By Michelle Segrest
Reporting for Empowering Pumps
On August 29, 2005, a brutal storm swept through the Gulf Coast and demolished most of New Orleans, burying more than 80 percent of the Crescent City under 15 feet of brackish water and debris, and leaving in its wake utter despair for its residents.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall about one hour south of New Orleans at Buras, Louisiana in Plaquemines Parish. It moved at Category 5 strength less than 12 hours prior to landfall and generated a 28-foot storm surge and 55-foot waves. It ignored the city’s flood walls and broke through with tragic force.
Surge and waves caused 50 major levee breaches in the regional Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS). Thirty-four of the city’s 71 pumping stations were damaged, and 169 of the system’s 350 miles of protective structures were compromised. Heavy rainfall of 14 inches in a 24-hour period further contributed to the excessive flooding.
Homes were ripped from their foundations. Businesses were destroyed. Millions of people were left homeless, and more than 1,800 people died. It is considered to be one of the worst natural disasters in United States history.