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2005: Hurricane Katrina wipes out New Orleans

Staff writers
August 29, 2012 — Seven years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, becoming one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

Levees broke and flooded New Orleans in August 2005
Levees broke and flooded New Orleans in August 2005

Isaac made landfall in southeastern Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday night.

The storm knocked out power, flooded Gulf-front roads and pushed water over a section of a rural Louisiana levee before dawn Wednesday. While much weaker than Katrina, it has been stirring up memories of the deadly storm that devastated the city of New Orleans seven years ago.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast with blinding sheets of rain and winds of 225 km/h. An estimated 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded after the levee system failed, killing over 1,800 people as water rushed through the city.

"Hands down the most intense experience of my life," says Storm Hunter Mark Robinson who was in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. "The winds were like nothing I've ever experienced before...There was debris flying past us, it was just amazing to see."

Hurricane Katrina opened everybody's eyes to the power of natural disasters
Hurricane Katrina opened everybody's eyes to the power of natural disasters

Bridges, roads and sewers, all had to be rebuilt and federal officials have since invested $10 billion to improve levees across the region.

Home owners have also invested their time and money to build taller, stronger homes.

While many residents decided to stay put as Isaac approached, other survivors who experienced Hurricane Katrina first hand didn't want to take the chance.

Bonnie Chortler, 54, of Waveland, Mississippi, decided to evacuate to her father's home in Red Level, Alabama after hearing forecasts that Isaac could get stronger and stall

"A slow storm can cause a lot more havoc, a lot more long-term power outage, 'cause it can knock down just virtually everything if it just hovers forever," said Chortler, who lost her home during Hurricane Katrina.

"I find the impact that these storms have on people is actually stunning," says Robinson. "We love to think of ourselves as masters of the Earth, and yet you bring a hurricane or any kind of severe weather and suddenly, our structures and buildings get taken apart like they were never there."

Robinson says Katrina is an historic storm. "It was the first storm to truly wipe out a city...Katrina opened everybody's eyes."

With files from The Canadian Press

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