Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast region of the United States on August 28, 2005, was the most destructive north Atlantic tropical cyclone to strike the country. Several people lost their lives, and many were left homeless. Large-scale infrastructural and environmental damage, along with severe threats to public health, were some of the harrowing outcomes of this hurricane.
Katrina was recorded as the sixth strongest hurricane till date. Among the affected areas were New Orleans, Mississippi, and Louisiana, which bore the brunt of the storm. Wide-spread flooding was mainly responsible for most of the destruction caused. In the following sections, we will take a look at the adverse economical, social, environmental, and political effects that this storm had.
According to the Bureau of Economic Crisis (BEA), the overall economic impact of Hurricane Katrina was estimated to be about 150 billion dollars, which makes it the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. The major factors that contributed to such an extensive economic impact were fall outs of oil supply, food export, tourism, and other forms of trade and business.
The Gulf Coast contributed to about 10 percent of the nation's oil supply, which was disturbed due to this hurricane. As a result, oil and gasoline prices soared, though no catastrophic damage was incurred by the oil infrastructure, and the situation was brought under control in the months that followed.
In addition to the disruption in the national economy, a lot of damage to private and public property also contributed to the overall economical effects of Katrina. The economy of the whole country slowed down significantly as a result of the destruction caused by this hurricane.
The environmental damages and threats on public health were the longest-lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina. Industrial wastes, oil spills, household sewage, toxic chemicals, and other hazardous pollutants had swept into the areas that were directly hit, as well as neighboring regions.
Contaminated floodwater that overflowed into the residential areas caused long-term health effects on humans, animals, and other inhabitants of the area. It also resulted in the pollution of groundwater reserves, which is a major source of drinking water in the region.
Studies have revealed that the samples of floodwater contained high amounts of E. Coli bacteria, medical waste, sewage, oil, toxic lead, hexavalent chromium, and arsenic, along with particulate matter. As a strategy to prevent health complications, household water pipes were repaired and replaced.
Though it was claimed that the oil spills had been cleaned completely, many environmentalists continue to opine that the effects of Hurricane Katina will continue to affect the ecology and biodiversity for many years to come.
More than 1,800 people lost their lives in this natural disaster. In addition, hundreds of people were left without homes, jobs, and social security. The people residing on the Gulf Coast have grim stories to relate about the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Many of them lost family members and relatives in this disaster. In the aftermath, there was severe shortage of food, water, and sanitation. Even those who survived still suffer from emotional and psychological stress.
Following the hurricane, a huge political controversy broke out over the rescue and recovery efforts, with the local and state officials all putting the blame on each other. The Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael D. Brown, and the Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, Eddie Compass, were forced to resign as a result of the growing furore.
Mayor Ray Nagin came under fire for his Administration's dismal response in the aftermath of the tragedy. He was reelected in 2006, and though he vowed to rebuild, his second term saw a steep rise in the crime-rate of the city. He faced a number of hurdles from the opposition in his rebuilding efforts.
The whole of America questioned how the then President George W. Bush's Administration was capable of sending thousands of troops to Iraq to topple a dictator, while being utterly incapable of handling the disaster at home? Public unrest, fueled further by the President's insensitive remarks, including his brazen praises for FEMA director, Michael D. Brown's deficient rescue efforts before he was forced to resign, forever tarnished his reputation.