On This Day

Hurricane Katrina

A section of New Orleans, Louisiana is flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005
A section of New Orleans, Louisiana is flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005

Historical Context

Perhaps the most infamous hurricane of all time, Katrina devastated large swathes of the US Gulf Coast, particularly Louisiana, where the 'Big Easy' New Orleans was inundated with floodwaters after the city's levees broke. More than 1,836 people died.

Exacerbating one of the worst natural disasters in American history was the much criticized government response, particularly by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In the Superdome in New Orleans, supplies were limited, leading to a rapid deterioration in conditions and an evacuation which took five days. Deaths from violence, reports of looting, thirst and starvation in Louisiana in the days after Katrina provoked harsh criticism of people like George W. Bush, mayor Ray Nagin, FEMA head Michael Brown (who resigned partway through the crisis) and others. Kanye West infamously said "George Bush doesn't care about black people" during a live broadcast for charity.

The breach of the levees caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans - as much as 80% of it was flooded for weeks. The estimated cost of Katrina was $125 billion, tying it with Hurricane Harvey in 2017 as the costliest natural disaster in American history.

Photo Info

Photographer: NOAA
Date taken: September 11, 2005
Location taken: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 2005-08-23 Hurricane Katrina forms over the Bahamas, later becoming a category 5 hurricane
  • 2005-08-29 Hurricane Katrina makes 2nd and 3rd landfall as a category 3 hurricane, devastating much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida Panhandle. Kills more than 1,836, causes over $115 billion in damage.
  • 2016-08-16 "When the Levees Broke" documentary directed by Spike Lee, of effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, premieres at New Orleans Arena

Historical Photos