Hurricane Katrina Devastates New Orleans
Late August 28, Hurricane Katrina, by now a dangerous Category V storm, jogs slightly eastward and the next morning slams into Mississippi’s Gulf Coast (near Biloxi) as a Category IV hurricane. New Orleans is spared the worst of Katrina’s initial punch, but suffers catastrophic loss the next day as levees are breeched and broken causing the entire city to flood. The storm leaves behind unbelievable devastation throughout the Gulf Coast. Even Pensacola feels the storms wrath, but lucky escapes without major damage.
No one was prepared for an event like to this to happen. Lives were lost, homes destroyed and Â all from one nasty unpredictable storm. Â Please educate yourself on Hurricane Preparedness. Anyone living in a hurricane zone needs to have a plan.
Things We Can Learn from Katrina
- We need time to prepare.
Hurricane Katrina seemed to appear out of nowhere. Instead of being born off the coast of Africa and taking days or weeks to reach North America, she formed in the Caribbean. Just two days before Katrina made landfall in South Florida, she was just an unnamed tropical depression located about 175 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas.
Just three days after emerging off Florida’s southwest coast, Katrina is bearing down on the North Central Gulf Coast. In just three days she has changed from a Category I hurricane to a Category V â€” a very massive and dangerous storm.
It takes time to prepare for a hurricane and certainly more time to take precautions to protect property and conduct more thorough evacuations might have meant less damage and less loss of life. It is important to keep a close eye on weather reports during the regular hurricane season, so we can begin preparations quickly if necessary.
- There is no such thing as a “minimal” hurricane.
When a tropical storm or hurricane is forecast to affect Florida’s weather, I not only go to theÂ National Hurricane CenterÂ for information, I watch several different news programs to get varying views on its projected path and expected effects. I heard more than one meteorologist call Katrina a “minimal” hurricane. There is no such thing. According to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, to become a hurricane, a storm must have sustained winds of at least 74 m.p.h. or greater. Just ask anyone in South Florida and they’ll tell you that is enough to do considerable damage.
I hope they quit using the term “minimal” because it may have lured too many in South Florida to forego preparations that might have endangered lives.
- Hurricanes are unpredictable.
If Floridians didn’t learn this lesson last year with Charley, many more have learned it this year with Katrina. Although tools and methods for predicting storms have improved over the last few years, forecasters cannot predict with absolute certainty what these giant storms will do next.
- Be prepared.
Every year Floridians are encouraged to gather supplies in advance of hurricane season. Yet, it seems we live in a state of procrastinators. When a storm threatens, there are scores of people standing in long lines for a dwindling supply of flashlights, batteries and plywood. Accumulating these items well before the start of hurricane season June 1st will give you a head start on specific storm preparations.
5.Â Have a plan.Â Americans have been encouraged to have aÂ planÂ in place in case of a national emergency. It is important to make decisions and plans now to protect your family.
Some of the most heartbreaking stories reported after Hurricane Katrina have been those who have become separated from their loved ones. Be sure everyone in the family knows the name and phone number of an out-of-area relative or friend. This person will be your common contact in case you get separated.
It is a good idea to carry identification on your person. It is a must if you are to get back into your neighborhood after evacuating. In a worse case scenario it provides rescuers information about you if you are found incapacitated, or in an even worse case scenario… dead. Also, consider registering with theÂ National Next of Kin RegistryÂ which is an emergency contact system that will help if you or your family member is missing, injured or deceased.
Make sure you include yourÂ pets in your planning. Many communities are now designating at least one shelter that will take pets. This is a direct result of what was learned from last year’s hurricanes. People are often hesitant to leave their homes when ordered to evacuate because they don’t want to leave their pets behind. Check with the emergency planning office in your community to see what shelter will allow pets. Also, plan on getting there early. These shelters will fill up quickly.
6.Â Evacuate if necessary.
If your area is under an evacuation order, get out! It is tempting to stay behind to protect your property, but things can be replaced… you can’t. It is equally tempting to think you’ll be more comfortable in your own home than in a shelter. You probably will be… until the power goes out and water forces you abandon your home and climb onto your roof to await rescue.
Some have never been in a hurricane and have no reference as to how quickly the weather can turn ugly. If you are evacuating, do so early enough not to get caught on the highway.
Also, many along Katrina’s path made a fatal error in judgement when they stayed because their houses survived Hurricane Camille years earlier. This time they weren’t as fortunate. Never compare one storm to another. Remember, hurricanes are unpredictable.
If you are elderly or disabled and live in an evacuation zone, it is important to register with yourÂ county emergency management officeÂ who can make arrangements for transportation to an appropriate shelter. This should be done in advance of the hurricane season.
If you live in Florida, Hurricane Katrina should be a wake up call. There are no do-overs if you make the wrong decision.
7.Â After-the-storm safety.
Don’t be in a hurry to go outside or travel after the storm is over. Remain indoors until the “all clear” is given. This is no time to sightseeing. Give officials time to clear roadways of debris and fallen power lines.
It is amazing to me that after every hurricane in Florida come tragic deaths from generators. This hurricane was no different and at least two deaths in South Florida were attributed to carbon dioxide poisoning from running generators inside a house. Generators cannot be run inside because they put out carbon dioxide. Always,Â ALWAYSÂ place a generator outside. Until there are no after-storm deaths from generators, this can’t be repeated enough.
Many more lessons will undoubtedly be learned in after-storm disaster relief. What worked and what failed will be on trial for months and maybe years to come.
It will be the lessons learned though from Katrina that will help officials plan for future storms. Those plans need to include better pre-hurricane season education and planning, better sheltering and better disaster relief.
If we’ve learned anything though, it has to be that it is ultimately up to each one of us to be responsible for our own family. It is each one of us that must make disaster plans, gather supplies for kits and research whether we should stay in our homes or evacuate… our lives depend on it.
Written By: Â Dawn HenthornÂ Brought to you byÂ ABOUT.COM
If you are interested in specifics on how to best prepare yourself Â please click on the corresponding links to our S.E Â Blog Below:
Hurricane Prep Southland Exteriors Â Blog Guide