Recalling Hurricane Katrina and the levee flaws that led to catastrophic floods

On this day in weather history, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made its second devastating landfall over Louisiana and Mississippi as a Category 3 storm. To learn more about the formation of the storm, check out Aug. 3's "This Day In Weather History". It was a catastrophic storm, killing 1,836 people.

By the time Katrina made its second landfall, it had weakened from a Category 5 to a Category 3 strength.

Katrina brought torrential rain to New Orleans. The city flooded because the levee system around the area was flawed. Eighty per cent of the city was covered in water due to the poorly engineered flood protection system.

A total of 53 federally built levees were breached. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed the levees but were not held financially responsible because immunity was outlined in the Flood Control Act of 1928.

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The flooding also inundated the city's transportation and communication system. The ten of thousands of people who didn't evacuate from the city were left stranded without food or shelter.

1280px-Hurricane Katrina Eye viewed from Hurricane Hunter

"View of the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina taken on Aug. 28, 2005, as seen from an NOAA WP-3D hurricane hunter aircraft before the storm made landfall on the United States Gulf Coast." Courtesy of Wikipedia

The flooding in New Orleans received national and international rescue efforts. However, national aid efforts were criticized. Many thought that the government's rescue efforts were mismanaged. Even more specifically, many thought the aid provided to New Orleans took way too long and added to the disaster. The controversy led to the formation of the word "Katrinagate," which ended up being the runner-up "2005 word of the year."


"View of flooded New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." Courtesy of Wikipedia

On Aug. 29, Katrina battered Mississippi with 200–250 mm of rain and 11 tornadoes. The stormed downed power lines and trees.

More than 70 countries provided monetary aid. Cuba and Venezuela were the first two countries to donate, but the U.S. government denied the support. Kuwait was the largest donor with a $500 million pledge.

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Hurricane Katrina is tied with Harvey as the costliest storm. On April 6, 2006, the World Meteorological Organization officially retired the name Katrina from the Atlantic hurricane cycle.

To learn more about Hurricane Katrina, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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