ABSTRACT

Hurricane Katrina: Communications & Infrastructure Impacts   [open pdf - 161KB]

This report is part of chapter five of five chapters in the series: Threats at Our Threshold: Homeland Defense and Homeland Security in the New Century: A Compilation of the Proceedings of the First Annual Homeland Defense and Homeland Security Conference. The following is taken from the introduction of the report: "In some respects, Hurricane Katrina was the equivalent of a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attack on the Gulf Coast. The hurricane caused catastrophic damage over an area roughly the size of Great Britain. However, while it is tempting to view a storm such as Katrina as a once-in- a-lifetime event, doing so would be an exercise in wishful thinking. Although Katrina was a very large hurricane, it was not 'The Storm of the Century,' or even 'The Big One' which forecasters have warned about for many years. The best estimates are that at landfall, Katrina was at Category 3 strength (winds of 11-130 miles per hour [MPH]). Sustained wind strength at landfall was about 125 MPH. By contrast, 1969's Hurricane Camille was a Category 5 storm with winds greater than 155 MPH. Much of the extensive damage caused by Katrina was due to storm surge, especially along the Gulf Coast, and by levee breaches and resulting flooding in the New Orleans area, rather than by the wind and rain from the storm itself. In other words, it should be clear that Katrina-sized incidents are neither unprecedented nor unlikely to recur. We will see more, and we may well see worse, either from storms, earthquakes, or other natural or man-made causes. The fact that a replay of Katrina-sized events are all but certain makes it all the more urgent that we draw appropriate lessons from the 2005 experience."

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Threats at Our Threshold: Homeland Defense and Homeland Security in the New Century: A Compilation of the Proceedings of the First Annual Homeland Defense and Homeland Security Conference
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