This section serves to encourage and facilitate accurate discussion regarding the events before, during, and directly after Hurricane Katrina. Links to sources and further reading are included, as this section does not seek to report said events in thorough detail, nor does it seek to replace comprehensive articles available on other websites.
Financially, Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, but its infamy also stems from its human toll. Katrina was the deadliest hurricane since the Okeechobee hurricane of 1928, and the sixth strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. Katrina claimed 1,836 confirmed casualties, $81 billion dollars in property damage, and possessed maximum winds of 175 mph (280 km/h). The greater part of this tragedy can be attributed to the catastrophic failure of the New Orleans levee system, which, as described in Zeitoun, resulted in the flooding of 80% of the city. Weeks passed before the floodwaters receded.
See also: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL122005_Katrina.pdf, http://www.nola.com/katrina/graphics/credits.swf
Katrina’s wrath was extensive. The Gulf Coast’s economy was severely damaged, as oil supply was interrupted, oil platforms were destroyed, and exportation of local commodities slowed to a snail’s pace. The forestry industry of Mississippi also suffered, and unemployment skyrocketed. The above were not accounted for in the Bush Administration’s $105 billion budget for reconstruction. Also, Katrina displaced hundreds of thousands of residents, leaving Louisiana with a 4.87% decrease in population (a loss of 219,563 people).
See also: http://www.marshall.edu/cber/research/katrina/Katrina-Estimates.pdf, http://money.cnn.com/2006/12/22/real_estate/fastest_growing_states/index.htm?postversion=2006122209
Rumors of looting and violence are directly referenced in Zeitoun. As seen in the book, the media spun outrageous reports of robbery, rape, and murder. The inaccuracy of the news coverage is attributed to the confusion and disarray following the disaster. While lootings did occur, they were mostly committed by locals who had no other means to obtain food, water, and other necessities. Regardless, a total of 46,838 National Guard and federal troops were mobilized to restore order.
See also: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/902682211.html?dids=902682211:902682211&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Sep+27%2C+2005&author=Susannah+Rosenblatt+and+James+Rainey&pub=Los+Angeles+Times&edition=&startpage=A.16&desc=RITA%27S+AFTERMATH%3B+Katrina+Takes+a+Toll+on+Truth%2C+News+Accuracy%3B+Rumors+supplanted+accurate+information+and+media+magnified+the+problem.+Rapes%2C+violence+and+estimates+of+the+dead+were+wrong.,
This and other measures taken in the government response are of great importance to Zeitoun. The following section will focus on those measures under criticism. For information on the response as a whole: . Criticism is primarily directed to the general lack of leadership and mismanagement of the disaster and aftermath. Government response was slow and highly contested, as the issue of the responsibility of state and local government versus federal government was not entirely clear. Ultimately, FEMA was appointed as the chief coordinator of the disaster response. However, conflict between the levels of government, such as a noncompliant Governor Blanco, persisted throughout the relief effort. This delayed response was declared by some to be fueled by the race or class of the effected residents of New Orleans. An ABC News Poll displayed national public assignment of blame for the poor response, with state and local governments receiving the most blame (75%), followed by the Federal government (67%), and finally President Bush's leadership (44%).
See also: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002520986_katmyth26.html, http://www.dhh.state.la.us/news.asp?Detail=758, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/15/national/nationalspecial/15brown.html?pagewanted=all, http://abcnews.go.com/US/HurricaneKatrina/story?id=1094262&page=1