As part of Disaster Preparedness Month, we'll be taking a close-up look at some of the most devastating disasters in recent history. The following article is part of our Disaster Preparedness Month series.
Between the dates of August 23-August 31, 2005 we experienced the wrath of the largest hurricane and the 3rd strongest ever recorded to make landfall in the United States. That hurricane was Hurricane Katrina.
11 years later, this storm still leaves its mark. It has become a reminder of just how important disaster preparedness truly is.
Here are some facts about Hurricane Katrina:
- In New Orleans, the levees were designed for Category 3, but Hurricane Katrina peaked at Category 5 with winds up to 175 mph.
- Final death toll was 1,836 (1,577 in Louisiana and 238 in Mississippi.)
- Hurricane Katrina affected over 15 million people due to evacuating their homes, rising gas prices, and the suffering economy.
- 80% of New Orleans was underwater — up to 20ft in some places.
- Hurricane Katrina caused $81 billion in property damages, but it is estimated that the total economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi may exceed $150 billion, earning the title of the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.
- Hurricane Katrina impacted about 90,000 square miles.
- More than 70 countries pledged monetary donations, the single largest pledge coming from Kuwait in the amount of $500 million.
The Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
Many people acted heroically in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Coast Guard, for instance, rescued 34,000 people in New Orleans alone, and many ordinary citizens commandeered boats, offered food and shelter, and did whatever else they could to help their neighbors.
I remember watching the horrible devastation unfold on the news. In the wake of disaster, neighbors reached out to each other. Through the sadness and devastation, you felt a sense of unity within these neighborhoods and communities.
“The Shoes Off Her Feet”
Beliefnet reader J. Trovato writes in with her experience of how she came to take in an evacuee family. She writes, “We were in financial distress ourselves. But we had a home, a vehicle, two outstanding teen-aged children, and through our extended family members were making it month to month. On Thursday, September 1st, we drove down to the Astrodome area with all that we could pack into our car in hopes of finding a place to donate items that would reach evacuees quickly. We found a group that had organized efforts to collect and disburse items in desperate need. We worked with this group for a few hours, helping to organize and unload others' donations. While we worked, many evacuees were walking the streets, just deposited here from buses from the Superdome in New Orleans. Most had no shoes, were filthy, thirsty, hungry and homeless now.
As we worked our way back to the buses, we parked and watched. Soon, a young girl (20), carrying a 13-month-old baby, and an elderly lady (67) walked past our car toward the Astrodome. My husband got out of the car and approached them. (I stayed inside the car because I had given my shoes to someone earlier). He asked these ladies if they needed help or if they had family here and they both cautiously said, “No.” He directed them to me thinking they may be mistrustful of him and I, too, told them we were willing to help if we could. The elderly lady jumped in the backseat immediately. The young girl asked me if she could get some help. I said, “Of course, please get in.” She did and we brought her and her baby and the elderly lady home with us that night. We had no idea what we were going to do past this one night. Our goal was to give them a shower, a meal, and a place to sleep that night. We immediately saw their cautious relief. There is much more experience with this story. Miss Carrie, Birtukan and Yosef are still with us today. We are learning a lot from one another and what it means to open your heart and your home to people in need.
One of the most devastating storms in history reminded us all that in an instant our lives, as we know them, can change in a matter of hours or even minutes. 11 years have passed since Hurricane Katrina, and some towns have not completely recovered.
Although we cannot prevent these storms, we can be prepared for such potential devastation.
In my previous article, Hurricane Safety Tips: Before, During and After the Storm, you will find a wealth of great information about hurricane safety. You can also find great tips on hurricane safety in this article as well: Hurricane Survival Tips: How to Survive Natural Disasters.
Our goal at Survival Life is to teach preparedness to all. We can each learn something from one another, and that’s why it is so important to reach out to your neighbors, your friends, and your loved ones — to share knowledge of preparedness. In the process of doing so, you become a unit.
Being a part of the survivalist community has been the best experience of my life. It brings forth an unbreakable unity through communities all over the world — to survive.