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Interactive video lesson plan for: Hurricane Katrina - New Orleans Storm Surge

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24th August 2005 the National Hurricane Centre in Florida scrambled its hurricane hunter aircraft, their mission, to fly into the heart of a powerful new storm that was building over the Bahamas. It was the eleventh in a busy season and had been given the name Katrina. Like all tropical storms, Katrina was powered by the surface of the ocean, warm moist air sucked high into the atmosphere then sent speeding back down to create an immense whirlpool of supercharged wind and rain.

Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic tropical cyclone of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. At least 1,833 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods. The most significant number of deaths occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed.

As the centre of Hurricane Katrina passed southeast of New Orleans on 29th August winds downtown were in the Category 3 range with frequent intense gusts and tidal surge. In the City of New Orleans, the storm surge caused more than 50 breaches in drainage canal levees and also in navigational canal levees and precipitated the worst engineering disaster in the history of the United States. By 31st August around 80% of New Orleans was flooded, with some parts under 15 feet of water.

Between 80 and 90 percent of the residents of New Orleans were evacuated safely in time before the hurricane struck, testifying to some of the success of the evacuation measures. The Louisiana Superdome was used to house and support some of those who were unable to evacuate. Television shots frequently focused on the Superdome as a symbol of the flooding occurring in New Orleans. The disaster had major implications for a large segment of the population, economy, and politics of the entire United States.

Clip from the documentary “The Year the Earth Went Wild”.

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