Seven years after Hurricane Katrina, which left New Orleans devastated, all eyes were on the city and its surrounding areas again as another Hurricane, this time called Isaac, hit. Fortunately, despite substantial damage, the hurricane wasn’t of the same ferocity as Katrina and the systems put in place following Katrina managed to keep the majority of the city safe. As Isaac heads north, the winds are dropping even further; the storm warning has been dropped from hurricane to tropical storm and is likely to drop to tropical depression.
A Herald Sun article compares the two hurricanes, showing that, as hurricanes go, Isaac has caused considerably less damage. Whereas Katrina was a category 5 storm with winds hitting 282 kilometres per hour, Isaac was category 1 with winds hitting 128.75 kilometres per hour. The damage caused by Isaac was also far less substantial – initial estimates suggest that $2.5 billion will be needed to repair damage, whereas Katrina cost $108 billion, the highest amount caused by a hurricane in US history.
With regard to fatalities, whereas there were 1836 left dead after Katrina, the death toll after Isaac has so far been around 30 – and the majority of those have been outside the US. According to Reuters, there have only been two deaths in the US so far, although houses in badly hit areas are still being checked for fatalities.
Isaac is not expected to make the top 10 most damaging hurricanes in the US, which is good news, but there has still been significant damage that will take a long time to clean up. Whereas New Orleans itself was kept largely safe by the federal flood protection system put in place following Hurricane Katrina, outlying areas were less fortunate. As a Reuters article explains, the areas hit by the hurricane are now water-logged and more rain is likely to fall over the next few days. In addition, over 700,000 people in Louisiana and Mississippi are still without power.
A parish to the southeast of New Orleans, Plaquemines, was particularly badly hit; at one point, houses were under 3.6 metres of water and many people had to be rescued from the roofs of their homes.
Tourists planning to travel to the area are advised to check with airlines and hotels before going ahead with travel plans. The Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport has been closed since late Monday night and will only open when it is deemed completely safe. Many tourist attractions in and around New Orleans have also been closed. In addition, there is a strong security presence, as well as a curfew in the city to try and avoid the scale of the looting that occurred following Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricanes don’t hit without leaving behind some kind of damage, but Hurricane Isaac’s overall impact has been well-contained, thanks to many of the systems put in place following Hurricane Katrina.