Also in Slate, read about the environmental impacts of Katrina, five years later, and read an article about some Louisiana National Guardsmen who were stationed in Baghdad during Katrina and again during the recent oil spill.
Five years ago this month, Hurricane Katrina crashed into the Gulf Coast. The storm ultimately killed at least 1,836 people, forced 1.5 million people to evacuate the region, and did an estimated $81 billion of property damage.
Slate covered the storm and its aftermath with a host of dispatches from the scene. New Orleans resident Blake Bailey, who lost his home and all his possessions in the hurricane, wrote a series of 12 stories about the heartbreaking, occasionally uplifting life of a Katrina evacuee.
Crescent City native Josh Levin—who wrote the essay “Mourning My New Orleans” after the hurricane made landfall—wrote a series of dispatches in the days after Katrina, including pieces on the people who wouldn’t evacuate, what New Orleans smelled like, what the rescue workers found, and the holes in the house he grew up in. (Levin also returned to New Orleans to write dispatches six months and one year after Katrina.)
The Explainer answered scads of questions related to Hurricane Katrina. Among the topics covered: how New Orleans can be below sea level, how they estimate hurricane damage, how you remediate a flooded house, and why bodies in the water always float facedown.
Slate’s media critic Jack Shafer wrote several provocative columns about the storm. In August, Shafer wondered why television newscasts refrained from mentioning race and class during their Katrina coverage. Shafer also made the case against rebuilding New Orleans, while economist Steven E. Landsburg argued that we shouldn’t aid Katrina’s victims too much.
The storm also caused a tremendous amount of political fallout. John Dickerson watched as FEMA director Michael Brown twisted in the wind, while Josh Levin wondered if New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Fred Kaplan, meanwhile, tried to explain why the government’s emergency response was so awful.
Magnum Photos gathered images of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in an interactive essay of images by Larry Towell and galleries of photographs by Towell, Thomas Dworzak, and Paolo Pellegrin. All produced by Zena Koo.