society & Cultural Factors:
"George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" is a protest song by hip-hop duo The Legendary K.O. It was released just days after Hurricane Katrina. It has been described as "vividly topical", and "one of the best political protest songs of all time".

When rapper Kanye West went off script during a live broadcast show (NBC), he said that America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible." He also stated that the government is intentionally dragging their feet on aid to the Gulf Coast. He added, "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us." After, he said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people.”

The US government has spent over $127 billion in providing relief and infrastructure support since 2005.

New Orleans has since become the murder capital of the world. The murder rate is 40 percent higher than before Katrina, and twice as high as other dangerous cities like Detroit, Newark, and Washington, D.C.

Hazard Occurrence Probability:
Very high, considering that hurricanes usually wreak havoc in the North Atlantic Ocean. New Orleans has been victim to several hurricanes since its early settlement.
Population in Exposed Area:
Approximately 500,000 (484,674) people.
Vulnerability (conclusion from above considerations):
Very high. New Orleans had a high population density, there was no existence of an early-warning system, the lines of communication were impacted severely, and the levees that were supposed to prevent flooding were largely outdated.
On August 28, 2005, at 10:00 am CDT, the National Weather Service in New Orleans predicted that catastrophic damage would be caused to New Orleans and the surrounding region in the next couple of days.
Adjustment (Before):

Hurricane Warning Days in Advance: Initially predicted as a level 2 hurricane but turned into a level 5 overnight. Approximately 85% of the population was evacuated. Mayor Ray Nagin opened the superdome for people who didn't evacuate New Orleans.

Adjustment (After):
Improved levee and floodwall System; 560 levees and floodwalls were either repaired or built. The floodwater was diverted from the Mississippi River to rebuild wetlands. The New Orleans government established a network of back up warehouses, enough to feed and shelter 350,000 residents.

Organizations that involve in helping the residents: NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), NHC (National Hurricane Center), DOC (US Department of Commerce), FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), and the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service).

The US Coast Guard rescued over 33,500 people. The United States Coast Guard was one of the first organizations to recognize the usefulness of the helicopter. New Orleans Police and volunteers used boats to rescue residents from flooded areas (approximately 700 people were rescued using this method).
Over 204,000 homes in New Orleans were damaged or destroyed. The Corps of Engineers repaired the 55 levee breaches including the Industrial Canal, 17th Street Canal, and London Avenue Canal shortly after the storm, and continues to work on reducing the risk posed by flooding. Organizations like 'Rebuilding Together' in cooperation with local government and community leaders, made significant strides in aiding homeowners to return to their communities and rebuild their lives. In total, the federal government poured $108 billion into the reparation of homes, levees, communication systems, etc.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been responsible for the rehabilitation of damaged public housing in an effort to bring back displaced residents. As of recently, over 2,500 pre-Katrina residents have utilized this opportunity to return.

Rebuilding Together New Orleans
(RTNO) home rehabilitation program targets the urban poor, who are the population in New Orleans most affected by Hurricane Katrina. RTNO's project is to succeed in sustaining a constant, stable, healthy living environment while building their equity and regaining financial independence for families that return/have returned to New Orleans.

The population of New Orleans fell from 484,674 before Katrina (April 2000) to an estimated 230,172 after Katrina (July 2006) — a decrease of 254,502 people and a loss of over half of the city’s population. By July of 2012, the population was back up to 369,250 — 76% of what it was in 2000.

Hurricane Katrina was was the largest and 3rd strongest hurricane ever recorded in the US.

It moved across the Gulf of Mexico and rapidly strengthened over warm waters, transforming into category 5 hurricanes (highest-level possible) and shifted away from Florida shortly before it hit the highly-vulnerable city of New Orleans in south-east Louisiana.

By the time Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans early in the morning on Monday, August 29, it had already been raining heavily for hours.

Water seeped through the soil underneath some levees and swept others away altogether. By 9 a.m., low-lying places like St. Bernard Parish and the Ninth Ward were under so much water that people had to scramble to attics and rooftops for safety. Eventually, nearly 80 percent of the city was under some quantity of water.
Hurricanes need a lot of heat to form and a sea surface temperature of at least 26°C, which is why they usually occur over tropical seas.
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