Tag Archives: National Hurricane Center

8 Years Ago Today

Courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Hurricane Katrina: Courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster that some have described as biblical in scale and unprecedented as a human tragedy.

“The Storm,” as the locals call it, was the most destructive natural disaster in American history, laying waste to 90,000 square miles of land, an area the size of the United Kingdom.

Before The Storm

As the sheer size of Hurricane Katrina became clear, the National Weather Service’s New Orleans/Baton Rouge office issued an ominously worded emergency alert predicting that many areas throughout the Gulf Coast would be “uninhabitable for weeks” after “devastating damage” caused by Katrina.

Contraflow lane reversal, voluntary, and mandatory evacuations were issued for coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  Approximately 1.2 million residents of the Gulf Coast heeded the evacuation orders, after hearing the following cryptic message, and fled their homes.

During The Storm

After making a brief initial landfall over Southeastern Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina made its final landfall near Louisiana/Mississippi state line, passing over the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Mississippi.

The Storm featured winds in excess of 120 mph and churned up a powerful 27-foot storm surge, which penetrated 6 miles inland, and in some areas up to 12 miles, along bays and rivers; killing close to 300 people and causing billions of dollars in damage to bridges, barges, boats, piers, houses and cars.  Thousands were left homeless, destitute, and entombed in mud.

Extreme weather photographers Mike Tice and Jim Reed captured harrowing video footage as the storm surge slammed in Gulfport, Mississippi and ripped through their hotel.

After The Storm

While the coastal Mississippi communities of Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, Pass Christian, and Waveland Mississippi where completely washed off the map because of the massive storm surge, New Orleans was overwhelmed by flooding.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as “probably the worst catastrophe, or set of catastrophes,” in the country’s history, referring to the hurricane itself plus the flooding of New Orleans.

Katrina’s storm surge caused 53 different levee breaches in greater New Orleans, submerging eighty percent of the city.  The levee breaches and the subsequent flooding were responsible for killing over 700 people.

Survivors and evacuees reported seeing dead bodies lying in city streets and floating in flooded sections of the city well into October. The advanced state of decomposition of many corpses hindered efforts by coroners to identify many of the dead.

In the days following Katrina, residents in New Orleans who “rode out the storm,” resorted to looting stores in search of food, water, and medical supplies.  While others took advantage of the situation to loot non-essential items like televisions and tennis shoes.

All told, more than 1,833 people died.  The results were tragic loss of life and human suffering on a massive scale, and an undermining of confidence in our governments’ ability to plan, prepare for, and respond to national catastrophes.

 

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When Nature’s Fury and the Politics of Disaster Collide

Released in December 2012, seven years after the most expensive disaster in American history, this 95-minute documentary film gives you the round-the-clock news coverage and a comprehensive look behind the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, human error, false media reports, political corruption, government bureaucracy, and a substandard physical infrastructure.

Using comprehensive analysis of events, hours of government audio tapes, and personal interviews, National Geographic takes viewers into the eye of Katrina to uncover the decisions and circumstances that determined the fate of the Gulf residents.

What is a Storm Surge?

The greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane is from the storm surge!

Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level to heights impacting roads, homes and other critical infrastructure. In addition, wind driven waves are superimposed on the storm tide. This rise in water level can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides.

Hurricane Specialist, Bryan Norcoss, from the Weather Channel, explains the science behind a storm surge in the days leading up to Hurricane Isaac in August 2012.

Because much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level, the danger from storm tides is tremendous.

The Perfect $1 Billion Storm

With Hurricane Sandy churning from the South, an early winter storm barreling in from the West, arctic air sweeping in from the North and a full-moon affecting the tides, the mid-Atlantic, New England and eastern Canada, are set for a “perfect storm” early next week.   The convergence of weather has the potential to produce $1 billion or more in damage.

If you or someone you know lives within the projected areas, please share the following disaster preparedness information, as suggested by National Hurricane Center.

Before a Hurricane

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency.

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.

  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.

Read more about evacuating yourself and your family. If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Avoid elevators.

After a Hurricane

  • Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact FEMA or the American Red Cross.
    • FEMA has established the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS), which has been developed to help reunite families who are separated during a disaster. The NEFRLS system will enable displaced individuals the ability to enter personal information into a website database so that they can be located by others during a disaster.
    • The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed¬ out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
  • Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

Hurricane Isaac Creates Sense of Angst on Anniversary of Katrina

Almost seven years to the date of Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive natural disaster in American history, Hurricane Isaac is expected to make landfall on the Central Gulf Coast as a Category 2 Hurricane sometime around 7pm tomorrow.

The National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant expect Isaac to drive a Storm Surge of 6-12 feet into coastal communities, presenting the first major test of regional infrastructure and disaster preparation systems since Katrina.  There are additional concerns that Isaac will bring in a black wave of tar balls from the BP oil spill.

Our production crew is en route to the Gulf Coast to cover Hurricane Isaac, the post storm recovery efforts, and the anticipated onshore flow of remnant oil.

Please continue your support for this compelling and relevant film project by clicking, here.  Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for live field reports too.