Crises are sometimes inevitable, especially when it comes to natural disasters. Hurricane Katrina of 2005 had held the title of one the worst storms that has struck American lands. However, Hurricane Harvey of 2017 has left devastating effects too. Although both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey had similar effects, one can compare and contrast these two hurricanes in regards to their formation, features, impacts and responses that were made from agencies.
Hurricane Katrina: Path of FormationHurricane Katrina’s formation is largely attributed to its concentrated precipitation (Jin). The storm first started off on August 23, 2005 near the southeast side of the Bahamas (US Department of Commerce 2016). During this time it was called a tropical depression and was about 350 miles away from Miami (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). The next day (the 24th) it became a tropical storm as it struck the Central Bahamas (US Department of Commerce 2016). Katrina continued to move westward and gained intensity along the way.
On August 25th, when it first struck landfall with 80 mph on the coast of Florida, it became a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (US Department of Commerce 2016). Its winds were around 74-95 miles per hour and it rained about 5 inches in Florida (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). Its storm surge was the lowest here in the Santa Rosa areas of Florida, hitting around four feet (US Department of Commerce 2016). On August 28th, Katrina continued intensifying with 175 mph winds into a Category 5 as it then left Florida and moved into the Gulf of Mexico (US Department of Commerce 2016). After this, the hurricane lost intensity and dropped to a Category 3 on the Gulf Coast into Louisiana. On August 29th, Katrina made a landfall on the coast of Mississippi (Keen et al 2006). It struck Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana as a category 4 hurricane (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017).
The storm moved through Mississippi as it had another landfall near the Pearl River, which caused a 8 meter high storm surge in the cities of Mississippi (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). This had destructive effects although there was low rainfall accompanying the storm in Louisiana and Mississippi (Weisberger 2017). After this, it lost its intensity and status as a hurricane.
Its winds were around 120 mph (US Department of Commerce 2016). Hurricane Harvey: Path of FormationOn August 25 2017, Hurricane Harvey had its landfall in Texas. Compared to Hurricane Katrina, Harvey moved more slow and stayed in Texas for about 12-24 hours (Weisberger 2017). However, Harvey had a lot more heavy rainfall than Katrina. With its winds around 130 mph, it struck as a Category 4 hurricane. After this, the storm lost intensity and was titled a tropical storm.
Overall, Hurricane Harvey left around 20 inches of precipitation in the southeast part of Texas (Weisberger 2017). One of the major areas affected wasHarris County who was flooded about twenty to thirty percent (Burnett 2017). Unusual Features/ Why It Made the NewsIt is interesting how there was not a significant synoptic-scale tropical disturbance noted before that hinted at Hurricane Katrina’s arrival of devastation (JIN). Furthermore, the storm stayed on land for about only eight hours, but in this short time, its precipitation lead to flooding (Chen et al 2007). Hurricane Katrina had many heavy rainstorms before it fully hit the area.
One astonishing characteristic is that there was so much rainfall that more than eighty percent of New Orleans was covered with water (David 2005). The hurricane is remembered by its storm surge, which was the worst near Bay St. Louis, MS and reached around 11 feet while in Bayou La Batre, AL is reached around 12-14 feet (US Department of Commerce 2016). For Hurricane Katrina, it was rather shocking to see the levee system to be overwhelmed; thus, this captured media attention.
The 10 inches of rain from Hurricane Katrina was too much for the levees holding back water from Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). Consequently, when the levees were overflooded, the waters ran into the Industrial Canal and evidently lead to the city to be underwater on August 29, 2005 (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). The force and strength of the surges of water caused houses to wash away from their foundations; this was not something seen as much in Houston with Harvey (Burnett 2017). It took about fort-three days to pump out a majority of the flooded water (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). The media stations highlighted how even though over a million people had fled the area, there were still tens of thousands of residents who remained stranded in the New Orleans areas (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017).
Comparing the distress between the two hurricanes, there was more alarm, stress and anxiety during Hurricane Katrina than to Hurricane Harvey (Burnett 2017). Hurricane Harvey is known for having the most precipitation from any hurricanes in US history (Emanuel 2017). This affected the Houston area, which received most of the rainfall and is why it is also known to be one of the worst disasters seen similar to Katrina.Responses by Agencies Another major difference between Hurricane Katrina and Harvey is how agencies responded to both of these crises.
Since Hurricane Katrina flooded nearly eighty percent of New Orleans, the civic infrastructures of the city were significantly weakened. Many agencies could not offer any help as their bases were flooded with water; in some cases, the centers were under twenty feet of water (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). This affected New Orlean’s police from being able to maintain control over the areas and lead to many looting to evidently occur (Burnett 2017). This was not the case in Houston, where the police was able to maintain communication and help command organization in the crisis. Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) were also affected more adversely by Katrina than by Harvey.
In New Orleans, the EOC center had to be set up in a Hyatt Hotel in order to operate due to the damages to their base (Burnett 2017). During Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s EOC was still working to aid its people. Over a dozen of the local hospitals in the New Orleans hospital were not able to function without power secondary to the water damages (Burnett 2017). One of the places Hurricane Katrina evacuees were able to seek medical care was at the Red Cross shelter in Houston, but this was over three hundred miles away from New Orleans; consequently many continued to stay in the city (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). With Hurricane Harvey, a few hospitals did have to close, but there were still many other medical shelters still available to the victims. Individuals affected by Katrina sought refuge at mainly two locations, which consisted of the Louisiana Superdome or the the New Orleans Convention Center. There were around twenty-five thousand individuals who went to the Convention Center (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). The flood exacerbated the shortage of clean water and food available.
Water especially was essential as the overall weather after Hurricane Katrina reached around 90 degrees fahrenheit (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). This food and water situation was then mediated with the presence of the National Guard. There was also additional help received from our foreign neighbors of Mexico and Canada who sent their troops to aid the construction of the damaged levees due to Katrina (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2017). One of the major public agencies to donate money for Hurricane Harvey was the Dow Chemical Company, whose employees were affected.
They donated a million dollars towards the overall recovery and additionally another hundred thousand to the Red Cross, a hundred thousand to Rubicon and two hundred thousand dollars to local non-profit organizations (Analyst Insight on Hurricane Harvey Impact on Chemical Stocks 2017).ImpactsOne of the major differences that sets the two hurricanes apart is their location’s infrastructure. Hurricane Katrina mainly affected New Orleans. This area is mainly below sea-levels and has been hit by hurricanes more than the regions of Texas and Louisiana that were affected by Hurricane Harvey. Unlike Harvey, Katrina had a huge impact on the populations it hit. New Orlean’s population was significantly reduced in the aftermaths of Katrina due to the damages and the millions who fled the city. The storm caused more than $100 billion in damage (Weisberger 2017). In comparison, for Hurricane Harvey, our government approved to help give about ten billion dollars to Texas (Gov.
Abbott 2017). Another major difference between the two hurricanes’ impacts is the death toll. Hurricane Katrina claimed Hurricane Harvey claimed around 100 lives, specifically about 70 (Emanuel 2007).