Remembering Hurricane Katrina: Portraits of Tragic Loss
Photography by: Chris Jordan
Today, the mayors and governors along the Gulf Coast issued dire warnings about Hurricane Isaac. Seven years ago, Katrina slammed into New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, as a strong Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph. More than 1,800 people were killed, most of them in Louisiana. On Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Isaac had become a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph, which could get stronger by the time it’s expected to reach the swampy coast of southeast Louisiana. The latest projections showed Isaac making landfall at or near New Orleans late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
This week marks the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s ravages of New Orleans, a city that not long ago appeared to be completely lost. Only seven years have passed since rotting corpses were floating through the city’s streets, since hundreds of thousands of survivors sat in hotel rooms and shelters and the homes of relatives, finding out from news coverage that they had been forced to join the ranks of the homeless. The unbelievable devastation of New Orleans is almost beyond human comprehension. The virtually complete destruction of the entire city by Hurricane Katrina, the loss of huge numbers of lives, the ruination of the property and lives of so many, especially the poor and disadvantaged, is a tragedy of historically monumental proportions.
Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast with devastating force at daybreak on Aug. 29, 2005, pounding an area that included the fabled city of New Orleans and wreaking large-scale damages on neighboring Mississippi. In all, more than 1,700 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of others were displaced. Packing a terrifying punch of 145-mile-an-hour winds when it made landfall, the category-4 storm left more than a million people in three states without power and submerged highways even hundreds of miles from its center. The hurricane’s storm surge pushed a 29-foot wall of water ashore when the hurricane struck the Gulf Coast, which was the highest level ever measured in the United States. Levees failed in New Orleans, resulting in political and social upheavals that continue a half decade later.
Damage, costing billions of dollars, has made Katrina one of the costliest storms on record. In New Orleans, floodwaters from the breached levee rose to rooftops in the poorest neighborhoods, and in many areas residents were rescued from roofs of homes that had become uninhabitable. The hurricane’s roaring winds stripped 15-foot sections off the roof of the Superdome, where as many as 10,000 city residents had been forced to take shelter. An exodus of hundreds of thousands left the city, many becoming refugees, finding shelter with nearby relatives or restarting their lives in states as far away as Massachusetts and Utah.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper is maintaining detailed Hurricane Katrina Anniversary coverage, as well as an extensive archive of historical news coverage and photographs about Katrina, which can be accessed here.
After Hurricane Katrina: The Ghost Town
A Photographic Essay: In the Wake of Katrina
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