In the late days of August 2005, forecasters and meteorologists closely watched a storm soon to be named Katrina brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. Like many other infamous hurricanes of similar magnitude, the tropical storm began rather quietly and only caused initial high winds and some tangential storms off the Florida coast. But after coming ashore in Florida on August 27, the National Weather Service advised that the Gulf coast along Louisiana and Mississippi should prepare for the worst, fearing that the storm, after returning to the Gulf, would again pick up speed and head for more vulnerable areas (Knabb 2). They were right. Mere days later, a storm surge ravaged the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana unlike any in recent history. New Orleans, protected from the Gulf by doomed-to-fail levees in many lower income parts of the historic city, was violently attacked by gusting winds and heavy rain, and areas near the levees were completely destroyed by the hurricane's floodwaters when the weak barricades collapsed. Wiping out entire neighborhoods and city boroughs, Katrina's wrath left New Orleans under several feet of water and made damage incalculable for days and weeks after the terror had begun. Countless city residents were left homeless and without temporary shelter less despite the mandatory and volunteer evacuation efforts that had begun before the storm came ashore. Disease spread through the area as mold and rodents soon took to the damp environment (Cooper 54). Further exploiting the tragedy, scenes of helpless people clinging to trees and living on their rooftops for days became regular B-roll footage for cable news stations, as did disturbing reports and imagery of accumulating dead bodies floating through the flooded city (Roig-Franzia).
[...] The charm of the historic city remains in areas, but a general feeling of despair has settled into many older neighborhoods where many residents still feel betrayed by government leaders, city officials, and neighborhood relief that never came (Cooper 136). Relief work continues, and many of the original recipients of FEMA trailers remain in makeshift parks and temporary homes. Many schools have reopened; much tourism has resumed; yet trailer residents are being asked to purchase their unstable from the government agencies that provided the shelter. [...]
[...] Instead of responding helpfully to these accusations and critical statements, Bush refused to take responsibility for the failure to handle the situation and used his first weekly radio address post-Katrina to admonish lower government officials, particularly those on the state level, for not better responding to the situation (Roig-Franzia 1). This sparked intense debate between Nagin and Bush in the weeks and months to follow, and it has been cited as a major roadblock in Gulf Coast reconstruction efforts (Cooper 123). [...]
[...] Despite praised reports from the National Weather Service and accurate, detailed information from the National Hurricane Center, the government was totally unable to keep up with the needs on the Southern coast (United States House of Representatives 151). Because the United States had not experienced a natural disaster of this caliber in decades, and due to poor leadership on the inside, FEMA was not prepared to step in effectively despite being the federal agency responsible for large-scale disasters (Cooper 27). [...]
[...] Updated 10 August 2006. Murray, Shailagh. “Rush Is On for Katrina Tax Relief.” The Washington Post September 2005: A25. Myers, Lisa. “Were the levees bombed in New Orleans?” MSNBC December 2005.
[...] Despite several of the offending officials leaving or being taken out of office in the two and a half years since Hurricane Katrina, much of the devastation left in its wake can still be seen in New Orleans today. Many displaced residents have never returned to the city after fleeing to areas further north, and those who have stayed or come back to their homes continue to readjust to the drastic changes that have taken place in their city. An influx of tourism has helped to heal broken sections of the local economy, but the job situation has changed, perhaps permanently, and only a select group of new activists have moved to the coast with a vision of a renewed place of change (Brasch 145). [...]
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