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FOX Facts: Hurricane Katrina Damage

Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history. Check out these facts on the monster storm:

The overall destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, which was both a large and powerful hurricane as well as a catastrophic flood, vastly exceeded that of any other major disaster, such as the Chicago Fire of 1871, the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katrina battered the offshore energy infrastructure and forced the evacuation of more than 75 percent of the Gulf’s 819 manned oil platforms.

Two days before landfall, U.S. energy companies estimated that the approaching storm had already reduced Gulf of Mexico oil production by more than a third.

In all, Hurricane Katrina affected nearly 93,000 square miles across 138 parishes and counties.

Hurricane Katrina’s winds and a storm surge that crested up to 27 feet high dealt a ferocious blow to homes, businesses, and property on the coast and for many miles inland.

This storm surge overwhelmed levees all along the lowest reaches of the Mississippi River and the edges of Lake Pontchartrain.

The consequences for New Orleans, which sits mostly below sea level, were dire. Significant levee failures occurred on the 17th Street Canal, the Industrial Canal, and the London Avenue Canal. Approximately 80 percent of the city was flooded. The flooding destroyed New Orleans, the Nation’s thirty-fifth largest city.

From Morgan City, Louisiana, to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Mobile, Alabama, Hurricane Katrina’s wind, rain, and storm surge demolished homes and businesses. Large parts of the coastal areas of these States were devastated.

Katrina caused an estimated $96 billion dollars in damage.

The American Insurance Services Group (AISG) estimates that Katrina is responsible for $40.6 billion of insured losses in the United States

Estimated damage from Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Flood: Housing — $67 billion; Consumer durable goods — $7 billion; Business property — $20 billion; Government property — $3 billion

Hurricane Katrina devastated far more residential property than had any other recent hurricane, completely destroying or making uninhabitable an estimated 300,000 homes.

Katrina far surpasses the residential damage of Hurricane Andrew, which destroyed or damaged approximately 80,000 homes in 1992. It even exceeds the combined damage of the four major 2004 hurricanes, Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, which together destroyed or damaged approximately 85,000 homes.

The storm destroyed so many homes, buildings, forests, and green spaces that an extraordinary amount of debris was left behind — 118 million cubic yards all told. In comparison, Hurricane Andrew created 20 million cubic yards of debris.

The debris from Katrina, if stacked onto the space of a football field, would reach over ten and a half miles high.

Hurricane Katrina: The Human Toll

When the winds and floods of Hurricane Katrina subsided, an estimated 1,833 people died directly or indirectly died from Katrina: (National Hurricane Center – Aug 10, 2006)

The vast majority of the fatalities — an estimated 80 percent — came from the New Orleans metropolitan area

1,464 deaths in Louisiana from Katrina (LA Dept of Health)

Mississippi suffered greatly as well, with 238 fatalities (MS Dept of Health)

14 deaths in Florida (CDC, March 2006)

2 deaths in Alabama

2 deaths in Georgia from Katrina

In Louisiana, approximately 71 percent of the victims were older than sixty, and 47 percent of those were over seventy-five. At least sixty-eight were found in nursing homes, some of whom were allegedly abandoned by their caretakers.

Of the total known fatalities, there are almost two hundred unclaimed bodies remaining at the Victim Identification Center in Carville, Louisiana.

As of August 8, 2006, there were 135 people from Louisiana still reported as missing.

Around 770,000 people were displaced — the largest since the Dust Bowl migration from the southern Great Plains region in the 1930s.

Many victims found it difficult to reconstruct their shattered lives. In many cases, they had either lost or forgotten basic documents, such as insurance information, birth certificates, and marriage licenses, which would later prove essential to rebuilding their lives. Most of the evacuees did not have access to their medical records, which increased the risk of complications when receiving medical treatment.52 For those who returned to their homes in the Gulf region, basic services were still wanting.

By January 2006, 85 percent of public schools in Orleans parish had still not reopened; in the metropolitan area, approximately two-thirds of the retail food establishments, half of the bus routes, and half of the major hospitals remained closed.

Of the 1.1 million people over the age of sixteen who evacuated in August 2005, approximately 500,000 of those evacuees had not returned home by late December.

(Sources: The White House, THE FEDERAL RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA, FEBRUARY 2006, http://www.whitehouse.gov/reports/katrina-lessons-learned.pdf; National Hurricane Center – August 10, 2006, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ms-word/TCR-AL122005_Katrina.doc; Louisiana Department of Health, Aug 2, 2006, http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/page.asp?ID=192&Detail=5248; CDC, Mar 2006, Mortality Associated with Hurricane Katrina —- Florida and Alabama, August—October 2005, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5509a5.htm; Louisiana Family Assistance Center - Missing People, http://www.familyassist.us/index.php?p=N3p2ZmZ2YXRzNDguY3Vj&t=Missing%20People; National Hurricane Center, August 10, 2006, Tropical Cyclone Report Hurricane Katrina)