Published on January 25, 2008
Hard Times for ‘The Big Easy’ Just eight months after the Asian tsunami, the world is again humbled by the power of nature. This event, however, makes us ask new questions ……. about human nature and American society. VV ’05
The Location of New Orleans New Orleans is in the state of Louisiana. It is located on the delta of the Mississippi River about 170km from its mouth on the Gulf of Mexico Florida Gulf of Mexico Mississippi River
Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Mississippi Delta Lake Pontchartrin
Lake Pontchartrin Mississippi River
New Orleans : some facts A city of 470,000 people (67% Afro American) Founded by the French in 1718 Expanded by the Spaniards Bought by the USA for $15 million in 1803 A lively port and industrial city Home of jazz and cajun and creole cooking Hosts an annual mardi gras carnival Attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year
A city of 470,000 people (67% Afro American)
Founded by the French in 1718
Expanded by the Spaniards
Bought by the USA for $15 million in 1803
A lively port and industrial city
Home of jazz and cajun and creole cooking
Hosts an annual mardi gras carnival
Attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year
New Orleans lies in a basin below sea level so it has always been vulnerable to flooding New Orleans is protected from flooding by levées
But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which swept by on 29 August, the levées broke and the city was flooded………
Two days before, the people of New Orleans had watched and waited as Hurricane Katrina approached…….
People who had transport fled the city Shop keepers boarded up their windows Volunteers helped to fill sandbags
South of New Orleans on the Gulf coast 180 km winds cause huge damage
Downtown New Orleans at the height of the storm on 29 August The eye of the hurricane passed to the east of the city
After the storm….. It seemed New Orleans had got off more lightly than expected… until the levées broke and water flooded into the city…………
Within 24 hours 80% of the city was under water
Streets turned into canals
The rising waters flooded the French Quarter
Affluent housing sinking beneath the rising tide
Public transport is out of action
With roads flooded, only the motorway fly-overs are high enough to rise above the water … but they are going no where!
Many people drown – Government estimates warn of several thousand dead
One hundred thousand people who were not able to leave the city…. … are trapped in their homes. Most of these had simply been too poor to flee
Most are desperate to be rescued
The water is polluted with sewage and oil … .but people are forced into it in order to survive
Food and drinking water becomes scarce within hours and is only flown in two days later
Hospitals evacuate patients by boat
As the story unfolds on TV screens across the globe, the American government seems slow to respond to the scale of the disaster
The police struggle to contain a rising tide of lawlessness
A slow evacuation begins
Some emergency relief begins to arrive in the city
Helicopters begin to airlift some of the stranded to safety
But with no means of evacuation, conditions continue to deteriorate for most of those still trapped in the city
23,000 people take refuge in the New Orleans Superbowl without running water and adequate sanitation. Reports likened conditions to ‘a Third World refugee camp’
People remain very fearful
Four days after the storm US President George Bush flies over the city to view the catastrophe first hand ……. “ The enormity of the task requires more resources” “ In America we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need” “ Where our response is not working we will make it right. Where our response is working, we will duplicate it” “ The main priority is to restore and maintain law and order and assist in recovery and evacuation.”
More helicopters are drafted in to help with the evacuation of the city
Convoys of buses evacuate people from the Convention centre in New Orleans
Six days after the storm, the city is almost empty
The waters are slowly receding… And the grim task of searching buildings must begin.
“ The first few days were a natural disaster, the last four days were a man-made disaster” Phillip Holt, 51 New Orleans evacuee Photograph credits – ‘Der Spiegel’
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