2008 Common Reading Initiative Guide

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in US history. Katrina formed on August 23, 2005 during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and first made landfall on August 25 in South Florida where it hit as a Category 1 hurricane, with 80 mph winds. As it moved back out, increasing in strength, it left 14 dead in Florida and billions of dollars worth of damage.


Hurricane KatrinaKatrina next made landfall in Louisiana on August 29th, as a Category 3 storm, with 125 mph winds. As the eye of the storm swept to the northeast, it subjected the city to hurricane conditions for hours. Katrina's storm surge led to 53 levee breaches in the federally built levee system protecting metro New Orleans, leaving 80 percent of the city under water. This failure is the worst civil engineering disaster in American history. In the end, over 1,500 people died in Louisiana, and the city is still recovering from the destruction left behind.

The Gulf coast of Mississippi also suffered massive damage as Katrina made landfall a third time. Katrina traveled up the entire state, and afterwards all 82 counties were declared disaster areas. 238 people died, 67 were missing and there was billions of dollars in damage. During this surge, Alabama and the Florida panhandle were also both affected by tropical-storm force winds causing lots of damage, but no loss of life.

Hurricane Katrina eventually weakened as it moved inland, but additional tropical-storm force gusts were recorded as far north as Fort Campbell, Kentucky on August 30th, and the winds damaged trees in New York. Finally, the remnants of Katrina were absorbed by a new cyclone to its east across Pennsylvania. This cyclone continued north and affected Canada on August 31st with excessive rains, fallen trees and some flooding before finally dissipating.