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Hurricane Katrina: What Was Responsible for the Devastating Flooding of New Orleans?
In 2005, flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Louisiana. At least 80 percent of the city was inundated, hundreds of thousands were left homeless, and almost 1,500 people were killed in Louisiana, along with another 300 in neighboring Gulf states. One of the deadliest disasters in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina also proved to be the costliest, with estimated damages exceeding $100 billion. The flooding in New Orleans was traced to breaches and failures in the city’s hurricane protection system, but disputes erupted over the cause of these failures and blame for the devastation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers argued that Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster, an unusually powerful storm that exceeded the design capacity of New Orleans’s hurricane protection system. Critics of this view, however, argued that various issues had caused the flooding, including flawed engineering, a long history of inappropriate and excessive development in naturally flood-prone areas, and environmental degradation.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Who or what was responsible for the devastating flooding of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of Hurricane Katrina this month.
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