Out of all the cities, New Orleans was hit the hardest with floodwaters covering over 80% of the city. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation a day before the hurricane hit, but still about 20% of the population stayed in the city. Most of these people were elderly or too poor to leave on their own.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, headed by Mike Brown, was criticized greatly due to inadequate response to this crisis. There was proof that FEMA knew years ahead of time that New Orleans' levees could not withstand anything above a category three hurricane. Brown would eventually step down from his position, leaving congress and the president to investigate how this situation spiraled out of control.
"We have been abandoned by our own country. … The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history."
-Aaron Broussard (President of Jefferson Parish)
The Bush Administration seemed unprepared for Hurricane Katrina and many criticized the presidents lack of leadership. Bush was in Texas when the storm hit and the next day he was in California where he was photographed playing the guitar. This picture appeared next to pictures of stranded New Orleans' residents clinging to rooftops.
President Bush was interviewed on ABC September 1st. While he was interviewed he commented that no one had anticipated the failure of the levees. This comment was quickly found to be untrue. Later when he flew over the disaster on Air Force One, the resulting picture, showing bush looking out the window appearing to be detached and powerless, was a public relations disaster for the Bush Administration.
A week after the storm hit, troops and supplies finally poured into the city. The Superdome and the convention center were emptied, and survivors were bussed out of New Orleans. A central command station and triage were set up at the airport.
The environment also suffered great damage. Many costal areas were completely destroyed. An estimated 217 miles of land was washed away. Sixteen National Wildlife Preserves were shut down and the Brenton National Wildlife Refuge was reduced to half its size.
The population of New Orleans drastically changed because of the hurricane. It has been estimated that the city has regained approximately 70% of its pre-storm population. Once ranked 26th largest city, New Orleans was ranked 46th in 2010. The storm reshaped the city, making it a wealthier and less diverse population.
Overall, Hurricane Katrina greatly affected the area of New Orleans. The hurricane also caused many to question the leadership abilities of President Bush. This great disaster took hundreds of lives making this event personal and meaningful to many Americans. In conclusion, Hurricane Katrina went down as one of the worst disasters in Americas history.