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A hurricane is coming. It is not yet certain how close to you the eye will come, or exactly how strong it will be when it gets here. You are concerned, but not overly so; you have seen many hurricanes...

“A poll conducted by the University of New Orleans finds that 62 percent of greater New Orleans’ 1.3 million residents would feel safe in their homes during a Category 3 storm. Only in the case of a larger Category 4 or 5 hurricane would a majority of the residents—78 percent—decide to evacuate the city... The figures cause grave concern for the university’s researchers who say the results suggest that residents have developed a false sense of security. For decades, residents have successfully rode out moderate-sized hurricanes.” [TIMES-PICAYUNE, 6/23/2005]


Hurricane Katrina

People begin to talk of evacuation, but it is voluntary. You live in the city of New Orleans, and use public transportation to get around. You cannot go anywhere unless you bum a ride with a friend or neighbor anyway, so you decide to take your chances at home...


”About 30 percent of the population doesn’t have access to an automobile or own an automobile. So they’ve got to count on extended families or friends or neighbors.”
- Senator Mary Landrieu

”New Orleans needs a full 72 hours to evacuate, and landfall is already less than 72 hours away...”
- Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground


Suddenly you hear that evacuation is now mandatory. Flooding is expected in most of the city. You have to leave. You hear that buses are taking people to the Superdome because it is above sea level. You rush around grabbing a few of your most valued possessions that are not too awkward to carry with you, and desperately try to find the nearest pickup point. You have to get there before they stop coming…


Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level.

”We don’t, literally, have enough highways to get people out.”
- Senator Mary Landrieu

“They’re using school buses and about everything they can find to get people out of here,”
- Rob Ramsey, French Quarter resident


The wind and rains escalate. It is no longer safe for the evacuation buses to run. You go back home, hoping for the best...

“It’s important to emphasize that we just don’t have the resources to take everybody out.”
- Joseph Matthews, New Orleans Emergency Preparedness Director

“If an evacuation is ordered, not everyone who wants to get out may be able to do so—particularly the 60,000 poor people with no cars.”
- Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground


From a radio news update, you are advised to keep an ax or a hammer handy in case you end up breaking through your roof to get away from the water...

“Residents of Kenner: I AM URGING, I AM BEGGING YOU TO LEAVE TOWN NOW!…Hurricane Katrina is going to deal a devastating blow to Kenner…THIS IS A KILLER STORM… If you decide to stay, and again we strongly urge against it…one of the most important things to have is an ax, pick, hammer or some type of device that will allow you to break through your roof and get away from flood waters.”
- Phil Capitano, Mayor of Kenner (Jefferson Parish, Louisiana)


You see the water coming into the house, higher and higher. You go up into the attic. You manage to break through to the roof, where you wait. Maybe someone will come before it’s too late...

“I anticipated it being bad, but not nearly as severe as it turned out. The house just filled up with water. It forced me into the attic and then I ended up kicking out the wall and climbing out to a tree.”
- Mike Spencer, Gulfport, Miss., resident

“The Water Was Up to My Chin.”
- Cassandra Brown, New Orleans resident


At least 80% of New Orleans was underwater when the flood peaked.

About 180,000 homes were under water.

Hurricane Katrina - Flooding

More than 900 bodies were discovered in and around New Orleans.

  • Racially they were diverse
  • 64 percent were older than 65
  • 43 are still unidentified


“That was a life-changing event for me. I lost a lot of joy in my heart.”
- Frank Minyard, Orleans Parish Coroner

“We present that a lesson learned is about those left behind due to lack of physical or financial means.”
- Dr. Dana Troxclair


Watch an excellent slideshow animation of the flooding of New Orleans


denied the enjoyment of the normal privileges or rights of a society because of low economic and social status.

—Synonyms: disadvantaged, deprived.