Social and Political Change in Modern America

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Describe Hurricane Katrina and its effects.  

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Hurricane Katrina developed just off the Bahamas as a tropical depression. It strengthened into a hurricane, scraping the souther coast of Florida on the way to the Gulf of Mexico, where it strengthened into a Category 5 storm. Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast near New Orleans, Lousiana on August 29, 2005. It was a Category 3 storm at landfall, with maximum winds of over 125 miles per hour.

The storm was presented by media as a potentially catastrophic storm that was headed straight for the city of New Orleans, and area and national weather networks beseeched people in the city and all along the Gulf Coast to leave the area. There were mandatory evacuations in place before the storm hit. However, many people were unable to get out, and a few were unwilling, and many had to ride out the storm in their homes or in shelters, including the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans itself.

When the storm hit, it brought a massive surge that eventually breached the levees that were put in place to protect the very low-lying areas of New Orleans from flooding. As a result, enormous quantities of water poured into the city, particularly in the poorer sections of New Orleans. The destruction in New Orleans was catastrophic, as more that half of the city itself was underwater. Neither local, state, nor the federal government were prepared for such a disaster, and as a result many people suffered for days before receiving assistance. The city also saw considerable violence in the wake of the storm. The federal government was perceived as acting very slowly and without sufficient concern for the victims of the storm, and even when aid did arrive, it was often tied up by unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. When the waters finally receded, the Gulf Coast and New Orleans had suffered over $100 billion in damages, with 1,833 fatalities in Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia attributed to the storm.

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