Four Unusually Dramatic Disasters of the Past

By | September 13, 2018

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An abandoned house, damaged by Hurricane Katrina, in the eerie glow of streetlamps is seen in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans on August 15, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Hurricane Katrina

What do you remember about Hurricane Katrina? Most everyone, at least in the United States, remembers Katrina, one of the deadliest unforeseen weather events in history on August 29, 2005. No one expected it to become the nightmare storm that it became --- one of the deadliest in the United States. Over 1800 people lost their lives not only from the hurricane itself but also from the rising floodwaters that happened afterwards. There were literally millions of people who became homeless across the Gulf Coast including New Orleans.

According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), it caused $108 billion in damage, the costliest storm in U.S. history. And it all started from a simple tropical depression near the Bahamas. It became a hurricane category 1 and then was reduced back down to a tropical storm after moving across Florida. When it got into the Gulf of Mexico, it began to re-strengthen into a large upper-level anticyclone that totally covered the entire Gulf. By August 28, it had become a category 5 hurricane with winds of 175 mph. When it made landfall across the Louisiana-Mississippi border, it had slowed to a category 3 but still had sustained winds of 120 mph. Among the cities most affected by this monster hurricane were Gulfport and Biloxi in Mississippi and New Orleans in Louisiana.  

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Major flooding accumulated up to a week after the hurricane was over. Helicopters and boats were used to try to rescue people from their rooftops. To top it off, rescuers could not even get to those who were trapped in the “safe place” of the Superdome because of the flooding that occurred after the levees broke. Due to engineering mistakes of the levees in New Orleans, it was impossible for them to hold back the water. It took weeks for the water to recede.

More than just a literal storm occurred -- but a political storm began with finger-pointing and accusations being hurled at FEMA and different organizations as to whether or not they responded in time to save lives and provide timely and appropriate assistance afterwards. It turns out that even some people lost their jobs due to inappropriate actions. Hopefully, we have learned from the past and this can be prevented from ever happening again. How sad it was to turn on the news and see and hear from the people who had lost loved ones and homes!