Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans on August 29, 2005 – 15 years ago tomorrow. The storm brought destruction to the city, and the scale of damages as well as the U.S. government’s delayed response shocked the world. While Katrina remains the costliest hurricane to have hit the U.S. since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s records started, its already devastating death toll of more than 1,800 people was eclipsed by the loss of life caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017. NOAA believes that at least 2,900 people died as a result of the storm, and its impact can be felt on the island to this day.
Because of Puerto Rico’s territory status, federal help was also slower to arrive on the island and there is still a need for more disaster assistance, as some of the damages have still not been repaired. Three years after the storm, tarps still serve as roofs for many and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down efforts even more. In the case of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria alike, deaths caused indirectly by the storm and in the aftermath of it outnumber those caused directly by it.
Adjusted for inflation, Katrina caused an economic damage of $170 billion, $53 billion of which was insured. Maria caused $95 billion in damages. Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas and Louisiana the same year, has a final tally of $131 billion. Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York and New Jersey in 2012, caused $74 billion in damages.