Case study for the effects of hurricanes on an MEDC: hurricane Katrina, USA

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Global issues climatic hazards revision
Case study for the effects of hurricanes on an MEDC- Hurricane Katrina
Impacts
Social- 1400 killed, thousands homes lost due to flooding, some people chose
to move away from the area after the event.
Economic- $75bn worth of damage, businesses and means of income lost
Environmental- 1500 miles of coastal wetlands destroyed, 80% of New
Orleans flooded
Responses
Short term- 350,000 evacuated, accurate predictions from US weather
service issued hurricane watch and hurricane warnings and gave accurate
predictions of where Katrina would make landfall. Super dome set up as a
refuge for people unable o evacuate.
Long term- new levee system designed to withstand a category 3 hurricane.
Many areas that were worst hit still haven't been repaired.
Causes large numbers of deaths and damage for the US' level of development
High level of exposure and vulnerability: 12 million live on the coastal strip
between Louisiana and Florida. Population densities along there are twice
the US' national average. Also gradual loss of coastal wetlands due to gas
extraction and hard engineering of the Mississippi river had prevented the
transportation of sediment to the wetlands meaning the wetlands can't
naturally repair themselves.
Katrina is very powerful: 4th biggest hurricane ever to make landfall in the
US (sustained wind speeds of 281kmph and gusts of up to 340kmph along
with 8-9metre storm surges).
Levee system: not built to withstand a category 5 hurricane and the
breaking of levees made flooding worse. The levee was unable to survive a
category 1 hurricane as levees were built on a weak layer of clay soil as the
soil type wasn't considered in their design. Therefore foundations weren't
deep enough allowing water to go under the levee in areas before
overtopping it.
New Orleans is built 8m below sea level: it is also surrounded by water
from the Mississippi river and several lakes making it vulnerable to
flooding
Hurricanes are natural events: no amount of prevention can fully stop the
amount of damage from a hurricane.

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