A hurricane that caused serious flooding in New Orleans in August 2005. Katrina formed in the Atlantic on 23 August 2005 and crossed Florida on 25 August. It thereafter intensified rapidly and became one of the strongest and largest hurricanes seen in the Gulf of Mexico. It caused extensive damage to the Gulf Coast of the USA, but its most serious effect was, on 29 August, to breach the levees that protected the city of New Orleans, 80% of which lay below sea level. Severe hurricane damage had been predicted and the city largely evacuated, but the consequent flooding exceeded the worst expectations. New Orleans ceased to function and had to be completely evacuated, amid chaotic scenes of suffering and lawlessness broadcast worldwide. Over 1600 people died, and the total cost of physical and economic damage is expected to exceed $200 billion. Although New Orleans has fought to restore its vitality, holding the 2006 Mardi Gras festival as usual, there are unanswered questions over its long-term future. Hurricane Katrina was not only the most expensive natural disaster in US history but also had important political consequences, which centred on the perceived inadequacy of the response by various levels of government. In particular, the administration of President George W. Bush was held to have acted slowly and incompetently, and the President himself suffered by seeming insufficiently concerned at the first news of the disaster.
Subjects: Meteorology and Climatology.