In August 2005, my life changed. What was home to me, New Orleans, became a memory. I was forced by the natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, to move to Houston. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane that was very devastating. It ruined on sight everything it passed through. Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic hurricane[->0] of the 2005 Atlan[->1]- tic oil platforms[->2] and caused the closure of
nine refine- ries. The forestry industry in Mississippi was also affected, as million acres of forest lands were destroyed. The total loss to the forestry industry from Katrina is calculated to rise to about $5 billion. Also, several thousands of local residents were left unemployed. It is estimated $150 billion total of economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi, which far exceeded the governments assistance. Katrina redistributed over one million people across the United States, which became the United States largest diaspora[->3] in history. By late January 2006, less than half of the citizens were living back in New Orleans. Additionally, due to high costs from both Hurricane Katrina and Rita, some insurance companies have raised insurance premiums or stopped insuring homeowners.
Hurricance Katrina also made an environmental impact. Beach Erosion from storm surges devastated coastal areas. The US Geological Survey has estimated 217 square miles of land was transformed to water by Hurricane Katrina. The lands that were lost were breeding grounds for marine mammals, brown pelicans[->4], turtles[->5], and fish[->6], as well as migratory species such as redhead ducks[->7]. Overall, about 20% of the local marshes[->8] were permanently overrun by water as a result of the storm. The damage from Katrina forced the closure of 16 National Wildlife Refuges[->9]. As a result, the hurricane affected the habitats of sea turtles[->10], Mississippi sandhill [->11] Red-cockaded woodpeckers[->12] and Alabama Beach mice[->13].The storm caused oil spills[->14] from 44 facilities throughout South- eastern Louisiana, which resulted in over 7 million U.S. gallons of oil[->15] being leaked. Some spills were as small as a few hundred gallons. Finally, as part of the cleanup effort, the flood waters that covered New Orleans were pumped into Lake Pontchartrain, a process that took 43 days to complete. Prior to the storm, erosion in the Louisiana wetlands and bayous[->16], along with the canals built in the area, allowed for Katrina to maintain of its intensity when it hit.
Violence also played a major role in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. On August 30, 2005, shortly after the hurricane, residents who remained in the city began looting[->17] stores in New Orleans. Because several items were not available to them, many people were in search of food, water, and other non-essential items. Reports, some inaccurate, of carjacking[->18], murders[->19],thefts[->20], and rapes[->21] in New Orleans flooded the news. National Guard and federal troops were sent to Louisiana along with local law enforce- ment agents from across the country were temporarily brought to Louisiana. Several shootings occurred between police and New Orleans residents. A number of arrests[->22] were made throughout the affected area, including some near the New Orleans Convention Center. A temporary jail was constructed of chain link cages in the city train station.
The government's response to Hurricane Katrina was criticized primarily for mismanagement[->23] and lack of leadership[->24] in response to the storm and its aftermath. The criticism focused more on the delayed response to the flooding of New Orleans, and the subsequent state of chaos in the Crescent City. Televised images of visibly shaken political leaders, and of residents who remained stranded by flood waters without water[->25], food[->26] or shelter initiated the...