When the first signs of sunlight emerged from the trickling rain the morning of Monday, August 29, 2005, many residents of the city of New Orleans hoped the worst was behind them. Hours earlier, the tropical hurricane known as "Katrina" made landfall at an area just 70 miles to the southeast of the city, tearing the roofs off of buildings and tossing boats like confetti. Tens of thousands of survivors in need of food, water, and medical attention sat stranded along the city's sweltering highways and in the Superdome and Convention Center. Worse, others remained trapped in their damaged homes.In an attempt to coordinate relief efforts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency implemented strict disaster-response rules that made it difficult for organizations to offer assistance and waited a precious five days before sending much-needed supplies to the Convention Center. "Hurricane Katrina" explains how the disaster stands among the worst in United States history, killing more than 1,600 people, and destroying 200,000 homes along the Gulf Coast.
More than a million fled the Gulf region, where economic losses and property damages from flooding were expected to reach a record $125 billion.
Jamie Pietras is a writer and journalist who lives in New York City. He holds an M.F.A. in creative writing with a concentration in nonfiction from Columbia University.
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