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Hurricane Katrina Causes Reflection
In hindsight the disaster provides valuable lessons
Constanza Gavilan Munoz (conitaa)     Print Article 
Published 2005-09-21 14:13 (KST)   
Hurricane Katrina, formed off the coast of the Bahamas on Aug. 24, touched land for the first time north of Miami, Florida, in the form of a hurricane category 1. It touched down to inflict floods, a loss of electric power and 11 deaths in the region. During this first tour it weakened and turned into a tropical storm. Nevertheless, it rapidly gained force in the hot waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it turned into a hurricane category 5 and reached a central pressure of 902mb.

The system returned towards the north and weakened slightly just before touching land again, on Aug. 29, near Grand Isle, Louisiana. By this time, it was a hurricane category 4 with winds of 241km/h. Katrina then returned to touch land to the south of Buras-Triumph.

Hours before the arrival of the hurricane, the authorities arranged a complete evacuation of New Orleans since 70 percent of this city is below sea level. The city eventually was inundated with flood waters when the levees were breached. There were also diverse storm alerts and tornado warnings in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia (the entire gulf coast). The alerts on the coast were deactivated, but some of them persisted in the northeast and in Canada.

Petroleum Industry

Katrina interrupted the production, import and refinery of oil in the gulf area. From the refineries of this zone comes a tenth of the entire crude oil that is consumed in the U.S., and almost half of the petrol that is used in the country. Twenty-four percent of the natural gas is extracted here also and it is part of the strategic national oil reserves. At least 20 platforms got lost, sunk (destroyed) or were cut adrift. One smashed against a bridge on a river in Mobile, Alabama.

Port Fourchon, Louisiana, a key center of gas production and oil located 96 kms from New Orleans, was directly hit by the hurricane. According to reports, the port represents between 16 percent and 18 percent of the production of oil in U.S. The principal access road to the port, the Highway 1 of Louisiana, is 75 percent immersed.


The ports of the affected area transport an important fraction of the exports of the nation, including almost the half of the agricultural products such as maize and soy beans. Most of these products are exported and it is probable that the prices of the food will be affected worldwide.


The large floods have already started turning into a public health problem. Besides dehydration and food poisoning, they can also produce outbreaks of hepatitis and typhoid. The more time present in the zone, the more probable is the likelihood of catching a disease and dying. President Bush has declared a public health emergency for the whole Gulf Coast.

In my opinion, Hurricane Katrina was very inconvenient and unbelievable and I am grateful that it has never happened here. Also, it gave me great sorrow to see. Here in Chile they were warning us because there was a couple that was involved, but fortunately nothing happened to them and now they are safe.
Have you donated to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund?  (2005-09-19 ~ 2005-10-03)
©2005 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Constanza Gavilan Munoz

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